Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Organic... what?!!

Would you prefer organic or regular tomatoes, Ma'am? The saleswoman answered my question with a question, without lifting her eyes.

Before making a reckless choice, I decided to cease the teachable moment and acquire a bit of education in the process. Despite being married to a Californian, the West-coast organic craze never managed to stick to my rebel roots.

What’s the difference?
I cautiously responded with another question, causing a whiplash, as the lady lifted her head, looking at me with astonishment. Even though she didn’t say anything, I could see, Which planet have you landed from? and, Or, is this a trick question?, clearly spelled out all over her confused face.

I stood there without a blink, patiently waiting for the answer, appreciating the fact that the look on her face might very well make up for the cost of the overpriced vegetable.

Well, the organic means… there are no artificial additives, pesticides, and they don’t use radiation or chemical fertilizers to grow fruits and vegetables…They ripen on the vine and are not picked while still green so they can be transported easier… Also, …

I got exactly what I asked for and some… it felt a bit like being a dog chasing a car and actually catching it.

What about their taste? I interrupted before she could launch into a lecture about the use of nanotechnology in agriculture, going straight for the bottom line. What do they taste like?

They taste like tomatoes SHOULD taste. Since we got them, Ma’am, that’s all we eat.

Hey, if they are good enough for you, they are good enough for me. Just hit me with a box!

I gathered up the rest of my purchases and went home, feeling good about having made a healthy choice for our family. What greeted me when I opened the prized box was a … huge disappointment! I wanted to kick myself for not thinking to ask (and she never volunteered any information) about the looks of organic tomatoes! Part of me felt, well, superficial to be so concerned about the appearances and part of me considered going back and talking to the manager about the failure of disclosure. I couldn’t help but wonder if organic was just a euphemism for distorted, undersized and ugly.

When kids came from school, my worst suspicions were confirmed.

What’s THAT?!!!
Having been raised in the world of hydroponic clones, all uniform in color, shape and size, they didn’t know what to make of malformed, bruised and esthetically challenged pile sprawled over our kitchen counter.

Children, these are TOMATOES…. ORGANIC tomatoes!
I introduced the species like some long-lost relatives, secretly hoping they would exhibit the same inquisitiveness their mother showed in the produce store. They were unimpressed.

Are they like this naturally or did something happen to them?

I was on the verge of turning something – or somebody – into spaghetti sauce.

Next time, your only choice for dinner would be virtual tomatoes! I threatened.

I like the look of regular tomatoes much better.
My esthetically sensitive daughter chimed in. They are very – predictable (she used the word with such flair, as if to show her brother she knows something he doesn’t) - all evenly shaped, without spots and bruises, similar in size and… pretty!

Yea, and they all taste like cantaloupe, which tastes like turnip, which tastes like cabbage! And they all share the same – nutritional - non-value! Her brother glared at her as he stomped his foot as if to punctuate his last word.

I was stunned by the war of words erupting between my offspring over the beleaguered vegetable and decided it was time to intervene.

Alright, kids… as they say, The proof is in the pudding!
They both turned and looked at me, crying out in unison.

In the eating, MOM! The proof of the pudding is in the eating!

Pure and uncontaminated - organic - religion in the sight our God and Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless; stand up for the fatherless and defenseless in their plight, and guard yourself diligently against corrupting illusions which come from the godless world around you.
James 1:27

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? Matthew 5:13

Friday, March 18, 2011

When Love Stinks

Yesterday, I read the following status update on a friend’s Facebook page:

Thank you, cat, that you are a good hunter. But next time you get a mole, could you not hide it under Nico's bed until we smell it?

It might be that I am reading too much into and between these lines, but I see a wonderful love story unfolding here.

Nico obviously loves the kitty. She feeds her, scratches her belly, plays with her and lets her sleep on her bed. She even cleans the litter box after her. Kitty loves Nico back. She loves being fed, playing with Nico and the fact that she scratches her belly and lets her sleep on her bed. But, in kitty’s mind, this relationship is terribly one-sided. She really wants to scratch Nico’s belly in return but last time she tried it, her claws got in the way.

Clearly interspecies friendships require overcoming some grave communication challenges. The kitty would like to give Nico what Nico wants… the iPad2, for example, but her paws here are tied. So, she settles for the next best thing – a mole! Nothing but the best for Nico! Not some garden lizard, or an ordinary house mouse, or even that annoying fat rat that lives in the garage. Catching a mole demands patience, planning, strategy and sacrifice. But, Nico is more than worth it! So, one day, when all the stars were aligned, the kitty puts one of her seven lives on a limb, snags the prize, and lovingly leaves it as a surprise gift carefully tucked under Nico’s bed. The kitty waits and waits, already looking forward to the extra play time and some serious belly scratching as a reward for her gift. As hours turn into days and days into weeks, the kitty’s dismay becomes obvious.

What’s taking Nico so long? I think she doesn’t like me anymore...Yea, I noticed how she doesn’t play with me nearly as much as she used to…And last night she kicked me off her bed along with her covers!
The tormented cat refuses to eat and chooses to sleep on the chair in the living room.

Finally, one day, Mrs. Nico’s mom goes into Nico’s room mumbling something, and then torpedoes out… screaming?!!! And these were not happy screams, mind you! Definitely NOT happy, grateful surprise screams. The kitty, both scared and offended, hides under the birou in the hallway until the commotion is over. That night she discovers a little note, in Mrs. Nico’s mom’s beautiful handwriting:

Thank you, cat, that you are a good hunter. But next time you get a mole, could you not hide it under Nico's bed until we smell it?

The kitty is confused. The note seems to send mixed signals. Even though she is admired for her amazing hunting skills (they do recognize, after all, how hard it is to catch a mole!), she still feels that her love gift is somehow unappreciated. In fact, that it downright stinks.

But, what is the cat to do?!!! How can a kitty show her love for her owner?!!!

Just then she hears Nico’s voice as she walks in, calling her name…

Hey, Kitty, Kitty! Come over here, Kitty Where aaaaare youuuu, Kitty, Kitty? C’mon, Kitty, let’ play! Let me scratch your belly, Kitty… Hey, Kitty, Kitty… Heeeey!

"We all live off His generous bounty, gift after gift after gift..."
John 1:16
"All our righteous deeds are like filthy rags..." Isaiah 64:6

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I am ashamed to admit that it is only this year that I have, for the first time in my life as a follower of Jesus, briefly considered giving up junk food and after-dinner desserts in feeble attempt to join millions of others who, in keeping with centuries long tradition, are participating in Lent – the season of fasting and prayer preceding Easter.

What kind of child of God am I?!!! God is worth much more than a plate of Nachos and a bowl of Rocky Road,
I thought. But the thought didn’t sit well. It seemed terribly petty to think of God in such terms… as if He gets perturbed by my second helpings of ice-cream and extra cheese on my nachos and giving those up would somehow make the Celestial Calorie-Counter happy. Passing these up would do a lot more good for my waistline and my cholesterol count… but I could also see my self-satisfaction going up as these go down. In the context of Lent, that appeared, well… counterproductive.

Perhaps, I should give up socially sanctioned form of voyeurism during this time and not log into my Facebook account?

Now that would be a real sacrifice, worthy of the divinity that invented social networking, being Three-in-One. No vicarious living other people’s exciting lives in substitute for my boring hum-drum existence; no open platform for shameless bragging about great accomplishments of mine or my own; no instant ego-boost exchanges that wear off as quickly as the click of the mouse, leaving me ravenous for more…

Hmmm… now that would really hurt! I am not sure I am quite ready for that level of sacrifice yet…

Maybe instead of giving something up for Lent,
I started to negotiate with myself, I should do something exceptional… like running a 5k race, supporting a worthy cause! The idea was so brilliant, I couldn’t even take credit for it! Now, that would be a sacrifice pleasing to God!

The internal debate of Lental considerations left me tired and hungry. What should I do? What should I NOT do? What should…? The swirling world of I, me, myself battered the will and the motivation out of my drained soul exposing two weary, empty hands.

Isn’t the Lent about... what He has done… and NOT about what I do or don’t do…? More about Him… less about Me…?

He must increase, but I must decrease John 3:30

Friday, March 04, 2011

Powered By...?

Mom, can cars be powered by magma fuel?

We were walking to school, and a stream of cars was passing us by, when my endlessly inquisitive son started the barrage of not-so-out-of-his-character series of outlandish question.

No, cars can’t be powered by magma fuel. I responded tiredly.

What about the geyser – can they be powered by geyser energy?

No, cars can’t be powered by geyser energy.

What about…?

Before he could continue, I interrupted and launched into a weary sermon on the nature of the obvious.

Cars can’t be powered by magma fuel. And they can’t be powered by geyser energy. And any other energy except what they are designed for. Cars must use the kind of energy they are designed to be powered by. Some are made to use fossil fuels. If diesel, you must use diesel. If gasoline, you need to use appropriate grade. If it’s an electric car, it uses electricity. You must use the right kind of energy as its source of power. Anything different can ruin the engine...

Suddenly I paused. We’d had a rough morning and all our attempts to resolve the ever-increasing tension seemed to create more frustration, which in turn, added more tension. I was drained and the day hadn’t even started.

… And God’s children, I continued, lowering my voice to a near whisper as my lungs were filling with fresh air, God’s children are designed to be powered by God’s Spirit. Trying to get power from any other source is both ineffective and can ruin their 'engine'… God’s children must get their power from God’s Spirit…

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts.
Zechariah 4:6