July 3, 2010

Get Spiritual, Eat Sweet, or Give Kombucha a Kick ::: You Pick!

There’s a book called “Finding God in the Garden”, by Balfour Brickner…

You can read (I like it) or you can go outside and discover a few things yourself. What’s a You Pick farm? It’s a farm where you visit and pick your own fruit. There’s a new hostel in Gainesville called “The Zen Hostel”. Owner Tobe Terrell gave me a book he wrote called “The Game Caller”. I’ll write more about these two books another time. “The Game Caller” talks about a visit to a Hare Krishna home. My takeaway is his thought that “Krishna’s name may change from one religion to another”. I believe there’s spirituality out on the farm.

How many times have you passed signs that call out “You Pick”? Did you stop? I suggest you do. Here’s the drill: pull over, park it (a bike? Nice!)  and walk in. Say hi, stretch your body and grab a bucket. Walk over to a tree full of fruit and eat a little. Most places don’t mind at all if you eat a bunch *and* buy some.

Go hungry! Things taste better when you’re hungry. Don’t worry about what you’re going to take with you. Just eat as much as you want. It’s good for you. So is being outdoors. Did you bring some people you love? That’s key. It’ll be even more fun with people you love.

It’s quiet on the farm. You’ll hear birds, the wind, branches rustling. You’ll discover your own technique, a picker’s technique.

Nick and Erin Picked...Eachother!

Nick and Erin just got married. And, today’s Nick’s birthday! They have just been on a late honeymoon to Guatemala, post tropical storm. Erin picked coffee in Central America. So, she had particular talent for blueberry picking. Her technique? Grab a bunch and hold the bucket underneath. She wound up with a mighty bucketful. In our case, the blueberries were $3/lb.

Ever read “The Yearling”, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings? We were just down the road a piece from Cross Creek, where the story takes place, here in Florida. There are some intricacies about picking blueberries and what to do afterwards, just like many other seemingly simple things. Like, the advice is not to wash them until you’re ready to use them. Don’t let me mislead you though: You Pick is not complicated. Kids love it. Lots of room to run and play. Parents do, too. Not much for the kids to get in trouble with.

Nick and Michael Pick Blueberries

Did I mention something about kombucha? I hear a rumor there’s some controversy about the fizzy tea known as kombucha. I’ve held my tongue. Why get involved? What do I care if lots of people run something down so much that the readers may never give it a try. Let me say a few things. One, I don’t know about you, but I noticed that near beer (non-alcoholic) has about a half a percent alcohol. Ever ask yourself how many of those little boogers you’d have to drink to get a buzz?

I know the controversy is not about kombucha being a half a percent alcohol. It’s about it sometimes being more than a half a percent. All I can say is personally, mine never gives me the slightest feeling that I’ve “had a drink”. Just sayin.

How does kombucha taste? Well, how does tea taste? It’s different, depending on what kind you choose. You can make kombucha with black, green, flavored tea or even mate, among many others!

Ever buy kimchi in a grocery store? Here in the US, we have a very popular kind that doesn’t appeal to me much. It’s bitter, kind of dry and tastes like it’s been on the shelf too long. On the other hand, we make some kimchi from our community garden vegetables that tastes so good the people prefer it to cinnamon buns. I’ll fill you in on that another time, too.

Point being that kombucha is a lot like other things that differ from maker to maker. It tastes vinegary if you let it sit too long. You may have read one article quoting a kombucha manufacturer saying something like you don’t drink it for taste. You drink it because it’s good for you. OK, I had to get this exactly right. Here’s the quote from Seth Goldman of Honest Tea “I will say that I don’t know if kombucha ever sold on its taste… I guess you get used to it, but I think functionality is the main selling point of kombucha to the consumers who buy it.” I’m not going to belabor this point, but to state the obvious, do you really expect to like something after hearing the maker say that? No offense, Seth. On the contrary, I admire your honesty. It takes guts and integrity to say something like that. Well, the kombucha I make tastes good. Especially kombucha with fresh blueberries in it. Not just good, but sort of like champagne or cider, only flavored the way I like it.

All right. I’ll leave you with this thought. You have lots of choices when it comes to how you spend your free time. But, I’ll say picking blueberries is one nice option. Have fun!

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