A few days ago my gardening friend Pat stopped by and commented that the pods on my okra plants thriving in a Baby Pool-based Water Wise Container Garden, were too big and likely thus tough. I told him they are the heirloom "Fife Creek" strain sold by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ( http://www.rareseeds.com/ ) and others that bears pods that remain tender even 4-5 inches long, longer if given extra water and nitrogen. Africans have long used tender young okra leaves in cooked dishes, as I do. They are also nice in a summer salad blend including leaves of true yams (Dioscorea species), sweet potatoes, katuk, moringa and more. Visitors to my yard marvel at the taste and texture of raw okra seconds after being picked....crisp, fresh, no slime, sublimely satisfying.
With Monsanto now suing and buying up and closing down small seed houses and seed cleaners across America, their banning seed saving of traditional crops in Iraq ever since Paul Bremer's order even though those crops date many centuries back to the Mesopotamian Era when agriculture was born, financially raping India's small farmers, and their other shocking acts totally devoid of honor or empathy, I feel it is up to every gardener to grow, save and pass on, reliable open-pollinated food crops for future generations, even as new ones evolve in our gardens, as did the 'Mortgage Lifter' tomato in the 1930s. Personal agriculture has never been static.
Growing your own food is personal power of the highest order, even if it begins with a potted sweet potato plant grown for leaves that when cooked surpasss spinach in both taste and nutritional value. Start small....maybe next a zucchini squash plant, or Romaine lettuce or arugula grown in a 5 gallon pot filled with compost and fed fish emulsion fertilizer, plus crushed eggshells to provide calcium. That first harvest will tingle your soul and your tongue.
The corporatocracy that generals McArthur and Eisenhower bravely warned us against, now routinely devises wars of choice for profit, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and likely someday soon Venezuela and Pakistan (funny how the U.S. never exports "democracy" to countries devoid of oil and other resources......) and with the aid of Monsanto now seeks to make us dependent on various food-like substances, genetically-engineered crops that require their chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and corporate food production and distribution. What better way to control a people distracted by "bread and circuses" like Octomom and 'Dances with Stars' and Brad/Angie than to deny them access to fresh, living wholesome foods like home-grown 'Fife Creek' okra and local raw milk and grass fed cow meat. Let's each become a "guerilla gardener" and save and pass on heirloom seeds, buy and drink the milk we want, raise backyard chickens for eggs and meat, enjoy cannabis if we wish as did Washington and Jefferson and Franklin, swap cuttings and live plants with friends and sell them plus seeds with cottage businesses to insure Monsanto can NEVER own the world's seeds supply.
It is worth remembering that this is the same soulless corporatocracy that sees over five thousand U.S. troops and over one MILLION Iraqi civilians killed by their war of choice based on deceit ("Saddam did 9-11 and has WMDs...."Freedom Fries!") as simply a cost of doing business. So while Qadaffi faces "war crimes" charges due to possibly a few dozen protestors being killed, Bush and Cheney and Powell and Rice and Wolfowitz and Rowe, who in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, the U.S. Constitution, plus ordinary human decency got over 1 MILLION people killed, all enjoy lifetime pensions, incredible health care plans, book deals and more. If they'd kill our kids by sending them into battle under false pretense, which they did, I am sure they'll turn a blind eye to Monsanto trying to make us all hostage to corporate food. After all, in an interview years ago, war criminal Henry Kissinger, slipped up with uncommon candor and called the "common" people of the world, you know, the ones whose daily labors make his ilk wealthy, as "useless eaters".
Grow, share, save! John