Monday, 01 June 2020
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Playing God with nature leaves a bad taste in my mouth

By  Dec 08, 2019

It comes around every year and always at this time of the year. No, not Christmas, the flu. Yes, just as any other winter I am currently wrapped up in bed. And no it isn’t really the flu, its man flu, which means I have a bad cold and a temperature. Clearly a woman’s threshold for pain is much higher than a man’s, hence the term man flu.

A constantly running nose, coughing like I am on my last legs, a thumping headache and generally no will to move, that’s my current predicament.

So I am bingeing on day time TV, which I have to say is pretty uninspiring, catching up on sleep and generally acting like a bear and hibernating. “Eat an onion like an apple,” came one piece of advice. “But it has to be a domestic onion,” he added. “Drink a rajika every morning,” came another. Yes, the classic cure for all – rakija. Maybe if I could find onion flavoured rakija the effects would be double.

I tend to catch the bug once a winter, so fingers crossed my current stint in bed will be my last this festive season. It started on Black Friday (so indeed a very black Friday for me) and should be gone by St. Nicholas. To be honest a week in bed isn’t all bad, probably just what the doctor ordered.

Although the side effects of this cold mean that all food and drink tastes a little weird. I tried a coffee but it tasted like washing-up liquid. Tea tastes like hot water with a dash of lemon. And all I can really taste in the food are the degrees of salt in it.

The only saving grace is Mother Nature’s medicine – mandarins. A blast of much needed vitamin C in an orange ball. How clever Mother nature is, and how often we simply ignore her. Fruit and vegetables come into ripeness when we really need them. In the height of summer when our bodies require hydration the melons come into force, in the depth of winter when we need solid food we have potatoes and as winter approaches the citrus fruits, lemons and organs are ready to harvest. This isn’t a coincidence.

Summer foods, such as stone fruits, provide us with extra beta-carotenes and other carotenoids that help protect us against sun damage, they also provide more sweetness for an energetic summer, as well as salad vegetables for those tasty cool summer salads. When our body is calling out for the right ingredient Mother Nature always answers. Of course we don’t always listen. And not only do we ignore nature but we think we are cleverer. One of the absolute charms of living in Dubrovnik 20 years ago was the fact that I could only purchase seasonal fruit and vegetables. As much as I craved strawberries all year round there was no way I could find them.

Now it can be argued whether this seasonal produce offering two decades ago was due to planning or simply because of financial restrictions. What is for sure is that as supermarkets expanded their offer so the seasonal restrictions fell away. Now I can buy strawberries all year round. Which brings me cheer and disappointment at the same time. Because in my heart of hearts I know that to get strawberries at Christmas humans have altered nature’s course. We have either pumped chemicals, genetically modified them or simply baked them in greenhouses. We are playing God with our food.

These Christmas strawberries have probably not only been altered but have also travelled half way around the world to arrive on my plate. The carbon footprint of my strawberry is larger than a pilot’s. And all in the name of profit. It would seem that consuming seasonal produce is just as ecological friendly as banning single-use plastics. The trail of destruction in producing my strawberry is the same as throwing litter from a car window. And as one wise man once said “let the footprint be only thing that we leave behind us.” And by footprint he didn’t mean a carbon one. So I’m going back to munching my mandarin from Neretva (and not the ones that are sprayed, yes we know who you are) to cure my ailments.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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