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“We are stardust. We are golden. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” – Joni Mitchell
When I was a kid, there were plenty of fruits and vegetables around. All of my Italian great uncles grew gardens. I’m not exaggerating when I say we probably had in the neighborhood more than five acres of vegetable gardens. You name the fruit and vegetable, we probably had it. From sweet potatoes, onions, broccoli and cauliflower, it was all there. There were fig trees, lemon trees and even orange trees. It was so abundant, my family and my extended family couldn’t eat it all. I remember if I had a hot date or wanted a new baseball glove, I simply picked vegetables and sold my product at the roadside until I got what I wanted. I remember feeling like a real man when I got to work the plow. I always carried a pocket knife so I could scrape the dirt off of a carrot or turnip and eat it while I was working. It might sound like a cliche, but it doesn’t get any fresher than that. The one thing that I remember was that our vegetables looked exactly like the ones in the stores, if not better. As a matter of fact, the only time we bought things from the store was in the off season. Let’s face it, Italians still need tomatoes. Then all of a sudden something happened. Slowly but surely the fruit and vegetables in the store were better than ours. Oranges started coming in a seedless variety. I remember thinking as a kid, if there were no seeds, how would you get the next crop? Oranges also started to come without navels. Tomatoes seemed to get bigger, redder and plumper. There was a new name for these vegetables and fruits: hybrids. That’s right folks, genetically manipulated. You know what else was special about them? They cost more, and the consumer paid. This went on for years. Then something strange happened. We started getting our old fruits and vegetables back, the ones with the seeds. Or else Joni Mitchell said, my apples had spots again. The fruit was back to regular size. It all went back to its original taste. It was that plump, juicy taste that had been missing from the hybrid. There was a problem. My old fruit and vegetables didn’t just come back on the market. They came back with a vengeance. They were called organic. The old stuff that was now new again with its new name also came with a premium. It cost more than the expensive hybrid fruit. And we bought into it. First there was Mrs. Gooch’s, Whole Foods and Henry’s Market, just to name a few. They all had a kumbaya flair to them. The people who worked there were hip and wore Birkenstocks. But trust me, they were plenty corporate. They trade on the open market just like oil companies and dot-coms. I told you that to tell you this. We seem to love nostalgia in this country. Everything that’s old again is new again, then old again, then new again. Take the bicycle world for example. In the early 1900s everything was a single speed fixed gear. Then you had to have many gears. Then you had to have even more gears. Now there’s a throwback to the single speed fixed gear. You don’t have to do much research to figure out that they all came in steel form, then aluminum, then titanium, then carbon fiber and now the world is headed right back to steel. Let’s face it, you have to keep changing it if you want to keep selling bikes.
Running shoes, same thing. First there were very thin flat soles, then more cushion, then a little more, then shoes were rated on how stable they were. Now we’re back to minimum stability and minimum cushioning. I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that sometimes we’re all too eager to throw out the baby with the bathwater. If bike equipment has changed so much over the years and diets have gotten so much better, then why are so many old cycling records holding up? Eddie Merckx didn’t have a fancy technical diet, trainers and gurus like cyclists have today. A lightweight bike in his era weight five to seven pounds more than a bike today. Before you go out and buy an expensive bike, look in your garage. Or try going to eBay, you might be surprised at what you find.
Sophia Loren…what was hot then
Paris Hilton…what’s hot now
Which one is better?