In a recent New York Magazine feature entitled “My Empire of Dirt“, writer Manny Howard takes on the arduous task of growing a farm, complete with flora and fauna in his Brooklyn backyard to explore just what is involved in trying to feed himself locally for one month. The results are a humorous and slightly demoralizing mixed bag of mishaps, small rewards, freakish weather, and rabbit and chicken cannibalism which certainly makes for an interesting and sometimes horrifying read.
“Eating local is expensive and time-consuming, which is why this consumerist movement will not easily trickle down into mass society. It requires a willful abstinence from convenience and plenty, a core promise of the modern world. Our bountiful era is predicated on the division of labor: We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sew our own clothes, we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t build our own housesÃ¢â‚¬â€and we certainly donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t farmÃ¢â‚¬â€because weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re too busy doing whatever it is we do for everyone else.”
The ensuing drama and general naivetÃƒÂ© of the author would have left me rolling my eyes skeptically (it seems like every paper and magazine has a writer on board trying out these kinds of food-related ‘experiments’ lately) if he had not captured my heart just a little with his stubborn determination. In the end, the intensity of the experience left both he and his family with a hard won lesson in the value of good food and resolve to buy responsibly.
“It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just a matter of buying regionally, or seasonally, or organicallyÃ¢â‚¬â€the important thing was to consume responsibly.”
I somehow doubt he will keep The Farm up at its current pace but I wonder if he will continue with the garden.