Monday, June 9, 2008

Everthing Old is New Again

Since moving into a small condo I have discovered the thing I miss the most about our old house: the garden. In it we had strawberries, rhubarb, horseradish, cucumbers, zucchini, many varieties of sweet and hot peppers and tomatoes, eggplant, lots of different herbs, and whatever else caught our attention at the nursery. Neighbors were encouraged to pick strawberries and vegetables from our garden when we realized we couldn't eat all that we planted. Some food was composted, but most went directly onto our plates or those of our co-workers and neighbors.

We didn't grow the variety of things we could find in the supermarket or even the variety of vegetables we get in our share at the CSA, like beets, greens, asparagus, and potatoes. We sometimes tired of the produce from our garden, the glut of zucchini, the strawberries that we sometimes let rot until only the birds would eat them. But mostly we enjoyed it, building menus around whatever was in season. I never ate raw tomatoes until my husband planted tomato plants in the backyard of the first apartment we ever rented together. That summer not only did I start eating tomatoes, we had tomato sandwiches many nights in a row for weeks on end and never got tired of them.

In this day of war and rising food (and everything else) costs, I have been reading some about victory gardens. During World War II, people were encouraged to grow their own gardens and not waste food. Today, it seems the messages we receive from society, both government and private industry, is that we need to support businesses and the economy more, not less, and the idea of victory gardening is anathema to that. And food waste is rampant in homes, colleges, and restaurants. But I don't know that the spirit of victory gardening was ever new or has ever disappeared: I see it in the "good life" of the Nearing's, and the communes of the hippies, and in the simple living movement.

Even if you can't grow vegetables because you have a shady balcony, like us, or just don't have time or energy to grow your own garden I think we can still live the spirit of the victory garden. Eat locally. Eat seasonally. Don't waste food.

There are many resources out there to get us started on all of this, and I think this video is an inspiring place to start (and it mentions victory gardens!). Also check out the 100 Mile Diet, Local Harvest, and the Wasted Food blog.


Karen said...

I don't understand big words like anathema. I know you're really smart, but would you mind dumbing it down a bit for people like me?

J and I just got our garden in this last week and are hoping for a plentiful bounty. But no rhubarb. We'll have to continue to rely on J's Mom's homegrown rhubarb and homemade rhubarb pie. I'd be a fool to try to compete with a woman that doesn't use recipes for her award winning baked goods.

Classic cook said...

So, Karen, do attorneys only understand Latin? I didn't even realized I used that word until you pointed it out and now I am paranoid that I used it wrong and that's why you are pointing it out. I guess I could have used accursed, but that sounds too dramatic.

We were near J's mom last weekend--I should have dropped in and picked up some award winning baked goods!

Alex Rushmer said...

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. great blog and great sentiment.

~~Louise~~ said...

Just dropped in via Flickr.

I also enjoy cookbooks.

I'm thinking about uploading to Flickr. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Very interesting reading...Saving you for a return trip:)

Classic cook said...

Thanks Alex and Louise, I look forward to seeing you here!

Louise--I love flickr for sharing pictures, but I really only put a small number of pics on there, mostly through the groups I belong to that relate to old cookbooks. Go ahead and add some, I'm sure we'll all enjoy them :-)

Gillsnthrills said...


Stash said...

Nice blog.

I recently made a committment to eat seasonally and locally back in December. It's been a life-changing and eye-opening experience.