Thursday, September 22, 2011

Environmental Wednesday on Thursday: We change

 "An agriculture that is whole nourishes the whole person, body and soul.  
We do not live by bread alone" 
~Wendell Berry~

I've talked about my desire eat locally grown (hopefully by me) and organic food a lot on this blog. Like when I made the most lemon-y lemon bars.  Inspector Climate hasn't always been on board with this love affair.  And that's not surprising considering it wasn't all that long ago that he wasn't interested in climate change or the environment at all.  And it has only been recently that he's seen the connection between how we grow our food, our health, and our environment.

The interconnectedness was helped along by the book by Michael Pollan that came out several years ago called The Omnivore's Dilemma.  We all know how much I like Michael Pollan, I wrote him a love letter.  And I must admit, I bought this book for Inspector Climate knowing that after reading it he would change his eating habits.  Inspector Climate eats meat, and that's fine, this I did not go out of my way to change (as long as he doesn't ask me to cook it for him, or touch it, or doesn't leave it near other food in the fridge - look I'm picky). I am not one of those vegetarians that gets offended or hurt or will lecture meat eaters.  However, I do think it is important to know where that meat comes from that you're eating. Just like it's important to know where that broccoli came from.

And so, we found a place at the Prahran Market that sells organic free range sandwich ham, Hagens.  I can't tell you how it tastes or if it is different from the non-organic, hormone taking, caged ham that they sell  across the aisle, but I can tell you that the people selling the organic ham seem happier than those selling the other stuff.

The Omnivore's Dilemma goes into great detail describing where American meat and produce comes from. And most importantly, to me, it follows the production of where organic food comes from.  When I hear the world organic, I think about gardens like my mom's.  Where organic means an alternative way of growing fruit and vegetables. But big business has stolen organic from the 'alternative life style, locally grown, free ranging animal' meaning that it used to have.  And that disturbs me.

For my birthday, Mr Climate made me a planter box so that I could make my dreams of growing even a little bit of my own food myself, even in suburbia, come true.

So far I have some happy flowers (pansies? I am horrible with flower names) growing in my flower box, and coriander happily meeting the sun.  My basil is suffering and I am not sure if that's because it's getting too much sun or not enough water or what!  My tomato plant is blossoming! And my spinach is flourishing.

And our lemon tree, oh our lemon tree has blossoms all over it! After months of seeming like it couldn't make up its mind on whether to continue growing or boycott life, it has decided to flower.  

It is unrealistic to think that at this point in our lives, Inspector Climate and I could grow any significant amount of our food.  And while we've recently decided to make a more concerted effort to step away from all things big business (Inspector Climate has even started referring to the supermarket as the stupidmarket. Go ahead and roll your eyes, I know I do), growing even this small box of vegetables has cemented our view that the relationship that we were cultivating with Coles and Safeway wasn't healthy.  

Another birthday gift from my old housemate was a book called The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka, I'm only on page 13. So I can't give you a full run down on this guy's beliefs. BUT in the preface by Wendell Berry this quote struck me "When we change the way we grow our food, we change our food, we change society, we change our values.  And so this book is about paying attention to relationships, to causes and effects, and it is about being responsible for what one knows."

I don't write this in hopes that you suddenly decide to buy all organic food for the rest of your days or so you drop your careers and start an organic farm (although I'd totally support both those choices).  No, I write this in the hope that we can all start having just a small amount of awareness about our actions because they all matter. 


  1. I love your passion for organic foods! I grew up in a very small town where almost everyone (including my own Dad is obsessed with his garden!) grew their own food and raised animals for food. After moving away for college, I was shocked to hear how animals who were "grown" by these huge companies were brought to slaughter. Makes my tummy sick.
    Rod and I have been dying to start a garden. Maybe when we buy a house we'll start a mini-garden! In the meantime, we may have to use one of those upside-down tomato hangy things! I hear they work great!

  2. We have a little planter and attempt to grow some veggies. Here in AZ growing anything is next to impossible, but we get a handful of tomatoes, and this year we had a bush of basil. As in took over half our back yard basil. We couldn't make enough caprese salad!

  3. Lovely post!! I am also an avid city gardener (well as much as one can be with only a 4th floor balcony to plant on!) but my dream is to have my own garden in the future where I can grow my own I definitely get where you are coming from.

    And from my little experience, I think your basil may be suffering from a lack of water because that herb dries out like nobody's business :)

    Also, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving the sweet comments about my shop! That means a lot and I'm so glad you liked the prints! I hope you'll keep stopping by :)


  4. This was really interesting. I'm a vegetarian, but had never really thought about buying locally grown produce before. You have definitely encourage me to take more trips to the farmers markets! And that's so cool about your garden, it sounds amazing!

  5. Organic is the way to go, I think you've read my post ;). I like this blog, this is quite nice and I like this post.

  6. Your garden is lovely! So cool you will have lemons. I tried growing a small little one but the climate here in NY didn't help my lack of green thumb!

  7. Great Post :) +1 & followed

  8. I think I was "green" before it was cool to be green :) I started a garden about 2 years ago and wanted to cry everyday it was so hard and animal kept eating my stick with it b/c now I am a pro and have more cucumber than I know what to do with :)

  9. That's so cool. The planter box. My Dad is a firm believer in those. Most of his garden is in containers. He would love to be an organic gardener, but he loves meat. And even more so, would have a whole heard of chickens if the city let him.

    This makes me think of the movie Fast Food Nation. The book you mentioned.

  10. OMG that is THE SWEETEST gift ever. Can I have a clone of IC? For serious.

    I have decided to try an organic food delivery service. I am not sure if it's going to be cost effective though.

  11. Love this post. I got really involved after reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Of course our garden this year is just terrible and sad. But I'm holding out hope for next year.

  12. I love love love Michael Pollan! The Omnivore's Dilemma is such a good read. Actually, it's been a while since I opened it...might be time for a re-read.

  13. i wish i could eat fresh organic veggies, but every time i get them in my mouth i gag and throw them right out

    very unhealthy i know, but what can i do

  14. That was really sweet of Inspector Climate to make you that planter box :)
    You know what really makes me sick about this contemporary world? That everything has to be about Commerce - capitalizing and monopolizing just about everything including their lives (reality tv).
    Everything is centered around money and people are willing to sell everything they have- including their souls to cash in. And with that comes a global lack of consciousness about things. And I have to wonder, when will it stop? When can we go back to being "normal"? So glad you mentioned this :)

  15. Love that first quote! I'm excited for the day I'll have a garden. Until then, I enjoy the homegrown food my parents get from their trees and garden. :)

    ~ Angela

  16. If I sounded like a crazy person in the first comment, all I was really trying to say is I can't believe they've commercialized "organic" as well LOL!

  17. Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. You have such interesting posts!

  18. (Thanks for stopping by my blog!!)
    I love this post... I am working harder and harder at shopping organic (although we have VERY few options in our tiny town.) One day I hope to grow my own garden too...

  19. Great, great post! It is so important that we think about where the stuff we put in our bodies comes from. With all the hormones and stuff they use on animals and plants, it is no wonder that there are so many health issues like obesity. I try to buy organic as much as I can afford to. I wish I could do more but at least be conscious of it is a good step me thinks! ;)

  20. To start with I LOVE the title of the post heheh :)) I dream of my own vege patch but unfortunately the only place I can plant it is shadowed by a beautiful tree hence its veges vs tree and I just LOVE my tree!! :(
    Best of Luck with yours xx

  21. Rolex - It is shocking isn't it? I was always surprised that people didn't have their own frozen peas frozen in their freezes.

    Prixie - Thank you!

    Missa Lee - It really can be a challenge when it's so hot and a garden can use so much water.

    Jenn - Ahh, thanks for the tip! I think the Australian sun might be a bit too much for it too! But i've definitely started watering it more.

    Many Colours of Happiness - Thank you! Yes, I think it's really important to consider where it comes from. The truth is, food should be expensive.

    Neatfit - Thank you! Yes, I am a big proponent of organic, particularly if it refers to an alternative way of farming.

    Carol - Thank you! Well, we've only had ONE lemon. but fingers crossed for more.

    Bones - Aw, thanks!

    olive tree - Eep, I am terrified of animals eating my tomaotes (if I get any). Awesome.

    Ellie - Loving meat is fine and not synonymous with organic gardening at all.

    Ev Rev - I think as long as your smart with how you use the food box, it can be pretty effective, you just have to be really good at freezing or preserving the veggies you'd get.

    Alexa - Gardening is definitely one of those things that takes practice and trial and error.

    Vanessa - I have adore Michael.

    1904 blogger - Can you stomach normal veggies?

    Crazy Shenanigans - It's a pretty good one :)

    My day in a Sentence - thank you!

    Azra - I totally get what you're saying. It's a sad fact that to make it a feasible business that organic had to sell out a little - but hopefully it'll get back to its roots (bwhahaha, see what I did there?)

    Angela - Yes pinching food off your parents is totally acceptable.

    Jasna's Kitchen - Thanks.

    Alongdistancelove story - it can definitely be a challenge to find organic produce.

    Teacher girl - Definitely! when we're having to budget for a week, I try to prioritise what we buy organic things like: apples, berries, lettuce, and herbs are organic musts for me, but organic chickpeas? sometimes not on the list.

    Siddy Says - I would not be able to cut down a beautiful tree either! But some plants like a bit of shade!