Elegy to vegetable cruelty

Woe the pain of a parsnip, the bereavement of a beet, the sad state of spinach. Where is the humanity?

Pity the parsnip: artificially germinated, forced to sprout in a furrow, nurtured (if you can call it that) in a bed of manure, raised with indifference, virtually ignored until it reaches market weight. Then it's thoughtlessly deracinated, mechanically decapitated, mercilessly skinned, and, in a final act of stultifying callousness, boiled alive.

A bundle of living, breathing parsnips, so rudely yanked from their underground home. Photo: Victor Bayon.

Fruit and veg of other species fare no better. Corn is stripped from its parental cob. Parsley is hacked to death. Spinach is chopped and creamed, potatoes routinely whipped, pumpkins eviscerated, grain thrashed and flailed. Who's there to coddle and console a carrot? Provide foster-care for an orphaned banana? Instead, there's jubilation when cherries are doused in alcohol and set afire.

Think about this: by "harvesting" a string bean, we're kidnapping the plant's children. What does it do to our humanity, when, three times a day, we kill vegetables just to feed our voracious animal appetites?

Murder. Photo: Ronald Holden.

Cruelty to vegetables is a serious concern, hidden from view because farming and gardening appear to be so natural, and questioning "nature's way" isn't politically correct. But lower taxes on farmland means higher taxes for the rest of our property. Plants require a lot of water, and water's not cheap.

Look it up: I'll bet farmers use more than their share of sunlight, too.

Seattle writer Ronald Holden blogs at Cornichon.org. He can be reached at editor@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Sep 1, 11 a.m. Inappropriate

Is this Sept 1 or April 1?

On a more serious note: Michael Pollan wrote an entire book about why many plants fruit as they do.

http://michaelpollan.com/interviews/botany-of-desire/

afreeman

Posted Tue, Sep 2, 8:49 a.m. Inappropriate

Absolutely true, afreeman. And Diane Ackerman wrote A Natural History of the Senses in much the same vein.

Plants are pretty smart, when you come down to it. Smarter than many humans, who regularly do stuff that goes against their own interests (like carrying loaded weapons, like voting for Republicans).

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