Summertime and the Eating is Awesome

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Weather-wise, summer is my least favorite season, what with the heat and humidity. But when it comes to food — Yum! Who can resist all of those fresh fruits and vegetables?

When I was a little girl, my grandfather had a garden where he grew the basics: corn, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. I would take my little toy shovel and dig deep holes to plant my own corn and beans… and they grew! (No doubt because my grandfather planted the seeds at the proper depth on the sly.)

More fun: I got to go peddling! Grandfather would weigh out beans and I could count out corn and tomatoes. Then I would take bags of produce around the neighborhood to sell. And I must mention my grandmother’s pickled corn, which was the best in the world. I have her pickling crock and really should try it sometime.

I grew up shucking corn, stringing beans, slicing apples from the tree in my aunt’s backyard, and standing over the sink with a tomato just off the vine in one hand and a shaker of salt in the other, savoring the sun-warmed fruit.

Yesterday, I took my granddaughter and her entourage du jour to the grocery store with me where, among other things, I picked up some ears of corn. “Do you like corn on the cob?” I asked my granddaughter’s friend.

“I’ve never had corn on the cob,” she answered.

These are not youngsters: They’re in their mid-teens. Never had corn on the cob? Unbelievable!

After she’d tried the corn at dinner, I asked her how she liked it. “It tastes weird,” she said. Turns out she’d only had canned corn until then.

In addition to being good, fresh produce is good for you. (Assuming you don’t put a lot of butter on your corn, that is.) It still has all of its vitamins, minerals, and fiber, there’s no gluten, and it isn’t swimming in sodium. No chemicals, either. Can you even pronounce some of the ingredients in canned food? (I didn’t think so.) Fresh fruit hasn’t been cooked to death and packed in sugar-water. I’ve never understood hospitals giving canned fruit to their patients. Aren’t they supposed to be promoting health?

If you have your own garden, it gets even better: Gardening can be some pretty good exercise as you bend, stretch, and work up a sweat digging, planting, and weeding. The activity also helps keep your blood glucose down. You can also grab some green tomatoes to fry anytime you like, without having to wait for the store to carry them. (Yes, I’m southern.)

There is a small garden plot in my back yard. I have to confess, however, that it hasn’t been planted this year. With my Achilles tendon situation, I was physically unable and my husband was busy with work and me. But there is a farmer’s market, my neighborhood grocery store sells produce from area farmers, and my neighbor planted about 20 tomato plants. I&#x2#x2019;m sure she’ll have one or two extra for me. There are also some co-ops in town where you get a box of fresh produce every week as it ripens. This is not a good year for me to do that, either, but I’m looking forward to participating next summer.

If I didn’t have room for a garden, I could go to the community garden that’s run by a local university. It rents garden plots to people who otherwise would be unable to grow their own food. The plots are on land the university owns but hasn’t developed yet. Many years ago, before my husband and I were married, we participated in a community garden with plots in an as-yet-unused area of the city cemetery.

I do also eat canned food, and have been known to make soup that includes canned corn, as well as mixed vegetables from a can. Sometimes it’s just easier, but I still prefer the fresh stuff.

Besides, leftover fresh green beans are great for breakfast.

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