Italians were locavores long before the word even existed and my family is no exception. My husband (76), my mother (92) and I (71) have been locavores all our lives.
My mother and husband attend to the vegetable garden and I attend to my perennial flower garden. The vegetable garden, for my mother, is her fountain of youth. She is forever weeding; many times coming in touch with poison ivy.
You will never see us relaxing on lawn chairs or poolside. It’s not our style. We sow, turn over soil, spread manure, weed and harvest the crops. In Italy, my parents were known as contadini (farm workers). We cultivated our taste for seasonal ingredients in Abruzzo, Italy, post World War II. We ate tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplants in the summer and cabbage, beans, cornmeal pizza and polenta in the winter. Our desserts were fruits - watermelon, peaches and grapes in the summer; apples, oranges, walnuts, almonds and dry figs in the winter.
I can still smell those tiny apples called (mele zitelle) encased in a drawer of a large dresser just below the linens.
Like all other Italians of our generation, we attend to a grapevine and a fig tree. We can tomatoes and we make wine.
Now, that Mrs. Obama planted the White House garden, growing one’s food has become fashionable. To us cafoni (poor peasants), it’s always been common sense that fresh food tastes better, it’s healthier and good for the environment.