Organics: Planting the Seeds

Organics: Planting the Seed is contributed by Nicole Vander Meulen of Skagit Valley Food Co-op and is published in the Spring, 2022 Edition of Vibrant Senior Options Resource Guide.

yellow banana fruit on brown wooden chopping boardI can hear him now. Like all good grandfathers, mine, imparting wisdom to young, eager ears over cinnamon rolls and cold cereal at the breakfast table. He was an English teacher in Iowa before he and my grandmother moved to Oregon, where he later became a banker. His brother, a farmer. My grandma, the church pianist.

A Morning with My Grandparents

And so, it was another morning of juice and coffee splashed with lessons on language, salvation, pigs, and piggy banks. As usual, I asked for a banana on my Cheerios; my grandmother, oddly, sliced it with a spoon. And thinking on it now, they were probably the off-brand O’s.
“Take this banana, for instance,” holding the yellow fruit to his ear like Adam West picking up the Bat Phone, “I don’t understand why anyone in their right mind would pay a few extra cents for organic bananas! Who wants bugs in their fruit anyway? Ludicrous.” I sipped my grape juice, imagining worms squirming in an apple core. “Matter of fact, when I was a kid, we didn’t have enough money to buy juice.”
My grandmother, the pragmatist, “Don’t drink too much, juice will go straight to your thighs.” Amen.

Grown Up

Off into the world I went, trying to keep my piggy bank plump and my thighs not. I still skip the juice, but my understanding of economics and health has grown to be much more well-rounded. I also know my grandparents were simply sharing what they thought was best, in hopes that I would have a big, beautiful future.
And I have, in part, because of them.

And like many grandfathers, mine, adheres to the notions that have served him well over his ninety-five years. He still buys Chiquitas, and still points to the “absurdity” of the cost difference between conventional and organic fruits, which is often negligible. It’s difficult to convince a man who’s nearly 100 to change his habits—eating, spending, or otherwise. “If it ain’t broke isn’t broken, don’t fix it!” But, I can now point to the value of investing in what we’re ingesting (a sentence that’s music to a grammarly banker’s ears).

Choosing Organics

Certainly, it’s never too late for a fresh take on eating well. Vitality is invaluable. But it’s also never too early to put a bug in a little one’s ear about healthy habits, like choosing organics. Bugs aren’t all bad. Pesticides are. Organic foods keep chemicals off of plates, tiny hands, and agricultural lands, which means friends, family, and farmers all have more hope for a vibrant future.

Seeds Planted and Lessons Learned

Seeds are planted. Lessons are learned. And some things stick in a child’s mind forever. My grandmother was right: too much sugar is never a good thing, but sometimes I sip my wine, thinking about how on her last day, all she wanted was a good slice of pie. I wish I could call her on my organic banana phone and tell her thank you for the lesson in moderation.

Nicole Vander Meulen
Skagit Valley Food Co-op


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