Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A New Perspective

Growing my own food has given me a new perspective on many different things. Primary among them of course, is food itself. I have grown flowers many times, but food is so much different. You don’t eat flowers, so it doesn’t matter how long they take to grow or how long they last. Before I planted my first vegetable seed, food had an entirely different meaning for me. It was something that I would buy at the grocery store or the supermarket, bring home, prepare if necessary, and eat. Eating out is even simpler: other people even prepare the food. Intellectually, I knew that there had been more to getting that food to my mouth; it had to come from somewhere after all. It had to be grown, harvested, processed if necessary, and transported. I knew all this. But I had no idea, on a real, gut level, what really went into growing food until I tried it myself.
I planted those first few seeds, watered diligently, and waited. And waited. And waited. After a few days my radishes sprouted. Slowly, they started to grow. I checked excitedly every day but there wasn’t much change from one day to the next. The back of the package said they took 28 days to mature. That’s a month! Time began to take on a whole new meaning. The humble radish takes a month to grow from seed until it becomes eating size, and yet it is devoured in two seconds, with just a single bite. Once I understood that I began to see food in a new perspective. It takes a month and a half to grow a head of lettuce, four months for a tomato, many more months for the wheat we use to make bread and so much more, and years to grow a fruit tree. And yet, all of this is devoured in a single sitting. And we must have a continuous source of food to survive.
All of these revelations left me dumbfounded. I am still trying to integrate them into a new worldview. Food is so essential, so precious, and it seems to me that we as a society have forgotten that. We waste TONS of food every single day. We treat the land as if it were a machine, as if it is our right to pillage and destroy it. We give no thought to were our food comes from or how it is grown. Once, our ancestors understood this. They knew it intuitively. Their very lives depended on it. But we have forgotten this. What will we do if the supply chains break down? What will happen if the if the store shelves are empty?* What will happen when (not if) the majority of farmland becomes too degraded to be used? I keep pondering these questions, and the answers –or rather, the lack of answers –are not comforting.

*there are several things on the horizon and presently happening that could cause food shortages in the coming months.

Labels: , ,


Anonymous Vinod Sreedhar said...

Lovely thought-provoking post!

Being able to make these connections between apparently unconnected issues (food and time) is so vitally important to making sure our future is a sustainable one. More people need to get away from cities, even if for a short while, to see for themselves how dependent we really are on Earth's abundance.

Your blog is inspiring me to make some changes in my own life. Am going to be a regular visitor... keep up the good work! :)


6/23/2007 9:36 AM  
Blogger Braveheart said...

RAS, Vinod sent me the link to this. And ti's such a wonderful thing you did. There are lessons you can learn only within a certain intimacy level. And that's what your experience unserlines so beautifully.

I am going to read your blog properly now. To follow the tender growth of those plants and their taste. To see that flash in your eyes when you brought it to your table. Write about it! :)

At my own level, I try to travel and see the real world to learn the same lessons of innocence, hard work and social meaning and I endlessly admire yours.

-- Akshaya

10/18/2007 3:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home