Apple Pie: A Case Study
Almost 50 years ago, my husband Brian was visiting relatives. An eleven-year-old, he was hanging out in the kitchen where there were wonderful smells and interesting things to do. His grandmother was there and asked him for some apples from the backyard. Young Brian checked the tree carefully for good apples and came in empty handed, informing her that they were all bad. They looked like this, or worse:
His grandmother told him to get them anyhow. So he carefully picked them up and shook off the wasps and the bees and the flies. He left any apples that were a squishy mess, but they were pretty bad.
The boy watched as his grandmother took this big mess of rotten fruit, and took her paring knife and cut out the damaged sections: carefully separating out the worms and the spoiled parts from the edible parts. In about 15 minutes she had filled a mixing bowl full of healthy-looking slices of pared fruit. With that fruit she then prepared two wonderful apple pies which they had for dessert that evening. Here is what they looked like.
So, delicious food from something our supermarkets would never let near their shelves? There is a huge lesson in that. We city and suburban folks are kind of spoiled; unlike country folks we expect picture-perfect produce. It's all we've ever known. And so, when we garden, we are unhappy with the results. They're not just like what you see in the store. They're too small, or misshapen, or "rotten." We have to get past that. I'm not saying that you should not aim for perfection, but if you produce edible food with blemishes, cut the blemishes out and enjoy it anyhow. Even big growers go it. Where do you think they got the idea for "Fruit cocktail?" Or applesauce?
Your garden may produce strawberries with hard green spots, tomatoes that birds have sampled, peppers a worm got into part of, or half-gnawed green beans. They are still going to be more nutritious and better tasting than anything grown some place that uses bug spray, weed killers, and fertilizers on depleted soil. You're especially going to have things not go right while you are still learning; laugh and cut the weird looking veggie up into a soup or salad. Look past perfection to nutrition.
What is the most awful looking delicious thing you've ever grown?