Chuck Robinson, Media Watch
Chuck Robinson, Media Watch

A snowy Midwest Sunday afternoon produced a TV watching opportunity that our household invested in a sci-fi series that was cancelled in 2003 after just one season, “Firefly.”

It was created by Joss Whedon, who also has created the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series, but that is not why I mention it. Also, reruns of the series are coming back to cable TV, I hear, but that also is beside the point.

Basically “Firefly” is a Western movie set in a outer space a few hundred years from now.

In this rough and tumble universe, it struck me struck me that, in what symbolized all the good things in life, a character picks up a strawberry and smiles in rapturous bliss. The character, dressed in a frilled pink dress that symbolized sumptuousness, picked the strawberry, itself a symbol of simpler, sweeter times.

For me it also symbolized how we take for granted the scientific marvel of these strawberries.

Before settling down for the movie, we had just been to the supermarket where Driscoll’s strawberries were on sale and displayed just inside the door.

That was quite a Valentine, the bright red berries and the hillocks of snow we had trudged through. We also grabbed some crunchy fuji apples, my lunch mainstay.

We live in an amazing universe.

The main characters were the crew of a Firefly class of starship, some of them surviving soldiers who had fought the ruling “Alliance” and were called browncoats.

I wonder if some of the soldiers in the locally grown movement relate to the browncoats. The locally grown browncoats have taken a hit, perhaps one they blame on their version of the ruling “Alliance.”

The title “Deputy Agriculture Secretary” doesn’t connote the effect Kathleen Merrigan has had on the locally grown and organic movements. “Deputy” brings to mind Barney Fife from “The Andy Griffith Show.”

She helped elbow a place in the U.S. Department of Agriculture for local and organic production.

“I hope that during my tenure I was able to help open USDA’s doors a little wider, inviting new and discouraged constituencies to participate in USDA programs,” Merrigan said in parting comments.

Certainly this administration’s push for more healthful eating suggests continued efforts along these lines. Produce got more from the latest farm bill than it ever has, and that has to be great for the country, its citizens and the produce industry.

For me, the locally grown component has been window dressing for the healthier consumption aims. They help make eating more produce cool. When I go to a restaurant, mentioning locally grown suggests an elevated attention to detail I appreciate.

However, I wonder to what extent production can be decentralized. I know Missouri apples are mush not too long after the season, and I can’t imagine Midwest strawberries in the winter.

Even so, the browncoat locally grown loyalists have lost a successful and experienced officer, and the produce industry lost an ally.

Merrigan has said she does not oppose large-scale production.

I can imagine her, if thrown into some dystopian future, clasping a red strawberry and cherishing it.

What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.