Why Food Should Be Expensive: Introduction

My experience farming.

When I was 10 or 12, my parents encouraged me to have my own garden to grow whatever I wanted.

I had no idea what I was doing, but was psyched to start. I went to Home Depot, bought the best soil I could find and every thing I wanted to grow in seed packets.

When I got home, I got to work. I fenced off a small part of our backyard where I was going to “farm.”

I spent several days destroying the backyard. Digging into the grass, tearing weeds, and removing dirt and rocks. Then, I laid out my beautifully packaged new soil and carefully planted all my seeds ever so gently.

Every single day, I cared for that garden like my life depended on it. If I saw the smallest weed peer out, it was summarily torn. I never tired.

Many, many days later, a sprout. I was on cloud 9. Everyone had to see my 1cm tall sprout.

Couple of months later, I had several small plants and was very happy. Now, I was growing impatient. When was the first pepper going to show? How big must that carrot be underground?

In the meantime, every animal on earth must have realized that food was growing at the “farm.” I refused to kill them or use pesticides. It was a never ending battle between me, the bugs, the birds, the lizards. You get the picture.

About 4 months in, I had grown the smallest green peppers you’ve ever seen, 2 beans (yes, literally, 2 beans), and carrots. Since I could now see what I had grown, I started imagining the carrots were huge. Now, my impatience started getting the best of me. Also, fighting life (a.k.a. bugs) was exhausting.

I wanted my parents to see what I’d grown, so I waited until 5 p.m. that day to harvest the bounty of my farm.

I remember taking a large basket outside, and went to town: cutting beans down, tearing strawberries by the stem, yanking carrots out of the ground.

I was so disappointed. Mostly by the 1 inch carrots. I just kept thinking, “4 months of work.”

I couldn’t feed a small rabbit with my farm. In fact, I think at some point the bugs and birds didn’t even bother.

I never forgot that experience: growing food is hard.

And since then, I have come to believe that food should be expensive because:

  1. It takes an insane amount of work ← this is what it’s like for a real farmer in Indiana.
  2. It is costly (to the environment) and expensive (machinery, pesticides, seeds, etc.).
  3. And, we throw 40% of it in the garbage.

I would love to hear your comments on this topic. I will be working on follow up posts, and welcome your ideas.