O284: On Day One

Michael Pollan's words directed at the soon to be pResident elect reminded me of Ondayone.org today. I embedded another On Day One video in August, Eat the View wrote:
“When Eleanor Roosevelt did something similar in 1943, she helped start a Victory Garden movement that ended up making a substantial contribution to feeding the nation in wartime. (Less well known is the fact that Roosevelt planted this garden over the objections of the U.S.D.A., which feared home gardening would hurt the American food industry.) By the end of the war, more than 20 million home gardens were supplying 40 percent of the produce consumed in America. The president should throw his support behind a new Victory Garden movement, this one seeking “victory” over three critical challenges we face today: high food prices, poor diets and a sedentary population. Eating from this, the shortest food chain of all, offers anyone with a patch of land a way to reduce their fossil-fuel consumption and help fight climate change. (We should offer grants to cities to build allotment gardens for people without access to land.) Just as important, Victory Gardens offer a way to enlist Americans, in body as well as mind, in the work of feeding themselves and changing the food system — something more ennobling, surely, than merely asking them to shop a little differently.

I don’t need to tell you that ripping out even a section of the White House lawn will be controversial: Americans love their lawns, and the South Lawn is one of the most beautiful in the country. But imagine all the energy, water and petrochemicals it takes to make it that way. (Even for the purposes of this memo, the White House would not disclose its lawn-care regimen.) Yet as deeply as Americans feel about their lawns, the agrarian ideal runs deeper still, and making this particular plot of American land productive, especially if the First Family gets out there and pulls weeds now and again, will provide an image even more stirring than that of a pretty lawn: the image of stewardship of the land, of self-reliance and of making the most of local sunlight to feed one’s family and community. The fact that surplus produce from the South Lawn Victory Garden (and there will be literally tons of it) will be offered to regional food banks will make its own eloquent statement.”



The Garden of Eatin': A Short History of America's Garden from roger doiron on Vimeo.

Source: Kitchen Gardens International

2 comments:

Rosa said...

One of the interesting things about Hayden's book about suburbs (which I'm still reading - been riding my bike still so not much bus reading time) is that the 19th century ideal suburb plans all included a kitchen garden. Yet by the '40s they had to be revived (how can that be? You'd think home gardening would have grown during the Depression...)

I wonder what the force was that keeps killing them off - smaller house lots, time/labor constraints, what?

katecontinued said...

There is a book, Kitchen Literacy, that I haven't read but I cite excerpts in a post last May called, StuporMarket. This was not a natural movement away from gardens and into grocery stores. This was an all out campaign.
Eventually, by the late 1920s, a new ideal of modernity had gained powerful cachet in society and exerted new influence on what attributes were valued in foods; the uniform and hygienic trumped the flavorful and distinctive. As homemakers learned to rely more and more on advertisements and outside experts for information, they came to mistrust their own taste buds and kitchen know-how.

Indifference about the origins and production of foods became a norm of urban culture, laying the groundwork for a modern food sensibility that would spread all across America in the decades that followed. Over time, the mores that trend setting, affluent city women adopted in their kitchens influenced broader cultural ideals even for the poorest mothers of the rural South, many of whom aspired to cook, serve, and eat processed foods they couldn't afford.

Eventually, American shoppers of every class and gender would experience this transformation in one way or another. Within a relatively brief period, the average distance from farm to kitchen had grown from a short walk down the garden path to a convoluted, 1,500-mile energy-guzzling journey by rail and truck.


Just as we have been manipulated into thinking we still have a democracy, where we really only have consumer choices. This has been many, many decades of public relations in the making.

Recently, Rosa, I saw a great post by Farm Aid's own Willie Nelson about how systematically farmers have been moved off the land in the last century. It is deliberate and chilling. I am crap at Googling and had to give up finding it. But, it planted yet another seed within me.