When I started farming in the 1990s, the local food system resurgence was just beginning. One of the first resources I found enlightening and inspiring was Gary Paul Nabhan’s book Coming Home to Eat. His message of the culture of local food as opposed to shopping the global marketplace was vividly illustrated when he visited his grandparents homeland in Lebanon. Then, he chose to only eat local in his desert Southwest home. The local food system has grown and expanded in myriad ways the past 25 years, from people choosing to experiment eating within a certain distance as Nabhan did, to being intentional about our food choices in less restrictive ways. This movement was reinforced when COVID arrived. Disruptions in transportation and labor were less of a problem when eating close to home. Fires and drought that are currently stressing food-growing areas in the West can potentially affect future food production from those distant places that many of us are dependent on in the winters. How can we sustain ourselves better locally? Besides cultivating my own garden, I love to support my local farmers and producers in my area whenever I can. Read this book for inspiration.
Beyond farmers and gardeners, there are other important elements that get food on our table. Another step we can take is to support the beneficial insects and animals that are instrumental for food production. The lawns we tend and exotic plants we often select for our yards do not necessarily feed this army of helpers. Douglas Tallamy guides us to care for them in his book Nature’s Best Hope. Any amount of change we can make to provide native sources of food for them can make a difference, especially if we all take part. I’ve started planting native species in my flower beds and garden—a buffet for that community of helpers. Read what might work for you.
Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braiding Sweetgrass lovingly invites us to give back to the Earth, to connect to and be in relation to all living things. They are our caretakers, healers, teachers and guides. We must honor, protect, and give back to Nature so that she can continue to give to us, coming full circle in our lives. Earth feeds us individually and collectively, physically and spiritually. This favorite book will open your hearts and minds to see our food, plants, animals and the Earth as living examples of the John Muir quote, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I could read this book over and over, it nourishes me so.