Growing Food in the
By Dr. Gary Nabhan
Arizona University Center for Sustainable Environments
and author of Coming Home to Eat: the
Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods
Some gardening books simply give
readers a formula for combining crops and planting times for a
particular locale, but Lisa Rayner's new edition of this little
masterpiece provides you with principles for living and eating in
harmony with northern Arizona's natural habitats. While this book is
rich in detail about the ways weather, soils, plants and gardeners
interact in the Flagstaff environment, it offers us more than that.
It is a primer on how to change our food production and consumption
strategies to sustain the natural and cultural heritage of our
region. The gardener, in this model, becomes co-designer with
nature, and therefore a naturalist observing the ecological
interactions between crop and insect, mulch and soil temperature.
Instead of merely remaking the environment to fit what vegetables we
desire to grow, Lisa offers strategies for better selecting what we
grow and when we grow it to fit the prevailing conditions of our
home ground. As a writer, she is a match-maker; as a gardener, you
will be one too.
And so, this book speaks to a larger
purpose: to value, celebrate, utilize and conserve what is local, as
an antidote to an increasingly globalized inefficient food machine
that spews out contaminants as it marches across the landscape,
impoverishing soils, streams, floras, faunas and cultures wherever
it goes. Since 1981, the amount of produce grown outside the U.S.
that Americans eat daily has doubled, so that more than a fifth of
all the vegetables and fruits our neighbors put into their mouths
are now grown overseas. Because of the great distances that much of
our food travels before reaching the kitchen table, we hardly have a
means of discerning who or what is impacted by the way it is grown.
At the same time, Arizonans have failed to offer much support to the
six thousand farms remaining in our state, ones that can indeed
visit to inspect their ecological conditions as well as the health
conditions of their farmworkers. Instead, by attempting source just
10 percent more of our food from sources within fifty miles of our
homes, a community our size can save as much as 350 thousand gallons
of fuel now used to bring food to us, resulting in an annual
reduction of millions of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. What's
more, our food will be fresher, more nutritious, and more of a means
of connecting with our neighbors.
Ultimately, this book will of greatest
value to you if it inspires you to put it down, go outside, and
expand your garden and orchard, extending their seasons and
productivity beyond what you could have imagined before reading
Lisa's advice. Abbie Hoffman may have wanted you to "Steal This
Book," but my advice to you is "Plant This Book."
Plant its principles in your mind so deeply, that you no longer need
its pages; mulch them and make them part of your body and spirit's
connection with this land.