Americans are growing tired of waiting for the food industry to change. Thanks to the Internet, revealing documentaries, and outspoken food activists, there is more information available than ever before about the dark side of corporate-driven food production. So, while Monsanto continues to sell its genetically modified seeds and CAFOs continue to churn out questionable meat, Americans are protesting by picking up their shovels and hoes – and gardening.
Thomas Jefferson was a gardening enthusiast, but his passion for growing food went beyond his own backyard. Apparently he believed that America was incapable of true democracy unless 20 percent of its citizens were self-sufficient on small farms. This would enable them to be real dissenters, free to voice opinions and beliefs, without any obligation to food producers who might hold their survival at stake.
Sadly, in 2014, we are further than ever from that self-sufficient ideal that Jefferson hoped for. By contrast, Americans now tend 35 million acres of lawn (approximately 54,000 square miles). Lawns are the biggest “crop” in the U.S., covering an area three times greater than corn, and yet they are essentially horticultural deserts, with nothing for little pollinators to find but fatal pesticides. Mark Bittman has pointed out that if only 10 percent of Americans turned their lawns into food-producing gardens, it could supply one third of the country’s fresh produce, based on current consumption rates.
Now that spring is here why not join the gardening revolution? Start some heirloom seedlings, dig up a corner of your lawn, and try your hand at growing something this season. A little bit of effort from a lot of people can go a long way toward changing the status quo.