Reflection upon a brussel sprout...

I hate brussel sprouts. That is, I did. Until my new mom, C, fixed them in a new, amazingly delicious way with breaded eggplant and rice. Mmmm.... (I think it was the eggplant that really did it for me.)

Anyway, as I was dubiously preparing the brussel sprouts (fresh from our garden!) for human consumption, I noticed that some of them looked a little moldy, so I set them to the side. When J, my new sister, came over, she informed me that it wasn't mold, just aphids. Yuck. Apparently, during a certain part of the season, the aphids pretty much leave the sprouts alone. This is not that part of the season. But you soak the sprouts in saltwater to get rid of the aphids, so it all turns out okay in the end.

So, as I am cutting brussel sprouts with the knowledge that I now have aphid-hands, I realize that these sprouts would never cut it in the grocery store. I mean, coming from the city as I do, hardly anyone grows their own food. I hadn't even really realized that apples grow on TREES until last year! (Yes, the kids books say they do, but you can't trust everything Shel Silverstein says.... or so I thought.) And, in the grocery store, the produce must be pretty near perfect to make it in the carts. Thus I began to ponder the necessity of perfection.

Our society has an obsession with perfection, and I think it stems from the fact that we don't create things ourselves anymore. We are no longer people of the earth, and our standards have suffered. My (new) family is used to eating produce that has a few ant bites in it, or is perhaps a little wilted, or, Lord forbid, aphid-infested... and that's okay. It comes from their garden, and they know that's just what happens when you grow things... only most of us don't see it.

And so we have our mass production plants, our huge farms that crank out strawberries the size of your ear, but without any taste; racks upon racks of clothing that all look exactly the same, and any defect means a discount, and... it goes on and on. Have we lost sight of the freedom that results in just being a ripe, delicious strawberry, ant nibbles and all? Factor in the relative opulence in which we live, removed from hard, manual labor, realize that we have the time to devote to the pursuit of perfection, and you have... standard America. Devotees of bigger, better, and best, hoping for some sort of "perfection osmosis"?

And so, another day comes, and I put on a mask, afraid that others will see the aphids lurking beneath my leaves, and abandon me like a slightly bruised apple. The demand for perfection has taken its toll, and I wilt. And yet... those were some mighty tasty sprouts. Maybe there's hope for me, yet.

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