Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Dude, Grow Grass and Food
We saw a cardboard sign at a farmer's market propped on top of a straw basket of homegrown tomatoes that insisted, "Safe to Eat!"
The kids immediately wanted to know why other tomatoes may not be safe. I explained salmonella and the recent outbreak. We talked about the dark, lowly life of a bacterium in some intestinal tract somewhere, and the cycle of transmission and the havoc of diarrhea. The conversation evoked their memories of our family spring-break stomach flu epidemic of 2005. They were almost turned off tomatoes, until I promised that homegrown and certain varieties were still safe to eat.
I over-emphasized our luck and good fortune.
"See, we're really lucky because our plants are growing strong and healthy. No salmonella on our tomatoes," I said. "Nothing to worry about here."
"We better check," Aidan said.
They both ran out to the yard.
"They smell OK, Mom," Patrick told me.
"They're getting really tall," Aidan said.
In their world, if something's getting bigger and still smells pretty good, all systems are a go. The verdict is still out on baby Jack. He's getting bigger, but has frequent bouts of stinkiness.
Our garden is fun for us. But it's a novelty, and it shouldn't be. We drove around a new housing development in our area this week. It was dotted with brick-faced McMansions on astro-turf green lawns. Everything was creepy perfect. There must have been some serious homeowner regulations on manicuring the landscape.
"Can you have food gardens here?" Patrick asked.
"No, they only grow grass here," Aidan answered.
They only grow grass here... growing our own food is a national novelty. If we grew food like we grew grass, we'd all be aces. Dudes, we gotta grow more of our own food.
This morning CNN reported on the high food prices in Hawaii, and the heavy costs associated with importing 80% of the state's food. Think $8 for a jar of peanut butter. In the story, Ira Rohter, a professor at the University of Hawaii, said Hawaii's residents have only one choice: "You grow your own food. You may not have noticed, we can grown our own food in Hawaii."
There are limitations with the state's high cost of land and short-term leases, but planting a few seeds at home can take even a little squeeze out of supermarket runs, especially if you're paying more than $7 for a half-gallon of OJ.
Nugget o' the Week: "Can you have food gardens here?" - Patrick asking if people are allowed to grow food in one of the bigger, extremely manicured planned communities in town.