Today’s article about “On a Dollar a Day” in the North County Times can be read here. Additionally, we will be doing our first official book signing and discussion this evening at Borders in Carlsbad. Come to listen, ask questions, buy a book, and have it signed! The details are below.
What: “On a Dollar a Day” Discussion, Q & A, and Signing
Where: Borders in Carlsbad (in The Forum) – 1905 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad, CA 92009 – 760.479.0242
After tearing down an old decrepit shed, and reusing some broken concrete to make a path around gardening beds, this piece of our backyard will soon feed us. Garden by Kerri. Photo by Christopher.
This past week Christopher and I had a fence built so that I could give gardening in the backyard another try. The dogs are confused that their backyard is just a little smaller; they don’t seem to understand why they can’t go behind the fence.
Learning to garden has been quite an experience for me, I feel like it will take years to master, but it is worth the time. For right now I am enjoying heading out to the back yard several times a day to check the progress. I planted late, so we still have not enjoyed all of the fruits (actually veggies) of my labor, but every once in a while a bit of my garden is center stage at dinner.
I am finding out some tricks as I go along, such as there are several places where you can get cheap or inexpensive compost. Yesterday I enlisted the help of a friend with a truck and he took me down to the Mira Mar landfill where San Diego City residents can get 1-2 cubic yards of compost for free and other county residents pay only $10. There are several other places in San Diego county with similar offers. Of course, my load of compost ended up being more expensive than I had planned. When we got past the gates of the landfill, a large truck kicked up a rock and shattered the driver’s side window. While my friend was midsentence in telling me he was willing to help us get compost anytime, a shower of glass poured down over him. I wonder if he will retract his offer.
I bribed him to go with the promise of a car wash and free access to my garden as soon as things really started growing. After the broken window and the time he spent helping me fill my raised beds, I think he earned it. One of the joys of growing my own food is sharing it with others.
One co-worker stopped by the other day and dropped off peaches and plums from her yard just because I mentioned that I would be willing to share and trade any access that we have. Christopher’s mom stopped by and I was able to send her home with lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, green beans, and figs and lemons from our trees. There is a certain amount of pride I feel when I hand over the bounty. I am quick to note which ones I planted from seeds and which came from seedlings. I am most proud of those I grew by myself and thinning my seedlings is hard on me. I don’t want to get rid of anything I worked so hard to grow.
Movie theater employees at the Nuart in Santa Monica had a playful understanding of the irony concerning the sale of corn-based concessions to movie-goers of whom more would be expected. Also for sale was the companion book for the film, which includes essays by Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Muhammad Yunus and others. Photo by Christopher.
School is out! Friday was the last day, my grades are turned in and I am looking forward to a summer of relaxation and playing in my garden. We started off our vacation with a trip to the movies today; a movie about food.
And when I say we took a trip, I mean it. “Food, Inc.” opened yesterday in select locations only, so we took a two hour car ride up to Los Angeles to see it. The irony of watching a movie about food, including the ubiquity of corn, while eating popcorn, was not lost on the movie theater. They offered a special “Cornivore’s Dilemma” that included a large popcorn and a large soda. We thought this was funny, but did not take the bait.
On the whole, “Food, Inc.” further opens the discussion on what has happened to the food industry over the past fifty years. There are interviews with Michael Pollan, who wrote “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”; Eric Schossler, who wrote “Fast Food Nation”; Joel Salatin, the owner of Polyface Farms and several other farmers and workers in the food industry.
The film takes a look at the way farms have moved from the storybook image of a red barn and happy animals wandering leisurely, to the factory model of large-scale production. The film also explores the conditions of workers in these operations, particularly the slaughterhouses, an issue that Human Rights Watch investigated in 2005 and presented in a 185 page report titled “Blood, Sweat, & Fear”.
Already there is a website offering rebuttals of the claims made in the film. A few of their answers offer links to videos on Youtube.com to support their claims, such as a video about where McDonald’s meat comes from that shows a production plant, but the only live animals we see are about five cows grazing in an open pasture at the start of the video; only underlining the film’s claim.
Of course this link led me to the distraction of Youtube where I watched several others videos, including one of a cheeseburger and french fries from McDonald’s that a person claimed to be almost three years old.
At the end of “Food, Inc.” the filmmakers offer suggestions for the audience on how to address some of what is happening to the food industry. Among others, they ask viewers to shop for organic and local foods, remind people that everyone deserves healthy food, suggest talking to school boards about creating healthy lunches, and recommend planting your own garden. Even if it is a small one. However, these suggestions alone may not be enough to solve the problems created by the industrial food system.
The website for the film offers a list of when the movie is playing and in which cities. If you can find one near you, definitely check it out.
P.S. Good luck to the South Central Farmers who are holding a press conference this evening to kick off their “Take Back the Farm” campaign.
There are 25 tomatoes on this plant. She counted; twice. Other plants include basil, arugula, bell peppers, beans, onions, cucumbers, lettuce, bok choy, chives, kale, chard, and cherry tomatoes. Photo by Christopher Greenslate.
Every time I walk out the front door, I have to stop and examine what is going on in my garden. It seems that every time I look, something new is happening. Yesterday I found a fully grown green bean on a plant that I did not even know was producing yet. Aside from arugula, that was the first thing that I have ever grown from seed to something edible. I ran in the house to show Christopher and he laughed at how excited I was by a bean. Despite the fact that our lives do not resemble Walden Pond, he invoked Thoreau to tell me that I now “know beans.”
It is almost magical to see something come from such a small seed. We miss this when buying our produce from a grocery store. I have had the great fortune of having a few relatives with green thumbs who I can look up to. My grandpa was a fantastic gardener. Every year he used all the space in his small backyard to grow his favorites corn, tomatoes, strawberries and beans to name a few. Just last year he planted a peach tree that he said should start producing in a year or two. I’m sure those will be turned into one of my grandma’s famous peach cobblers or turnovers that my grandpa’s sweet tooth couldn’t resist. Several times through out the summer months grandpa would just drop by to bring a bag of beans or tomatoes.
My mom’s aunt, my great aunt Lily, has one of the most amazing yards I have ever seen, including a small orchard where she grew apricots, kiwi, oranges, and pomegranates among others. Dinners at her house included an abundance of fresh vegetables from her garden. I remember a particular soup that she made with beans and an assortment of greens. It was delicious. However, she frightened my sisters and me away from eating it by claiming in her booming voice that it was good for us and would put hair on our chests; not something little girls want to hear. We ate her home canned jams and jellies all year long. At 85 years old, she does not do quite as much as she used to, but she has not stopped yet.
As I look at my small garden with high hopes, I realize that I have not quite reached the heights of my family gardeners, but I have something to aspire to. My seventeen pots don’t create too much work, but I find my self finding reasons to check on the progress several times a day. We got some much needed rain it last night so now I don’t get to water today; it’s a little disappointing.
It has cost me a little bit of money to start up my garden, but now that I’ve got it going the seeds are not expensive. I’ve even gotten to the point where I am starting seeds to give to friends who are also planning gardens.