There is nothing like food which has literally been ripped right off the vine and stuffed into your mouth. Just envision plucking a ripe tomato from the vine and enjoying the burst of flavor as you take your first bite or taking apart a pea pod and plopping the small peas into your mouth. Indescribable.
Unfortunately, our society has evolved into a bunch of fast food junkies with our hectic lifestyles. Or if you have the time to cook, our food is flown 1000s of miles so that we can savor certain vegetables and fruits which are not normally in season in our regions. According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture,
“It is estimated that the average American meal travels about 1500 miles to get from farm to plate. Why is this cause for concern? There are many reasons:
- This long-distance, large-scale transportation of food consumes large quantities of fossil fuels. It is estimated that we currently put almost 10 kcal of fossil fuel energy into our food system for every 1 kcal of energy we get as food.
- Transporting food over long distances also generates great quantities of carbon dioxide emissions. Some forms of transport are more polluting than others. Airfreight generates 50 times more CO2 than sea shipping. But sea shipping is slow, and in our increasing demand for fresh food, food is increasingly being shipped by faster – and more polluting — means.
- In order to transport food long distances, much of it is picked while still unripe and then gassed to “ripen” it after transport, or it is highly processed in factories using preservatives, irradiation, and other means to keep it stable for transport and sale. Scientists are experimenting with genetic modification to produce longer-lasting, less perishable produce.”
Increase carbon footprint, preservatives, irradiation, and large quantities of fossil fuels used in order to eat a food that is not as nearly tasty or as good for the environment as the “plucked” one described above. So, what are the alternatives?
Consider buying locally from a farmer’s markets. Ask to make sure that all their food actually is grown locally. See here to get started to find a local farmer’s market. Check your local paper as well. Farmer markets are spring up all over the place.
Community Supported Agriculture Cooperative
Join a community supported agriculture cooperative or for short, a CSA. What is a CSA, you ask?
According to Local Harvest, Inc., a CSA is where
“a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief…
Advantages for farmers:
Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
- Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
- Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
- Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
- Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
- Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.”
You can easily split an order with friends to reduce the cost or amount of food.
Grow your own in containers. Many of my friends grow tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs via containers. See here for more information on how to get started.
Consider joining a community garden. (See here to find one near you.) If I did not have my own garden I would jump at the chance to garden in a community. Why? The camaraderie. I recently visited a community garden during this summer and spoke to a fellow gardener about the merits of gardening in a community. He told me that the other gardeners help each us with identifying bugs and problems, many new friendships have been formed, and the best of all, they trade plants. The cost to “own” a plot was minimal.
If your town does not have a community garden, consider starting one.
Grow Your Own
Once you get the gardening bug, there is no cure. My own garden has gotten bigger and bigger. I added a second garden this summer to grow corn. Here are some pics of what is growing in my garden.
This sneaky bean pod was hidden under the leaves of my bush beans. (It is no longer there, since some hungry person snatched it off its vine and put it her mouth.)
Pea pods that I am hoping will continue to grow despite the hot weather. I have hidden them in a shadier part of the garden behind very tall turnip plants. A girl has gotta hope, no?
Curly thyme growing between my raised beds. Bees were buzzing around the thyme as I was in the garden since it is in bloom. The smell is heavenly. For more information about planting thyme as ground cover for your garden, see here.
Knee high by July! Yep. I am growing corn. Popcorn, Gentleman’s Corn, and Blue Hopi Corn. I just hope the crows go on vacation when it starts to ripen.
No, I did not plant the tomato plant right by the composter. It is actually growing from seeds that did not compost from last years’ tomato seeds and skins that I threw in the composter. (Remember, my adventures with making sauce with a manual tomato press?) There were actually four of them surrounding the composter. Two were moved to other beds and the remaining two are guarding the composter.
I am praying that this little watermelon plant starts growing. We have had so much rain and cloudy days that none of my heat loving plants have started to grow. My peppers look terrible and my cucumbers are wondering if it is fall.
Is this not the most beautiful plant? This is amaranth, the grain. I hear that you can eat the leaves now but I am waiting to harvest it if it ever grows.
What would veggies be without flowers? I am growing nasturtiums, marigolds, cosmos, zinnias, and Sweet Alyssum (pictured above.) I grew this plant from seed inside the house so I could see what it looked like. I am notorious for pulling flowers thinking they are weeds.
I hope that the pictures inspired you to think about growing your own. Check back throughout the summer, to see what is growing in my garden. (Hopefully, I will have taken a picture before I eat it. The veggies on the vine are so tempting.)
This post is part of the Green Mom Carnival as to Food Matters being hosted by Alline at Passion for Green Business. Head on over to Alline’s blog to read what other green moms and mother’s of the Earth have to say. I will assure you with this group, the other articles will be fascinating.