A veg box has been arriving on the doorstep each Thursday for the last month. Here are 8 things about it that I like
1 It is exciting. Perhaps I’ll grow out of it but there is the surprise of wondering what will be in your box this week. (Perhaps I need to get out more)
2 Most of it is grown in a farm 8miles outside Galway. There is something satisfying about knowing that you can email the owner of the farm and hsay ‘Hey, those cabbages you are growing taste great‘ or ‘Can you stop sending me broccoli?‘.
3 There is the sense that you are preventing the town being homogenized. I went into a shopping centre last week and it is the only part of Galway I disliked. The reason was that it looking like the shopping centres in Lisburn, Dublin, Belfast, Cheltenham. Suddenly I was no longer in unique place but no place with the same stores and shopping malls that have destroyed towns and made them identikit. I could get my veg there in Tesco and have the same shopping experience I’ve had all over Ireland and the UK but I’ll be helping homogenize Galway and homogenize myself and other people.
4 The veg are organic. I I think there is a bit of guff surrounding organic vegetables but at the end of the day it seems to me to be more in tune with loving Creation in a respectful way. I realise that they are more expensive but the cheaper vegetables maybe have hidden costs that are mounting up?
5 As they are organic you have to pay a bit more for it and thing like onions can be smaller in size. Because you are paying more you don’t want to waste what you have paid good money for and try not to waste them or let them go off. Also it forces you to eat your veg on days that you would rather not, sort of like your mum would have told you to do growing up.
6 It gets delivered to your doorstep. You leave out the box he brought last week and a box of veg is left on your doorstep.
7 The vegetables are good quality and look really fresh. Apparently they would have been harvested yesterday. I was just looking at a romanesco and thought ‘That is just a beautiful piece of work…’
8 The owner sends out an email every week and there is activity on their Facebook page. You feel like they take joy and pride from their work and you want to support people like that.
This is all theory being a man without a garden but I was wondering how much land would it take to grow all the vegetable stock I need for a year based on simple stock recipe in River Cottage Everyday.
I reckoned that roughly 6-7sq.m might do it but was wondering about the celery as I’ve heard it’s a bit of devil to grow. Then I remembered the old soup celery as it’s called here in Northern Ireland, or leaf celery you see in veg soup packets in Spar. So I’d probably try growing a patch of that and keeping a few bay trees.
Sometimes I imagine loads of Presbyterian churches equipped with nice homely (but not expensive) dining rooms and a lounge for lazy Sunday afternoons (instead of drafty halls) and big pots of soup made from vegetables grown on the gardens that used to be their lawns (or from land donated by a church member with spare land).
When it came to dishes time everyone washed them in a relaxed way not eager to rush home, and the men would be in the kitchen just as much as the women. There would not be someone trying to rush the people out of the hall because he had to lock up and wanted to go home. The last person out can lock up.
If there was soup left over it could be frozen and given to people who are sick or poor, there would be boxes of vegetables to distribute to the needy or just for people in church.
‘Today’s global food economy, with its lengthy distribution networks traversing continents and oceans, makes it difficult for eaters to know the places and communities that produce and prepare food. Having so little direct contact with food’s context’s – the fields and waters, livestock crates and pens, the factories and distribution centers, worker communities and restaurants – it is next to impossible for us to act in ways that would promote the good of any place or community’
Norman Wirzba, Food & Faith, A Theology of Eating
It can tie your head in knots to think that each time you eat something there is some specific place somewhere on planet earth that had to grow that food,
(or the things that make up that food)
with very specific fellow human beings doing the farming and either treating creation with respect and love or else treating it badly.
It can tie your head in knots and so why would we even bother thinking about stuff like that? Why not just be thankful you have enough to eat and get on with living life as best you can.
I often do and my default setting is just to consume uncritically, to munch my way through a Mars Bar as I rush from one thing to the next. Yet at other times a sense of unease comes upon me. Because I eat I ‘m involved with agriculture and farming, and so are you. You are responsible for farming.
This can of tinned rice had to be farmed in different nameless places throughout the planet
It’s an incredibly complex journey from farm to my mouth (without even considering the packaging) so I won’t even try or else I might drive myself crazy.
Yet surely few things (if anything) are as fundamental to humanity to eating, which also means that few things are as fundamental as farming to human beings.
This is something which we have completely forgotten in our culture. We know that we have to eat but we don’t seem to realise or have lost sight of the fact that we are dependent on the farmer to grow our food. Right now you are completely dependent on the fact that someone, somewhere is growing your next meal. Farming and agriculture matter, they matter more than the Man Utd game or ipad 3 or Google or nearly anything else.
And because we eat and depend on the farmer (who depends on grace and things he ultimately can’t control) we also depend on taking care of the earth like we were designed to do in Eden.
If we’re serious about looking after creation we need to support good farmers and those gardeners who use sustainable practices, even if that means much more work on our part in doing research and paying more for our food. We also need to stop supporting those who use destructive practices.
With most of our mass produced food it’s nearly impossible to know if you have acted in a way that has promoted the good of the communities and places it has come from. So we need to go looking for good farmers who we trust, (or grow as much as we can ourselves) which means more work for us but is the sort of thing we probably should do more off if we’re trying to reflect that idea in Genesis of tending the garden of Eden.