PHYLLIS ODESSEY

A Political Act

For gardeners, there is nothing new to learn in American Grown, The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama.  But it doesn’t matter.

Before I downloaded American Grown, I had to consider if buying it was a political act.  I spend a great deal of my time at work in a 15,000 sq. ft. organic vegetable garden that exists solely for the purpose of educating New York City School children about where food comes from.  I am already a convert to the current gardening movement.  I am not interested in the White House garden as a garden and I am already familiar with gardening movement around the country, so?

Gardening is a safe topic.  It comes with none of the baggage of abortion or gay marriage.   I admire Michelle Obama for her efforts on behalf of healthy eating, nutritional food and war on couch potatoes is needed,.  For those who need the validation of a First Lady to open their eyes to the food movement, this is a good start.

The guy who has more to say about the politics of food than anyone I know of:  Wendell Berry

“I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act.  Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth.  Most eaters, however, are no longer aware that this is true.  They think food as an agricultural product, perhaps, but they do not think of themselves as participants in agriculture. They think of themselves as “consumers.”  If they think beyond that, they recognize that they are passive consumers.  They buy what they want – or what they have been persuaded to want – within the limits of what they can get.  They pay, mostly, without protect, what they are charged.  And they mostly ignore certain critical questions about the quality and the cost of what they are sold:  How fresh is it?  How pure or clean is it, how free of dangerous chemicals? How far was it transported, and what did transportation add to the cost? How much did manufacturing of packaging or advertising add to the cost?  When the food product has been manufactured or “processed” or “precooked,” how has that affected its quality or price or nutritional value?…”

“When I think of the meaning of food, I always remember these lines by the poet William Carlos Williams, which seems to me merely honest:

There is nothing to eat,
seek it where you will,
but the body of the Lord,
The blessed plants
and the sea, yield it

to the imagination intact.
1989

Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating

6 comments

  1. and I thought you – and your readers will want to know I am speaking at The Hort, June 14th. See here:I would be very honored if you and your food and garden friends would attend my book talk and reading event at The Horticultural Society of New York, Thursday, June 14. And to let your blog readers know of the event. I think your audience would be keen to attend – as well as you!Here are the details from The Hort's online invitation:http://thehort.org/programs_workshops_talks_tours.html#leeannThe evening will consist of me doing an overview of my just-released book: The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbookbook, a reading from the profiles of the two chefs and the growers who most inspire them that are featured in the book and who are graciously joining me: Chef Tom Schaudel, CoolFish and Chef Bryan Futerman, Foody's. The chefs will demo cook one of their recipes from the book – followed by a tasting and and some wine!And book signings, of course :)It will be fun, free, and delicious.See you at The Hort!

  2. and I thought you – and your readers will want to know I am speaking at The Hort, June 14th. See here:
    I would be very honored if you and your food and garden friends would attend my book talk and reading event at The Horticultural Society of New York, Thursday, June 14.
    And to let your blog readers know of the event. I think your audience would be keen to attend – as well as you!

    Here are the details from The Hort's online invitation:

    http://thehort.org/programs_workshops_talks_tours.html#leeann

    The evening will consist of me doing an overview of my just-released book: The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbookbook, a reading from the profiles of the two chefs and the growers who most inspire them that are featured in the book and who are graciously joining me: Chef Tom Schaudel, CoolFish and Chef Bryan Futerman, Foody's.
    The chefs will demo cook one of their recipes from the book – followed by a tasting and and some wine!

    And book signings, of course 🙂

    It will be fun, free, and delicious.

    See you at The Hort!

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