It’s not a very well-kept secret, but in case you haven’t yet noticed, I am emotionally very sensitive. I laugh easily, cry easily, anger easily. But when I am sobbing over asparagus in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, even the most sympathetic reader probably turns away in disgust.

There are good reasons to sob over asparagus. OK, this will sound weird, but those reasons in part relate to Mary’s goldfish story. It all has to do with her and my deep beliefs in being honorable and doing the right thing. Or my desire to believe that, perhaps. I want to do the right thing, but doing the right thing is always hard; it’s never easy. If it was easy, we’d all do it, and maybe we’d all be in heaven. Here on earth, being good is hard work. Maybe impossible.

I have personal reasons to sob over asparagus. I used to grow them. I had a huge garden. I have NO garden now. That’s partly because I now live in a big city with a small lot. My whole lot is smaller than my garden used to be. But it’s more than that. I don’t have the energy or time I used to have—or the will, perhaps. I have to divide my time; I have to make choices. Hard choices.

SO OK, if for now at least, I am not going to grow asparagus, then where will I get it? At the grocery store, or at the farmer’s market? Well, at the Farmer’s market would be the correct choice, if that were reasonably possible. But here, the farmer’s market is far away and the farmers even farther away. And the farmer’s market here has food from everywhere. It’s not a real farmer’s market with locally grown produce; it’s just people who buy up the same stuff the grocery store has and resells it. All very fake. There may be a few real farmers, but not many.

The problem as Barbara Kingsolver puts it, is “oily food.” We’re paying for transportation; the transportation uses nonrenewable resources. And quality is lost in the process. I want to support local farmers, cut down on the oil my food, and eat fresher healthier food. I’ve always wanted that, even before Barbara Kingsolver. That’s a cause for tears when it’s so difficult to achieve. I have a lot more to say about this, but not a lot of time. I hope to return to the topic later.

Farm with clouds