Guest Post by Michelle Mather
This year, for the first
time in the 13 years we've been living here, we actually had a crop of
strawberries from our own garden! We've been trying to grow strawberries
for years. We would buy a bunch of plants, prepare the soil, plant them
and dream about the delicious strawberries that we would be enjoying in
a year or two.
Inevitably though we would get busy with other
things and the strawberry patch would be neglected. The weeds would take
over and we would forget to water and our strawberry plants would
wither away before ever producing any fruit. It was frustrating and no
matter how often we planted new plants and committed to look after them,
time after time we ended up with dead strawberry plants.
last couple of years Cam replanted our berry patch and enlisted my help
to keep an eye on them. We both dutifully weeded and watered as
necessary and Cam put down a thick layer of straw to help keep the weeds
down. This year we enjoyed quart after quart of delicious strawberries
and we have a renewed sense of commitment to continue to nurture our
the end of the strawberry season, when our patch was no longer
producing, I happened to be in our local grocery store and noticed that
they were selling local strawberries. They were also selling
strawberries from somewhere in the U.S. for less than half the price of
the local ones! Needless to say the local ones looked and smelled so
much better that I gladly paid $4.50/quart and bought two quarts.
woman standing next to me was also looking at the strawberries. She
said "Isn't it horrible what they are selling these local berries for?
I turned to her and asked "Have you ever grown
strawberries?" She said "No" and so I assured her that I had been trying
to grow my own for years and so I had a good idea of just how much work
is involved with growing them and that I was thrilled to be able to buy
some, at any price! She didn't respond but just hurried away and
probably assumed that I was the local crackpot!
I think too many
of us are so removed from the origins of our food that we just don't
have a clue how lucky we are to eat as well as we do! Until you have
spent some time planting and weeding and watering and protecting your
crop from bugs and wildlife, you will never know just how much time and
effort and hard work goes into producing food.
Last Saturday Cam
and I set up a stand in our local town to sell our excess produce. We
always grow way too much and we've always just given it away to friends
and neighbours. This year we decided to sell our excess. We enjoy
growing food and it will be nice to earn something in return for our
hard work. But as I stood in my pea patch, rubbing my aching back, I was
thinking about what price I would be able to get for my peas and
realizing just how undervalued food is. If we kept track of the time
spent growing our various crops and then factor in the time spent
harvesting, packaging and selling them, I am sure we would be appalled
at the abysmal return on our investment. Luckily we aren't in it for the
money and gardening has always been something that we both just enjoy
The other thing that amazes me is how little of our
disposable income we spend on food here in North America, especially
compared to other countries. There's a great chart here;
that compares the percent of household income spent on food consumed at home, by various countries in 2006.
spend roughly 6-7% of their disposable income on food. Canadians spend a
bit more - roughly 9%. At the bottom of the chart you'll find countries
like Pakistan where people spend almost 46% of their income on food!
What a huge discrepancy!
Too often I overhear people at grocery stores grumbling about the price of food. I don't think we know how lucky we are!
Photo by Michelle Mather.
For more information about Cam Mather or his books please visit www.cammather.com or www.aztext.com