Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gardening Progress / A Local Food Rant

Three weeks ago I helped a good friend plant a veggie garden at her new rented house. We split the cost of seeds (I spent less than 30 bucks), the weeding chores, and the planting. We really haven't a clue what we're doing, but I went over today and sure enough a bunch of lovely seedlings are popping out of the ground:

sugar snap peas
purple carrots
orange carrots
broccoli rabe

Pictures of the garden forthcoming!

Then in my little containers at my apartment I've planted basil, tomatoes, and tomatillos! It's so fun to watch things grow, and i've been fertilizing the potted plants with the "tea" from my compost bin (a.k.a. trash juice.) We weren't sophisticated enough this grow season to space out our plantings so they'd mature at different times. Oh well. Next time.

This week I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's book about eating local for a year: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's great! She has some excellent points about the ethics of eating. We don't find it impolite for vegetarians to request non-meat items at dinner, but it's percieved as preachy or nitpicky in our society to ask that our food not travel around the globe to get to us. Eating seasonally is seen as deprivation (I see it that way sometimes, certainly!) Kingsolver writes, "The conspicuous consumption of limited resources has yet to be accepted widely as spiritual error, or even bad manners."

Isn't it more of a deprivation to eat crappy asparagus that's bitter and grimmy outside the 4 weeks (That's IT!) each year it's in season? Or munch on tasteless, mealy apples and tomatoes? Isn't it deprivation that we loose many varieties of seeds each year because of factory farming practice and modification of plant species so that they travel well? Don't get me wrong: I'm not an extremist! I won't stop using spices from Asia. I won't grow wheat on the roof to make my own bread. There are some very real advantages to living in the 21st century. But I will try when it comes to vegetables and fruits to do a better job. Growing my own is a great start, as is supporting local farmers. Dairy is easy to get locally as well. And even if my grains and legumes come from elsewhere, it's still MUCH more environmentally (and economically) sound to purchase and eat whole foods than it is to buy multi-ingredient foods of the processed and boxed variety, which have HUGE footprints. It's cheaper too. And healthier. It's not faster, but I'm not sure what I'd be doing with the time I saved by eating Easy-Mac.

It annoys the HELL out of me when people roll their eyes at me and call me a hippie. Americans have this sense of entitlement. We think we're sophisticated for eating blackberries in the dead of Winter, without regard for what those choices are doing to the rest of the planet and future generations. Catch me in the right mood and I feel this way too. It's irresponsible and sickening. My views aren't radical. They aren't original or groundbreaking; why are things so ass-backward that they're frequently percieved as such?


Margaret D said...

i think you would really like More Work For Mother by Cowan. I know I've mentioned it, but it really illuminates some of the ways that we got where we are. Let me know if you want to borrow it any time,

Lea Maria said...


You upsetness about eating out of season plants resonates with me on a Ayurvedic level--you're not supposed to eat things out of season for your general health, spiritual tranquility, and dosha balance.

That's what they say, anyway.

So the yogis hear you.