By Washington Jefferson
You are what you eat, as the old saying goes. And most of us don’t eat too well these days. Oh yes, we eat a lot, as evidenced by the multitudes of grossly obese Americans waddling around. But that’s the point. In terms of genuine nutrition, we’re not eating well at all.
A big reason is our factory agriculture and fast food culture. What we gain in efficiency and cheap food, we more than lose in the nourishment necessary for sound minds and bodies. Many wonder why so many Americans are so apathetic and-frankly-cowardly. But when you consider the documented effects of sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, preservatives and genetically-engineered frankenfoods, there’s little cause for wonder at all.
Many profit from this situation, even as many more lose their health. But the profit is not all monetary. Demoralized and sick people are splendid materials for social engineers. Healthy folks don’t put up controllers, manipulators, bullies and bureaucrats.
We Southerners have an answer for this sad state of affairs. It lies in our agrarian heritage. Traditionally we have been a people who have lived close to the land, self-sufficient in healthy food on our family farms. Unfortunately, those farms are more of a memory than a reality today. The proper task before us now is to rebuild a strong agricultural society, where then good earth provides good food and sustains strong communities.
Now, you say, this is hardly possible with all the economic obstacles to profitable small-scale farming. And indeed those obstacles are considerable, but not insurmountable. As cases in point, the Amish and conservative Mennonites seem to make a pretty good go of it.
While we may not want to live the strictness of these religious groups, they do offer possibilities to consider. Though it is unlikely any time soon that any great number of Southerners will try to go back to full-time farming, there are some very useful first steps that almost all of us can take. And first steps are not insignificant. As the Chinese have observed, no great journey is possible without them.
The steps in question are learning the arts of gardening, and to take them you don’t have to live in the country. A suburban backyard offers plenty of possibilities, and what you can reap is not at all negligible. Even a small plot, if skillfully worked, can provide a lot of food.
Good nutrition is one benefit, and a small taste of freedom from the industrial agricultural establishment is another. There are many good books on gardening around to provide information, and for that matter there are lots of gardeners who are happy to share their knowledge. But don’t just absorb knowledge. Stick a spade in the ground; it’s a revolutionary act against the powers that be.
One hint: get open pollinated seeds, the kinds that reproduce true to type. That way you can save your own seeds for the next planting. Big Agriculture doesn’t like these seeds because its minions want to keep selling their hybrid seeds, year after year. Like all the other establismenteers, they want to keep you dependent on them. (To find a supplier of open-pollinated seeds, use google.)
In the days to come the ability to produce one’s own food may become more crucial than ever. Given the economic mess we’re in now the inability of the criminals and fools in Washington to deal it, real hard times may lie ahead-perhaps even food shortages. Prepare now, while there is still time.
The philosopher Voltaire left much to be desired in the way of religion. Nevertheless, he was right on the mark when he said that when the trends of the world are difficult to contend with, it is wise “to tend your own garden.” Take up your shovels, spades and tillers, fellow Southerners; let’s do it.