Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Capillary Action in Plants and Beyond

When I made my makeshift capillary matting, I promised an update.  Here's  a photo of my tomato today--it has not dried out since I made the matting and we have had some sunny days, and the water in the pan around it has gone--someplace.

I also promised in last post that I would get on with my short story. I did.  So having been good, and between hanging laundry on the line, I want to share a metaphor with you. It occurred to me yesterday that ideas move with capillary action.

I began my gardener's apprentice blogging because I was working out a bundle of ideas centred around how much land it takes to live on. Political analysts and demographers are telling us we'll reach about 10 billion population but we'll be able to manage it because having people cluster in cities will free up land elsewhere for food production or wildlife--I note the 'or' in their presentations.  Even if we have a place to put all those people, I am not convinced that any land freed up will not be so degraded or compromised that it is of not much use to us or to any wildlife that manages to survive. Moreover, I can't help seeing in my mind's eye the post apocalyptic megacity of Blade Runner. So just how much land does it take to live on? I'm working on that.

The first realisation about what would have to change was about storing food.  Modern houses do not have larders. We have become accustomed to shopping for food and storing it temporarily in any season.  My first step for larder-dom in my house is, for now, to use a cupboard in the garage.

But that is just a small step in my larger investigation. I am concerned about hunger or food insecurity in a land where there is food aplenty. I am concerned as well about the stereotyping and stigmatizing of folks who do not have the luxury--and it is a luxury-- of planting out raised beds in their back gardens and using a cupboard in the garage for a larder.

Yesterday I was gratified to hear on BBC Radio 4 on the Food Programme about three food bloggers--all of them on benefits and all foodies. They had a lot to say that interested me and contributed to my long term questioning, which I hope by capillary action to reach folks who make the decisions that affect us all on a larger scale.

A girl called Jack (http://agirlcalledjack.com/) is luckier than many. She knew how to cook and she knew also how to write and how to take some political action. Not all the folks in the queue for the food bank are so lucky.  She realised that and has put her skills to work in showing others how to cook simply and inexpensively in a tiny kitchen. Her hard work and skills are being rewarded now with a book contract, which I hope will be a help to her and to all those who face the same hard choices she does.

'Austerity cook' has now entered the lexicon and, hopefully, with the same pride and satisfaction as folks nowadays say 'make do and mend' referring to the wartime scarcity and the resourcefulness it engendered. Equally as important, I want to put a little counterimage to the stereotype of  slackers and do nothngs in the line at the food bank. One of the women interviewed said that no matter how much the volunteers tried not to make them feel impoverished, nonetheless a sense of failure sometimes dogged their steps. I would like to suggest that if we turn out a young adult who does not know how to cook the basics, then it is we who are the failures.

Along with how much land is the question of what skills to make it work for us? Whatever the future offers, whatever we choose to call the curriculum, a familiarity with food and seasons and simple preparation should be a part of that.




At 8:18 AM, Blogger Manohar singh Akeli'B' said...

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At 12:31 PM, Blogger Ruan Peat said...

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At 12:32 PM, Blogger Ruan Peat said...

I always felt I had to give my kids life skills, If they left home with as little true knowledge as I did I have failed! but most skills I needed they now have, and they are capable of living on their own if need be, now I just need to learn to budget and teach them that next!!!

At 10:45 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

I think you have done a great job with your kids. We cannot know what they will encounter in their lives so the best we can do is skill build and love and hope.


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