This weekend’s harvest from my garden
By Ed Nicholson
I grew up on a farm and around vegetable gardens. I’ve had a garden myself most of my adult life. This year, with the exception of a little Miracle Grow fertilizer on the tomatoes, I’ve gone mostly organic. While the squash bugs and late blight are taking a toll on production, it’s still a good year.
And although I freeze and can quite a bit, even in a good year, I couldn’t come close to feeding my family out of my garden.
Which brings me to my point: I think the trend toward locally-grown, organic, CSAs and community gardens is fantastic. I sincerely do. Like Guy Clark said, “What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes?” If I ruled the world, much of the water and fertilizer that goes into making lush green carpets around our homes and in our communities would go into making food in the same space.
However (and granting I have a dog in the hunt), I think the trend toward extolling the virtues of locally-produced food using the tactic of demonizing modern agricultural practices is counterproductive and potentially dangerous.
I was particularly impressed by Missouri farmer, Blake Hurst’s thoughtful and articulate response to the trend toward trashing modern farming in his piece, The Omnivore’s Delusion. You might consider reading it before you form an opinion after seeing Food Inc.
We have a billion hungry people in this world, many of whom live in climates or locales for which local, organic and heirloom are literally impossible. How are we going to feed them without drought-resistant maize and soybeans, or frost-resistant wheat? And if we can grow a chicken with six pounds of corn, rather than twelve, well… As Dr. Jeffrey Sachs states in this video, if we don’t get the hungry fed, our world faces continued political instability. And in a world with shakily-secured nuclear and chemical arsenals, those risks are as daunting as global warming and ocean eutrophication.
Local and organic, and modern and efficient need not be mutually exclusive. We can live in a world that has locally-produced food for those of us with the ways and means, while feeding the rest of a hungry planet with modern agricultural techniques. There’s a place for both.
And if you’re ever in northwest Arkansas in late July, come by and see me. I always seem to have extra squash.