Thursday, August 4, 2011


                Perfection. Now just what exactly does that mean? To be “perfect”, to be the prima example, but, what again does that mean? Alas, after analyzing life on this planet for over forty years, all I have ever witnessed is imperfection! The state of flux, that is, that natural state of existence as all species evolve involves many multifarious levels of imperfection! But in the produce aisles of our supermarkets… that is unacceptable!!!
                It is normally around this time of year, the very end of July, that imperfection appears before me on every organic plant that attempts to thrive and produce its next generation of offspring. Beans are nicked, splotched and deformed, kale and chard leaves have holes, dead spots, etc., melons are cracked with many unknown assailants devouring their insides, Colorado potato beetle larva have long been devouring the potato leaves, groundhogs have inevitably breached the perimeter of the fences and found/devoured the latest lettuce and endive plantings, and the tomatoes have played host for the multitude of creatures that love to devour that fresh nectar, from the gruesome hornworm to the ever increasing population of brown marmorated stink bugs to name a few.
                Ah, perfection, what on earth could that really be? In fact, can perfection truly occur on earth? What, after all, is perfection?
                Alas, as far as I can fathom, it is an unfathomable “ideal”. However, if one discounts the most superficial of senses, that of sight, perhaps, just perhaps perfection can be found. If one takes, say, taste as the most important sense, there is an immeasurable amount of perfection on the farm! All that marred fruit, from tomatoes to beans to cantaloupes would be absolutely perfect if taste was the guiding force… and not sight!
                But that is not at all an easy fact to sell. Even if taken from the point of evolution, that is, for whatever reason, wiring, whatever, our bodies, our taste buds tell us specifically what is good for us by… tasting good, or even great! It is the natural path to survival. When we eat something that is bad for us, it does NOT taste good. Chomping into a delicious strawberry will not result in death. Such is the nature of how we human creatures, as well as all other creatures on the planet thrive. But this reflects the natural side of things, taste, and not the superficial, sight.
                Perfection on the visual side can only be accomplished through trickery at best. Perhaps through a particular camera angle, perhaps with extreme amounts of make-up, perhaps even something computer generated can display an example of “perfection”. Alas, it is never a situation of true reality. It is always some form of illusion.
                In order to explain better the point of this entry, I will use tomatoes as an example, and then juxtapose that with school age children. Hang on… and here we go!
                The perfect tomato exists in a large heap of red, often dull red, found on supermarket shelves from December to December, or July to July, that is, year round. Those tomatoes are perfectly round, and very, VERY solid. That visual display of perfection does not change throughout the year, or the decade… And after many decades, and perhaps a couple of generations, that visual perfection is ALL that will be acceptable in regards to what a perfect tomato should be, or more accurately, look like. Why mess with perfection?
                I have to pause here to interject my exasperation on how such a view of “perfection” actually developed in the first place. But I have jumped ahead here…
                THE PERFECTLY ROUND, RED, SOLID TOMATOES FOUND IN SUPERMARKETS ARE NOT PERFECT!!! They are… well, they are not tomatoes that are anywhere near perfect, that is, in the natural world. The supermarket tomatoes have been bred to:  be stacked layers deep without bruising, thus allowing for global-wide shipping, be perfectly round, that is, ideal for “slicing”, and uniformly red… Oh, here there needs to be some clarification. While some “locally” grown red slicing tomatoes may actually “ripen on the vine”, the vast majority are harvested green and artificially “ripened” during transport by the use of ethylene gas. While this may be the superficially “perfect” tomato, it is by no means an actual “perfect” tomato. But then again, that goes back to flavor…
                The actual “perfect” tomato varies in size from a small cherry to some well over a pound in size, which sometimes requires two hands to carry. They ripen in a wide variety of colors from purple to pink to orange and yellow, even GREEN! But seldom red. They cannot be stacked in layers for they will bruise easily, and they will not last for months on a supermarket shelf. For certain, that does not sound all too similar to a supermarket “perfect” tomato, and indeed it is not, but we are dealing with the difference between the superficiality of sight, and the actual delectable enjoyment of taste. By taste comparison, well, there is no comparison!
                Back to my exasperation… how has it come to this? For countless generations, our predecessors have nurtured those strangely shaped and differently hued tomatoes full of exploding flavor, only to lead to uniformly dull red, solid tomatoes piled on high on supermarket shelves. Actually, all of this has to do with global commerce. Do a Google search on Monsanto to see how bad it can get, that is, how far from natural reality…
                Anyway, what if perfection in regards to our own species was relegated to uniformity… and tastelessness? Actually, that was taken on by Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury early last century, as well as many others. But let’s play with this a little. As the tomatoes that I grow range in a multitude of colors and sizes, and well as deformities, etc., and yet are EXTREMELY delicious, let’s envisage this situation within a typical middle school of human children.
                Now to start, we are equating supermarket shelf tomatoes to middle school children. To begin, ALL children must be red in color, or I guess ruddy would be as close as it gets. Already we are up against segregation lawsuits of all kinds. Next, anyone tall or short… gone. Dump ‘em, toss’em, whatever, they don’t fit in. Anyone skinny or fat… Ciao! Early bloomer or late makes no difference because they will all be artificially brought to maturity anyway.
                So now we have the lineup of “perfection”. Wait a minute, Johnny’s got a wart… out with him! Suzie’s got a pimple… eradicate! Bobby’s got a bruise…
                I think you get the picture. And this is not to suggest the flavor motif of this entry reflects upon middle school children. That is definitely NOT funny. The point is, superficiality, which is almost always along visual lines, gets us nowhere! “Perfection”, and I assert this quite adamantly, is a matter of taste, TASTE! What your eyes see matters not at all! What your taste buds relay as you devour an “actual” tomato should stop any debate that may have arisen!

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