My Outlook

It's bigger than the tomato

            I love salsa. I add it to scrambled eggs, wraps and pasta; and when it comes to nachos, the chips and cheese are really just the background to the star of the show: the salsa.

            The same goes for spaghetti sauce, ketchup, casseroles and just about anything else that is tomato-based. Love it. But here's the thing: I dislike raw tomatoes. I mean really, really dislike them. They will never find a way onto a sandwich and trust me, the first thing I do when getting a burger is remove any tomato slices that might be tucked between the bun and the patty.

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            I hear people talk about standing in their garden harvesting ripe, juicy tomatoes and biting into them the way they would an apple and I wish I could appreciate it. But I don't. I have picked, peeled and prepared untold amounts for sauces and salsa but I will never, ever eat a raw tomato.

            It turns out I am far from alone in this. Although it may be incomprehensible to some, there are those of us who will consume the cooked product by the bucket but refuse to take a bite of the original ingredient. Scientific, agricultural and food journals have long studied why this may be, determining the antioxidant lycopene may be a factor along with the heating process which changes the tomato's chemistry. A plant molecular biologist says there are two dozen compounds that relate to the taste of a tomato that apparently some people simply do not respond to very well. I don't need any research to confirm what I already know. Regardless of how incongruent it may seem, I value tomato products, but not the individual tomato.

            Canadians have been launched into another election cycle. We will spend the next month engaging in, or maybe avoiding, the messaging coming our way in pursuit of our vote. Political groups will spend a lot of money and candidates will work hard to get our attention and yet it is likely that only 6 out of 10 of us will choose to participate. Because no matter where any of us sit on the political spectrum, it's hard not to be disaffected by the whole thing. If we let it.

            To be sure, there are individuals involved whose words and actions have left a bad taste in my mouth. It is cringe-worthy at times. Disheartening. Yet beyond any particular politician is a political system that, although not without its shortcomings, is one we need to protect. I get it… some people make it really difficult to stay engaged or even muster up enough excitement to care. That's what makes it all the more important we stay involved and that we proceed headlong into the process, and not turn away.

            What does that look like? It's reading and listening to what candidates have to say. It's refusing to be sucked in by click bait or allowing ourselves to be taken by sensational comments. It's making the time and taking the opportunity to ask questions. It's about obtaining all of the information and not settling for the soundbite.

            In the 24-hour infotainment/entertainment cycle we find ourselves in this may all sound a little boring. But if we don't take time and put in the effort we are vulnerable to the underhanded and misleading elements of this that cause our disillusionment in the first place.

            To be sure there are candidates in this process who you will not like, agree with, trust or support. Others you will. That is the beauty of this! The whole can really be greater than the sum of its parts—but only…and this is key…if we see ourselves as one of those parts.

            Without the (in my estimation) distasteful tomato, there can be no tomato-based sauces or preferred flavor of salsa. Without every single candidate, all of the volunteers, and each and every eligible voter taking part, the process is jeopardized. We may not like or appreciate some of what goes into it, but the end result is worthy of our protection and requires our involvement.

            As tempting as it may be to throw up our hands, or toss metaphorical tomatoes in frustration, so much better to put those hands to work and go and mark a ballot. That's my outlook.

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