Monday, February 20, 2012


Monday last week, I might have mentioned that I was offered a book to review. On The Future of Food is not so much a book as a printed speech. Making it a very small book. Perfect! Since, time has not been my friend these days.

This booklet is an essay adapted from a keynote speech given by the Prince of Wales at The Future of Food Conference at Georgetown University. In his speech he talks about sustainability in food production. Pretty interesting stuff. Something that the Prince said that resonated with me was; "The fact is that food production is part of a wider socioeconomic landscape. We have to recognize that social and economic stability is built upon valuing and supporting local communities and their traditions. Small holder agriculture therefore has a pivotal role."  I couldn't agree more. Supporting small local farms and, growing and storing your own is essential for the health of bodies, the earth and communities. 

I find it very exciting that this idea of growing and storing your own is coming back into vogue. For the longest time we were the only ones we knew that grew and canned our own. As time went by more and more people got on board.

 No matter where JR and I live we put in a small garden. Sometimes all we have room for is tomato plants and herbs in pots but it is enough for us. When we lived on a large plot of land we would grow and can our own produce or buy, straight from the farm, and put by those things that we couldn't grow.

One year we planted our garden in our front yard because that was the sunniest place we had. Vision tomatoes growing next to roses. Our neighbors thought we were nuts until they reaped the benefits of our over abundance.  I come by this grow it where I can mentality honestly; my grandfather dug up the lawn in his back yard to plant a produce garden in his urban St. Louis home. He was urban gardening before it became fashionable

I learned to can from my mother-in-law, she learned from her mother and so on. I taught 3 of my friends. JR and I went to the library to investigate ways that we could store foods that we couldn't jar up. At one point our basement mechanical room was draped with onions and garlic because it was the best place to dry them out. We had several garbage cans filled with sand and straw to keep carrots, potatoes and root veggies through the winter. Apple cider was frozen in gallon milk jugs that we stored up all year then drank or used to sweeten jams and jellies. 
Unlike this photograph, we didn't keep everything in the root cellar. We didn't have a root cellar. I've always wanted a root cellar. Alas, I had to make do with a caning closet in the basement and garbage cans in the garage. Hey, it worked. 

I'd like to encourage all of you to grow your own if you can, buy locally from sustainable farms and jar up, can, or put by (however you like to say it) what you can. And, as always try to eat less meat. Or do as Thomas Jefferson did, eat "meat as a condiment to the vegetables which constitute my principal diet."



  1. This is very near and dear to our hearts. I just ordered the speech. I can only hope our leaders understand what is at stake as well as the Prince seems to.

    I always seem to manage a garden of some sort. As a frequent traveler, I am now focusing on sustainable perennials. Front yard?? Really? And the city or homeowners didn't come after you for improper greens?? They would in most places I have lived. How telling is THAT?

    My Grandmother had a "Fruit Cellar" - gawd only knows how long some of that stuff was down there (she was a Depression Era pack-rat mother who kept EVERY piece of plastic, paper, whatever that came into her house in case she needed it someday).

    We have only just begun the odyssey of canning and "putting up" last year and expect it to get intense this summer.

    Sand and straw for root vegetables? Interesting. We stick them in our garage in a box with a towel over them (it stays about 45 degrees all winter with little sun). Last year nearly everything made it until March. This year hasn't been as good, but the warm winter probably accounts for that.

    Later we can talk about why I think meat is critical in any sustainability equation, but I agree 100% about buying locally. We are going to do an experiment this spring/summer where we ONLY eat things raised within 100 miles of us. It really won't be hard once we are in vegetable season as we already probably consume about 90% of our diet from local farmers/friends - the rest from the local health food store.

    Great post! Love the pictures and insight to a time lost that we are working to turn around!

  2. When he started on about this his take was much more for the Everyman where as now and pretty much for the last twenty years is only for the well heeled. He took as a starting point the 'Dig for Victory' of the WW2 and the follow on Allotment movement.

  3. Hmmm, yes, well - what my loving husband said.

    It's nice, that...I don't have to write a long response. :P

  4. This reminds me of my grandmother. She kept her garden, stored everything, nothing went to waste, she even kept her egg shells, something I never figured out the reason for...

  5. I learned the whole 'grow and keep' from my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I have fond memories of my mom (and especially my great-grandmother) me 'helping' in the kitchen when I was a kid. I'm hoping Princess Nagger takes to it like a duck to water, too - she does like to help, so there's that. That book/booklet/speech looks and sounds so cool! :)

  6. I wish I had that kind of inclination, but I just hate working outside. I appreciate the produce but no so much the cultivating of it.

  7. Hey, how's my favourite librarian?

    I saw these great hanging baskets for tomatoes last year I want to try out. The plant grows through a small hole at the bottom of the basket instead of out small holes in the sides or out the top like a traditional hanging planter. Looked pretty good.

  8. You are making me feel guilty for downsizing my raised beds. With being gone most of the summer it became a mad mess. But still was a productive mad mess of tomatoes, onion, beets, and potatoes.
    Of course I sweet talked my husband into planting a "garden" at the farm. It was a good start(we throughly enjoyed the fresh goods!) but have not convinced him to make raised beds in WY yet.
    My parents always had a huge garden. My mother did alot of canning as we were growing up. Then my dad tried his hand at it...not too successfully.
    My mother-in-law taught me how to "can" goods.

  9. Interestingly, the grocery store I now go to has suddenly started stocking a HUGE selection of Ball Jars. They have cases of the giant jars that you'd really only use if you were "putting up" vegetables, like my mama did. I don't know if people are growing their own or getting stuff from farmers markets, but it sounds like a good idea to me!

  10. Guess what .... you and I were preppers before it was cool. Oh, well, maybe not preppers but maybe just wise users of our money!


  11. Looks fun! I'd like to learn to can and up my gardening skills.

  12. I need to learn to can. I grow a garden but I end up giving it all away.