I was always told that a bit of dirt was good for me.
And I’ve grown to believe that lettuce ain’t lettuce unless it’s got the right amount of grit to leaf ratio.
I rarely wash my allotment produce before I cook the veg. This is now just a force of habit, but I don’t think it’s a bad one.
I suppose we’ve come to expect our fruit and veg to look spotlessly clean by the shiny equivalents sold in the supermarkets. Our apples are even polished before they hit the shelves.
My rooty veg, such as carrots, parsnips, and potatoes, get a good scrub generally, and I do wipe the mud off my squashes, but that’s about it. Most of my fruit and veg gets dumped straight on the chopping board ready to be eaten or cooked.
When I talk about this, many people think I’m nuts, but I come from a family who still ate anything that we dropped on the floor. The ten-second rule we called it: if it was laying on the ground for less than this time period, you would still rescue the food and scoff it down.
I’m also saddened when people turn their noses up at the funny shaped apples in my fruit basket, which I’ve nabbed from local parks. This is what they’re meant to look like, I feel like hollering.
It reminds me of the Inbetweeners episode where Neil accidentally catches a fish: “I’m not eating that, it came out of the sea!”
Similarly, I was helping out planting trees at a primary school not so long ago, and a little lad came up to teach in a right tizz because he had mud all over his trousers. Apparently his mum was going to go mad at this.
I’m not sure why our society seems to be becoming so adverse to soil, grit, and mud, but I reckon we should all get a bit more dirty. Not like Christina Aguilera, but more earthy, and actually in touch with what our food actually looks like.
This is no new message, and one that has been pointed out far more eloquently by much smarter people than me, but it is an important one.
And this is where growing food plays such an integral part. I found out that a Twitter friend of mine is going to be a dad this week, and I’m excited about his little ‘un because I know ahead of he or she is the bestest, dirtiest and earthiest upbringing possible.
They’ll be all the better for it in my humble opinion.
P.S. I do draw the line at greenfly, by the way. They get washed right off.