Living in one of the biggest cities in the U.S., I've come to take for granted certain luxuries -- like going to the regular grocery store and finding a wide variety of organic and local foods. For the past week, however, I've been visiting my hometown, a mid-sized city in the Pacific Northwest (from that description, with any knowledge of geography, you should be able to guess the town).
Over this week, I've come face-to-face with the fact that the sustainable foodstuffs I love just aren't on the shelves at every grocery store in America. I know, I know, you're probably thinking: Catfish, haven't you picked up a Newsweek lately? You know America's grocery aisles are stocked with high-fructose country-fried bacon and pancake-on-a-stick -- are you really surprised you can't find an egg labeled with the farmer's name?
OK, I admit, if I'd thought about it, I would have realized that the organic gooseberries at my neighborhood market aren't a staple at everyone's grocery. But I was too busy stocking up on quinoa and textured-vegetable-protein to notice.
My friend Darci has come up with her own solution to the problem of finding fresh, organic, and affordable food. She's taken up urban agriculture in her own backyard.
This is Darci's garden:
Beautiful, huh? I'm a bit of a black thumb, so I had to ask her to identify the various plants (potatoes, lettuce ...). Unfortunately, the growing season in my hometown isn't too long, but backyard farmers make the most of it.
Darci also has added two chickens to her household. Penelope and Clementine live in this palatial abode:
These ladies provide fresh eggs for Darci's family. Darci's not the only one who has added chickens to the list of common urban pets (cats, dogs, ferrets ...). Apparently, backyard chickens are quite the trend -- media outlets from the New York Times to the Bay Area ABC affiliate have discussed the proliferation of coops and birdseed in densely-populated areas across the country.
So, perhaps Old MacDonald's farm was closer to McDonald's than you might expect.