02 May 2008

A Return to the Land

Chemicals, n: Noxious substances from which modern foods are made.
~ Author Unknown

Both the Washington Post and the Washington Times greeted me this morning with front page stories on the $770 million in food aid that President Bush is asking Congress to approve. The line that caught my attention was this: “the administration denied that corn-for-ethanol subsidies are a major cause of the worldwide surge in food prices.” (Times, 5/2/08). The Post said the same thing: “While nearly all experts agree that increased biofuel production has contributed to escalating food prices, there is little consensus on the scope. Edward Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, argued yesterday that the impact of ethanol on prices was minimal, because corn is a small portion of global food consumption.” (Post, 5/2/08)

Although I am no economic expert, I am a consumer. And an uneasy one at that. Frankly, the denial that increased corn production by a large number of American farmers is NOT contributing to the current food crisis sounds like what it is: denial. Here at home the decision by farmers to turn their fields over to producing as much corn as possible has definitely affected those of us who buy the bulk of our fruits and vegetables at the supermarket. To deny that such a decision has minimal impact is ludicrous. And I have all the proof I need right at home.

My parents are retired and live on a very limited income. It has become more and more expensive to buy fresh, healthy produce. Even for just two people who do not eat a whole lot the grocery bill increases each time they shop. Add to that they live in the country where driving everywhere is a necessity and the bulk of their income is going to food and the gas needed to go buy it.

Thankfully, they still own around four and half acres. So this weekend I will head down for a much needed mini vacation where the only sound I hear at night are the cows and the crickets. But it will not all be rest and relaxation. Since Dad had a pacemaker put in, he cannot do as much as he once did, so yours truly gets the awesome job of bush-hogging one of the fields. And to help them save on produce, I will also put in a vegetable and herb garden for Mom.

They both have incredibly green thumbs. Last summer’s tomato crop left mine in the dust. I expect this year’s yield to be just a good, if not better. And the good news is, it will all be local and organic. So we know that it is not genetically meddled with or injected with drugs or sprayed with toxins.

When I was growing up, we owned a little over five and half acres and at least three of those were vegetable gardens. I could not eat zucchini for the longest time because we grew so much of it! (I like it now….in zucchini bread. ;-)) Because of Mom and Dad's decreased mobility, this year’s garden will not be quite that large. However, I do plan on making it big enough to feed both of them and my household as well (we also plan on having a small city garden ourselves).

The good thing about going back to the land out of necessity is that you rediscover something both beautiful and basic; something you cannot experience or touch when you live in the city: man was meant to till the land and take care of it. And once you get dirt in your blood, there is no getting rid of it. To try to deny it is to deny a primordial need.

And there’s enough denial in this town as it is.
Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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