Too much like hard work

Posted July 19th, 2010 by Penny Wise

Jul 19, 2010

Hooray! We have an abundance of broccoli in the garden again! Just in the nick of time too, as we had just run out of the stash we had frozen from the last crop and we absolutely refused to buy it from the supermarket, much too expensive! It's scary how expensive winter vegetables are to buy; it certainly makes you think twice about which ones you're prepared to pay for.

The latest statistics show the price of fruit and vegetables has risen by more than 9% over May and June so I was really impressed to see a couple of local places this week helping families to get more fresh produce for their dollar. The Glenview Fruit and Vege Market in Hamilton has been stopping traffic with their sign advertising their winter special. For $10 customers can get a broccoli, a silverbeet and a bag each of carrots, apples, onions, kumara, pears and potatoes. Or, you can buy $20 worth of freshly picked homegrown fruit and vegetables for $10 in Huntly, thanks to Kim Rangi; an enterprising Community Health Coach. Good on 'em and others like them I say!

Still, the cheapest way to save on fruit and veges is of course to grow your own. I'm certainly grateful at this time of year for my little freezer full of broccoli, cauliflower, broccoflower, pumpkin and celery. I almost always freeze our celery as none of us like it raw but it's great in soups and stews!

Since his new job started, Noel hasn't had too much time for getting out in the garden but he's still been saving us plenty of money on our food bill - thanks to other people's vegetable gardens! He's been having a wonderful time pootling along the winding coastal roads and picking up all sorts of bargains from local roadside growers, saving at least 50% compared to supermarket prices. However his best coup so far is the sack of about 60 avocados given to him by one of his new clients! Apparently they stay green as long as you want them; you simply put them in a warm place such as a hot water cupboard or by the fire and they will ripen over several days. We won't need to buy avocados for a VERY long time!

Because so many of the places he travels are in the back of beyond, we have to be really disciplined about making sure Noel always has plenty of lunch, drinks and snacks packed from home. It's great - he just pulls up at the nearest beach wherever he happens to be and tucks into his lunch, looking out over the sea. Mind you, almost wherever he goes on his travels his friendly new clients invite him in for sandwiches or home made soup. How many jobs do you get like that these days?

It's a standing joke in our family that if the sky were to fall in tomorrow, Noel and Ali would survive quite comfortably, whilst left to our own devices Liam and I would undoubtedly starve. One of my favourite sayings, which I've said before and admit to pinching from Fiona is 'Give a man a fish and he will have food for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will have food for life'. Ali is definitely living proof of that! He can grow his own food, he can hunt it and he can catch it too. Only yesterday he singlehandedly brought home enough dinner to feed all four of us after his first fishing expedition off the rocks. While poor Noel caught nothing but a cold, Ali caught a feast of kahawai, piper and a rare treat that the boys and I had never tried before - butterfish. True to the name it melts in the mouth! Our baby of the family turns 12 this Thursday and all he wants for his birthday is fishing gear. I have a feeling that there will never be a shortage of Ali-caught dinners once we move to the beach permanently!

One thing which has really struck me about most of the people who have come to view our house is their lack of enthusiasm about growing your own food. I thought it would be a major selling point, with chooks producing fresh eggs every day and homegrown food available all year round but so far the majority of people have said 'Oh no, I don't have any time for gardening - that's much too much like hard work!' At which point I always feel like saying 'What do you mean, hard work? We've done all the hard work for you! There's a whole orchard of trees out there bearing fruit all year round! There are hedges full of berries, passionfruit vines, rows of feijoa and citrus trees. All you have to do is pick it and eat it - where's the hard work in that? Or would you rather drive to the supermarket to get your fruit and veges?'

Of course I don't actually say it - I just smile sweetly and bite my tongue but I find it hard to believe that so many people truly believe they don't have the time to eat the cheapest, best quality food that nature can give them - or stranger still, that they don't have the time to SAVE themselves time going shopping! I would hate to think that our years of planting and nurturing all this wonderful food might be left to rot or feed nothing but the birds and possums when we leave here. There must be other mad people like us out there who enjoy nothing better than 'too much hard work!'

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