Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rescued Plums and Why Putting Up Matters

I had originally intended this post to just be about my unexpected, delightful plum harvest, but a thoughtful comment from a SFFT reader on my previous post made me realize that my surprise plums meant more to me than just something else to fill up my canning pantry.

My plums came to me by a lucky chance. One of my dear friends and SFFT reader Sara Buss had recently discovered a cluster of old plum trees at the edge of her property, after some brush had been cleared away.

I happen to have a penchant for both plums and secret gardens, so you can imagine my glee when she showed me the find.

Some of the plums were too soft and overripe to be saved, but we both came away with quite a harvest. Most of mine ended up going straight into jars, pits and all.

Whole canned plums. Recipe from the book Tart and Sweet.

The rest of them went first into my crockpot ...

...and then were blended with spices, lemon juice and sugar for plum butter.

I shared in my last post how I had foraged a single pear from an old tree growing on an abandoned lot in my neighborhood. One of our readers observed that there is a great deal of food that ends up rotting on the ground, particularly in urban areas. Meanwhile, we have a staggering number of U.S. residents who suffer from hunger. There are a multitude of complicated causes for this very sad contradiction; how we can produce an excess of food and let so many go hungry. I don't claim to be an expert on this issue and others much more qualified and informed than I am have already explored it in depth.

But what I do know, is that food matters.

What we do in our kitchens every day matters.

What we grow in our gardens, on our balconies and on our window sills matters.

The attitude we pass on to our children about their food and where it comes from matters.

And when we share what we're cooking and eating and learning with others, that matters too.

And no, I don't think my canned plums are going to solve our deeply rooted cycles of poverty and hunger.

Canning condiments in pretty jars will not change the world.

But you have to look a bit closer than that. What if it's just the act of harvesting and preserving that makes the difference? That inspires and empowers us and others to feed our friends and families? What if making use of a few dozen pieces of fruit from an overlooked tree led to an entirely different outlook on the issue of access to available food resources?  What if it helped us to see with new eyes the need for a more generous and fair food system?

That might change the world.

I love so much this inspiring post from Alana over at Eating from the Ground Up. I'll quote part of it here, but please go read the whole thing. It's perfect.

"Because those acts of filling, preserving, creating, feeding–I really do think it’s the actions themselves that create change. The jars are pretty and the contents are delicious, and that seems to me to be enough of a reason to give it a shot. But for me, the real capacity for change comes in the events that come after we fill the jar. If I can do this, what else can I do? What else can I make and create?"

Those are powerful words, friends. Let's not underestimate ourselves. If we're making and sharing and creating with eyes and hearts open to the needs among us, I think we really might just accomplish something crazy.

Like that whole world-changing thing.

Thank you again to Sara Buss for sharing her unexpected plum bounty with me! Thank you also to SFFT reader Daughter of the Glade for her thoughtful observations.

Rebekah Pike 
Rebekah is happiest with her nose in a book and enjoys making the most of her pint-sized, apartment kitchen. After leaving work in media production to become a full-time mommy, she began exploring the sustainable living movement, reconnecting with the back-to-the-earth ideals of her hippie parents. She met her husband, Darian, in 2005, working as a camp counselor in Oregon's rugged outdoors. Most of their time is spent chasing after their two year old daughter, Ashlynn, and doing serious “research” at Portland's restaurants, coffee shops and markets.


Anonymous said...

One thing that I love is that in my urban area (Portland, Oregon) - and probably in some others - we have a group known as the Portland Fruit Tree Project. People who have trees or bushes that produce more fruit than they can use (which is pretty much anyone with fruit trees or bushes) can register with the project. Then volunteers scout the areas to see what's ripe when (also using common sense as to what ripens when), and groups of people gather to pick. A donation is asked if you pick, but not required. Half of the harvest goes to the local food bank system, and the other half gets divided amongst the workers - and that may not sound like you get much, but I was frantically canning for days, plus eating as much as my GI tract would tolerate, and I still barely got through my share before it went bad! I think it's such a fabulous program, and I would love to see it implemented in other urban areas...

Rebekah said...

Hi Shalora! I'm in the Portland area too and I had heard rumor of this project, but didn't know much about it! What fantastic idea!


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