The first picture is of the various lettuces and kale I’ve planted, the second picture is of some cucumber sprouts and the third is a hand-made tomato cage with a tomato forest growing within. Next to those are some pepper plants.
Since 2011 I woke up to a big ethical dilemma. Our food system and the disconnect I felt from it. Need something? Go to the store. I wondered if I thought about it too much or perhaps read too much into it–but there’s something about food that connects us as human beings–as living organisms of the earth. I found myself constantly thinking about where the food came from. Most produce comes from Mexico picked by exploited workers or in the states by–you guessed it–exploited workers. Not to mention that it’s most likely sprayed with pesticides or grown with genetically modified means.
I went to the store the other day looking at the jars of pickles and one of the ingredients was Yellow #5. Food has now become an imitation of food. Salt, sugars, and fats measured at the perfect levels to induce the consumer into a state of ignorant bliss and makes the person crave more. Food has become a hassle. A chore. It’s a chore to prepare a meal and enjoy it as a family or with friends. We gulp down our breakfast burritos on the morning commute without really thinking about it.
I’m food obsessed. I need to know if what I buy is ethical and if what I put into myself will nourish my mind, spirit, and body. I’m a firm believer in “you are what you eat”. In my early twenty’s I just ate thoughtlessly and I’ll be honest it wasn’t the healthiest diet. I had my chicken wings, burgers, deep fried goodness, lots of sugary sodas and drinks and in retrospect it wasn’t helping my struggles with depression–it exacerbated it. I started to do some research into food. I watched documentaries. After I became more thoughtful of where my food came from and what I was eating I started to feel better–healthier. But I was still depressed because even though I was eating a green pepper it was a green pepper picked from a migrant worker making pennies an hour in a field that sprays pesticides.
What can I do to bridge this disconnect I felt? Do others feel the same way I wondered.
I decide to take micro-action by growing my own garden. But I had no idea where to start. A friend with a green thumb invited me over to her yard and I marveled at her creativity. She showed me pictures of the garden she grew in her previous home and gave me some tips on what to do. I brought over a tomato plant that I started in March as a gift. Her garden is a place of peace and wonder and is also a work of beautiful art. When the time came for the tomatoes and pepper plants to transfer I called my mother to come over and help. The friend I live with and my mom and I spent an afternoon planting the tomatoes and my mother passed down some information to me about how to plant them and how to take care of them. Growing food grows relationships and community. This garden is more than just a hobby for me–it’s my livelihood. I now know where my food comes from and I will be able to have peace of mind when I eat a piece of kale or lettuce. I also volunteer as an ambassador with a food co-op that will be getting it’s feet off the ground in my town.(bismanfoodcoop.com) In the summer we have farmers markets that I support on the weekends. Next season I hope to also buy a share with a CSA.
I alone can’t fix the broken food system but I individually can do something about it and I know there are others who do that too.
I grew up on a farm and even though I live in the capitol city of ND I carry that self-reliant spirit.
I look forward to making my own pickles, sauces, salads, and sourkraut when the autumn harvest season hits.
In A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, he states:
There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other is that heat comes from the furnace.
One of my goals in life is to be food self-sufficient and to eat authentically and ethically. I feel that eating authentically and ethically feeds more than just biological hunger.