Wednesday, June 18, 2008

u-pick (i'll take pictures)

strawberry field

the picking was good

little picker

berries boy bucket

the very hungry toddler and the red ripe strawberry


I hitched the camera over my shoulder and squatted down into the low, lush plants long enough (we were in the fields about an hour) to pick half of our bounty. That was long enough to fill about as many buckets as I can take home and process at once and long enough to feel a bewildering mix of gratitude and disbelief when thinking about the people who do this, for a living, all the time.

It's one thing to have a pleasant afternoon outing on an ideal early summer day with friends and children to go pick berries. It would be a very different thing all together to crouch so low, hands in the vaguely prickley stems, loading up buckets as quickly as possible to be paid mere cents per pound. For every complaint about the high cost of produce, I counter that our food prices are subsidized by the poor wages of people who work incredibly hard.

I cannot realistically grow everything I eat (my fledgling garden might produce something, but the scale on which I'm producing is too small for even our little family of four), and I cannot expect to acquire the whole balance from local u-pick establishments. I will always (so long as society hasn't collapsed and we still have stocked markets and money to purchase things) rely on the food grown and harvested by other people.

Oregon berries are so sweet. So much exploding with that perfect tart/sweet taste, it's hard to not speculate whether they've been injected with extra strawberry flavor. Of course, they haven't, they just come off the stem like that, grow under the mostly cloudy Oregon sky like that, come into my house and go into my freezer, to add into many future smoothies, just like that. But if I didn't pick them myself? Who did? It's like me to have to pair the sweet with something less palatable. It's so easy to imagine strawberries growing in tidy fields of turquoise paper boxes, straight from seed to little bundle.

Some person touched every berry you eat. Isn't that amazing? Some person with worries and fears, with children and hopes. Some person who's trudging through like any of us. My gratitude for these people isn't enough, but maybe it's better than never thinking of these things at all.

1 comment:

Angelina said...

I think about it all the time. The link of touch with touch on plants. The work that goes into growing food. MY FOOD. Work that others do. I'm always amazed at how hard people have to work to feed me and my family.

I love this post.

I always get more in touch with my gratitude and my awe when I pick from farmer's fields myself. The fact that they got all that food to grow and then it takes us two seconds to eat a pint of berries.

I need to go pick berries too!!