The Astounding Taste of Fresh Food

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Joanne Lehman discovers time and time again that all her food at dinner has come from her garden.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS’S Garden Essay Contest, titled “Why We Dig Gardening,” prompted many responses — here is one of our favorites!

What happened to me yesterday — awakening to find myself in a kitchen that smelled like my grandma’s — wasn’t something I’d counted on when I decided to subsidize our grocery bill with a garden. Before I knew it, I’d re-entered my childhood. I walked the lane to my garden day after day, planted, waited and replanted.

Finally my harvest began. I got a canner and began making tomato sauce, pickles and relish. I froze corn, peas and beans, and shelled lima beans for the first time since I was about 10. My kitchen smelled of strawberries, pickle brine, tomatoes, onions, peppers and cabbage.

In all of this activity, I found a kind of peace and wholeness that eluded me when I was making hurried dashes through the grocery store and reaching for clean, attractive produce that got “rained” on periodically from the sprinklers above the displays. In the business of driving to and from work, I’d gradually lost my enthusiasm for putting food on the table.

At first, my own garden produce was much less attractive than the kind I bought in town. It was amazing how much time I spent picking, scrubbing, peeling and otherwise preparing food. But I was completely astounded by the taste of fresh food, available day in and day out. Often I’d sit down to a meal and remark, “Everything we’re having tonight is from the garden.”

Joanne Lehman
Apple Creek, Ohio

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