Food system cracks have been showing themselves for some time, making safe and sustainable solutions like the humble kitchen garden plot a health priority.
The gardening that supplied 26 percent of U.S. produce during World War II has lately become a challenging and nearly-forgotten skill at best, and a crime at worst (a Detroit-area woman narrowly avoided a 90-day jail term over her front-yard garden last July). Zoning, community association rules, permits and soil testing are among current-day hurdles, but the higher-level barrier to reviving local agriculture is likely our collective perception about food, the attention we devote to it, and to whom we assign sovereignty over what and how we eat.
In his TED Talk, Roger Doiron points out that food is energy and therefore a source of power over diet, health and pocketbooks. Reclaiming that power takes work, which is why SLHI and collaborators are (1) partnering with municipalities to re-examine issues like zoning, licensure and food distribution, (2) directly investing in community garden development, (3) co-developing local communications infrastructure, and (4) working toward a future of increased local food production and distribution that supports the health of all Arizonans.
Get involved. Set a goal to consume fresh local foods and achieve it – whether by growing your own, regularly supporting a farmers’ market or having them delivered to your door. Connect with partners like the Valley Permaculture Allliance and TigerMountain Foundation that stand ready to assist, guide or even directly engage you.
Above all, remember that we are what we eat. Bring conscious choices back to the center of your plate, and have fun doing it. As Doiron concludes, it’s equally important that we “put the culture back into agriculture and the dance back into food abundance.”