The following appeared in my local newspaper, the “Pickens Progress”, as an editorial in it’s March 18, 2010 edition.
While I think Michelle Obama’s “organic garden” was a bad PR joke, the thrust of the editorial shows a good thing…an awakening of the media to good wholesome food, as opposed to the phake phood at the supermarket.
Wearing black from head to toe, trailed by local elementary students and a white-coated chef, Michelle Obama thrust organic gardening and locavorism into the limelight on March 20, 2009, nearly one year ago to the day.
While the organic, local food movement took root decades ago and was gaining momentum before the First Lady plunged her shovel into the south lawn at the Whitehouse, the symbolic gesture gave the movement more fresh umph than a tomato plant doused with Miracle-Gro.
Unless you’ve been living inside a can of SPAM, it’s easy to see that local food has become the movement a la mode. Farmers’ markets are enjoying robust vitality; books about healthy, natural food are sprouting on the bestseller list again and again; documentaries encouraging homegrown food are viewed by millions.
Gardening is for more than grandpa these days, as young individuals and families hike up their pants and go to planting gardens on small subdivision plots.
There’s even a new group in Jasper, Sustainable Pickens, looking to create a community around the subject as it educates about local, sustainable food.
Just in time for spring planting, we take this opportunity to encourage you to become part of a trend we’d like see become the norm: homegrown food. Even if you start with just a few tomato plants, get your hands dirty this year growing your own produce.
There are so many no-brainer reasons to hop onboard. Locally grown food tastes better. It’s more healthy for those who eat it, compared to commercially grown produce. It costs less. It connects you to the environment. It’s safer for the earth.
For naysayers who think local gardening or “going organic” is all an elitist sham, take this little nugget into consideration: following the announcement of Mrs. Obama’s garden, commercial agriculture gave her efforts some serious heat. Agri-business felt threatened by her 1,100 square foot plot and retaliated.
But their retaliations were illogical, desperate attempts to hold onto an irresponsible, harmful food system. The Mid America Crop Life Association, for example, said Mrs. Obama should have given conventional agriculture equal time.
Spokesman and Associate Director for The American Council on Science and Health told the Daily Show, “The Obama garden should come with a warning label…It’s irresponsible to tell people they have to eat local organically grown food. Not everyone can afford that.”
He even said her bit for organic gardening would create a public health concern as people who couldn’t afford organic, local veggies would go hungry.
The 2008 documentary Food, Inc., directed by Robert Kenner, takes you inside the true public health concern with the modern food industry, an industry that comes off as an anemic, sickly cousin compared to the home-based food production that once dominated a mostly rural America at the start of the 20th Century.
In the opening scene, Michal Pollan, author of the bestseller In Defense of Food, tells us the food industry has changed more in the last 50 years than it has in thousands of years of agriculture.
Pollan says, multi-national food corporations spin “pastoral fantasies” for consumers with creative ad campaigns. We see images of rolling pastures and sunsets on our bacon and butter packages and barns and haystacks on our milk carton, when, realistically, modern food comes from highly industrialized processing plants and inhumane feedlots.
Health issues plague Americans, a result of shoddy diets and sedentary lifestyles. Truth is you will not be able to grow everything you eat in your backyard, but every time you pick a cucumber or buy greens at a farm stand, you move one step in the right direction.
Now’s the time we take control be getting back to basics. Join the movement and plant a garden for yourself.
Reprinted with permission from The Pickens Progress, Jasper, GA.