Post-Petroleum Gardening

I came across a great book that's had me thinking a lot about why we garden. In my case, I don't garden because I have to. I do it because it's rather magical -- and much cheaper than therapy. But considering the impending peak oil phenomenon, gardening simply for the sake of gardening really is something of a luxury. Someday -- maybe someday soon -- growing a lot of our own food may well be a necessity.

Sound scary? I think returning to a local food supply model would actually be very empowering. In The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times, author Albert Bates asks us to “Consider the oil we eat” and really think about the distance our food must travel by train, truck, or plane before it hits our plates and our pallets. As the cost of oil goes up, so will food costs. (I don't know about you, but I've already noticed prices for fresh and canned produce at my local grocery store creeping up.) Still, grow your own food, and you need not be beholden to Big Agriculture or Big Oil.

While I usually just grow several types of heirloom tomatoes, basil, lettuce, sugar snap peas, and loads of black raspberries, this year I've been experimenting with storage onions and potatoes, too. So, instead of eating everything I grow right away, I'll cure and save some veggies long-term so that I can enjoy them during fall and winter. In addition to a very solid organic gardening chapter, Bates also offers a food storage section which will come in handy as I try my hand at canning and freezing.

Not that avid gardeners need any extra motivation to go digging in the dirt, but, aside from reducing our petroleum dependence, turns out there are several other great reasons for growing our own food -- including stimulating local economies and enjoying a greater variety of produce. And, because fruits and veggies begin to lose their nutritional value as soon as they've been picked, reducing your food's travel time will also ultimately translate to increased vitamins and minerals for you.