21 January, 2011

Fruit of the Mediterranean

Checking where, which site, my blog visitors came from, I fell over gimcw??? Gardening in mediterranean climates worldwide. They have added me to the gimcw list of blogs. One of my earliest comments was from a Spaniard – ho ho ho a Mediterranean garden way down South at the bottom of Africa! So yes, thank you, for a lower-case-mediterranean!

For years, ever since it was just an idea, I have wanted to visit the Eden Project in Cornwall. Was fascinating to see mediterranean plants from around the world gathered together, where I could see the actual growing plants. Not just a dry list of names, nor even frozen pictures. There I learnt that my lemon verbena comes from South America. Mexican born Fer in Japan (currently hosting a blog carnival) has promised to find us some good South and Central American garden blogs. Company for our lemon verbena, granadilla (South American, that's why I can't spell it) and guava.

A sparrow and weaver sharing our figs

Admit it - a thing of great beauty!
No wonder Cecil John Rhodes brought us
European starlings

Sadly Australian plants mostly make me think of invasive aliens. There’s the waratah, an odd looking to South African eyes, protea. Geraldton wax flower is a pretty little thing beloved by florists. Oh and the creeping Australian violet my mother has been growing in her garden since I was a child.

The Californians I have only represented by some sulky thrift. We want cool sea breezes – it is too HOT here! THEY are awash with our invasive aliens, but we don’t seem to have acquired theirs for our gardens. Shirley poppy?

Lemons and olives

Citrus swallowtail
If you grow oranges and lemons you have seen the 'orange dog' caterpillars
Flashing their scented horns at you! 

And of course the true Mediterranean – figs, olives and lemons. Lavender, oregano, basil and my Dusty Miller. All present and correct.


(Warning – rant coming!) Lately I have come up against depressing, despairing, demoralising posts about food, and farming, and if we are what we eat, WHAT are we? Buckets of poison, cruelty and suffering? Elephant’s Eye is vegetarian, but we sometimes eat eggs. Always free range, preferably organic. In our pushing 40C summer heat, we often drive past long metal sheds of battery chickens. The two of us have milk in our tea/coffee, yoghurt on our breakfast muesli, usually cheese for lunch, so we share some responsibility for veal calves and cows. However organic or free range the milk was, there are still the calves …

South American granadilla and guava

The bees destroyed by poison, save the bees? Pigs, pregnant and confined to pig sized cages for life. Their legs just pillars to stand on, no walking possible. What fish do you eat? Are you aware, do you care, that some species are endangered? And the seabirds that depend on your ocean fish leavings to survive? Big-fish-fight. The ultimate greenwash is biodiesel. How can we, in a hungry world, grow food crops and turn them into diesel to burn in a car’s engine.

Plums and apples from up North

What bemuses me is, if you look at lists for the main cause of death in people – half of us die of obesity and the dis-ease of too much, and the other half die of starvation and the dis-ease of too little. What a paradise our world could be, if we would just shift a little of the too much across to those who have too little. If that wasted food could have been diverted to the hungry instead? 'When the price of oil is high, it becomes economically attractive to divert crops from use in food to use in biofuels.'  Food inflation hits the poor hardest. The poor women who feed their families. Reduce your FoodPrint by choosing Cool Food - organic, local and seasonal - from Food-and-global-warming

Pictures by Jurg and Diana, 
words by Diana of Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville, 
near Cape Town in South Africa   
(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink. 
Those are my links)


  1. Powerful important words about our FoodPrint...makes us all think about these issues....I see more and more people wanting to grow their own organic foods but we still have large growers, farms etc that are not doing what is best for the environment or us but what is best for their pocket...thx for keeping the message alive and I will keep watch over what I buy mindfully.

  2. Donna - the farmer's pocket is filled, with the choices WE make. He cannot sell poisoned water-wasting produce, unless we buy it ... On the other hand, the organic farmer won't survive, if we say, nice idea, but I can't afford it! You and I, we do what we can.

  3. Diana--you know I agree 100%

    My family is vegetarian, too. Good point about still sharing responsibility if we eat dairy (which we do).


  4. Diana, I think you already know that I agree completely with everything you said. The US is the biggest perpetrator of this mess. I read that every US child born will consume more resources, in proportion to population, than anyone anywhere. Smaller families would have a big impact here. When following reduce, reuse, recycle, know that these are not equivalent options. Focus on reduce. Thanks for highlighting Fer's quest (and mine) to find more South American blogs. Fer and I have been discussing recently that we get no readers from there and don't run across blogs from there. Other bloggers are welcome to join this quest and let Fer or me know of any discoveries. I would need a translate button as I don't speak Spanish, but Fer does.

  5. Carolyn - the nice thing about using Google Chrome as a browser - it says politely - this is written in Spanish - shall I translate? 'S wonderful!!

  6. Thanks for this post. I find myself thinking about it frequently as well.

    While I was reading your post my 13 year old daughter walked into the room in tears. She'd just chosen to watch a documentary movie called "Tapped" that highlights the problems with the bottled water industry. It is so hard to watch a child's horror at what adults are doing to the planet. I'm trying to find a way to help her get involved -- I find that activism is the only thing that makes me feel better.

  7. Diana,
    This post made me hungry. Fig is one of my favorite fruits. I bet you a dime that you won't be happy about me taking a walk in your garden. A flock of Sparrows and weaver are not match to my appetite.

  8. First, I have to say, the Citrus Swallowtail photo is stunning! What a beauty!

    As for our FoodPrint, I couldn't agree more. I enjoyed your rant. We're not vegetarian (although we were for some time), but do believe in sourcing local, ethically and humanely raised products, from meats to cheeses and milk. We already grow much of our own vegetable fare, and our orchard should be producing soon. We'll add our own organically raised bees this spring, and hopefully next year add dairy goats to the farm. It's not much, but we try to do our part. I haven't always been so conscious of where my food comes from...I'm sure being a cancer survivor has played some role in my attitude toward food today. As for balancing the haves and have nots, we're hoping to help a little, by sharing some of what we produce each year with those who don't have access to fresh foods, through our local food banks.

  9. Seems pretty sensible rant to me.


  10. Eliza - this is for your daughter -

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does - Margaret Mead

  11. A thought provoking rant that needs to be said more often...the quote you placed above for Eliza's daughter is one of my favorites...we can make a difference!

  12. Mediterranean fruits in my garden include:

    Fig (Ficus spp. Moraceae)
    Grape(Vitis spp.; Vitaceae)
    Pomegranate (Punica granatum; Punicaceae -- actually mine is a flowering but the edible kind grow in this area.)

    I grow what thrives. The fig has been here for more than fifty years.

  13. Your starling and butterfly stole the show.

  14. I agree with you. Since my husband went from vegetarian to vegan we have been even more selective about what food we buy and from where. The consumer is US and the trends change when we demand them.

  15. Patty - vegan is what I would eat if we lived in Switzerland or England. In South Africa those options are too limited, and imported 'health' foods are astronomical in price (plus they are no longer green, with all those food miles). We'll stay with thoughtful vegetarian, being practical and possible.


Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.

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