Being an omnivore is a good thing

Bears, humans and beagles have all had the good fortune to have been born omnivores.

For those of you who slept through science class, an omnivore is an animal with the capacity to eat and process just about everything from beefsteak to broomsticks. Not being picky eaters means omnivores usually don’t face the starving times that frequently confront their carnivore and herbivore companions.

I enjoy my status as an omnivore and due to my placement in the upper level of the food chain will admit that given a choice I tend to lean more towards the carnivore side of my nature.

The colder the weather, the more consumption of flesh — the fatter the better — appeals to me. If I had been given the opportunity to hibernate like my brother, the bear, I probably wouldn’t have those dreams of pork roasts and plump chickens, but I have to spend the winter months prowling the meat counters in the local supermarkets.

The cold is long gone — for now — and the local fruit of the Earth is starting to appear on farm stands, farmer’s markets and in the local markets. My food choice needle slowly starts to swing from the carnivore side towards the herbivore.

Fresh veggies taste so good after the wrinkled, plastic-tasting things that were in the market all winter long. There isn’t a frozen, canned, cellophane-wrapped tomato anywhere on Earth that tastes as good as one allowed to ripen in the sun on its own vine.

I picked two small tomatoes from the pots on the terrace where they have been growing. I picked a little fresh basil and added them to the bowl where I had cut up a cucumber from the farmers market, I added a little balsamic vinegar and started to understand how people could become vegetarians.

Sweet corn has made its appearance now. When I was a kid, we had a large patch of sweet corn which we planted just outside our cave.

Mom would put the big pot on the stove to boil while we young ones went out into the field and picked armloads. We had them husked, stripped of their hairy silk and popped into the pot in no time. No herd of robber raccoons could have disposed of ears of corn faster than we did.

The corn of choice then was Golden Bantam. It had larger kernels and wasn’t as sweet as the corn today; I liked it better but it’s hard to find today.

Then, in that distant time, we grew most of the veggies we ate, and today I have people that do that for me.

They do all the hard work, all I have to do is pay them and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

I’m sure there’s a special place waiting in the Promised Land for all those who farm the land.

I hope it’s a nice piece of fertile bottom land with no rocks and plenty of water. They’ve earned it.

I would have been a farmer if I hadn’t been such a big chicken. You’d think that anyone that spent 38 years in an elementary school and 20 years in politics wouldn’t be afraid of anything, but farming is a scary way to make a living.

Too much rain, too little rain, hail, insects, diseases, fires and urban development don’t make for an easy life. I’m especially grateful for those who grow our food at this time of the year.

The veggies now are getting more and more like the ones I remember as a child. Most of them are “organic” and as such command a higher price.

The ones we grew just had nothing done to them, we didn’t know that letting bugs eat a little made them better. We never knew we had free-range chickens either, we just let them run around loose.

If we’d have had more education, we probably could have been rich by now.

Thought for the week — Why are a “wise man” and a “wise guy” opposites?

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach Dick Brooks at Whittle12124@yahoo.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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