Consider the Garden

All this warm weather has got me counting down the days until the local farmers’ market moves back to their summer location (which is 1/4 mile from my home). Farmers’ markets have so many great benefits: it keeps produce local, supports the farmers, gets us shoppers eating seasonal, fresh, pesticide-free food and challenges us to creativity in the kitchen as we have the opportunity to try different ways to cook all kinds of veggies.

It’s worth the research to see if your town (or a neighboring one) has a farmers’ market. These markets can be such a blessing to our diets as well as the local economy. This year, if you have the time and are looking for some ways to cut down on the food budget, why not start your own little vegetable garden in your front or backyard in addition to shopping locally? 

Though it may seem daunting, the keys to enjoying gardening is starting small and enjoying the process. And gardening has endless rewards. Michael Pollan makes a case for gardening in his book In Defense of Food. He says:

“To reclaim control over one’s food, to take it back from industry and science, is no small thing; indeed, in our time cooking from scratch and growing any of your own food qualify as subversive acts. And what these acts subvert is nutritionism: the belief that food is foremost about nutrition and nutrition is so complex that only experts and industry can possibly supply it. When you’re cooking with food as alive as this- these gorgeous and semigorgeous fruits and leaves and flesh- you’re in no danger of mistaking it for a commodity, or a fuel, or a collection of chemical nutrients. No, in the eye of the cook or the gardener or the farmer who grew it, this food reveals itself for what it is: no mere thing but a web of relationships…” (pg 200).

Sounds like an intuitive approach to food, doesn’t it? By gardening, you are taking back our culture’s control over your food. You are able to slow down, understand the food you eat, appreciate the labor that goes into producing it. And gardening doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. Start with a couple potted tomato plants and a few rows of greens and onions in your front yard. It’s not about the quantity of what you grow, it’s about enjoying the process of caring for your plants, spending time out in the sun and relishing the food that you do grow. Let me tell you– just like at the Farmer’s market, you can taste the difference. When we garden or when we cook, we stop the cycle that isolates us from our food. We see food not as a means to an end to manipulate or be manipulated by. Instead, we see it as something that we grow and nourish, something that nourishes our bodies and that we can use to nourish others. We slow down and are able to savor our food and enjoy it!

Want to learn more?

Check out the MU gardening calendar to learn more about growing seasons, no matter where you live:

The University of Missouri offers some great training events for aspiring gardeners here:

Gardening Basics & Resources from the Community Garden Coalition of Boone County:

Live in an apartment with little space to garden? Check out these helpful reads from the Daniel Boone Regional Library:

Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture: