By Paul Myers
–Piece originally published in the Gibsons Farm Collective newsletter–
At the supermarket there’s an entire aisle of non-food crap dedicated to a scientific truth: human evolution is such that we naturally crave salt, fat, and sugar. (My own scientific truth adds to that list expensive shiny new things, massive recognition, and a back rub that possibly leads to other things, but I’ll save that for another post). I must be still crawling out of the primordial soup myself, because I’m still largely a single-crave creature: sugar. I have such tender memories of wheedling a dime off my mother and heading straight to the Village Market with it, there to plumb the Gnostic depths of the longest, most beautiful candy counter ever created. What should I get this time? The perfectly created Crunch bar? A box of Milk Duds because they stick to the roof of my mouth? Or something sassy perhaps, like Necco or Red Hots? Average sugar consumption in North America rose from 3 kilos annually per person in 1900, to 55 kilos per person in 2000. Well folks, for evolution and for the Motherland, I certainly did my part. Cookies. Cokes. Frosted Flakes. Gum. Ice cream. Cotton Candy. Oh yes, and fruit too: pulverized, reconstituted, shot through with food colour, corn starch, and more sugar, and sent back to me as a delectable little Hostess Pie.
I’ll skip the story of my own long, sometimes tortured, sometimes still-faulty, journey away from non-food crap and go right to the good ending. The good ending isn’t about me. The good ending is in the accompanying photo. Yes, that gaggle of kids you see there, two of them my grandkids, who took part – rather, could not be restrained – from picking the-low-hanging-fruit-of-the-Earth-as-manifest-in-apples. It was a great time, and, on at least two counts, also another eye opener for me.
First, I saw an ancient tree as a long candy counter. While a sugar crave may be hard-wired into humans, a Crunch bar isn’t. I was joyed to watch kids gorge on Nature’s provision (and I was grateful to their parents). In fact, Nature deftly provides a veritable procession of sweetness through most of the year. Strawberries and other early berries, both domestic and wild. Cherries next, and when these fade the plums arrive. Midsummer brings currants, thimbleberries and blueberries. August is here with apples, sundry melons, and blackberries. In September there will be pears, grapes, crab apples, cranberries and huckleberries. In the colder months we can reach for the same food that we preserved in advance.
Second, I saw my teachers again. I mean the kids, of course. The little Yodas all around us, who have not yet been sullied by adult refinements. Who are still unpretentious and thrill in simple pleasures. Who live on the surface, who say what they see, and most of all, who gravitate to goodness. Hence, they lead us back to where we need to be. Back to the low hanging fruit in life. There to pluck the uncomplicated delight, and to harvest the least work for the greatest gain.
Back to the easy sugar.