The Garden, Veggies, and Ethics

August 7, 2009

How do you know when you harm yourself or others? How do you balance costs and benefits?

In the summer we buy veggies at the grocery, find them at farmers' markets, receive them from friends, and grow them in the backyard.

Fresh food looks and smells better. The reds, dark greens, and pale blues awaken ancestral memories. The aromas activate glandular responses.

But where do these wonderful tastes originate? Should we trust others or the marketplace?

How does the joy of growing and giving fresh vegetables weigh against potential soil hazards? You don't know the roots under a farmers' market or a colleague's produce.

Central Pennsylvania Amish live simply and close to the earth, but, oops, they frequently use chemicals in their agriculture. In urban gardens, ground has usually gone through multiple uses.

Do you insist upon a soil test before accepting a friend's zucchini? When giving your beautiful tomatoes, do you include a disclaimer about the city's air pollution?

What are your criteria? How do they balance the joy and health associated with a garden? Does even a carrot require an ethical choice?

By William Vocke

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