Food Prices Rise, thus my garden grows

Pea Plants Sprouting- Aptil 15, 2011

Gardening is good for the soul. It is meditative, relaxes and helps restore us to balance.

It also feeds my family.  In the summer, we have a minimum of 6 mouths to feed (I am always glad to have friends and family over at meal time, so our table size often grows beyond immediate family).

Ours are no longer little tots who barely count as a mouth. The youngest is 11, the eldest is 19 and almost all of them now out-eat me on a regular basis.

Putting fresh vegetables and fruits on the table in the needed quantities could quickly become daunting- and not just in the summer. We often have the majority of the family here on weekends, holidays and other school breaks during the rest of the year. We always have at least a few of us here.  And now, food prices are on the rise.  It really doesn’t matter if it is energy, weather and unrest; rising fuel prices, or just people playing the futures and gambling some people’s starvation against their profits- it is hitting all of us. Food prices in February had the highest jump in 36 years, and there is no end in sight. It is not just processed foods or finished, packaged goods that are rising- even staples are going up in cost. The continued rises are expected to push more and more people into poverty and into starvation or malnutrition. I was even interviewed by the Christian Science Montior about rising food costs earlier this winter.

What bothers me the most about all of these articles is that they document the rise of costs and the increases in problems, but I do not see any recommendations to people on how to cope. All they do is raise fear and hopelessness.  It is time that we in the US return to our roots, so to speak, and tackle this the old fashioned way- start planting and growing some of your own food.  Give me an excuse why you can not, and I can counter it.  Plants are expensive? Seeds are cheap. And for many plants- like these sprouting tomatoes, the packet holds many more seeds than any one family needs- share with friends and family. A packet of tomato seeds holds on average 30 seeds. If you want 5 plants just to supplement in the summer and fall months, that is 6 families worth of tomato plants for about $2.  When you go to the grocery and tomatoes are 3-5$/lb, the savings seems obvious.  Don’t have time to start seedlings? You buy the seeds and let someone else start them    in exchange for some of the plants.  Have the time and money? Sprout extra plants and give away the extras to someone who has neither.

Container Grown Lettuce Sprouting

Space is always cited as an issues- but there are a myriad of vegetables and herbs you can grown in containers, on balconies and rooftops. And many cities and towns have community gardens that you probably already have access to. Now is the time to claim your spot. This early lettuce will never leave the container, it will provide a first crop of lettuce before the ground is warm enough to sustain.

There are a million reasons to grow food- even if you pick just one thing to grow. Besides taking the pressure off of food demands, you know where the food  has been and what it was exposed to. You will taste flavors and textures you can never get in a grocery store. Given the opportunity to pull dinner from the ground and help prepare it, you will be surprised the foods your kids will eat.  At a minimum, if you are not physically able to grow your own food, stop by your local Farmer’s Market this weekend- almost all of them are now open – a simple google search will turn up local opportunities you might not have known existed.

Early Sprouts of Spinach

It is time to combat the fear of food prices with a few simple tools- some seeds, some dirt, some water and some sun.

Heavenly events

Despite weather fears, here in Central Indiana we had a gorgeous view of the lunar eclipse last night. I bundled up and popped outside several times last night between 11pm and midnight to witness the beauty of the larger universe at work. It was cold, but I had a great fire going, so I could bundle up, pop outside for a while and then crash on the bean bag chair close to the fire to warm up again. It was one of those nights that makes me ache for a much better camera, as mine could not begin to do justice to the scene. Luckily, there are people out there who have the equipment to do the job right, and there is a great gallery of pictures that the Discovery Channel put up. If you missed the event, hop over and give it a look-see.

Further west, the US Navy successfully shot down the failing spy satellite, and is convinced they destroyed any potentially dangerous fuel. This whole event amuses me on some level. My twisted brain imagines that about a month ago, there was a smoky back room where the following conversation took place:

NASA dude: Just wanted to let you know that we have an old spy satellite that is failing and will crash to earth some time this spring.
Government dude: Crash!!?? Is there any danger to my citizens? No? Whew…How about my beach house?
Military dude: Is there any information or technology on that satellite that could compromise us if it fell into the wrong hands?
NASA dude: Nah. This is an old satellite we are talking about. Most high school students have toys with more sophisticated equipment in them these days..
Military Dude: So you are sure there is no danger? No toxins or radioactivity?
NASA dude: Perfectly safe, we just issued a press release letting people know they have nothing at all to fear.
Military Dude: That’s too bad. Not that I would ever want to put our citizens at risk, but if it were just a little bit dangerous…..

(lightbulbs go off and all three sit a little straighter, you can feel the excitement explode in the air)

All three at once: We could SHOOT IT DOWN!
NASA dude: Cool! Rockets!!
Military dude: It would show those $*&^@ once and for all what we can do.( flexes arms a bit). Danged de-militarization of space treaty….
Government dude: Yet, it would be no threat at all.. we would be assisting the global citizens and helping our fellow man, at our personal expense…. hmmm…

Government dude: ( looking at the NASA dude) Are you SURE it is perfectly safe, nothing you could have missed in those numbers??
NASA dude: ( flipping through simulations and excel spreadsheets on his laptop).. wait….. this does say there might be a little bit of fuel left in it……
Military dude: ( picks up phone and begins dialing Navy)…

I am glad that there is no threat to any citizen of the world, or to the precious natural resources we usually squander recklessly.
I am impressed and slightly amazed that we can sit on a ship in the Pacific Ocean, target something in orbit and hit it, vaporizing all its bits and pieces.

I just have to wonder how many other government officials are sitting here like I am, one eyebrow cocked, thinking to themselves… ORLY?