O... Onions came to mind when I thought of the letter O with respect to growing up on a farm. Onions, for anyone who has never grown them, is a root crop in the lily family. I'm a fan of onions. Growing up on a farm with a tight budget, there was ample opportunity to meet different foods--and to eat what was fixed for supper. It was a long time until breakfast--should I have chosen otherwise. I digress.
Back to the onions. They are pretty easy to grow, too. Root crops, in general, are an easy group to grow. We grew a ton of root crops when I was a kid. Turnips--which I still like to eat. It was pretty common for us to have mashed potatoes/turnips in about a 50/50 blend. Probably healthier too than just plain potatoes.
Potatoes... now that brings to mind picking potatoes. Of course, when I say "picking", it's not like you can pick a potato off of a plant like you pick a pepper or a tomato (which are, oddly enough, in the same plant family--the nightshades). Since potatoes are tubers that form along the root system of the plant, the roots must be dug up from the ground before we can pick potatoes.
Dad had a potato digger. He pulled it behind the Farmall H and it dug into the ground much like a plow does. Then we had to carry buckets into the field and loosen the clods of dirt to knock the potatoes loose. I've read it compared to searching for treasure from the earth. Hmm...maybe now I'd say that, when I grow a couple of Yukon Gold potato plants, and a few blue potato plants. But when I was a kid and stood looking at a two acre field of potatoes being turned over, it was anything but treasure. It was work.
I suppose I was grumpy--I must have been all of 5 or 6 years old--the memory is quite hazy. My grumpiness, I suppose, made it quite easy for my older brother Pete to torment me to the point that I picked up a potato and threw it at him with a wind up that would've made Cy Young envious. And I suppose it was just as easy for Pete to duck and watch the potato sail right past him and wallop my aunt Mary in the head just as she lifted her face to yell at us for bickering.
I've digressed once again. This is the "O" post.
What I wanted to share today is the reason we cry when we peel and slice and chop onions.
Onions have sulfur compounds in them. When they are sliced, those compounds mix with other compounds and become airborne. That meets the water that lubricates our eyes and forms a very mild but highly irritating sulfuric acid. Then our eyes begin to tear, trying to wash away the irritant.
Whew, that was a two dollar story just to give you a ten cent explanation. ;-)
Happy O day. :-)