HERITAGE TOMATOES AND HERITAGE THOUGHTS

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A native of northern Ohio now living in Florida, I am enjoying freshly grown tomatoes now.  I have already eaten this guy’s ripe brother.  This tomato, a Brandywine, is a heritage variety which means it has NOT been hybridized to be picked early, stand up to machine picking, and long storage times.  I grow it because I can remember what a tomato tastes like.  I also know that it’s flavor contributes more than a red color to a salad, a burger or a BLT.

Every time I bite into the Brandywine tomato I am transferred back to the time in which I learned to appreciate the taste of a freshly picked, ripe tomato.

I had lived in northern Ohio where tomatoes were grown for processing and canning.  Baskets of these bright red tomatoes were loaded and stacked five baskets high on trailers hauled by tractors from the fields where they had been picked by hand and driven through town to the canning factory. 

When the first tractor, pulling the first trailer, loaded with those ripe tomatoes entered town, word spread like wildfire through the town’s kids.  Any child tall enough to reach a tomato basket on the trailer headed for Patterson Street where the tractor driver would have to slow to a craw so as to and not lose his load of tomatoes while making the turn headed to Stevenson Street.  

Here the game, a tradition for decades, began.

The object was simple: the children were to grab a tomato to eat; the tractor driver was to make them pay a price two fold.  Unbeknownst to the rookie children in this game, the tractor driver had a basket of rotting tomatoes hidden between his legs on the tractor.  As the children attacked, he threw these tomatoes at them with incredible accuracy.  If you were hit, the rotting tomato would smush all over you and your clothes. If he missed, you’d grab your tomato, retreat to the shade of a tree and devour its deliciousness.  The proper technique was to gently pierce the skin with your teeth and suck the juice out of it.  In that way you could enjoy the fruits of your victory without leaving telltale tomato juice on your clothes.

Remember that I said the tractor driver would make them pay two fold?  Yes, if you got hit it would be embarrassing, but it also would be very messy.  You would be literally be covered in smushed tomato and tomato juice.  And your parents would notice and demand an explanation of how this happened.  I have never heard of a satisfactory explanation that would be accepted.  I have heard “the tomato fell on me from the trailer, I fell on the tomatoe, I was carrying groceries for a little old lady and the tomatoes mushed”.  And yet, I cannot remember a single incidence of a child being punished for this pilfering tomatoes.  I have heard of them being punished for lying about how they got covered in tomato juice, but not for participating in what had become a tradition.

In today’s world, there would be police, investigations into whether the child stole the tomato, investigations into whether the tractor driver had committed a crime by throwing a rotting tomato at a child, investigations into whether the canning company and/or the farmer was liable for the stained clothes.  There would be crime scene tape around the tractor and the tomato laden trailer.  There would be media coverage including interviews with anyone who needed their time in the spotlight.  There would be police chiefs, mayors, governors, state and federal legislators from both parties, religious leaders, non religious leaders, shopkeepers, psychologists and neighbors. While all this is going on, the tomatoes would rot in the sun.  And, no one would have the taste of a real tomato to remember.

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So, here I sit under the shade of a palm tree with my bright red heritage tomato in my hand, the juice sucked out, preparing to take a delicious bite having my heritage thoughts.

The Opioid Crisis, Addiction or Despair (The real crisis)

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Addiction is the effect; despair is the cause. 

The government, no matter at which level, prefers to consider addiction as the problem because they can blame everyone else for the problem thereby avoiding their responsibilities.  Governments blame the parents, the doctors, big pharmaceuticals while the local governments blame the states and the states blame the federal government.

If it is despair that causes addiction, overdoses and death, the blame falls squarely on government.  The government has failed to provide for jobs with a living wage, education, healthcare, protection of workers, the wealth gap etc.

The fact that no one sees it as “death from despair” rests squarely with the media.  Whether it is Wolf Blitzer, Joe Scarborough, Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, or any other talking head; the buck stops there. They literally could start each news story each night with “because of their despair….”.  Until the media CNN,  ABC, CBS, NPR AND FOX start looking into and reporting on this “causal” relationship, the public will remain ignorant.  

It is not an ignorance by choice.  They are, whether they are farmers, shop keepers, or auto workers, too busy trying to get by to be focused on the problem.  What they do know is that something is not right.  They know that they will not have the same lifestyle of their parents.  They know that the “middle class” is no longer achievable for themselves, their children or their grand children.  They are stuck on the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid of needs.  Self actualization will never be achievable for them.  There is no future for them, their children or their grandchildren.

If you want a clue as to why adults turn to drugs to solve their problems, I suggest that as you watch TV tonight you jot down a list of medications being hawked by the pharmaceuticals.  Think about it.  What they are saying is that if you have a perceived condition, you should insist that your doctor prescribe it for you.  Drugs are touted as the answer for everything from “shaking leg” to erectile dysfunction.

Death by addiction or death by despair?  

Death from an overdose or death from lack of care.

Trump Nominates Merrick Garland for SCOTUS!

In an attempt to extend an olive branch to the Democrats in a biparisan move, President Trump wants to nominate Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.  Trump is said to have quoted himself as saying “better late than never”, a saying he just made up.

A furious Mitch McConnel has been quoted as saying that no such thing will happen in HIS Senate.  He and the Republican majority has been bought and paid for by Mr. Putin, and they will not go back on their word.

Democrats are suspicious and therefore are taking no action to move the nomination forward.

FOX pundits are reviewing their scripts from Sinclair Broadcasting to determine if last minute changes have been made.

NPR is reporting that the President will be making a nomination for the Supreme Court.

Trumpsters are jubilant with the news that President Trump will be able to hold up yet another piece of paper which he has signed with his crayon/marker thereby proving that he is doing something.

WallStreet is looking to make even more money in the whipsaw climate of the Trump Administration.

Evangelicals are chanting AMEN from the pulpet and on television but declining to say what they are amening about.  However, they are sure that God will forgive the President for his repeated unchristian acts.  Mass burnings of the heretical WWJD posters, bracelets, pins and hats are being planed.  In heaven, God hides his head in shame.

The 98% are quietly sewing patches on their clothes and planning tasty meals around Ramen Noodles.