The political garden is not a new thing. If you look back to the history of Victory Garden’s during wartime, food production has always played a role in our political system. The political garden is being revisited once again, as rising rates of obesity, diabetes and health care costs are once again forcing some of us to examine how we eat and where our food comes from.
Climate change is also pushing this conversation, as concerns about the impact of industrial food systems on the environment (from waste generated by CAFOs to gas used to ship food around the world) are brought up. For a great quick and dirty overview of the high cost of cheap food read this Time Magazine article.
The following video from the White House tells the story of Michelle Obama’s White House garden project, the first in over 100 years to actually produce a large quantity of food.
It’s a long video, but about six minutes in there is a great time lapse showing the garden throughout the growing season. The students that helped to tend the garden are actually from the Elementary school I can see from my living room window. I wish I had had that opportunity as a kid–I think it would have fundamentally changed my relationship with vegetables.
This Op-Ed also presented a newer age solution to the food production problem–vertical gardens in urban centers.
As the first signs of fall start to show on the East Coast and we see the bounties of the late summer harvest start to wane, I’m thinking more and more about how my food is grown and how I will eat as the farmer’s markets shut down in a few months. I appreciate that our First Lady, and subsequently everyone involved with feeding the White House is thinking about these things as well.
I’m also going to be trying my hand at canning for the first time this weekend, so stay tuned for updates on that adventure.
UPDATE: Ariel reminded me of the recent news that the White House garden’s soil has toxins at elevated levels–apparently due to Clinton era fertilizers with increased toxins. While the levels aren’t above what is suitable for human consumption, it highlights our modern day problem–we’ve polluted the soil, ground and air we need to sustain us. I still think the symbolism of the White House garden is important, even if it wasn’t the organic food supplier Michelle had originally hoped.