Hello everyone, my name is Molly Travis and I am the PICA Garden Coordinator this year! The title “Garden Coordinator” is kind of a misnomer. You can’t actually coordinate or control a living environment. Take weeds for example. Weeds exist because they’re just [undesired] plants trying to grow, and in response, we weed the garden to get rid of them. The individual never directly initiates the controlling or coordination of weed suppression; it’s all in response to what the natural environment is already doing. Although the spontaneous nature of gardening can be challenging sometimes, it is the unpredictability that makes going into the garden each day a fun and new experience.
Gardening has many different applications and interdisciplinary aspects to it besides the physical act of gardening. The most important relation I’ve found is the connection to your environment through gardening. Each day you spend time in the garden observing the different insects and birds, watching Nanuk hunt, and experiencing the always-changing weather patterns we have in the Village (aka perma-fog). You also create an intimate relationship to the food that you eat. There may be good experiences like appreciating the pineapple guavas during the winter, or bad experiences like finding aphids on your kale. None of this can be experienced in a grocery store or by getting your food from a country thousands of miles away.
Not everyone thinks that gardening is fun, and that’s ok! I actually really hate spiders and gross smelling things, both of which are commonly found in gardening. Also, sometimes it’s more fun to eat the food than to actually grow it. I think it’s good to recognize the importance of gardening in our food system because it provides a direct way for us to become connected to our food system, but it’s more important to focus on the actual food that we’re eating.
Food is not just something we consume; it’s something we need to live. If food (calorie) is something we need to live, then there is a huge discrepancy in what we’re actually eating. This is an easy example, but it is obvious to see the difference between McDonald’s French fries and a potato in its raw form. But what about the natural soda you buy at New Leaf that has hidden fructose and was actually manufactured by a sub corporation of Coca Cola? This isn’t to say that all processed food is bad. Remember, canning and preserving your own food is still a method of processing. The problem with processing is what goes into it.
There is no way to quantify all of the benefits that eating good food can bring, but that’s not what’s important. What I want everyone to ask himself or herself the next time they eat something is “How does this taste” or “How does this food make me feel”? For all intent and purposes, eat whatever you’d like but remember to keep these questions in mind. The first step to understanding your food system is to experience your food. So next time you’re in the garden, pick some food, eat it, and have fun!
“Book Recommendation: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan”