Existential zucchini crisis
All summer, last summer, the summer before.
Hovering over raised bed
wishing for the end
Leaves large, deep green
like the year before.
like the year before the year before
And before …
Water ever flowing
zucchini, hose holding, water flowing.
Saturday, I wandered through the farmers market — again. It’s a habit to go to the market. Maybe there will be something I should buy. The sun’s out. It’s Saturday. After buying more children’s books at the Friends of the Library sale, my car almost drives itself to Second and Wall streets.
I thought about buying zucchini. The fruit was shiny and I had two dollars in my pocket. My stomach was growling. I should support local farmers.
Then I remembered I have two, perhaps the last two, home-grown zucchini in the crisper drawer of my fridge.
It’s near the end of the season, and my main form of post-teaching relaxation is to habitually stand near the raise bed watering zucchini and tomatoes. I still water the sun-dried kale, merely because the plants house harlequin bugs. If the kale is there, I can kill the bugs.
Garden habits are a funny thing.
Two years ago, we were saving water due to drought and now I’m standing over my raised bed pouring gallons of water into a black plastic truck bed liner filled with soil, hoping to get two or three or six additional zucchinis before the first frost.
I’m teaching math these days and if you calculate the water use per home grown tomato, you’ll understand why it feels like we’re standing near our raised beds with a hose in our hands for nearly the entire summer.
Treehugger.com, a website that does not hide its bias, will help you calculate the water footprint for common foods. They also note that once you add in water costs and energy costs for food shipped around the world, the resource impact adds up quickly.
I found this information fascinating and have stolen their research for the information below. The amounts of water are based upon one pound of food:
Lettuce, 15 gallons; cabbage, 24 gallons; cucumbers, 28 gallons; potatoes, 30 gallons; oranges, 55 gallons; apples, 83 gallons; bananas, 102 gallons; corn, 107 gallons; wheat bread, 154 gallons; avocado, 220 gallons; tofu, 244 gallons; rice, 403 gallons; olives, 522 gallons.
Chocolate, 2,847 gallons. They just couldn’t help themselves. They had to throw in chocolate as a comparison.
Oh, and zucchini? Thirty-one gallons.
I dare not calculate the water use for the mystery squash plant growing in the compost pile, which has become entirely ornamental.
You can also feel badly about your dinner tonight by checking out this cool interactive infographic from the LA Times, http://graphics.latimes.com/food-water-footprint. Another source is an article in the Huffington Post, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/13/food-water- footprint_n_5952862.html. Some of the data varies. A pound of chicken, for example, requires about 588 gallons of water, which surprisingly is close to chickpeas, which need 501 gallons. Then you can consider beef, at 1,700-1,800 gallons per pound.
If there’s any moral, other than me having fun by writing bad poetry, I think the lesson is to yank your summer veggies when they stop producing. You can buy veggies at the farmers market and stop watching the water flow from the hose.—