Saturday, August 14, 2010

Low Carbon Peaches

Every morning at the breakfast table for the whole summer, we have been watching peaches ripen on the tree outside. First they were little green oblongs, then they grew and took on some color, and then one day the tree was bent over with its burden of fruit. The harvest was, for backyard orchard scale, huge:


We had already begun feasting on peaches, eating our way through a case of "Amish" peaches shipped up from Pennsylvania, and they were really, really good. 
But these peaches, which traveled straight from the tree to the kitchen table in a one-hundred foot journey are almost another fruit. It is as though you started with the Pennsylvania peaches and then added a little taste of mango, a dash of something limey, and maybe a  bit of coconut flavor. There's a complexity, a mixture of tastes that must not survive the shipping process.
I was eating one of our 'low carbon' peaches today, letting the juice drip down my chin, and thinking about a conversation over a dry and tasteless sandwich in the Maritim conference center in Bonn during one of the recent UN climate negotiation sessions. My lunch partner insisted that all we can count on in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are 'proven technologies'. Lifestyle change and behavior change were, in his view, highly unlikely and not to be depended on.
I know many people who share this perspective, and I realize that they are just trying to be realistic, trying not to count on changes that might not happen.
But, from the midst of the best eating month in the year if you live on a Vermont farm, I have to say that I think there are all sorts of factors yet to be taken into account in the calculus of what people can be counted on to do. 
There is no doubt in my mind: the peaches and a whole lot else are going to be better in a low carbon world, and I'll take a juicy mangoey-lime-coconut peach over a tasteless sandwich any day.


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