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Is the Snow Gone? Can I Start Planting Yet?

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Now what have I gotten myself into? I agreed to take part in a community garden whatever-it-is in a couple of weeks. Board members of the synagogue I belong to looked at some unused land we own and decided a community garden space would be a good use for it. So they’re having this informative something where they’ve invited community groups and gardening folks and I’m the accessible gardening exhibit.

I do have accessible gardens in my backyard. Four of ’em. They’re two feet high and four feet square, but they’re not exactly portable. By today, I should have a portable garden that I — er, somebody — can put on chairs or cinder blocks or a table or something that will lift it off the ground. Hopefully, there will be little green sprouts growing out of the planting mix. I use the Square Foot Gardening mix of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and compost.

St. Patrick’s Day should have been the day for planting cold weather veggies-to-be. But I didn’t want to shovel through the snow. I didn’t have my portable garden yet, either. I’m sitting here with lettuce, pea, radish, and spring onion seeds to sow. And a cover to put over the bed to keep things kind of warmish. Just waiting for the “honey-do” dude to get here with the garden bed. Which I hope will fit in the back of the van. Which I failed to measure. (Oops!)

I began gardening because I wanted vegetables that tasted good. Kind of like the ones I ate as a child; not the ones bred for uniformity and transportation that we get in the grocery stores.

My grandfather had a giant garden. At least, it seemed huge to me when I was a little girl. He grew corn, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other wonderful foods. What we didn’t eat and my grandmother didn’t can, he let me peddle to the neighbors.

Then I read the 2011 Banting Lecture, given at that year’s American Diabetes Association’s Annual Scientific Sessions by that year’s Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement Award winner, Barbara E. Corkey, PhD, of Boston University’s School of Medicine, where she is the vice chair for research at the school’s Obesity Research Center.

In the lecture, she discussed the possibility that processed foods may be the culprit for the increase in cases of diabetes around the world. In a blog entry posted on April 3, 2012, I wrote:

“Our foods have changed; living conditions, activity levels, the air we breathe have all changed: So where,” she asks, “can we start looking for culprits?”

“The worldwide expansion of metabolic diseases across all age-groups decreases the likelihood that our air or unique living conditions are the main culprits,” she says.

Neither will laying the blame on too little activity.

“The difference in activity levels among boys and girls, old and young, a farmer and an office worker make it unlikely that decreased activity, though detrimental, can be the only main explanation,” she says.

“However,” she added, “food is now universally shared across the globe, particularly processed food.”

Corkey says food additives have not historically been evaluated for their effects on diabetes and obesity. She’s tested some and others have tested some, but it’s a long row to hoe, with more than 4,000 new agents having been added to our foods.

And now comes what some are derisively calling the “Monsanto Protection Act,” signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 26, 2013, as part of a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown on March 27.

So this thing that says genetically modified seeds that have been approved by the US Department of Agriculture but challenged by a court ruling can be grown until the USDA says otherwise kind of gets slipped into a government funding bill.

Good ol’ government. Here to help us.

So now I garden for taste AND for health. Even if bioengineered seeds and food additives aren’t the problem, gardening at least gets you outside and moving around, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

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