Growing up on a farm in a small town in southern Kentucky, the simple life was something that I grew up surrounded by, not just something I now want to get back to. For as long as I can remember my family has got together at the beginning of each spring and planted a huge garden between our farms, rows and rows of all the fruits and vegetables that you could ever imagine. The garden is a family effort and we all work together to maintain it. The reward from the garden is that it feeds my entire extended family and their friends and families for the whole summer, plus at the end we still have enough left to freeze and can for the fall and winter. I remember when my great-grandmother was still alive we would still have her frozen creamed corn at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and it tasted so fresh, like it had just been picked.
The Farmer’s Market in my hometown wasn’t something where consumers could go to get “pure” or “organic” food. It was just a gathering of farmers in town who were selling crops from their garden to make a little extra money for their family. I hated to go with my parents but we went because they had a better variety than we had that year, or simply to support our neighbors, whether we really needed the extra food or not, because it was the right thing to do. Others went because food was much cheaper than going to the grocery store and they had a family to feed.
I always dreamed of getting away from the small town and escaping to the city, leaving the farm life behind. Ironically, the people living in the city are now wanting what I had, a pure and simple life on a farm. The push to buying all organic food, people raising their own chickens in their backyards, farmers markets in downtown cities- going green and getting back to a more agricultural time is all around us. Even the labels attached to the food we eat are depicting green pastures with animals roaming freely. But this push to agriculture has me wondering, do people realize the labor that comes along with it? To get the pure and natural foods of my past we had to work for them, not go to the Whole Foods down the street and purchase them. Agricultural life can be difficult, many left the life of farming for other jobs for a reason, why the push to go back?
I will explore how consumers feel about food, agriculture, and the purity of our food by reading Michael Pollan’s essay “Supermarket Pastoral.” I will also use the ideas from the CLUCK campaign that was highlighted by Rachel Ballard, until reading her free-form article I had no idea that this was going on in Lexington. I will also explore the absence of labor in pastoral literature such as “To Penshurst”, “To Saxham,” and Virgil’s Eclogues.
Any more ideas of ways that people are integrating agriculture into the city would be helpful! Thanks.