Something Fabulous, Something Worrying, Two Things That Delight
These mulberry (Morus) fruits look a bit disoriented, with good reason. A windstorm a year ago tore their loaded branch off the old tree 50 feet from my backdoor. Once the storm passed through, thousands of black (sweet), dark red (sweet-tart) and white (sour) mulberries, typically tucked under the protection of long rows of leaves, presented themselves in the open, at about at about waist level -- perfect for effortless picking.
I became a mulberry-ian on the spot. I have lived around mulberries all my life, but somehow had never put one in my mouth. That amazes me, and as I wrote earlier this year, mulberries are not the only fantastic, widely available food I have only recently tasted.
There's no explaining it.
But there are things to be done - and one of those things is to take people of all ages to the tree this year, show them the berries, and watch as their faces register the pleasure of the sweetly tasty, soft, pleasing, not seedy fruit. I love blackberries, especially wild ones, but mulberries are better: sweeter, missing the bitter undertone, and missing the famously diamond-shaped seeds.
Mulberries are so delicate, so thin-skinned, that they cannot be picked into a box and sold at a farmers' market. Straight into the mouth, or if you don't mind the mess, into a bowl to make a pie - that's it. Mulberries are maximum local food. For the next two or three weeks, look around your neighborhood for telltale purple spots on the sidewalk or street, and then look up. Chances are good you will see these fine-tasting berries, and chances are also good you will be able to reach quite a few of them. Do try - and hoist up a nearby child or two so they can start loving this beautiful free food a lot earlier than I did.
On the other hand, organic milk, a completely familiar, virtually irreplaceable food, is in serious jeopardy, according to a recent New York Times story by Katie Zezima. I have become convinced by Weston A. Price Foundation research of the merits of unpasteurized and, particularly, un-homogenized milk.
If you can support a dairy farmer who is using organic practices and treating the milk with all appropriate care, please do. Where fresh milk is sold directly to consumers -- see states' milk policies here -- buyers pay a premium of about $2/gallon to support local organic producers. For all who can afford it, this premium not only supports body health and community economic health, but also helps with planetary health by reducing pollutants in air, water, and soil.
In spite of this deep concern about a core food, we have reasons for great hope that even those of us who live in cities are regaining the freedom and self-reliance that come from feeding ourselves. Lexington's urban agriculture efforts pause for a Pea Pickin' Party at the London Ferrell Community Garden this Saturday, June 6. You're invited.
And the final delight, the dessert. Get ready to be happy because human beings right in our own time are ingenious and flexible. Enjoy reading about Urban Sharecropping. It is so much better than it sounds, as you will see. Apartment dwellers with no land get matched up with people with backyard space to spare. Gardening ensues. All benefit.
In appreciation for tipping us about this article, we dip the Savoring Kentucky fork to the tall, handsome, kind young gentleman from New Hampshire Avenue (and before that, from our sister Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and before that - yessiree, from this Bluegrass State).