Photo by John Ivanko
Use your farms to celebrate Independence Day this year.
Thanks to the heat waves across country, including our part of southwestern Wisconsin, we’re digging up our beautiful Norland Red potatoes today to celebrate Independence Day from both a local-food and renewable-energy perspective. (Our farm is completely powered by sun and wind energy.) Of course, these spuds are shared with friends at potlucks and picnics, perhaps fulfilling Thomas Jefferson’s call for a nation filled with yeoman farmers.
Unlike Jefferson’s more rural vision for the nation, these days you’re just as likely to find yeoman farmers in the city or suburbs. The more than 28 million acres of lawns in the U.S., if put into food production, could go a long way in reducing the amount of fruits and vegetables that are being grown outside of the U.S.—or being shipped an average of 1,500 miles across the country.
At the turn of the 20th century, more than half of all American families worked the land. During World War II, as many as 40 percent of the U.S. population (and many Canadians and Europeans, too) grew at least some of their fresh fruit and vegetables in Victory Gardens to take responsibility for their nourishment and to make a contribution to the war cause.
University of California garden historian Rose Hayden-Smith confirms: "During the peak year for Victory Gardens, 1943, some government estimates indicated that up to 40 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed on the American homefront were produced in school, home, community and workplace gardens.” Now that’s patriotism!
More Americans than ever are growing green thumbs. Today, nearly 1 in 7 of us may grow a tomato plant in a raised-bed garden, harvest basil from a container garden or tend to a small flock of chickens in the backyard. As we quickly discovered, if you plant a seed in the spring, you must be prepared to witness the miracle of nature’s abundance as your countertops overflow with cucumbers, tomatoes and, of course, zucchini. That’s what led us to penning Farmstead Chef and this blog.
Getting back into the kitchen and gardens pays un-taxable dividends, too. Even financial guru Dave Ramsey admits that Americans could save as much as 75 percent on food costs by growing a garden and eating at home.
The truth is you don’t need to be in the 1 percent to eat like it. By relearning how to cook in our kitchen and grow our own food, we can eat like millionaires without having to be one. Plus, our food is fresher and more nutritious, and we know exactly what we’re eating.
Savoring the good life,
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