Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Over the last 5 years, I've done some hard thinking about food. Not so much about recipes and cooking; more about where it comes from and how it's produced. No longer content with feeding my family conventionally raised food of questionable nutritive value flown in from the other side of the globe, I began to seek wholesome, organic, non-genetically modified, locally and sustainably produced, FRESH food bought from real people that I could actually look in the eye and shake hands with. Wow. What a journey that has been! Procuring food now takes up a very large portion of my days and although that might seem unappealing to you, I would encourage you to make sourcing GREAT food a priority in your life. May I be bold enough to say that your life will be richer for it. Richer in health, richer in relationships, richer in community and richer in food security.
There are many, many resources to help you get in touch with your own sources of local food (from Farmer's Markets to online help via eatwild.com or the Slow Food Movement), BUT let us not forget a VERY important, HYPER local, INEXPENSIVE food source:
Your own backyard.
Back in the Depression era, my Great Grandfather, Arthur, kept his family alive (in addition to the deserted mother with 6 starving children next door) through the steady labour of tending a vegetable garden that was the entire size of his backyard. No square foot was left unsown. No blade of grass was left to rob nutrients from that richly diverse food garden that nourished 10 people through those VERY lean years. There were no chaises, no hammock, no fire pit, no pool, no trampoline, no outdoor kitchen, no hot tub, no outdoor fireplace with a TV mounted above, no fountains, no sound systems, no battery operated cars for the children, no outdoor heaters, no play structures with slides or umbrellas to lounge under... there was nothing but FOOD (and PLENTY of it). Food to eat, food to share and food to put by. Well nourished those 10 people were, while so many literally starved. A true testament to the power of a well tended, home scale vegetable garden...
Fast forward to today and look in any newspaper flyer to see what backyards have become - an oasis of plastic! Gone are the Victory Gardens and here to stay is a lot of "stuff" to help us play and relax. While relaxing is good for the mind and the body, I'm not so sure we should be doing so much of that if we haven't got a stable food supply. Aaaaannnnd we don't. If you think we do, think again. HARD. Nearly every conventionally produced food item has oil, bio-tech and politics involved. Nations are no longer producing their own food (far from it). Welcome to our monoculture society that receives it's daily sustenance largely via aircraft. Not very sustainable and in my opinion, a recipe for a disaster of the very largest kind.
The population that can't feed itself is very weak, indeed...
That last statement might feel overwhelming to contemplate, but it is VITAL that we do just that. My Great Grandpa didn't live in the country on a farm. He lived in the city of Edmonton with a very short growing season and -40C winters on an average sized lot. If he was able to feed 10 people from that modest piece of land, I'm betting that most of us could at the very least, feed our families HALF of what they need by way of a garden.
Are you up for the challenge?