When sports announcer Bob Costas stepped onto the stage of an interview program John and I were watching, we couldn’t help but notice how odd he looked. Like many celebrities, I suspect he’s had plastic surgery; only in his case, it appears the doctor used actual plastic. The amount of make-up they’d caked on his face didn’t help matters either.

Chock it up to the miracle of HDTV, I guess. Really, you have to feel a little sorry for folks who chose lives in the spotlight before the advent of a technology that now brings every pore and wrinkle into ultra focus. Add to that the number of television viewers who own sets the size of your average roadside billboard, and any semblance of mystery flies out the window. Let the scrutinization begin.

At least with digital still photography, there’s the magic of photoshop. I, myself, have been known to do a bit of editing with my point-and-shoot camera, although my skills are limited to those available on iPhoto — a little cropping here, a smidgeon of enhancement there — and rarely do I go to the trouble to do even that much. Fortunately, the vegetables don’t seem to mind being displayed au naturale online.

The people I photograph on the farm might not be so crazy about it but since I take 99% of the pictures around here and often snap shots when it’s least expected, they don’t have much say.

One thing for certain, in many situations distance can alleviate the need for snazzy photographic touch-ups. (Gray hair? What gray hair? I don’t see any gray hair!)

The same goes for photos of the crops. Granted, there are times of year when the plants look great from any angle, no matter how close or far away. As it happens, however, that’s not necessarily the case right this second. Cabbage loopers have seen to that. From afar, a photo of any section of the farm appears to illustrate rows of lush green perfection.

But when we bring the camera in closer and closer still, the damage becomes clear. HDTV clear. As clear as the nose on Bob Costas’s surgically altered face.

The culprits are too busy chewing holes into the leaves to care one whit about how they look when I snap the shutter button, or whether I aimed the camera at what they believe is their good or bad side.

All of their sides are bad, in our opinion. When the looper population gets out of control, our attempts at manual eradication become futile as we’re forced to do our own version of surgery by cutting off and tossing aside as many — or more — ruined leaves as we’re able to save.

Which is why Farmer John and Stephen mixed multiple backpack sprayer loads of Bt and dowsed the undersides of every Brassica plant’s leaves.

Row after row after row of them.

It’ll do the trick. Like all organic insect controls, though, the process will have to be repeated when new loopers hatch and begin to eat. Hopefully I’ll have at least a short period between now and then to snap some truly lovely HDTV-ready close-ups. Ones with no surgery, plastic or otherwise, required.

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For Wednesday’s (hopefully HD worthy!) farm stand, we’ll have:

Asian cucumbers, oodles of summer squashes (yellow, Zephyr and zucchini), lots of chard, bunches of Dinosaur kale, bunches of Raab, bags of arugula, bulk Asian greens, sweet Corno di Toro peppers, Cubanelle peppers, Nubia and Beatrice eggplant, butternut squash, acorn squash, the first bunches of fall beets, and perhaps some other odds and ends.

Jo Dwyer

Angel Valley Organic Farm

Farm stands:

Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and

Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)