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.