Food is precious

Leroy HuizengaBlogLeave a Comment

I mean that strictly. Though I may be a gourmand given to gluttony all too often, here I mean there’s a lot that goes into producing our food.

Maybe that’s obvious if you stop and think of it, but few people do. I’m thinking of it because my wife and I are gardening again now that we’re back in ND, after years of living in a townhome without real space.

We’ve planted a small garden in our backyard, and then we’re also growing some jalapeños and tomatoes in containers on our deck. I think altogether I’ve got thirty tomato plants and perhaps eight jalapeño plants that will produce. (In fact, they have produced. I’ve taken a couple peppers a bit early for omelettes, and they are good, especially with our home-grown cilantro.)

I tell people this, and they respond along the lines of, Wow — you’ll have tomatoes and peppers coming out your ears.

Maybe, but maybe not. I’ve been doing some quick math, and while we’ll certainly have more tomatoes and peppers than your average gardener, it won’t be ton. Not enough to get us through the winter, as I joked to a friend. But we’ll use some this fall and make salsa and sauce and can the rest.

It’s a lot of work to raise a garden, I’m finding, with simply the basics of watering and weeding, even with our minimal plot and containers. And then there’s the time nature requires for the plants to produce; we started most things from seed in March (which here was very warm; I got my first sunburn halfway through the month), and it’s now August, and I think our tomatoes will take a few more weeks, if not longer. And other stuff, too, will be ready for harvest in coming weeks — cucumbers, eggplants, carrots, etc.

And then we’ll be done for the winter, and can plant again in the spring. North Dakota, like many if not most places, has a single growing season. One a year. And what you get at the end of that season is it, for a year. It makes me think of the settlers immortalized by Rølvaag in Giants in the Earth. Cliff Notes: The women went crazy, the men die.

In any event, gardening has made me think about the food we get at the supermarket and how much we all eat. I can go to the store and get copious amounts of whatever produce I can afford year-round.

But it comes from somewhere, and it takes time and energy to raise it, even with modern methods, which all too often are environmentally harmful and produce produce that’s less nutritious and flavorful than it should be. If you haven’t yet, you’ve got to see Food, Inc.

The result of this for me, at least, has been spiritual. In a small but real way, gardening has made me ever more thankful for that which I and my family eat, whether from our garden or the store.

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