there is a jungle of tomato plants on my fire escape that i'm proud to have raised from seeds. they are working their way towards bearing food, along with some baby carrot and green bean plants. i also have a container for herbs, with basil, thyme, rosemary and spearmint. i'm very proud of my little garden, glad to look out the window and see the flash of green and excited to watch them spring to life from wet dirt and brown seeds. i'm working on become more conscious of the slow, fickle process of growing food- fighting with the previously friendly squirrels, furiously watering and watching lifeless leaves expand, tracking mud all over the kitchen floor while re-potting- and i find myself loving every moment of it. but as much as i've enjoyed gardening, i've noticed something very worrisome. it is very, very expensive. for as much money as i've spent on containers, dirt, plant food, seeds and cages, i could have bought a summer's worth of tomatoes at the farmer's market. i justify it as my hobby- just like buying music is for grace- but i'm troubled by the (and my!) overtly moralistic rhetoric of "home-grown food is the right/best way to eat."

if you haven't read it yet, the nyt freakonomics blog is a great find. the economic implications of everyday minutia are startlingly explored, and while it's sometimes a little far-fetched, it's always interesting. this post in particular about the sustainability of the home grown food movement is useful in framing questions of class, privilege and foodie culture. moreover, if those of us who can afford to, continue to grow our own food, not only will we lose the opportunity to purchase the variety of food we currently can at cheaper prices, but prices will rise for those who cannot afford the same luxuries. it's unclear to me whether this is a desirable outcome, since clearly food costs are only now starting to reflect true costs of production, and no one is happy, despite all the whining in the food community about big box stores and growers. a typical conundrum in the fractured global marketplace - finding solid economic + cultural evidence that retaining local control/practices/culture is preferable when dispersed and disparate large-scale ventures can offer similar goods and services for a fraction for the cost.
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