Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Grow Your Own Food

I like Clive Thompson's optimism about home gardens as sources of food. He makes some great points about the wastefulness of our food system. But I also think he might be overly optimistic about people's ability to keep plants alive given the brown thumb exhibited by some of my co-workers.

Our world faces many food-resource problems, and a massive increase in edible gardening could help solve them. The next president should throw down the gauntlet and demand Americans sow victory gardens once again.

Remember the victory garden? During World Wars I and II, the government urged city dwellers and suburbanites to plant food in their yards. It worked: The effort grew roughly 40 percent of the fresh veggies consumed in the US in 1942 and 1943.These days, we're fighting different battles. Developing nations are facing wrenching shortages of staples like rice. Here at home, we're struggling with a wave of obesity, fueled by too much crappy fast food and too little fresh produce, particularly in poorer areas. Our globalized food stream poses environmental hazards, too: The blueberries I had for lunch came from halfway around the world, in the process burning tons of CO2.

Urban farming tackles all three issues. It could relieve strain on the worldwide food supply, potentially driving down prices. The influx of fresh vegetables would help combat obesity. And when you "shop" for dinner ingredients in and around your home, the carbon footprint nearly disappears. Screw the 100-mile diet — consuming only what's grown within your immediate foodshed — this is the 100-yard diet.

Want to cool cities cheaply? Plant crops on rooftops. This isn't just liberal hippie fantasy, either. Defense hawks ought to love urban farming, because it would enormously increase our food independence — and achieve it without the market distortions of the benighted farm bill. You don't need tomatoes from Mexico if you can pluck them from containers on your office roof.|Clive Thompson on Why Urban Farming Isn't Just for Foodies - Wired|

1 comment:

Joe6paq said...

Victory gardens, war bonds, energy saving campaigns, none of these were part of the new paradigm of warfare espoused by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al.


My household is way past the victory garden and trying to convince me that urban chicken farming is the wave of the future.

I remain unconvinced. But as someone who is handy with an axe, maybe you should consider it.