The zucchini came from Dad’s backyard garden and the bread made from it came from Mom’s kitchen. A hunk of it sits alongside a very big cup of Blackberry Sage tea, and together they will carry out the duty of being my breakfast this morning.
Chris Isaak’s “Baja Sessions” croons out of the stereo, and I am remembering the road trip my wife and I took down the peninsula sticking out from southern California. I am umbilically connected to southcentral Pennsylvania. Like no other place on the planet, here I feel the rhythms dancing up from the soil below and bask in the light of home shining down over me from above. When the smell of hay hangs in the humidity of evening, I taste the farmer’s earth. When lighting streaks across the sky, I feel the thunder rumbling inside the rain-yearning kernel of corn.
How do we reconcile progress when looking at “development” taking the shape of $300,000 homes in a locale where the family income is a product of a 40 hour week working in a factory, a department store, a construction site, a classroom? Where will our children 2 generations from now go to learn how tomatoes from a summer-soaked vine taste? Will they smell the dung of a dairy farm on their way home from a Little League game and taste a glass of cold, refreshing milk?
“The future looks so bright aheadThe past is far behindI think of all the things we saidAnd you are on my mindThink of tomorrow” –Chris Isaak, “Think of Tomorrow”
Going to the farmer’s markets fills me with a sense of hope; a true free market where quality is the pride of the producer standing before me. Mostly folks in their 50s and 60s buying nature’s best to ensure a healthful ease into life’s end. Where are the young folks like me?
Newspapers talk of a return to locally produced food, a national grassroots movement where consumers are choosing naturally grown food, organic food, and food free of chemicals. Peppers should look like the dirty, sun-beaten face of an 89 year old gardener. Could where we live become a region known for its commitment to healthy food growing? Could we be the supplier of the Baltimore/Washington craving for good, grown-from-earth-and-rain fruits and vegetables? Could we develop policies/incentives/technical support for our struggling small family farmers to switch from competing with the heavily-subsidized agri-corporate farmers to competing with the challenge of forging new ideas and creating new markets?
“Mexico has sunny skiesHawaii knows no rainAny place you want sweetheartI will buy the ringThink of tomorrowThink of tomorrow.” –Chris Isaak, “Think of Tomorrow”
Will our farms continue to grow expensive houses? Will we continue to eat food from soils we’ve never crumbled in our hands? Will our great-grandchildren see steers grazing in a field with their own eyes? Are we buying the ring?
Think of tomorrow.
(written 23 July 2006)