It may not have the lyrical ring of “April in Paris” but April in Worcester has a festive air about it in its own right. This month is replete with religious and secular holidays and events which have community and food as common threads; each playing an integral role in symbolic, communal and reverential ways. On these special days throughout the month we congregate, contemplate, commemorate, communicate and celebrate as communities with similar ideals and beliefs. The sequence of words ending in “ate” hint at the past tense of “eat”- farfetched word play I know- but used to punctuate the importance of food in paying homage, whether it is in the context of religious or philosophical beliefs, sustainability, animal rights, personal health or the health of the planet we happen to rotate on. Since food is such an important component of these and many other holidays, it makes sense to celebrate with the purest wholesome, organic and nutritious foods available. The list of usual suspects includes:
- Nuts, fruits and vegetables grown without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides
- Grains, beans and oils that have not been genetically engineered
- Meats free from hormones, nitrates and nitrites
- Eggs from chickens that see sunlight, can walk and flap their wings
- Milk from grass fed cows not injected with bovine growth hormone
- Baked goods without artificial preservatives or additives
April 22 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. Prior to its inception, protecting the planet and its natural resources were not hot topics on the national political agenda. Several key events were instrumental in creating the atmosphere necessary for such an observance to occur. In 1962, Rachel Carson’s classic book, Silent Spring, was published. It remains one of the most influential works to bring the deleterious effects of pesticide use to the public’s conscience. Later in the ‘60s, the emergence of the counterculture, with its “back-to-the-land” mantra, helped to bring environmental concerns to a younger generation. Stewart Brand issued the first edition of The Whole Earth Catalog in 1968, with its iconic satellite image of the earth as seen in space. Brand’s hope was that the various essays, ecology information and product reviews would provide “access to tools” (the book’s slogan) that could influence the American industrial complex with environmentally sound and socially just innovations. The last major event occurred on June 22, 1969, when the Cuyahoga River caught fire as it snaked its way through the city of Cleveland. Decades of industrial pollution and floating debris stoked the flames on the river that had been on fire a number of times before in the 20th century. As one environmentalist was quoted: “When rivers are on fire, you know things are bad.” Back on April 22, 1970, I was an 18 year old high school senior strolling down a cordoned off, traffic-free 5th Avenue in NYC, joined by an estimated million other people, on our way to a verdant Central Park to celebrate the inaugural event. This year, get outside, pick up some trash, recycle what you can, leave your car in driveway , and go for a nice hike, bike ride or paddle a canoe and honor the mother of us all. All of us earthlings should practice Earth Day Every Day!
The New England VegFest will take place at the DCU Center on April 26. Formerly known as the Worcester VegFest, the event now encompasses the New England region and celebrates its 6th anniversary. Come by the Living Earth booth and sample some vegan chili, deli salads and fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Rob will be his usual animated -excuse me, veganated self- extolling the virtues organic produce. Brooke, our resident Veganistress, can help anyone wanting to transition into the vegan lifestyle and Mike, the ever affable jack of all trades, can answer organic gardening questions for those who want to grow their own organic produce.
The snow has finally receded and baseball, daffodils and green leafy trees are on the way- here’s to the joy of spring and April in Worcester!