I’m leaning over the kitchen sink. I take a first bite of the first peach I have ever grown. The skin is slightly tougher that commercial varieties. There is a milliseconds worth of hesitation as my teeth encounter the skin and then break through. Sweet, peachy juice erupts in my mouth and dribbles down my chin.
I posted the picture of the peach on Instagram. I showed the top, near perfect side cupped in my hand. It was a thing of beauty. It is the bit of the peach that I didn’t show that is problematic. The other side, the side hidden, the dark side, nestled in the palm of my hand had a coin-shaped, grey mush of tainted flesh.
This is, in general, the hitch with my veggie garden. I love growing the food. I love harvesting the food. I love eating vegetables. In particular, I love eating the sterile, plastic wrapped, never-seen-soil vegetables from my local supermarket. My own vegetables are tainted with the memory of the the slugs and snails and and weird C-shaped grubs in the soil that I’ve attended to whilst the plants were still growing. Every time I take a bite I’m fighting the memory of the little girl who found half a worm in her segment of childhood tangerine. I can’t come up with a visual image of the (I assume) toxic fumes of the pesticides and growth stimulants on the commercial veggies in the same way. I’ve read about the wickedness of those farms but never experienced it so it stays as an idea.
My visceral, gorge rising memory trumps my cognitive notion of harm most of the time.
When the fruit and veggies arrive from the garden perfectly unblemished I can, with a force of will, forget the ‘extra protein’ (thanks Mum) and eat them anyway. But, anything with even a hint of insect activity is hard for me (literally) to swallow. My throat tightens. My stomach heaves. I am simultaneous revolted by the food and by my city-girl prissiness. It is, after all, only a peach.
So here I am at the sink focusing my attention on rouge cheeked, suede covered, perfect peach skin pretending that I’m not fighting revulsion with eat bite. The juice, somehow sweeter, tarter and tangier for never having endured a cold chain slips down my chin and I chew, chew, chew and then swallow. A delicious, triumphant bite of peach.