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The Revival of the Victory Garden

In 1941, as the United States took a deep breath and launched into World War 2, President Franklin Roosevelt offered a patriotic solution to the problems of a wartime economy: he suggested that Americans plant Victory Gardens to keep the cost of produce low for the war effort. That year, 20 million gardens were planted all across the nation, on city blocks, suburban lawns, and country homes. It is estimated that 40 percent of the nation’s vegetables produced during wartime were grown in these plots where green lawns previously sat.

Our current president has made a drastically different suggestion to thwart our current fuel prices, economic fall-off, and over-participation in countries far, far away. Mr. Bush recommends that citizens of the United States, to protect our humble nation from terrorism and recession, should do as much as possible of the only thing patriotic left in America. And that is to shop.

Since President Bush hasn’t stepped up to offer the kind of grassroots advice that benefits the land, the American people, and the security of the nation, a movement that DOES has arisen, and it's not just about the price of gas or national security. It’s about healthy, SAFE food for our families, it’s about taking care of our soil, our water, and our air. It’s about creating s t r ong c ommuni t i e s and neighborhoods, independently resilient regional economies, and awareness of our impact on the planet. It’s a movement toward a local food system, it’s a movement that has finally reached our little pocket of paradise, and it’s the concept to which this monthly column will be devoted.

I should start by saying this: I am not a local. Like thousands of the people who call the Inland Northwest home, I am a transplant, an East Coaster, a "tourist.” So while I know a thing or two about food, my eastward upbringing does put me at a slight disadvantage with regard to local knowledge. Thus mostly I’ll be a reporter, a
relayer of information, and, if you would, I’d like for that information to come from you.

Each of you has a local food treasure—a favorite cherry tree in town whose fruit falls to the ground, a salsa recipe that puts up and serves perfectly on Superbowl Sunday, a neighbor with the best eggs in the county.
A Victory Garden. In coming issues, I’d like to address topics such as how to find, grow, raise, hunt, buy, prepare, can, freeze, dry, brew, gather, or otherwise utilize local foods and drinks. All of these things with a garnish of recipes and political banter. Hopefully, we can work together to create a food system that benefits the whole community, from the small local farmers to the family table and beyond.

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Emily Levine Emily Levine

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