There’s so much concern these days about finding local, organic, seasonal, sustainable, free-range, free-trade, sulfite-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, nonprocessed, whole-grain, grass-fed foods that obsessive “foodies” across the country are beginning to grow their own fruits and vegetables just to make sure they’re getting exactly what they want. Led by the Michael Pollans and Alice Waters’ of the world, a food-crazed army is joining together to wage a culinary revolution. Though I find this kind of vice-like control over your food to be both a little insane and very pretentious, I have somehow joined their ranks.
Like any other cult, they sucked me in not by appealing to my logic, but to my fear. Overblown (though not irrational) terror about food security and instability has caused me to pick up my rake and enlist with the histrionic hordes.
It all started so innocently with just a small basil plant in the kitchen and a few patio tomatoes. Now, around my apartment in various pots, I have parsley, rosemary, mint, basil, onions, and a pumpkin vine. And I have recently joined in on the biggest trendy, hipster, “foodie” cliche of all…the community garden. (By the way, I could probably write an entire cultural critique about how everything my grandmother does is now popular again: knitting, gardening, drinking straight gin…okay, that hasn’t really hit yet, but, trust me, it’s on the way).
Now, despite my hesitation about been grouped in with all the other food snobs, I am really excited about my garden! It’s actually a great program through the AgriLife Extension, where you agree to attend four classes a year on gardening and donate half of what you grow to the North Texas Food Bank. In exchange you get about 30 square feet of do with as you choose (as long as what you plant is edible…and legal). This summer, I hope to grow radishes, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, squash, and okra.
I’m one month in and I’ve already planted the cold-weather crops, the radishes, spinach, and broccoli. The excitement over seeing seeds I have sown pop green little shoots out and morph into something I recognize is extraordinary. When the spinach first came up, it just looked like a few blades of ordinary grass. One week later, the leaves are beginning to take on a recognizable oval shape. It’s not exactly baby spinach yet, but more like preemie spinach.
And hey, who knows, with predicted crop instability around the world leading to skyrocketing food prices in our supermarkets, maybe everyone will be growing their own soon…not just the crazies!