Home for Labor Day, eating local, eating well

Cross posted from Sustainable Middle Class Blog:

After travelling for most of the week for work, I’m looking forward to three days at home. If things go real well, I won’t get into a car at all. We can ride bikes to the grocery store and fill up the Burley. There’s fresh tomatoes, broccoli, and watermelon in the garden. From seed, sun, soil and rain to our plates, the most delicious produce of the year. It’s a good time for eating local in America.

The miracle of modern agricultural science and global marketing have teamed up to create tomatoes and other rubber-like fruits and vegetables that can rough-ride for months on boats, trains and trucks from the other side of the planet to our kitchens. This ingenious system of global agriculture “only” requires something like 10 calories of energy (essentially all fossil fuels) to produce and transport 1 calorie of food energy to our dinner plates.

The tomatoes we pick behind our garage are left on the vine until they’re ripe and haven’t seen any chemical sprays or dusts. The bugs have eaten some, but not much, really, and the toads are eating the bugs. It’s beena fairly wet summer, and the old maple and cedar trees and shrubs in the neighborhood provide enough shade for old Bufos americana to hang around. Sing all night, Mr. and Mrs. Bufos, if you like.

If you want to get serious about eating locally-grown food that’s fresh and picked ripe, check out LocalHarvest.org. You can locate organic and or locally-grown food in your area of the U.S., also farms, co-ops, retaurants, and community supported agriculture groups. The Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine (between Waterville and Bangor) is dedicated to Maine-grown and produced food, clothing, energy systems, craftwork, and know-how geared to small-scale decentralized, more sustainable systems. It’s scheduled September 22, 23, and 24. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has a big role in the event but the emphasis is primarily on locally grown and produced food, tools, and services. I’ve been twice and the food concessions alone are worth the trip.

Being that it’s Labor Day Weekend, I hope to read some labor history. In Marquette, Michigan, there is a sign on the back of an old downtown building facing out to the harbor on Lake Superior. There’s an old pier where they used to load taconite (iron ore pellets) onto the big lake boats, right near The Vierlings restaurant and microbrewery (recommended).

The sign says “Unions: the people who brought you weekends.” Amen to that.

Thanks to all those who faced the bullets, the dogs, and the billy-clubs – who stood up to the Power of Money, stood up to the bullying by company goons and corrupt officials. Thanks to the ones who suffered, felt fear but took a stand anyway, bled and died. Thanks to all that fought for human lives consisting of more than work. And thanks to the ones who stood up in Washington and in the state legislatures to make laws that forced companies to regard their workers as human beings, not equipment.

Thanks again, and let’s not forget.

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One Response to Home for Labor Day, eating local, eating well

  1. John

    A few thoughts on your first post here…

    Welcome! Thanks for sharing this with us. When I was a kid we had a huge vegetable garden and grew more than we could use, all organic. What our family couldn’t eat, we gave the rest away to neighbors.

    I miss the fresh picked taste of ALL veggies, grown organically and then plucked from the garden, washed and prepared, with a barely hour or two gone by. Does it make a difference – absolutely.

    My daughter and I had a small garden plot 3 years ago at her high school’s community garden. I didn’t have the time to keep it up, but for one glorious harvest season, I felt like a kid again and we ate well. Thank you for the inspiration to get up a little early tomorrow and head down to the Farmers Market.

    Finally speaking of unions and and weekends, and food… my daughter has been working for the past few months at one of SoCal’s grocery chains. It’s been an interesting experience to say the least. My disdain for corporate giants has grown.