everyday-pumpkins2A friend was actually asked this question by her college roommate from Long Island.

‘Wow,” I thought. “How did she ever make it to college?”

“Not so fast!!” I admonished myself. “Don’t be so quick to judge.”

Is it so impossible to imagine that a tomato or an eggplant grew on a tree? Why not, if the only place you have ever seen them is in a grocer’s bin? And some fruit, like jackfruit, can reach a hundred pounds, and it grows on a tree.

So what is actually the difference between a fruit and a vegetable? We’re getting into murky water here. From a culinary standpoint, it’s fairly simple. Fruits (including berries) are sweet, and vegetables usually aren’t.

Botanically speaking, though, it’s a whole ‘nother story. Fruits contain seeds; vegetables don’t. But try telling your kids that green peppers or cucumbers are really fruit. Tough sell.

Wait a minute! What about a coconut? It has no seed.

Oh, yes it does! That’s the white part we eat. And it’s not a nut at all.

We could find anomalies like this everywhere in the plant world. So let’s not go there.

I guess what I’m really trying to get at is that we should make the younger generation more aware of where the food they eat actually comes from.

Most of the vegetables we eat today would not have been found in a colonial garden. They had wheat, barley, rye, squash (which they called

‘marrows) and beans. The Indians introduced them to corn, and ship captains brought back many exotics that are common today to our founding father’s farms. Monticello and Mount Vernon were really the first experimental farms.

People who live in our area are lucky. We’re not exactly a farming community, but farms are at hand, where our kids can even go picking fruits and vegetables. School gardens have become more common.

Take your children to the Port Royal Farmers Market where there is a plethora of fruits and vegetables which have been locally grown. Talk to the farmers themselves about their crops.

You’ll find all kinds of surprises there. One of the vendors actually grows mushrooms in their basement – kinds you would never find in a supermarket. And yes, there really are a few basements in Beaufort!

It has only been in the last 100 years that our diets haven’t depended on the season or where we lived.  Orange juice is as common in Alaska as it is in Florida. And you can have strawberry shortcake for Christmas.

Such bounty was never dreamed of by our forefathers.

I read recently where they’re even able to grow real meat in a lab. Yuck. I’d rather go vegan.