Wednesday, 4 March 2009

When home grown becomes organic

I have been AWOL from this blog for various reasons, over the past few weeks (yes ok, no one noticed) and I couldn't decide what to talk about as I launch myself back onto the blogging “scene”. I could voice my opinion on the economic situation, the financial in-discrepancies of the government and bank officials, the love of the celebrity culture that is becoming sordid and inhuman, immigration, texting the police instead of contacting them directly, the Middle East situation or the “court of public opinion”.
But these are all very serious topics, and I feel the need to think of relative trivia at the moment.

What is on my mind today is organic vegetables.
I don’t mean that I have a yearning for them or am about to become vegetarian. Just that I bought and cooked an organic Savoy cabbage yesterday and am puzzled about it’s texture.

Now I have to say that this is the first time that I have bought an “organic” vegetable, or more precisely, the first time that I have bought vegetables specifically labelled as “organic”. Of course I have eaten what we used to call “home grown” vegetables many, many times. As a child I grew cabbages, lettuce, radishes and carrots in my own little plot in our back garden. This then progressed to cauliflower, sprouts and potatoes when my father acquired an allotment, and tomatoes, cucumber and peppers when we went up the gardening ladder and were the proud owners of a greenhouse. We would pick things straight out of the garden and eat them, and they were delicious (making sure that the dog hadn’t been in that area of course, but our dog was very particular about using hi’s own space for his toilet).
This process was repeated when I had a family of my own – without the allotment this time as our garden was big enough to grow almost anything we wanted for our own use.
All this home grown produce was “organic”, in the sense that there weren’t any chemicals used – unless we call pure and simple cow and horse muck, which I believe produces methane and probably other scientific type things. Methane is, I know, a gas but maybe is not classed as a chemical.

Is there any difference between “home grown “ and “organic” or is it just a new label which means that we have to pay almost twice the price for it ?
And what did I mean about the texture of my organic cabbage?
Well, I washed each individual leaf very carefully until there was no trace of any soil/dirt on it before I cooked it. But at my first mouthful, my teeth ground on what seemed like grit. The second mouthful was the same, so I took the cooked cabbage off my plate and scrutinised it again. No sign of anything except…cabbage !

So my puzzlement is this :
Is a small dose of soil/sand/grit which can not be removed by water, added to the organic vegetable to give it a little authenticity ? Is it with all vegetables or just cabbage? It’s like those jars of cockles, mussels and whelks that you can buy pickled in vinegar. I am sure they are washed thoroughly, but there is no doubt about the taste of sand that comes with them.

I will progress my way through a range of organic vegetables, and let you know the result.