Monday, May 9, 2011

The Green Fairy

"Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder."
I'm waiting out a thunderstorm.  The blue heeler puppy is cowering under my desk. If I move, she'll have no where to hide and still  be near her savior, protector and best friend.. The panting, lip licking and trembling will get worse.  No amount of comfort will calm her, save my presence. 

Near the end of our road, the sheriff  and three emergency vehicles from the local fire department, including the new pumper are pulled off on a side road.  I walk out the back door curious about the hubbub. Rain is subsiding from torrential to light dusting.  Thunder and the threat of a lightening strike in the open yard and 80 foot white pines lining the south fence line drives me back in the house before I can find out the nature of the trouble.

Curious about a news blurb I catch perusing a news summary magazine, I go to my computer and Google absinthe. The French make the sale of absinthe legal.  The story says it's been banned since 1914.  I'm fascinated by the wealth of information and of the tales of terror and tragedy linked to the brew made from wormwood and other herbs, mixed with alcohol to a level sometimes surpassing 144 proof.  Want to know more?  Read here.

Rule of writing is to write about things you know.  Otherwise one ends up like some of my opinionated neighbors.

The organic farmers down the road apiece are/were young and brash. They start out with idealistic notions of serving the community as CSA growers.  Throughout the temperate months they supply locals with a weekly box of fresh organic produce. The farm branches out to more lucrative ventures when it becomes obvious that the revenue from Community Sponsored Agriculture won't pay the bills. Upscale restaurants in several urban markets are supplied with crisp organic lettuce mixes.  They also discover growing shallots is a high dollar crop, far and away bringing in more money than the $7 per pound baby spinach they sell to a co-op. Driving by a roadside ditch off a county highway, they harvest water cress with permission of the owner of the property.  Since they're certified organic and the water cress is growing wild, their cost is only the labor involved. This too goes to a co-op.  As Jorge would say, "It makes no never mind," that the watercress is polluted from runoff of vehicles, salt and who knows what traveling on the shortcut to the main highway to Madison. They get careless.

The state shuts down their irrigation system drawing water from a nearby stream.  Locals nod and smile at the news.  The phone company warned them about selling wireless internet to their neighbor. Although they're not Irish, they are one lucky bunch. They may have been born under a favorable moon because their irrigated water tests frequently for contaminates similar to the nationwide scare at the same time for produce coming out of California grown with reclaimed water.

An organic conference is on the roster in Amsterdam. Dawn says you could cut the tension with a knife when she innocently drops by the farmhouse on an errand.  Head guy, wife and foreman are the main characters. The formula: Amsterdam+ organic conference, + absinthe-minus wife + weed= phun.

I'm aghast at the amount of money spent on souvenirs.  I'm equally amazed that at a party they're setting up flaming shots of absinthe.  Smuggling. Tales of mystery and intrigue.  Orders for expensive processing machines to wash and prepare mixed greens.  One sample given us includes a freshly washed grasshopper.  I wonder what the Chicago restaurant said about that.

In the end, the organic people fizzle out.  Financial backers hound them to list their property for almost $400,00.  House, several out buildings, greenhouses, barn and twenty acres tillable. They team up with friends, move to California learning of another high dollar crop, illegal in this state. Buying up permits to grow medical marijuana, they jump right back into the routine.

Me, I continue to speak out about the high cost of organic food, by growing my own food organically. I refuse to pay the hundreds of $$ for the certification which allows for legalized robbery. Yes, I agree there must be rules and reg's, but why the high dollar ticket included?

I give away much of my produce, since a household of two people might have a hard time consuming 700 pounds of potatoes in a good year. I'm not rich, but it's my way of helping my fellow man. I love getting my hands in the dirt and all that's involved in growing vegetables.  It's my "thing".  Selling off the highway is chancy at best. I can't afford to pay the piper and file the forms, yet I still follow basic organic principles. I don't fudge whenever possible, smile at the inspectors in their monthly, yearly tour ( it matters not since the inspectors never had a clue to many of this farm's illegal practices) because I'm the one eating this stuff.        


1 comment:

T. Roger Thomas said...

My understanding is that the French wine industry did their best to demonize absinthe once they started losing sales to the higher proof green stuff.