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Monday, October 27, 2008

Garden of Eatin'

Anyone with whom I've had more than a 30 second conversation over the course of the past 6 months knows that I was garden obsessed this summer. It was my first attempt at gardening in Wyoming and I did not know the euphoria I would experience at the taste of garden-fresh greens or the smell of just-picked herbs. But, I have to admit to having found gardening bliss.

(Stick with me here...I'm getting a little blissed out just writing about the whole gardening experience). So, in a nutshell: it awesome eating fresh, home-grown produce all summer long. We feasted on lettuce, beans, peppers (ooh, the peppers), sugar snap peas, sweet corn, and tomatoes on top of more tomatoes. Then we harvested the pumpkins (which our daughter calls "punpuns"). There was enough food to share with friends and to freeze and enjoy this winter. And while I knew there was a growing (pardon the pun) local food movement, I chose to garden this summer because I wanted a hobby that allowed me to be outdoors and because in many ways I miss desperately the farm I grew up on and I hope to pass some of those agricultural values on to our daughter.

As the summer passed and we enjoyed our garden's bounty, the more I felt like this was really the right thing for our family. What could be better than for our daughter to know where her food comes from? And really, what kid (or grownup) wouldn't prefer green beans plucked fresh from the vine to heat-canned beans swimming in salt water? So, I became a little obsessed with food--it seemed that everything I read was either a cookbook or a gardening journal, every conversation with a friend turned to gardening or composting, and every meal turned in to a challenge to use as many of the freshest foods I could gather.

Which is why I read Michael Pollan's open letter to the next president with rapt attention. Pollan, who has written two books on America's food-obsession, argues in the letter that America's interest in fast, convenient foods are creating a health crisis. Are some of his ideas out there? Sure. But is he spot-on on other things: absolutely. Namely, that somehow good-for-us, fresh food that actually nourishes our bodies has somehow got a bad rap as elitist or "fancy." Conversely, as a nation we now pay homage at the alter of food that in many ways is little more than edible food-like substances (lots of things wrapped in celophane come to mind here). He's not saying that each of us personally owes fresh Brussel sprouts a big mea culpa. Rather, he argues that eating more real foods will have a real, positive effect on our collective health.


Blogger David Carkhuff said...

Brings back memories of eating fruits and vegetables from the garden as I was growing up. Plenty of home-cooked, "from scratch" meals, too, not the processed foods out of a box.

October 30, 2008 at 9:58 PM  

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