Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mini tomato entrepreneurs, goodwill, and pride

When I was a kid, I'd load up my family's excess produce into a little red wagon with removable sides and sell it on the street. I remember someone stopped their car to buy tomatoes once and wanted to buy them by the pound. I said "this one is a quarter and that one is fifty cents." When they got disgusted and flustered because I didn't have a scale, let alone know how to use one, I said, "I don't know. I'm just a kid." They left. I remember thinking that the person was mean.

I used to take the same wagon (which I also used as a go-cart in death-defying rides down my neighbor's driveway into the street) to an older lady's house and give her vegetables *just to be nice*. I would pick out samples of the prettiest strawberries or tomatoes or zucchini and squash to share with her and drag that wheelie cart to her place across the street. I had my mother's approval, of course. Looking back at my mother's enslavement to canning she was probably sparing herself some agony. I felt like a million bucks. And the nice old lady across the street was happy.

I still give vegetables to old ladies; they appreciate them and the exchange still makes me feel awesome. Now I also am proud because I grew the darn things and they are tasty. My neighbor Edna loves my pineapple tomatoes and asks for them by name.

The mayor of some town closed down a kid's vegetable stand because it was operating without permits. It strikes me that we should be more afraid of food coming from factory farms next to porcine confined animal feeding operations; these places spread disease and lack a human element. But what do I know? I'm just a kid with a tomato stand who plays in the street.

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