Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are Locavores Afraid of Getting Their Hands Dirty?

I wonder. While locally grown food is all the rage (high-end caterers will certify that the lavish spread came from within a certain radius), "local" doesn't seem to include the backyard. The American vegetable garden is shrinking dramatically, and if you project ahead a decade or two, it's conceivable that home plots may disappear altogether.
Back in 1937, a study of rural Kansas households found that home gardens averaged a remarkable half-acre, or more than 21,000 square feet. By the 1970s, the national average had dropped to 800 square feet, and as of 2002, the norm was a postage stamp-sized plot of just 100 square feet.
A while ago, my wife had a couple of women friends over for lunch on the back patio. The guests began to laugh in astonishment, and Ali turned to see that they were dumbstruck by the sight of our laundry drying on a clothes line. How long will it be before a few rows of vegetables seem humorously quaint?

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