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Favor fresh over fast

Going through the lunch line on my first day of school at Thompson Elementary, pickles were the only food I found that I would eat.

The next few years, my tastes matured only a little. Most meals were chicken fingers or grilled cheeses.

Since then, though, I’ve come a long way. I’ll eat almost anything you put in front of me, and vegetables in particular have grown on me.

So, in recent years I’ve gotten much delight out of the vegetable garden my dad maintains every year. He’s had watermelons, tomatoes, squash, okra, green beans, cucumber, corn, peas, and several different kinds of peppers. Tomatoes are his (to grow) and my (to eat) specialty. I believe I could live off tomato sandwiches.

This being my first spring in my home here in Clanton, I decided I would stop mooching and start growing my own vegetables. I spent last Saturday turning a small section of my small back yard into a garden. Unless I find a way to mess things up—and that’s a good possibility—I’ll have tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, banana peppers, bell peppers and hot peppers.

I’m not one to make New Years resolutions, but each year I do remind myself that Jan. 1 is a great opportunity to begin a year of healthier eating. So, the prospect of having my own vegetables is exciting, and I look back on my childhood with regret that it took me so long to realize the great food I was missing. I don’t blame my parents—almost every meal was home cooked—but instead think poor diets are mostly a result of a lazy society in general.

Americans, and many other people across the world, have lost touch with where food comes from. Instead of out of the ground or someone wringing a chicken’s neck, it seems we have grown accustomed to our meals coming from the fast food line or the frozen foods section of the grocery store. The United States has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, and it’s important that our children stop thinking corn dogs and instant macaroni and cheese is an acceptable meal.

Instead of settling for what is easiest to prepare, we should make an effort to eat fresh and healthy food. I’m going to practice what I preach this summer—if my plants survive my caretaking, that is.