eat more greens

garden beds, weeded

Three weeks ago for five hours straight on a Sunday afternoon, I weeded the four raised beds, the three pictured above, plus the strawberry bed just below the back decks, now in white flower. In case anyone thinks gardening isn't exercise, my legs were sore for two days after. I dug around the Italian parsley, Scottish 'Sutherland' heirloom kale (for if the Scots don't know what to grow in cold, wet climes, who does?), and Italian lacinato kale (top bed), planted late last summer (see here how much they've grown in six weeks), the oregano bush that bees love (middle bed), and a stray cosmos (bottom bed), which will flower this summer in periwinkle.

Our garden is a weed-choked mess compared to the neighbor's, whose yard looks like something out of the Williams-Sonoma 'Agrarian' collection (only better because real), complete with chickens, though to be fair, she's an interior designer who had originally planned to become an exterior designer (landscape architect). My thumb's a sick mint compared to her emerald one. Still, my insides warm and flutter when I skip downstairs and out back to snip wide leaves off the yellow-bloomed kale, wash them up, and discover I've bathed an orange ladybug, which I rescued by placing her to dry off on the balcony thyme, now even bloomier than a week ago.

kale with ladybug

I know lately I've been playing Cassandra without an orchestra, singing gloom-and-doom prophecies to a crowd of empty seats, but if not me, listen to Chomsky. There's now a label for this underemployed, disillusioned state: I'm a member of the "precariat," the proletariat updated. Though I don't own a gun, I could take up arms with my chef's knife, though most of the time I just wield it to chiffonade kale, mince garlic, and slice homemade bread and such. But one never knows. I could join the revolution. (Last night I dreamt I told off a bigwig at work about my wages and woke smiling.)

kale chiffonade with garlic

The thing is, it's revolutionary these days in the U.S., we Portland weirdos aside, to cook from scratch, let alone pull breakfast from the garden, when corporations prefer we buy from them prepared and processed boxes-o'-chemicals—just add water. Mai oui, NestlĂ©! We feed their stockholders. We nourish the 1% with our envelopes of coupons. There just isn't as much money to be made in vegetables, those water-filled fruits of the earth, especially those fresh from local farmers, even less from those grown in our own urban and suburban backyards.

I confess I haven't been eating that nutritiously myself the last couple of months, what with the bread and pasta making. Michael Pollan ("Eat food, not too much, mostly plants") clucks that humans have evolved to eat mostly leafy greens, not seeds (grains), let alone all that meat and dairy. And my body has told me so with a nice stress-induced chin rash for several weeks that seems finally to be fading, now that I'm eating more vegetables and greens again, some from right downstairs.

So this morning my ladybug-free kale chiffonade was sauteed in olive oil with garlic, a couple eggs stirred in, topped with shredded cheese (what can I say except that some of my forebears were French and Danish?), and doused in hot-pepper sauce. There's no recipe here—this is simple food. Anyone can cook. For years I've been hearing more younger women claiming never to have learned how to cook, while encountering more men who do and do it well. But really, everyone should. Our ancestors would think we have collectively become great rollicking ignoramuses, unable to cook and farm and think for ourselves.

kale scramble*

So let's revolt against Kraft, against Nestlé, against the stale-boxed status quo. Let's reclaim the kitchen, the garden, the body, the workplace. What is there to lose except everything?

kale bed in bloom

*Note: The shallow dish is one of a treasured set of two handmade bowls thrifted at Goodwill a few years ago, and the mug is a Goodwill-thrifted vintage Heath Ceramics Stack Mug ($1), my favorite for coffee.

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