A Win Win Win Situation
Grow Your Own Food!
You get the very best there is to eat.
You make a real contribution to improving the environment.
You begin to take back power to act in your world.
A Home Gardening Polemic
Food tastes best, nourishes best, when it
is absolutely fresh, and it canít get any fresher than vegetables
and fruit picked in your own garden. Flavor is fullest, vitamins are at
their peak. No store can match the quality of fresh picked produce at
any price. At best, it is days, often weeks away from the field. If you
garden organically, you know for sure that it contains no toxic
pesticide residues. Your home grown vegetable and fruit havenít been
chilled, stored, treated, packaged, transported, held in inventory, or
handled by others and possibly contaminated. Money canít buy produce
that is safer or more pure than home-picked fresh.
Home gardening conserves precious
resources, improves the environment and adds wealth at no environmental
cost. Consider fuel savings, for one. Grocery store items travel, on
average, more than 4000 miles before reaching the shelves, traveling by
truck, train and airplane burning scarce fossil fuels and dumping
megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and thatís after the
fuel burned by tractors in the field and the petrochemicals going into
the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in their production. All of
that petroleum is saved and those emissions avoided when you grow food
Then consider soil and water.
Conventional agriculture is notorious for bringing about wholesale soil
erosion and draining rivers and subsurface waters with insatiable
irrigation needs, and large scale irrigation projects waste scandalous
amounts of water in evaporation and runoff. Chemical fertilizers and
pesticides contaminate streams and subsurface waters and create
intractable environmental problems. By comparison, the micromanagement
possible in the home garden can take full advantage of natural rainfall,
minimize evaporation and runoff, and requires least added water,
producing greater per acre yields than commercial farms. Organic
gardeners improve soil texture to hold water and eliminate erosion, and
put nothing harmful into groundwater.
Consider air. Living plants are net oxygen producers, and they absorb
carbon dioxide from air overburdened with CO2 emissions, storing the
carbon in their flesh. Consider wildlife. The garden is a friendly
place, for birds, frogs, field mice and other critters which have been
displaced in paved urban environments.
Finally, consider the remarkable
process of growth in the garden. Beginning with just a seed, and
invoking the processes of nature, sunlight, air, water and soil minerals
come together and ďgrow,Ē bringing into existence a valuable product
which did not exist before. Unlike a manufacturing process, which
utilizes a building and machinery, consumes raw materials, and requires
labor to produce a product, the garden acts pretty much on its own,
needing a gardener only to place the seed and direct the water at
appropriate intervals, perhaps contributing a bit to the store of
available minerals, and reducing competition in the form of weeds. And
unlike factories which dump pollution into air and water, and demand all
sorts of auxiliary services such as packaging and transportation, the
garden produces its product and improves the environment at the same
time. What a gift!
Gardeners develop an attitude, a penchant
for acting on their own, which grows into a new, empowered approach to
the world and its problems. All too many of us are frustrated, angry
and depressed by political trends which ignore pressing environmental
and social problem and make them worse by catering to the forces of
greed. For far too long we have spent our energies trying to petition
our government for change, meeting nothing but failure. We know that our
anger is self-destructive and doesnít faze our political enemies, but we
have been feeling helpless, probably because under this old paradigm of
writing to congress we have, in fact, been helpless! Now it can be told.
The more we garden, the more we leave the anger behind and feel the
power of actually accomplishing what we know to be good.
Because I did what I did in my garden,
I can say, ďI personally signed on to the Kyoto accord, and because of
my actions, there is less carbon dioxide pollution and more oxygen in
the atmosphere. I have done my bit to stop soil erosion, reduce
pesticide contamination, conserve scarce water resources and improve my
own health. I know that millions of people can do what I have done, and
that if they did, the effect in improving environmental and health
conditions would be enormous. I can quietly stand as an example to
others that this is true and possible. I am winning in the struggles
that matter to me most!Ē
Absolutely EVERYONE can do something to
accomplish these transformations! Conceding that many people donít
have enough time or space to home garden most of their food, there are
compromises that are almost as good. There are roof gardens and patio
gardens for apartment dwellers. There are pea patch gardens for those
who donít have space at home. But people who know they really canít grow
a significant part of their own food can find neighbors in their
communities who can. Community supported agriculture (CSA) refers to
personal farmers who have committed to producing food for town dwellers
who buy shares in their output. Farmersí markets are in most communities
during the summer months providing access to fresh picked produce. Local
stores and restaurants are responding to consumer demand for local
foods, and will respond more as that demand increases.
Local food is a security issue.
Transportation cost can only rise in this era of peak oil, and the cost
of food from distant locations must rise with it. Eventually, fuel
scarcity may lead to interruptions in supply, and food scarcity. Quality
of processed foods is certain to decrease as manufacturers try to keep
their products affordable. This may be scaremongering, but sometimes
itís appropriate to be afraid. There are many products we could do
without, and some would say do much better without, but food isnít one
of them. Itís crucial to have a local food supply.