Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grow a revolution

I once heard someone say that an apartment-dweller with a balcony tomato plant is participating in a revolution.  I think of that quote often.  Sometimes it gets so overwhelming when we think about how dependent we are upon the utility company, the oil industry, the industrial food supply, the government, the grocery store, the medical community, foreign factories and their cheap imports, etc.  It's often easier to decide that there is too much to worry about, and I'd rather not live a life of fear and think about these things.  Unfortunately, if we don't think about these things, we'll never have the chance to change them.  We'll never realize the wealth of things we can do.  We'll continue to make choices that handicap us and limit our freedoms.  And we're likely to venture further down this path of world-dependent, unsustainable living most Americans find themselves in today.  Aren't you tired of having no knowledge and no control over so many things we are exposed to every day?  What right does a corporation have to test out chemical fertilizers, pesticide residues, and genetically-modified crops on my body?  On the bodies of our families and of our children?

Let me guess - you can't possibly grow all of your own food.  You are in excellent company.  I can't either - yet.  I can't even come close - yet.  But, remember the apartment-dweller with the tomato plant?  We can start somewhere.  Every tomato we grow ourselves or buy from a local farmer is a tomato we don't have to buy from the industrial food system.  The beauty of opening our eyes and learning about what's at stake is motivating - the health (not to mention environmental) dangers of our cumulative, long-term exposure to pesticide residues, the lack of nutritional value (and flavor) in a hybrid-variety, ethylene-ripened tomato trucked in hundreds of miles from a farm in South America in January, the terrifying unknown of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), the state of our depleted and abused, chemically fertilized mono-crop soils.  If we start by learning about these things, that education will lead to motivation.  That motivation translates into action in different ways for everyone depending on their own set of circumstances, constraints, and passions.  That action, no matter how small it is, is empowering and will birth more action if we want it to, because if our education leads us to believe that something is important, we will make taking action a priority.  When we understand the reasons why we are doing things, we can start small, and soon we can look back and realize just how much more we are capable of doing than we thought in the beginning.

I have lost count of how many house plants I've killed.  I used to say it was because I inherited a brown thumb from my mother (she can kill a cactus like no other).  But that's an excuse.  Keeping my house plants alive was never important to me, so I neglected them, and they died.  Why wasn't it important to me?  I guess because I didn't appreciate them much.  I didn't buy most of them - most of them were given away to me or given as gifts.  Once I started learning about the issues with our industrial food system and resolved to buy as much produce as I could locally from my farmer's market, I had the education and motivation to want to start a garden.  My whole life, I never understood people who grew vegetable gardens.  I thought it was the boring person's idea of fun.  I was too busy and important to be bothered with that.  I go to a fancy desk job so I can afford to buy my vegetables at the store and be done with it.  Besides, we all know growing your own veggies doesn't save money.

Can we put a price tag on the self-sufficiency and independence that comes from knowing how to grow our own food?  From the security that comes from knowing exactly where that food comes from and how it was grown?  And do we recognize the true ecological, social, cultural, economical, environmental costs of that pesticide-coated, mushy tomato from hundreds of miles away beyond the price indicated on the grocery-store shelf?

Here's my baby-step garden revolution.  I took the challenging route and started everything you see here from seeds.  There are few things that fill you with the awe of our Creator more than seeing a green sprout of life push up through soil from a seed you planted with little confidence in its ability to grow under your care:



Self-watering containers on my balcony.  Even though I have a house with land that can be (and one day most definitely will be) used to grow, I wanted to start small and manageable until our yard is ready for that.  I found these food-grade plastic buckets for $1 each from a woman in my neighborhood on Craigslist.

Bush beans, spaghetti squash, lettuce.

Tomato and spaghetti squash.

My ten buckets of freedom.

I am growing my own revolution.  These are my baby steps.  I hope I can challenge you to take some baby steps of your own.  Do you know when and where the farmer's market is in your community?  Do you know how exciting it is to find purple potatoes and yellow tomatoes?  To taste freshly sliced apples grown close to home before you buy?  To shake the hand of the person who grew the food that is going to become bone of your bones and flesh of your flesh?  Can you imagine shopping somewhere where the variety of the offerings clue you in to the seasons in your area?  Going to the farmer's market is a great way to get motivated and inspired to grow something.  It's a great way to vote your dollar away from the industrial food system that is destroying God's creation and making us sick.  It is a great way to eat nutritionally-sound, healthy, tasty, naturally-grown local food until you can get your garden off the ground!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Let me just start by saying that I am not sure why I created this blog. Maybe it's because I need an outlet. Maybe it's because I have some unknown purpose to fulfill. Maybe it will never become anything.

I have spent my whole life with my head in the sand, seeing the world the way I want it to be, not the way it actually is. Fearful of knowledge and truth and the action that I would become responsible for if I were to obtain both.

I am not sure where it started. Maybe it started when I began observing the world around me as a child, wondering where everything comes from and where it goes when we're done with it. Maybe it started 3 years ago when I decided to try spraying down my granite countertops with vinegar and water instead of store-bought kitchen cleaner (which, for the record, I no longer do now that I know that acids and granite are not a good combination). Maybe it started 1 year ago when I became disenchanted with medicine and doctors and pharmaceuticals and began seeking alternatives. Maybe it started with the homemade laundry detergent...

A transformation is happening. I am beginning to question everything I've been told, everything I've been taught by the world my whole life. My faith in God is being strengthened as I begin to give up these nagging worldly things that I realize have been forcing me to compromise my faith my entire life.

I do not know a single soul who has done most of these things. I am like a sponge, sucking up every blog and book I can get my hands on. I alternate between cycles of education and cycles of action and sometimes plain exhausted cycles of survival. But I keep creeping forward. I keep altering my routine. I keep chipping away the layers of assumptions that have been so pre-programmed into most of us that we aren't even aware they are there.

This isn't a hobby. This isn't a phase. This isn't a temporary fleeting pursuit. This is an investment. This is a lifestyle. This is taking off the blinders and looking at the ugly truth and then doing something about it, for the rest of my life. I swim upstream. I wage battles, daily. I lose some of those battles. Perhaps I lose the vast majority of them. But the victories are mounting.

What is this blog? I am not sure yet. Is it another real food blog? Is it a homemaking blog? Is it a green blog? Is it a personal journal? Maybe it's a little of each of these things. But I am no chef. I am no stay-at-home wife and mommy. I am no environmentalist. And a personal journal isn't personal if it's published on the internet for the world to see. I am a young woman who loves the Lord. I am a wife. I am an employee. I am the one who cooks around here. I no longer have the ignorant luxury of consuming resources, turning on a faucet, flipping a lightswitch, or discarding a plastic wrapper without thinking about the implications. And I can't guarantee that there won't be a personal touch to these posts. Maybe this blog will just be. Maybe it will start out without direction and purpose, and I will have to go back and refine it later. Maybe it will never have a chance to exist if I have to have all that figured out before it just is.

I have consumed countless plastic water bottles. I have thrown a lot of food away. I have eaten ways my entire life that have probably had some irreversible effects on my health. I have burned a lot of oil. I poured my youthful energies into earning a college degree so I could get a time-sucking, pencil-pushing desk job in the service industry. I married a patient man who thought he was getting something completely different than what I've become, and who I believe loves me even more for it. I bought an urban house when the market was too high. I've bought too many new cars. I've used way too much credit. I've made way too many spendy trips to big box retailers and the mall. I adopted two small, goofy, high-maintenance dogs from a backyard breeder. I have made a lot of decisions that have gotten me to where I am. I probably would have done things a lot differently if I knew then what I know now. But, if those decisions had not been made the way they were, who knows if I ever would have sought out this knowledge to begin with? This is my life, and we have a great God of second chances and clean slates. We have a great God who wants to reveal the truth to us. We have a great God who wants us to live lives of purpose and of example. We have the chance to change. We will make a lot more progress if we start with ourselves.