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I reflect often on a question a young man asked of me early this spring…he was looking at the tiny little transplants and emerging seedlings in my backyard garden and asked me, with great sincerity, if we ever really eat much from it. Perhaps to his inexperienced eye the smallness of the plants at the time seemed impossible of feeding anyone beyond a bird. When I reassured him that we eat something from our garden almost every day of our lives, he seemed dubious and wandered off, no longer interested. Funny how such an innocuous question has stayed with me for months. I’ve thought of it almost every time we sit down to eat, and have often wished I had offered him something more concrete than “salads” or “beets” as an answer. I’m an evangelist for growing our own food and his curiosity was the perfect chance to ‘preach it!’. But since I missed my chance with my young friend, I’ll just use this post to ‘preach it’. Remember, it’s my blog, it’s my belief, and so you can read on or hit delete. I’ll never know after all. Just sayin’…
Growing food and preserving it is in my DNA now. I consider it the second best thing people can do to regain control of their lives, right behind getting out of debt. What other activity can you possibly engage in that could provide you with all of your nutritional needs, save you money, taste fabulous, provide you with all the Vitamin D your body needs for good health, and all while getting the exercise you normally have to set aside time for? What other activity can do all that, while at the same time helping you become more resilient to the vagaries of climate change, droughts, trucker strikes, crop failures, food borne illnesses, rising prices, recalls and shortages? Oh yeah, and after all that, growing your own food gives you a reason to write blogs about your garden, try new zucchini recipes, share your extra produce, make special things to offer at gift giving time, learn food preservation skills and last, but certainly not least, gardening gives you a reason to take pictures of your supper to post on Facebook. That last reason might be reason enough for some of us 😉
During the spring and summer months, our meals evolve and revolve around what’s currently growing in our garden. During the fall and winter months, our meals evolve and revolve around what’s currently growing in the garden AND what’s preserved from the previous season. The old song about “Peaches in the summertime, apples in the fall” sums it up pretty well actually. Of course we enjoy a meal out occasionally, just like you do! When we do indulge, we often order foods we don’t or can’t grow. We eat very seasonally and have accepted the fact that it is simply not sustainable to be eating fresh strawberries or tomatoes in January-and they taste like crap anyway. Conversely, it’s a perfectly WONDERFUL feeling to enjoy the frozen berries and jams or canned tomatoes and sauces that we grew the previous summer, throughout the winter. That willingness to live and eat more in tune with the seasons makes every food special- from the box of tangelos my daughter buys from her school fund-raiser for me each Christmas, to the pecans I trade my veggies with a friend for each fall- to everything there is a season.
Now that I’ve preached from my personal pulpit about the blessings of the garden on this fine Sunday, I’ll end this by reminding you that, unlike religion, gardening doesn’t have to be an ‘all or none’ proposition. Start with just one thing you love. Do you like fresh cilantro and hate going to the store just for that item when you want it? Cooler weather is cilantro’s favorite time of year to grow. I have about two million seeds to give away. If you want to plant your own little patch, let me know, I’m happy to share. And guess what? If you let them go to seed, then let some of that seed fall, they’ll often establish themselves permanently that way and you may never have to replant them again. And THAT’S how you get hooked my friends. And THAT can be the beginning of your own ‘garden of eatin’. Just sayin’…
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