I garden mainly because dinner is very important to me. It has to taste great and be life-affirming. And if you want either one, a vegetable garden is the way to go.
At various points in my life, my nearest and dearest have been unsettled to discover how serious I am about the evening meal. When my husband and I were first married, he couldn't believe that I didn't consider a sandwich an adequate dinner when it was his turn to cook. He was sincerely shocked at the degree of poutiness that resulted when there was no hot meal in the offing or he tried to use paper napkins instead of cloth. Twenty-three years later, he's mostly in my camp, though not yet on the cloth napkin front.
Here, in this wonderful five year-old Discover piece about the blubber- and meat-rich Inuit diet, a woman named Patricia Cochran offers the best explanation I've ever read about why dinner is important, particularly if you are deeply involved in the production process. Cochran, an Inupiat from Northwestern Alaska, works for a group that
supports research on the impact of environmental issues like global warming on native cultures. She says:
In our culture,the connectivity between humans, animals, plants,
the land they live on, and the air they share is ingrained in us from
You truthfully can’t separate the way we get our
food from the way we live. How we get our food is intrinsic
to our culture. It’s how we pass on our values and knowledge to the
young. When you go out with your aunts and uncles to hunt or to gather,
you learn to smell the air, watch the wind, understand the way the ice
moves, know the land. You get to know where to pick which plant and
what animal to take.
It’s part, too, of your development
as a person. You share food with your community. You show respect to
your elders by offering them the first catch. You give thanks to the
animal that gave up its life for your sustenance. So you get all the
physical activity of harvesting your own food, all the social activity
of sharing and preparing it, and all the spiritual aspects as well. You certainly don’t get all that, do you, when you buy
prepackaged food from a store.
That’s why some of us here in
Anchorage are working to protect what’s ours, so that others can
continue to live back home in the villages. Because if we
don’t take care of our food, it won’t be there for us in the future.
And if we lose our foods, we lose who we are.