Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Musing on corn on the cob and living more organically

In Canada, farms like Hurley's near Kitchener-Waterloo elevate corn on the cob to a fine art, offering at least three different varieties at any one time, including the gorgeous Peaches and Cream variety which is so sweet and fresh there is nothing like it. You can eat corn on the cob as almost a meal in itself. A couple of cobs with some fresh asparagus and a poached egg is a supper absolutely fit for a king. It is one things I have to admit to missing, although I love living in England.

Here I find that corn on the cob is not even remotely like that. It is usually shucked (the husks are removed) and shrink wrapped and cut to fit its packaging. Once in a while you can find cobs of corn with the husks still on it (the only way to have corn on the cob which is even remotely fresh). All corn on the cob is sold like that in Canada, and you are expected to peel away a bit of the husk, to ensure the cobs you choose are fresh and beautiful. Here I have to surrepticiously ease a tiny bit of the husk away to have a peek whilst braving the angry stares of supermarket staff and other shoppers. It usually is not worth the trouble either as the corn is often tough and tastes as though it has been picked for ages.

Today for lunch however my husband and I ate organic corn on the cob, picked yesterday and delivered to us this morning. Although it could not compete with my favourite Peaches and Cream, for English corn this was utterly outstanding. It was fresh and sweet with a good colour and nice even niblets.

I've been trying to incorporate more organic food into my family's life for some time now, but my efforts have been rather hit and miss. Organic vegetables in the supermarket seem to be imported a lot of the time, and as I have been trying to reduce food miles as much as possible this kind of defeats the object. There is no doubt any organic food tastes better and is better for you, but I craved fruit and vegetables that had been picked sometime within the last 72 hours, not vegetables that had been in cold storage or travelled hundreds of miles.

When one of our local newsletters mentioned that River Nene Organics was beginning to deliver in our area, I immediately placed an order. I was a bit wary, having used a box scheme some years ago when we lived at our previous house in another location. I never really felt that the vegetables were that wonderful, and I often received lots of a particular vegetable. Sadly this was usually a vegetable that we did not like or were unfamiliar with.

My reservations were completely unwarranted. This morning I received a beautiful (there is no other word for it) vegetable box and salad box, containing an array of gorgeous brightly coloured vegetables and salad items. Everything in the boxes is clearly at the peak of freshness and if our experience with the corn is anything to go by, will taste incredible. I am delighted.

Having already convinced my family that organic meat is the way to go (not that they needed much convincing when they tasted it), I have now been able to ensure that at least some of the vegetables we eat will be organic as well. As we eat an awful lot of vegetables, this is certain to benefit us.

More importantly however, I have finally found corn on the cob that I would be happy to make the centre of a meal, produced reasonably locally and freshly picked. Another tiny victory for the 21st Century Housewife!

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