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Adam S. Quick
1 year ago
Roots Radical – The Clone Wars

Once again I have to remind that I'm not advertising Star Wars movies, but contemplating the appliance of science regarding all things living and propagating. This time I thought I had vegetables in my sight.


The story started when my missus announced that she's in love with Bernina. Since we have two kiddies and a cat, and have been married for ages, the revelation was a bit of a shock. Was she changing polarity?


At the time, the bearded science dude my missus knows was also having a brewski with us, and for once there was some use of him, since he figured she was talking about potato cultivars.


My missus is a wannabe vegan, and in our family she's the weekday line cook, whereas I'm the weekend gourmet chef. That means I should've known my root vegetables. Turned out there was still more to learn.


In my favorite cookbook The Joy of Cooking there is a division between salads and vegetables. Personally, I divide veggies into three categories: root vegetables like potato and onion; leafy vegetables like kale and cabbage; and fruit vegetables like tomato and cucumber. I also have to add that my missus likes pumpkin, but I play squash. The kiddies play tennis with Top Spin 3. Everybody has their own taste.


The science dude said that the three-way split is practical in cooking, but when it comes to scientific nit-picking, it's false. Especially the category of root vegetables. Obviously, kale, cabbage, tomato, and cucumber also have roots, and in the case of potato and onion you don't eat the actual root either. Potato is the tuber in the root system, and onion is the bulb over the root. Beetroot is an actual root, and not only you can stick them in the oven, you can even make wine out of them.


In 1729 – a bit before my time – this Swedish 22-year-old geezer named Carl Linnaeus wrote his thesis on plant sexual reproduction. The stuff about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees had a nudge, and the nomenclature of plant physiology – the nuts and bolts of plant organs – began evolving in giant steps.  The jazz record Giant Steps, which was recorded with eight-track Ampex recorder in New York, came later. Actually, I prefer John Coltrane's Impulse records recorded near my hometown in New Jersey with two-track recorders. Sometimes two observations is better than too many observations.


So, the fuzz is all about sex: plant propagation. Mother Nature has figured out both asexual cloning and sexual reproduction via go-between, long before human engineers and doctors came up with Dolly the Sheep and sperm-banks and internet dating. Cucumber needs bees and potato is a clone – and I felt like a clown. But at least my marriage was saved.


In the U.S. and Finland alike, all sorts of organic vegetables are grown even in weird places. For example, in Espoo, Finland, you can find Lillklobb Permaculture Farm at the backyard of a theater near a police station and surrounded by a forest. As an icing in the cake, it's run by an American named Joshua. You too have to think this is smart: Joshua surrounded by trees. And there you have it: garlic and kale and all sorts of other organic veggies that taste good and are farmed near the consumer – local food.


After a few more suds additional dire straits came to mind: kohlrabi and bamboo shoots. Classifying veggies is a stumbling stone.


As a pre-peek of the future, I must tell I really had an epiphany, albeit helped by an old bottle we found left in the cupboards. Someday I will write about the breathing habits of plants instead of only breeding habits. That will be a Goliathan effort – like the beetroot wine made by an American named David who lives in Finland. He's an engineer from Boston and his company Ainoa Winery is near Lahti. Why on Earth all these Americans, like myself, come to Finland? Is it because of food grown during those long days in summer – all those carbs packed in veggies and berries in short amount of time? How sweet is that?

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