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02 August 2005

the joys of organic produce on the doorstep

Pioneer Organics delivery, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

It's Tuesday afternoon, and I'm surrounded by lush, organic produce. And smiling.

The kitchen of my youth never looked like this. My mother was a naturally good cook, and no one could ever have made better chicken and dumplings. However, she didn't keep the best food around the house. Sugary cereals, frozen pizza, pints of ice cream, tv dinners--they were always in the refrigerator. (Once, the freezer was stuffed with Clark Bars, a consolation prize my mother had won on a game show. Hey, we lived near LA.) And now, of course, I notice that they were all full of gluten. No wonder I felt so lousy as a kid.

But it really wasn't my mother's fault. That's how she was taught. And that's what our culture was teaching us to eat: everything that gave us that instant food high, with little to no regard to fats, sugars, or pesticides. And so little produce. When I was a kid, fruit and vegetables were shabby in comparison to what I eat now. And I grew up in Southern California, center of the produce universe. In the 70s and 80s, the choices were simply more limited. Salads always meant white iceberg lettuce, a few slices of tomato, and a glurb of Kraft blue cheese dressing. When I was a teenager, I thought I had grown rather daring by putting some sunflower seeds on top.

Thank goodness we have undergone a food revolution in this country. In the past twenty years, I've tried more vegetables than I ever knew existed. And with the exception of lima beans and beets, I love every one of them. (I know, I should like beets. It's still the taste of canned pickled ones that lingers. Maybe someone could persuade me otherwise. But lima beans are staying away from me.) I just love the taste of vegetables. The snap of carrots, the crunch of red peppers, the bite of chard--the textures alone are enough to send me into ecstasies.

Don't let me start writing about how much I love fruit. I just ate half a pint of ripe blueberries, right out of the package, for lunch. And in about a week, the peaches will be perfect, juicy enough to drip down my chin.

When I was a kid, I never ate radicchio, mache, eggplants, kiwi fruit, arugula, or shitake mushrooms. Now, I don't know how to live without them.

Now, luckily, I don't have to try. Since I started eating gluten-free, I've been eating even more fresh fruit and vegetables than ever before. That's the thing about this way of eating: once you decide to embrace it, instead of moaning about everything you're missing, life bursts open in your mouth. I'm eating far healthier and more mindfully than I ever did before.

Also, eating gluten-free has forced me t to think about ways to eat local, eat organic, and eat more vividly. Everyone benefits.

So, just after I stopped eating gluten, I started receiving a big, brown box of organic produce on my doorstep every other Tuesday morning. Pioneer Organics is a wonder, one of my favorite parts of living in Seattle. They bring me always-organic, usually local, and just-in-season produce. Right now, my kitchen is filled with sunlight and possibilities of meals all week long. The quality is extraordinary. I'm never disappointed. And it lands on my doorstep.

(And every Tuesday, lately, I empty the box and turn on my camera, to take still-life photographs of all the produce that arrives. If you'd like to see some of this week's shots, click here.)

So, surrounded by the bounty of summer, I'm writing to you. If you don't live in Seattle, I'm sure there must be an organic delivery service near you. Try them out. You'll never go back to Safeway again.


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