Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 05:05:32 AM PDT
(Thanks, Teacherken! - promoted by Jill Richardson)
crossposted from Daily Kos at Jill's request is the title of this op ed by Pulitzer Prize Winner Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe, which begins
YOU HAVE to admit that this gives new meaning to the idea of a "shovel-ready project." There are now 1,100 square feet on the South Lawn of the White House being transformed into a kitchen garden. If Americans follow the first family's lead, the seed pack will become the new stimulus package. At least we'll have something to do with those pitchforks after the AIG bonus babies surrender their money.
It is something I urge y'all to read. You will encounter familiar names like Michael Pollian, and familiar terms like locavore (familiar hear thanks to the blogger formerly known as orangeclouds115 now posting openly as Jill Richardson).
Let me offer just a few snips more, and perhaps a few observations of my own before heading off to school. Because this is about more than food.
teacherken :: Planting the seeds of a revolution
But there is something else about the incredible edible project that also makes me do a fist bump. The Obamas aren't just eating the view, they are eating the lawn.
What Michelle and the kids and the crew did the other day was to drive a shovel right into the heart of that American icon: the lawn. They literally took the most pampered lawn in America, dumped it in the wheel barrel, and carted it away. All that was missing was a chorus of "This lawn is your lawn."
Is it possible that along with local, organic food, the First Garden can promote the thoroughly subversive idea that this symbol has seen its day?
This is the revolution, at least to Goodman. What if we abandoned our idea of the emphasis we put on our lawns?
Facts and figures
40 million acres of lawn, more than for any other agriculture product (except I might note for trees if we consider them a crop)
270 billion gallons of water weekly - Goodman notes that would irrigate twice as many acres of organic vegetables
$40 billion/year on seed, sod and - ugh - chemicals.
As Goodman notes,
We mow the lawn, we fertilize it, we pesticize it, we water it, for the absurd purpose of keeping this useless patch in a deliberate state of arrested development.
And yes, Goodman is aware that folks like those at Fox News are likely to spin the metaphors, criticizing the cost of each leaf of lettuce.
But as she concludes, tongue in cheek:
But then again, the First Gardeners are in the first 100 days. We never did promise them a rose garden.
That's Goodman. A gifted writer, making some interesting points.
Environmentally, she is of course correct. The chemicals poured on our lawns to keep them green are a major cause of environmental degradation, running off into water supplies, leading to algae blooms in places like the Chesapeake. Those chemicals can poison wildlife and sicken children. Somehow I am reminded of a pro-drug expression from the 60's, better living through chemistry that was not true of LSD and is certainly not true of what we put into the environment for greener lawns any more than it is for the heavy use of pesticides in growing fruits and vegetables.
It is possible to have a green lawn without bringing in Chemlawn. But why this obsession with green lawn? I play neither golf nor croquet. I do not reside in the manse of an English nobleman. I prefer squirrels, chipmunks and birds to obsessive open green spaces, except on those occasions when I play soccer or watch soccer, decreasingly frequent on both counts - I am afer all in my 60s.
And I do eat, and would prefer to eat healthily. As children in suburban Larchmont my sister and I joined my mother in growing fruits and vegetables. When we bought this house it had a half-century old apple tree that sadly no longer flourishes, having sputtered and died as it passed 70. One of the delights of the season would be the more than 100 apples it would give us, and I used to keep an older refrigerator in the basement for cold storage of apples.
Being a locavore is not only healthier, it also saves petroleum - for industrial strength fertilizers in some cases, but definitely for the cost of transportation of goods that are picked before they are fully ripe and transported large distances.
Perhaps you cannot grow your own vegetables. You may lack the space, or the time, or be bound by the silly and restrictive rules of a homeowner's association. You can still patronize a farmer's market, but make sure the vendors do not simply purchase from bulk producers and repackage so they can charge you more. Or perhaps you can buy a share from a local producer and get more than enough fresh veggies and fruits during the summer.
The Obamas do not have to mow their own lawn. Sacrificing a few hundred square feet of green for groceries sets such a wonderful example.
Read the Goodman. Think how you can make a difference. And whatever you do, please, please, please - don't pour chemicals in your yard to have a greener lawn than your neighbors.