Olga was talking about olives. A discussion ensued of the varieties and their attributes. Sula and Maria commented on the diversity of food available at the supermarkets they had seen here. Sally seemed pleased with their observation but added that they hadn’t seen anything yet until they visited the new “Farmstead Harvest” across the river which was an enormous organic supermarket. Michelle exclaimed that she always tries to buy organic food whenever possible despite the price tag. Verbalizations of agreement were heard as the Westbury women all nodded.
“What makes the food organic?” asked Maria. Her accent was enchanting.
“Because here in this country we are used to so much shit in our food to make it last longer and look better,” responded Olga. The women laughed.
Michelle attempted to clarify by explaining that here, in the United States, people were becoming more conscious of their food for health reasons. Maria looked perplexed. Sally added that food marked “organic” meant that there were no chemical pesticides used and no additives. The Romanians seemed now to understand.
Sula said, “You having here many foods in boxes, add water and poof, you make a cake!” The Romanians nodded. The Westbury women smiled with embarrassment.
“What are the markets like in Romania?” asked Michele.
“Oh,” said Maria, “We have big supermarkets too like you do, but not so usually in the small villages. You having here so much food that’s outside of the season.” Sally addressed the group saying, “I know, isn’t that lovely? We get vegetables all year long from California.”
“Yes,” added Michele. “We get lots of our fruit from places like Chile and Central America.” Meila seemed surprised. Maria responded “Ah yes, I know that the world feeds America.” The women laughed. “It’s the land of plenty,” added Sula perhaps intentionally calling notice to the paradox.
Ryan pulled his seat closer to the table and offered an academic spin to the discussion. “There are lots of important things to consider though, with having out-of-season produce shipped to the U.S.,” he said.
“Why, what do you mean,” asked Sally?
“Well, there is the use of fossil fuel that is used to ship produce such a large distance which impacts the environment for one thing, not to mention fair trade considerations for the people who work that land,” he added.
“Oh yes, said Barbara. “People are becoming aware of those kind of considerations these days.”
“Well, there must be some way to do it correctly,” added Sally, “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t have fruits and vegetables all year long. They are just so important to a healthy diet.”
“Speaking of food,” said Olga, “What are you making Edward? It smells delicious!”
“It’s a roast chicken and po po potatoes from the fall,” he answered as he finished feeding the new babies. Ryan knew from Edward’s stutter that the occasion was becoming a source of social stress for him.