Tennesseetransitions


Silent Spring?

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I’ve been out of town and quite busy lately, so I haven’t had much time to write. But I’m back now, and full of ideas on how I can continue to transition to a hotter, leaner world than the one I’ve grown old in. I had to pull out all of my spring planted bok choy this week, because it all went to seed before ever forming heads. I’d even bought an early variety of seed this year, hoping to nip that problem in the bud-literally. At least the spinach and peas are still holding their own, giving us frequent spinach salads, mixed with raw peas, lettuce and arugula, then topped with mandarin orange slices, farmer’s market goat cheese and some of the pecans that I bartered for last fall. (In my haste to eat it, I forgot to take a picture but trust me, it’s good :D) Potatoes, peppers, squash and tomatoes are knee high now, and all the beans are up. I’ve planted green beans, Hopi Orange Limas, and Edamame this year-  we love them all! With a full bed of carrots, beets and parsnip seeds tucked in to the soil, I think I’m done with planting-for now! But I mourn those lost Bok Choy cabbages…  I remember calling the county extension agent the first year I lived in East Tennessee, inquiring about reliable veggie varieties for spring. He told me then that spring-planted brassicas don’t normally do very well here, and sadly, he was right. But next spring I’m going to be ready, and will have a cooler, richer spot with a bit of shade for them to finish their last few weeks of growth under. That’s the great thing about gardening, isn’t it? There’s always ‘next year’. Or IS there?

In 1962 Rachel Carson wrote ‘Silent Spring’, the book that is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement in this country. Earth Day began in 1970, as a direct result of Ms. Carson’s expose of the detrimental affects of pesticides and pollution-especially on birds. 50 years later, more pesticides, and now genetically modified seeds that have built-in weed killers bred into them, are wreaking havoc on our honeybees. Recent news stories have been all about how the most recent US Farm Bill proposal will continue to subsidize large ag conglomerates that grow (mostly GMO) corn, wheat, soybeans, rice and cotton, all  while offering little or no help whatsoever to small farmers-you know, those hard working folks that are raising grass fed meats, free range chickens, heirloom and organic veggies and  low spray fruits. Meanwhile, GMO seeds continue to spread world wide (even a variety that has never been approved by the US or any other country was found growing in Oregon recently!) honeybees keep dying, while we’re all  fat, sick and nearly dead from eating the Standard. American. Diet. (S.A.D., ain’t it?)

I’m well aware that I am constantly repeating myself in these blog posts about  eating a more sustainable, more local, more organic and more home-grown plant-based diet, but I’m not about to remain silent about something I feel so strongly about. I’m pretty certain you can find lots of blogs to read that will present an opposing point of view if you’re at all interested in it. But honestly folks, such a diet really seems to be the easiest and best thing we can do to boost our own health and that of the planet, while spending less AND improving our resilience in the face of climate change, reduced oil reserves and a falsely propped up economy.

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I recently wrote a post titled “Empower House”  about how we can turn our homes into places of production rather than just viewing them as a place to store our stuff. I don’t know about you, but I LIKE LOVE the feeling of empowerment and self reliance that eating this way brings to my life. My garden will never be able to supply my family with all of our food needs, but by growing those things we like fresh, and then having some food storage in the pantry, root crops in the cellar, extra water on hand and buying staples like beans, rice, pasta, yeast, wheat and toilet paper (don’t forget the toilet paper!) in bulk, I feel pretty certain that we’ll manage fairly well if times get hard. And even better if they don’t!

I really don’t want to be viewed as ‘Chicken Little’, yet, like Rachel Carson, I feel like the earth and all her life-giving support systems are crying out for our care and attention. Will we eventually see a Silent Spring? Will our honeybees survive to continue to pollinate our crops? Now that we’ve reached the milestone of 400 ppm of carbon dioxide in the very air we breathe, the chances are, shall we say, breathtaking.

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