Monday, September 26, 2011

Here we go round the mulberry bush

(from May 2010)

Until a week ago, that nursery rhyme was the only thing I knew about mulberries. Then our friend, Jonathan, posted ‘mulberries’ as his facebook status. Just ‘mulberries’. He later commented that he was trying to work but all he could think about was foraging for mulberries. He and his wife, Lesley, live in Nashville so I assumed their neighborhood was flooded and that they couldn’t get to a grocery store. Nope, they’re just that cool.

Then Alan informed me that there’s a huge mulberry tree in the field behind our house.

So he carried a bucket down the hill and brought these lovely little berries home.

“What are you going to DO with them?,” I asked. “Are you SURE they’re mulberries? 100% sure? How do you know?” He looked at me like I was the crazy one.

I’ve mentioned that my mountain man has some mad baking skills, but I was terrified to try this suspicious little piece of pie. The crunchy-granola girl in me admires the simple living, back to the land movement and thinks growing and canning your own food sounds swell. I mean, how much more local can you get than these mulberries? But the city girl in me got online, started googling pictures of mulberry trees, and researching the possible side effects from consuming its fruit. I whispered to Lilly, “Let’s wait until tomorrow and make sure Daddy hasn’t poisoned himself before we eat a slice.”

Why was I so afraid of the mulberries? The same reason other people are afraid to eat collard greens, kale, swiss chard, or fennel. We’re terrified of the unfamiliar, but it’s the familiar that’s REALLY scary: double D-sized chicken breasts, antibiotic-laden beef washed in ammonia and chlorine to remove E. coli, fake food filled with ingredients you can’t pronounce let alone recognize. So why was I afraid of eating berries growing on a tree behind my house? Because they weren’t labeled and I didn’t have to pay for them – as if that ensures safety. It’s laughable, I know! The point is, as a society, we’re so completely disconnected from our food. We have dandelion greens and mulberries growing all over the city and hungry people who have no clue that they’re edible. I did eventually try a piece of pie and my exact words were, “This is SO good, I don’t care if it makes me sick.” Lilly woke up the next morning and said, “Daddy didn’t poison himself, so can I eat a slice of pie now?”

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