Grieving Tomatoes: A New Reality for Our Time

The other day at the supermarket, as I scanned the tomatoes for something ripe, a woman stepped up and said “It’s a shame. This generation will never know what it’s like to taste a good tomato”. She was mature in age and had a wonderful, heavy, “old world” European accent. I knew she knew her tomatoes. I agreed and thus began a conversation describing the wonderful experience of eating a tomato from the garden warm from the sun. We both grew up with fresh from the vine tomatoes so we shared mutual joy at such a delicious memory. At the end of our conversation, she gave a happy chuckle and we parted to go about our shopping.

 

It was a delightful exchange. But, as I stepped away, a choking sensation of sorrow overcame me. The realization hit me. In a world of “trying to ripen on the truck ride in” and GMO foods, few of our children will actually have the experience of tasting a warm, ripened tomato from the vine. It was a challenge to choke back my tears to finish my shopping, but there it was…grief for a tomato.

 

So many things are worth our grief today…the loss of uncontaminated fish, the extinction of over 200 species a day, the lack of time for a real, connected conversation. I felt silly holding back tears over a tomato, but the tomato represented the fragile nature of our living world which we have come to take for granted. Grief is an appropriate reaction to the larger picture of what the lack of a fresh tomato represents.

 

Do you grieve the simple things that are quietly departing from our daily experience?

 

When contemplating the enormity of how many tears could be shed for such things, it could be assumed we’d be crying for years. But, grief is healthy and isn’t reserved for the death of our loved ones. It can be expressed for a brief time to relieve the psyche so that it can continue on its daily journey. Indigenous tribes knew of the importance of grief and held conscious ceremonies to honor this genuine human emotion. We, as a society, have lost connection to the sacredness that sorrow can hold.

 

In a world that is sped up and wants to be focused on the positive, grief is reserved for the back seat only to be acknowledged when socially appropriate. We don’t want to see the reality of our times. Why bother? It would only bring about sad feelings and hopelessness, right? On the contrary, seeing our world as it is with all its flaws and all of its beauty is the path to the true essence of what it is to be human. It opens our hearts, connects us and allows us to accept one another despite our differences and difficulties.

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