Back to the Farm?

While playing around with the search term “postmodern food” (related to some writing I’m doing on Southern cooking for gen-x and beyond) I ran across a title by Bill McKibben called Deep Economy – The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.    Rev. Mike loaned it to me because he had already read it, of course.

McKibben’s book challenges the notion that “more” is always “better.”  In fact, more in some instances is better (poverty+an ability to provide for your family=better), but there is a point at which more actually makes things worse (amount of space needed to house family of 3 comfortably+10,000 square feet≠better).  What does this have to do with Good Home?  Well, on this blog I play around a lot with the notion of “good enough.” Do we need the finest and newest of everything to make us happy?  No, nor could we afford it.

But why pay retail when a trip to a local auction yields recycled and often more interesting pieces that didn’t require a semi full of non-renewable resources (oil) to get here from say North Carolina, not to mention the trips that other large trucks (more oil) made to ship supplies there.  Only to have furniture (plastic covered – more oil) sitting in acres of air-conditioned and over lit (more non-renewable fossil fuels) warehouses.

I know, where do you start and where do you stop?  I don’t really know, but that’s the question I’m starting to ask.  And local food is starting to look smarter and smarter to me for some of the same reasons.  And what if the world’s goal is to raise it’s level of consumption to that of the U.S.?  God forbid.  Given our already depleting sources of fossil fuels, imagine if all of India and China decided they needed as many cars per family as we think we do?   And why shouldn’t they?  Their economies are strengthening.   

I’m really starting to wonder if my grandparents and their self-sustaining farm, not to mention their continued support of local economies, didn’t have a better handle on energy consumption than we do.   Oh, who am I kidding?  They totally did.   

But is having a farm what John and I need to do?  I really don’t enjoy sweating that much and I have a developing asthma issue.  What would  other alternatives  be?  Could I just cook for our homestead?  What about food cooperatives?  Maybe we get our food from them.  More plentiful small urban gardens?  My church is starting some interesting work with a project called “Eden in Indianapolis” working with area gardeners and local restaurants.  I’m kind of interested to see how it will turn out.   

Open to suggestions.    


6 Responses to “Back to the Farm?”

  1. February 11, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    To live on a truly self-sustaining farm is a hard existence, and we weren’t all made to be farmers. I for one know I wasn’t. But as you suggest, there is some happy medium.

  2. 2 juliebelle
    February 12, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    you need to read blessed unrest.

  3. 3 rmay525
    February 12, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    You know I completely agree with EVERYTHING you say here.
    I’ve been trying for the past couple of years to eat foods that are in season and in that way I’m not encouraging supermarkets to fly blueberries in from Chile because I feel like eating them in January. Alice Waters, the chef of Chez Panisse and author of numerous books has been supporting the idea of local produce and eating in season since the 70s. In Philly we have a way you can buy into a particular farm’s yearly harvest, paying them a flat rate either yearly or monthly which helps support their farming, and in harvest season, you get fresh fruits and veggies brought to you once a week. I’m sure this is available in Indy.
    Then, of course you could always start the “Pay More for Food” movement finally.

  4. February 12, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    This would be so nice. My family owns a few farms and my farmer dad would be all for this one.

  5. 5 Anonymous
    February 13, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    but it’s really not paying more for food. buying directly from the farmer is actually pretty cheap–if you calculate the true cost of food (incl less transport, distribution, better overall taste, and maybe even health benefits)….
    Why don’t you and John get a farm so Tommy and I can live close by???

  6. February 24, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Hi, Troy, I read Deep Economy, also, and would like to live more intentionally into the local food choice for our family. We’re working on it. I want to talk more about that “happiness” part of the book. There really is a certain extent to which money can buy happiness, but then that caps off at a point and more becomes a problem. It’s a big issue for me. So, how about a book discussion over a dinner of some local produce? It will be easier to do that when local produce is actually growing again. The current situation is supplementing with organic produce brought in by the CSAs we’re subscribing to this winter. Goose is a good place to shop now, also. They’re working on the local food principle. Love them!

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