Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Harvest!

Now, when i say Happy Harvest, I mostly mean "Happy Week After Halloween" since i actually have no crops to harvest.  Yet.

Our family did Halloween at our church this year, we took our car and set up some decoration and did a "trunk or treat".  It was really a great time, the kids had a blast.  We brought Tallulah, who was a good sport, met the people and shook wings all that.  Many of the kids got a kick out of her and we answered lots of questions about chickens and eggs and "where you get the nuggets" on a chicken. There were tons of kids saying "I've never seen a REAL chicken before" as if i were holding a magical beast!

Maggie as a bee
Micah the Bawk Bawk
Kids and Cousins, and... is that a chicken?

Micah and daddy

A good time was had by all but it gave me time, sitting there handing out candy to mostly strangers, to consider food in our lives.  I hope i am not being overly political when i say this, but there seemed to be an obvious economic divide in the types of people that came by.  The first wave of people were obviously very poor.  That group had no costumes, mostly ripped clothes and a very strong smell to them.  They were also mostly overweight.  After that various groups showed up, mostly middle class people.  It was that first group that got me thinking though. In that group, the adults had no shame in having a bag of their own.  Unlike the middle class groups that followed, they didn't even try to hide behind a baby saying they were collecting for their infant.  They simply held out their bag and demanded their treat.  No joyful cries of "trick or treat!" from them.  Or their children for that matter. For a lot of people, this degradation of our society makes them angry, but in this case it made me very very sad. 

The poor eat very poorly.  I read an article in The Economist recently about food deserts in the United States and how difficult it can be to come by fresh food in lower income areas.  I think that Tucson happens to do very well in the fresh food category, although to hear some of my friends talk, we are in the middle of the Sahara.  Us middle class snobs have the luxury of quoting "Food Inc" to decry grocery store tomatoes and Monsanto but ultimately any tomato is better than no tomato and proprietary produce is better than no produce at all, right?  I suppose many would consider that a matter for some debate.

Although, I have mentioned before that people don't know how to cook any longer, so this aim to get  produce (proprietary or otherwise) into the hands of poorer citizens might all be for naught since many cannot prepare the food in a way that they would want to eat and fast food restaurants might now start accepting food stamps, so why bother? With heart disease, diabetes and obesity being diseases found largely in poorer groups now and a lack of health insurance making treatment of these diseases harder to come by, one must wonder: Is America just too lazy to save itself?  Or do we just lack the knowledge necessary?

Fifty years ago, having a flock of chickens and a veggie garden in your back yard was a sign you were poor, trying to avoid grocery store costs and being prepared against hard economic times.  Poor people canned their food and made their clothes worried about waste.  Now these things are larks for the middle class.  

I don't know what the answer is or really have any suggestions.  I do believe teaching people to cook is essential to getting our country back on track.  I truly believe one of the worst decisions the public school system ever made was to phase out Home Ec.  But will it ever be enough?

Its the time of year when we get ready to say Thanks to our family and to our God for all of our many blessings.  And since I'm just an urban farming blog, far be it for me to tell you what to be thankful for, but if i might, i challenge you to be thankful for your kitchen, your back yard and even your Monsanto tomato.  Those who have signs in your kitchen that laud your inability or unwillingness to cook, consider what you are saying.  You have a range, you have pots, you have rice and beans, tomatoes, cheese, flour, salt, clean water.Yyou have access to more food than you could ever eat and you have internet access to learn how to make all of these things into a delicious dinner if you wanted.  

All the while, there are people out there who are obese, dirty and dont know how to do anything except demand a hand out of processed sugar.  I'm not sure who failed who here, but i know that i am not always the hardest most joyful worker or the best example of how to live and as a person of privilege, maybe that's my responsibility.  Food for thought. =)
Happy Harvest. From Tallulah and I.