Notes From An Organic Grower

TO WIT

March 31, 1991|By Dave Barry

Spring is here, and as an educated, environmentally sensitive nutrition fanatic, you should definitely think about organically growing your own fruits and vegetables.

What do we mean when we say "organically grown" fruits and vegetables? Technically, we mean: "fruits and vegetables with insects living in them." Insects are an important source of protein, which is highly nutritious. Look at bats. Bats eat a lot of insects, and they're extremely healthy. They can spend a wild night of flying around screeching and sucking blood from unwary victims, yet when they get back to the cave they still have enough "zing" left for some hot sonar-enhanced sex. This is in stark contrast to the average American consumer, who rarely makes it through the monologue on the "Tonight" show. Why? Because the average American consumer is eating supermarket fruits and vegetables, which are known to contain -- prepare to be alarmed -- chemicals.

Of course not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer. But many of the fruits and vegetables that you buy in supermarkets have been saturated with a class of chemicals that are defined, technically, as "chemicals with long, scary names," such as "dioxyethylrickylucyboogaboogacide."

Why do fruit and vegetable growers put such dangerous substances on your food? Actually, there's a very sensible explanation: They want to kill you.

No, seriously, they use chemicals for many good reasons, which will be thoroughly discussed about a week from now in an irate letter to the editor written by the attorney for the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

Nevertheless, as a modern concerned paranoid consumer you should definitely grow your own food organically. We do this in our household. We have a tree in our yard, planted by the former owner, Bob, who told us that it was either a lime tree or a grapefruit tree, we forget which. We never put chemicals on it, and every year it produces a nice crop of organic units the size of either large limes or small grapefruits with some kind of skin problem that looks like fruit leprosy. We monitor these units carefully until the exact moment when they have ripened to perfection, then we continue to monitor them as they fall on the ground and are consumed by gnats.

Another good fruit or vegetable to grow yourself is the tomato. You've probably noticed that modern supermarket tomatoes are inedible. This is because they're not bred for human consumption: They're bred to be shipped long distances via truck, which requires that they have the same juicy tenderness as croquet balls. Even as you read these words, top vegetable scientists are field-testing the Tomato of Tomorrow, which can withstand direct mortar fire and cannot be penetrated by any known kitchen implement except the Veg-O-Matic Home Laser Slicer (Not Sold in Stores).

The biggest problem with home-grown tomatoes, of course, is that they might summon armed police to your home. I base this statement on a Roanoke Times-News story written by Madelyn Rosenberg and sent to me by many alert readers. This story states that a couple in a remote area of Montgomery County, Va., had placed a tomato in a wire basket, and while the couple was away the tomato burst open and dripped juice onto the phone-answering machine, causing it to short out somehow and repeatedly dial the county's 911 emergency number. The sheriff's department traced the call and sent out some deputies, who went into the house with their guns drawn. Fortunately the tomato did not try anything stupid at that point, so the matter was resolved peacefully.

Another vegetable you need to keep a close eye on is the eggplant. I have here an article from the International Herald-Tribune, alertly sent in by Diane Hewitt, concerning a man named Zahid Kassam in central England who claims that when he cut open an eggplant, "the seeds formed the name Allah in Arabic." According to the article, "an estimated 4,500 pilgrims have visited Mr. Kassam's house in Leicester since the town's mosque designated the vegetable a holy object." The same article states that a man in nearby Nottingham claims to have found Allah's name in yet another eggplant.

To me, this article is as alarming as the one my friend Libby Burger put on her refrigerator several years ago concerning the woman in Mexico who attracted large crowds after discovering a tortilla with the face of the Virgin Mary on it. This means that you, as a nutrition-conscious organic gardener, run the risk that thousands of pilgrims could flock to your door, creating a dangerous situation that could very well panic one of your tomatoes into calling the police. Maybe you should just order a pizza. *

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