By Dan Pool
I’ve been living off the land this summer, just like our ancestors, except of course I live in a subdivision where there is only one barn, but a couple of swimming pools – not exactly a farming settlement.
Nevertheless I set out, just like Thoreau, to live simply this summer, enjoying the produce that would be the reward of my hard work in the garden. I talked big of how I was going to eat so healthy I would need gluten supplements to balance all the greens.
All the self-reliance rhetoric sounded fine planting spring crops when you actually don’t have any option of eating your own produce.
But my spring garden mainly chose to reward me with kale – lots and lots of kale, plus a few beets and some now bitter lettuce.
Summer has been better with green beans by the bucket full, but unless tomatoes are supposed to have flat, blackened bottoms, something is a little off in my yard.
Still I have made a game effort – sort of.
The hunger set in after about three days. Turns out a normal human can eat healthily only so long before he’s sick of it – mentally. Kale smoothies in the morning, kale and bitter lettuce salad at lunch and sautéed kale in the evening is, frankly, more kale than anyone can take. It does stuff to you – in my case I turned to theft.
Not proud here, but I began stealing food from other family members. In my case an all healthy, homegrown diet did cause me to shed a few pounds, but also to take food from children’s mouths.
While I rhapsodized about the moral superiority of kale and squash diets, my wife and kids stuck to standard American food like pizza and stuff from the microwave.
They had normal food – even leftover burgers and ice cream, which no amount of fertilizer would make my garden produce. So a little bite here and a little sample there and my resolve busted. Heck, they had shelves filled with good stuff and if you look at the big picture, the ingredients for Captain Crunch were grown in something like a garden, or maybe a factory, by people who were either good hard-working American farmers or would probably like to be Americans. So how bad could it be to sneak a bowl here and there?
And the remnants of a Rocco’s burger might have gone to waste if I hadn’t secretly devoured it. Food waste is a real problem and I was doing my share to correct it.
Finally, I abandoned any grand plan of living off the land, making excuses about how I WOULD eat my kale but “man I am running so late, better just have some bacon and eggs this morning – whole lot quicker than picking my crops.”
I can say I tried it and, according to historians, even Henry David Thoreau would leave Walden Pond to go eat at friends' homes. I have looked at the madness eating nothing but garden grown food produces and frankly didn’t much like what I saw or tasted.
But as Scarlett O’Hara declared “as God as my witness, I will not be hungry again” as long as Ingles keeps selling Amstel Light, ice cream and potato chips.