Did you know that the common tomato was once considered poisonous by North Americans? It was grown only for ornament and curiosity. But that changed in 1820 when Robert Gibbon Johnson of Salem, New Jersey, publicly ate a tomato to prove that it was safe. To the horror and astonishment of the many who gathered to watch the spectacle, Johnson actually ate several tomatoes, and lived. You can read the story here: Man Eats Tomato And Doesn't Die.
E.P Roe knew of the history of the tomato but he seems to think a fellow named John Bull was the brave tomato eater. Maybe there is more to the story. In any event, here is E.P.’s take on the subject (and it is an insightful comment he makes about Yankees).
The Italians first dared to use it freely; the French followed; and after eying it askance as a novelty for unknown years, John Bull ventured to taste, and having survived, began to eat with increasing gusto. To our grandmothers in this land the ruby fruit was given as "love-apples," which, adorning quaint old bureaus, were devoured by dreamy eyes long before canning factories were within the ken of even a Yankee's vision. Now, tomatoes vie with the potato as a general article of food
And speaking of insightful, here’s what E.P has to say about raising children so they will NOT trade the richness of rural life for city existence when they grow up.
One of the sad features of our time is the tendency of young people to leave their country homes. And too often one does not need to look far for the reason. Life at the farm-house sinks into deep ruts, and becomes weary plodding. There are too many "one-ideaed" farmers and farms. It is corn, potatoes, wheat, butter, or milk. The staple production absorbs all thought and everything else is neglected.
Nature demands that young people should have variety, and furnishes it in abundance. The stolid farmer too often ignores nature and the cravings of youth, and insists on the heavy monotonous work of his specialty, early and late, the year around, and then wonders why in his declining years there are no strong young hands to lighten his toil. The boy who might have lived a sturdy, healthful, independent life among his native hills is a bleached and sallow youth measuring ribbons and calicoes behind a city counter. The girl who might have been the mistress of a tree-shadowed country house disappears under much darker shadows in town. But for their early home life, so meager and devoid of interest, they might have breathed pure air all their days.
In this next quote, E.P. provides an illustration of “the good life” centered around home, homegrown food, a happy mother, and her blessed children:
Not the least among the means of making a home attractive would be a well-maintained fruit garden. The heart and the stomach have been found nearer together by the metaphysicians than the physiologists, and if the "house-mother," as the Germans say, beamed often at her children over a great dish of berries flanked by a pitcher of unskimmed milk, not only good blood and good feeling would be developed, but something that the poets call "early ties."
I was surprised to find this next quote of E.P. Roe. It would appear that, upon studying a saucer of strawberries, he finds it hard to believe something so good could have ever evolved by random chance, and I couldn’t agree more.
And yet, on the part of some, as they deliberately enjoy a saucer of strawberries and cream,--it is a pleasure that we prolong for obvious reasons,--a languid curiosity may arise as to the origin and history of so delicious a fruit. I suppose Mr. Darwin would say, "it was evolved." But some specimens between our lips suggest that a Geneva watch could put itself together quite as readily.
In this final quote for today, E.P. provides a theological lesson from the garden. I love it when he does that.
We naturally feel that some good saints in the flesh, even though they are "pillars of the church," need more than a "sea-change" before they can become proper citizens of "Jerusalem the Golden;" but having compared a raspberry bush, bending gracefully under its delicious burden, with the insignificant seed from which it grew, we are ready to believe in all possibilities of good. Thus we may gather more than berries from our fruit-gardens. Nature hangs thoughts and suggestions on every spray, and blackberry bushes give many an impressive scratch to teach us that good and evil are very near together in this world, and that we must be careful, while seeking the one, to avoid the other. In every field of life those who seek the fruit too rashly are almost sure to have a thorny experience, and to learn that prickings are provided for those who have no consciences.
This post is the third of four
in a series about E.P. Roe.
in a series about E.P. Roe.
Click Here to go to the next post.