An embarrassment of riches

By Carol / October 21, 2011 /

October 16 was Blog Action Day. The topic this year: ‘Food.’ I wasn’t able to blog on the 16th, but I figure it’s never too late to talk about food.

I am reminded of the biblical story in which Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dream about seven fat steers and seven gaunt steers. Joseph says the seven fat steers stand for seven years in which the land will produce far more than the people need. The seven gaunt steers represent seven years of drought and famine. Joseph’s advice to the Pharaoh is to preserve as much food as possible in the fat years because the country will need every bit if it in the lean years.

I feel as though we’re in one of the fat years. Particularly when it comes to tomatoes. My husband planted eight tomato plants last spring because our fruit cellar shelves were bare. In spite of ridiculously unfavorable weather this summer, our tomatoes came through. And keep coming through.

We canned and filled our fruit cellar shelves. I gave boxes of tomatoes to every friend bold enough to make eye contact. I took 40 pounds of tomatoes to the food pantry. Just before we left the state in early October for a vacation on the east coast, I picked every good looking green tomato and stored all of them in the fruit cellar to ripen over the next months. The average freeze date for our area is October 10. Certainly the plants would be dead when we returned.

But did it freeze? No. And the tomato plants just kept doing their thing. Upon returning, I picked another dishpan of tomatoes. My husband made goulash. I made stew. Both of us using fresh tomatoes. Tomorrow, I’m packing up bags of tomatoes for everyone I’ll see on a trip into town.

I hesitate to scream ‘enough’ because what if next year is one of the lean years? In Iowa we seldom have to worry about missing a crop. But you never know.

As with most biblical stories, the fat and lean cows convey more than their face value. In the face of an embarrassment of garden riches, I know the story is also about planning and sharing and gratitude and so much more. Would that everyone in the world could be so fortunate.


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