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From the Mouth of the River

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Eating without advertising

Here I sit in the middle of the garden of needin’, a vine-ripe tomato in one hand and a salt shaker in the other, a tear runnin’ down my face—or it could be tomato juice, this being my third and last tomato of the season. 

Growing up in the South, where we had several months of ripe tomatoes, it’s hard to believe that here we only get several days of ripe tomatoes...if we’re lucky. The taste or smell of a vine-ripe tomato instantly brings back childhood memories of big, sliced-tomato sandwiches you had to eat over the sink or out in the yard, because the juice would be running off your elbow. My wife said if my taste buds were that good at bringing back memories, I should lick my car keys and I would always know where I’d had them last. She might have something there!

The average housewife who is, ooh, let’s say 49-years-old or younger, has never tasted vine-ripe anything. In fact, they have never tasted tree-ripened fruit, either. And you know if the wife didn’t bring it home, then what’s-his-name and the kids haven’t ever tasted it either.

They miss this treat because we insist on having fruit and veggies that are uniform in size, blemish-free and the perfect color—even if it’s dyed. It must be firm enough to ship around the world and lay on a shelf for weeks without spoilage. One time I watched a bin of apples for a couple of weeks at the grocery store. Thinking they should be starting to soften up, I bought enough for an apple crisp. They laid in a wooden bowl for over a week with no sign of a change, yet the six apples that mama bear left on our tree didn’t last a week at room temperature.

Our fruit, veggies and grain have been so genetically changed to benefit the grower and seller that the final product has the consistency, taste and nutritional value of wet cardboard.

I know you’ve heard the old saying, “you are what you eat.” Well, it works the same for your veggies, fruit, grain and meat. Sitting in our garden of needin’ (needin’ weeding, needin’ water, etc.) I noticed the beautiful color our grapes have turned this week. The only help we gave them this year was water, plus I trimmed the leaves back so the sun could get to the grapes. At the same time, a friend of ours in California, who raises grapes commercially, has fed his genetically-bred grapes all their food value through man-made fertilizer. He has sprayed them three times with insecticide, and will spray them with sulfur to keep them from mildewing if it rains or comes a heavy dew!

See Dick and Jane run? Jane runs for TP because Dick has the runs—Jane didn’t wash the grapes. What should Jane have used to wash the grapes with? Water? Ha-ha-ha! Try solvent!

It’s not just veggies—we in America are very touchy about our meat; it is a specialty we take pride in. While tossing down a few cold ones, men will stand around a porch torch loaded with steaks and with a large fork to poke at them, all the while laughing and telling stories of the hunt. Men take pride in their ability to cook meat over an open fire. When it’s brown, it’s still cooking. When it’s black, it’s done!

Of all the nationalities in America, plus over 80 tribes of American Indians, we as a people have brought quite an assortment of meat to the table. Here’s some of the dos and don’ts, wills and won’ts about Americans and their meat: For instance, back East and in the South, they eat squirrel but not rats. The difference? Squirrel has long hair on its tail. From Texas all the way to the East Coast they will barbeque anything they can scrape off the grill of a truck or roadway. When they get the hair off of it and cook the meat ‘til it falls off the bone, you won’t even ask what it is, especially when it’s covered with that hot, sweet barbeque sauce. There are neighborhoods in the big cities where, when certain nationalities move in, all the cats disappear. In others, it’s the dogs! 

I believe I’ve eaten most all the different kinds of meat served in America and each variety, served in its proper state, was very good. My wife Lovie and I had a cougar roast some time back and were surprised to find it all white meat—not unlike a breast of chicken. But my favorite is an Iowa, corn-fed Porterhouse beef steak! Second favorite it horsemeat. “What?! You would eat old Blaze? After you rode him for 20 years, and all our children learned to ride on him, you would just butcher and eat him?!”

Yep. Horsemeat is good. It’s sweet, and a little coarser than beef, about like moose. We here in the US ate it during World War II because of the shortage of beef. That went for the war effort. Stores and restaurants put signs in the windows advertising they sold horsemeat. In fact, most of the world today still eats horse, and America is its largest supplier. Well, where did you think all the horses in the US went when they were sold at auction, to the green grass of Wyoming? Nope. They’re shipped to Canada for processing, then on to all your favorite tourist destinations.

There are certain groups who frown on eating one’s own horse, or even feeding such meat to one’s dog, and heaven forbid we make soap from such a noble beast. Therefore it should be sold at auction, where it will find a good home. (Right between the mashed potatoes and peas.)

Processed is a word you should look up in your book of three-dollar words. It will enlighten you to a whole new world concerning the food you eat. For instance, Canada can’t sell raw horsemeat to the US, but it can sell it ‘processed’ as an ingredient in, let’s say, Polish sausage hot links, sold off the rotisserie at truck stops, but not over the meat counter at your local grocery story. The word ‘processed’ will allow most any food item to pass USDA inspection. The bigger the corporation, by the way, the easier it is to pass.

Advertising people will try anything. We sell only Black Angus or Hereford beef, but when you get the hide off the carcass it looks the same. (Except for Wal-Mart’s beef—it’s all fire engine red! I don’t know where it’s processed, but American beef is not that color!)

We all know where eggs came from, but do you want to know how chickens are processed? No? I didn’t think so.

Tomato season will be over as you read this, so if you haven’t had a fresh, unprocessed tomato dripping down your chin, it’s too late this year. But the zucchini’s still good and it’s likely your friends with gardens have plenty to share. Give it a try—see what plain old water and sunlight can do for your food. Boots

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Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

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humor, food

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