During the Second World War (and I am old enough to remember it) people were encouraged to grow a Victory Garden. The premise was that there was a need to divert food to the troops fighting in Europe, and patriotic civilians could augment the demand by growing a few vegetables for themselves in whatever space they had available.
Attitudes have changed. Earlier, PBS television had a program called Victory Garden that gave advice to home gardeners. Now the program has turned into a travel log of exotic gardens around the world.
I sincerely feel that our commercial food supplies are not wholesome; that the cancer rates and other mental and physical illnesses can be attributed to our food supply.
Fishermen catch shrimp off the coast of Maine, but at the supermarket our shrimp comes from Thailand. I have been to Thailand and seen the rivers – and I do not want to eat shrimp caught there and shipped to Maine. Our vegetables come from Mexico and Peru and Southeast Asia, or from mega-farms out west that use pesticides and genetically modified plants. Growth hormones in cattle, pigs and even chickens may account for the size of youth (when I was young a kid six feet tall was considered tall – now when I go the gym at the local college young men six-two, six-three and even six-four are not unusual – not to mention the obesity of many of our young.)
On a more somber note: the current world population at 6:48 p.m. on May 8, 2011 is 7,109,994,264 (seven billion, one hundred nine million, nine hundred ninety four thousand and two hundred and sixty four) and increasing at a rate of approximately three people per second (http://www.ibiblio.org/lunarbin/worldpop). It is estimated that the world population will be over twelve billion by the year 2050. At some point in the not to distant future we will exceed our ability to support and supply food and water for our human population.
Our technology has mutated us to a techno-dependent society. A disruption in our electric power would send our world in to chaos. We spend our days focused is on Bin Laden, wars, the economy and the president’s birth certificate – or the housewives of New Jersey...
Perhaps it is time for a reality check; a back to basics touchstone with mother earth. We can begin by focusing on the food we eat and our diet. Buying local and organic foods cost more, but we can know where and by whom our food is grown. We will be healthier by not consuming the unnaturally fat, plump chicken breast from Hannaford’s Super Market that are full of growth hormones and antibiotics, or the out of season vegetables grown in Peru, or the pre-packaged foods with the unpronounceable additives and food colors.
In the past – in Kentucky – my wife and I had a large garden that fed us for much of the year. Now, in Maine, we have a much smaller place and my wife and I buy as much local farm produce as possible, feeling that we are getting a safer food product and that we are supporting the local farmers. A farmers market is now open twice a week in our town and farm coops are springing up around the country.
Our house is small – on one half acre; but this year we intend to put in a small raised bed and also plant some herbs and vegetables among our flowers. Basically we plan to grow a salad garden with spinach, a couple of tomato plants, a couple of squash plants and a couple of bush cucumber plants. Our retirement income is meager, and to some extent the small extra food supply will be welcome – but even if we don’t harvest a lot of food – the effort will still feel good.
V for Victory Garden – a victory from the crazy status-quo.