The Health Care Plan Promotes A Modern Garden Health Initiative


Here's a guest rant from Shawna Coronado that was originally intended for our guest rant period, but wasn't controversial enough.

June Front Garden

Stop whining about Obama’s Health Care Plan. Seriously. Even
after the plan has been passed, I hear nothing but complaints about how no one
believes in changing what we have. However, I see very little people actually
going out and reading the plan directly to understand what it means (go here to
see more about it—PLAN).

My point? There’s an obvious connection between the new
national health care plan and gardening. While the new plan is not a quick
solution, the new plan initiative is encouraging the practice of preventative
care instead of spending more to address health issues after they've occurred. We could
introduce gardening as an amazing cure; we could be solving a lot of our health
problems on our own instead of expecting a pill to solve our
personal health concerns.

Gardening is good for you and here’s how it works for your

Garden more, get higher brain chemical and endorphin
generation, get less depressed.

Garden more, get chemical-free vegetables, get a healthier
body with less chemical exposures.

Garden more, get more aerobic exercise, reduce diabetes and
heart disease factors.

While some pharmaceutical solutions are necessary, the U.S.
consumes more anti-depressants than any other nation in the world. What a clear
statement on where our society is right now. We must change our habits, take
responsibility and maintain our health ourselves. If we Americans more actively
gardened, the above three garden-health-action-items items would be the
beginning of a health transition which would rock the world with its impact.

Many in corporate America are against the new health plan.
Why? In my opinion, because people who learn how to maintain their health
understand that using less chemicals on our foods, being more physically
active, and having our own locally grown garden network is a lifestyle choice
that can change our lives and corporate America’s bottom line. Imagine if
everyone in America felt that way? We would spend less money on what megabusiness is making big money on—corn syrup and chemicals in our foods. I mean,
c’mon—do we REALLY need freakin’ sorbitol in our chewing gum?

In a world that promotes and rewards a healthier lifestyle,
there would be more home gardening. With more home-grown organic
gardens there would be less need for as many pesticides or chemical fertilizers
because we gardeners could make a choice to use these things only when it was absolutely
necessary thereby reducing chemical exposure and improving health.

I want to know why this plan has received such resistance when it
is introducing more affordable health care for the average American and also
introduces the idea of preventative care as a major part of how all we
Americans should live. Gardens and community support are part of the answer,
but could we be incorporating even more into our local initiatives and the
national health plan to encourage gardening? For example, farmers are getting
major government incentives for following positive practices. We gardening
Americans should too as part of this new health program—like rewards and tax
rebates for growing our own organic food.

See the photo above? That is only one of the many
gardens I tend which help me stay healthier. I am a gardener. I am ripping up
grass and planting gardens for my health and the health of the community, and I wish everyone would get out there
and make a difference to help humanity stay healthy.

Previous articleOrganic Pest Control Company Says to Media: Don’t Bug Me.
Next articleWhy It’s Crazy Not to Garden
Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. content – amen, sister.

    process – while i’m all swurvycurlycurvy when it comes to molding new flower/shrub beds where lawn once stood, for some reason i get all geometric-like when it comes to my veggie plot. the way you’ve laid out this veggie-oasis gives me a bushel and a peck worth of inspiration and hope! beautifully done and quite charming.

    thank you on both counts!

  2. content – amen, sister.

    process – while i’m all swurvycurlycurvy when it comes to molding new flower/shrub beds where lawn once stood, for some reason i get all geometric-like when it comes to my veggie plot. the way you’ve laid out this veggie-oasis gives me a bushel and a peck worth of inspiration and hope! beautifully done and quite charming.

    thank you on both counts!

  3. Obama’s healthcare plan has aroused fear in the hearts of those that have decent health care plans. They feel their plan will be jeprodized. Whether that is true or not….change is scary.

  4. Therapy with HORTICULTURE is the most pragmatic, cost effective for mentally or physically disturbed beings.

    Alzheimer comes to mind. There is no better therapy for people suffering from this disease.

    However, in PUERCORICO USA, NO ONE offers this modality. WHY? To avoid getting their hands dirty with soil. I see no other explanation.

  5. And don’t forget the importance of Vitamin D from sunshine, and the benefits of fresh air, and… I could go on and on.

  6. Thank you. I read today that the country is still about evenly divided as to whether it is a good law. I am on the side of the positives, as I was able to get insurance for the first time in over 10 years, my provider having canceled me as quickly as legally (?) possible. I am paying for my new insurance, approximately $500/month, which makes things tight, but I feel a relief I haven’t had in so long. Now, I can go work in my garden with more ease, when I’m not out praising Obamacare.

  7. Not controversial enough. heh heh.

    Good rant! And as someone who pays for her own health insurance, all I want is a provision that keeps insurance companies from dropping my coverage when I get sick. Seems fair enough. Now I’ve got it.

    and yeah, every time I think I need a gym membership, I think, “Or I could just go work in the garden for 45 minutes a day.” WAY better use of my time!

  8. While Obama was getting vastly needed changes to health care going, his wife Michelle can be given a nod for putting veggie gardens in front of the people as a way to increase healthful eating, and exercise. I would say that’s moving in the right direction. It’s clearly going to take time in this country for both healthcare reform and food reform.

    Here’s an interesting site with more food and garden info from the White House:
    There’s a lot of info here not directly related to home gardens, but you can see the Obamas are taking the health, food and gardening connections seriously!

  9. Thanks for all your good words on the veggie garden design and, of course, its existence in my front lawn.

    Not controversial enough, eh? LOL! Listen – as the writer of this rant I should share with you that my family pays $1200 per month on insurance, plus deductibles, all the pharmaceuticals and more and more and more. It’s ridiculous. And then we found out our current insurance was going up 57% because my daughter had an emergency appendectomy last year. 57 freakin’ percent – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!

    We need a new plan that sticks. We also need more people to get out into their lawns and gardens for health and therapeutic benefits.

    We need change. I hope we find positive change.

    Thanks again for all your nice comments!


  10. Shawna – THANK YOU! I couldn’t agree more, particularly with the benefits of gardening, being outside, eating the fruits of your labor, etc. Additionally, I work in the healthcare field and see how difficult it is for really sick people unable to afford decent coverage. Keep up the good rant, controversial enough or not!

  11. You touched on many of the issues dear to our hearts. The one that pains me most is that corporate America has so much invested in keeping us unhealthy. Also this morning in GR I read the post on ‘organic pest control company says…’ and from there followed a link to an article in Countryside Magazine about the very few corporations controlling seed stock, and how much diversity is being lost. Deep sigh.

  12. We’re all screwed. America is a lost cause. The empire is over. Long live the empire. Our federal government has not and will not do enough on many, too many fronts. We are a weak nation led by even weaker government. That’s reality. Enjoy the ride in the handbasket while it lasts. I’m chewing my toxic gum and gardening at the same time.

  13. Oh for pete’s sakes – you hippy ’70’s freaks are all about making every garden save the world. Who cares if we use chemicals in our lawns or it gets in our foods – we’ve all been fine so far with it – I can’t see that it’s hurting anyone.

    And quite frankly, I want the right to choose which doctors my family goes to and don’t really care about “preventative care” because in the U.S. I have the right to be obese, I have the right to swear at the government, and I have the right to be a dumb ass if I want to and not exercise. My choice. And you’re telling me that the government should interefere with corporate america and the choices I have privilege to. It’s the American Way to have corporations control this and not the government. I don’t want government controlling my medical concerns.

    And it takes a lot of work to maintain gardens. A LOT OF WORK. The current medical system has been fine and will get me by until I die… I’m not worried. And a garden is not the cure for better health. Using modern medicine is.

  14. “Say No” – – Dumb ass is right. If you become elderly, retire from your career, and cannot afford the health care system you are clinging to, what will happen to you?

    Some day you will be elderly and you will see it differently. Hard work is good for the soul. I know many elderly who are hurting physically because they did not continue working hard in the garden (and in other areas as well)through out their lives and are now having extreme health issues.

    Hard work keeps us young.

    Finding a solution so elderly, infants, children, and all of us can get accessible and affordable health care seems like common sense.

    Once again – a garden is a great way to keep physically active and build the basic foundation for a good health routine – it is the beginning of mine and I hope it will help me throughout my life into my elderly years.


  15. In the whole health care debate, I’ve been shocked by how many people stand up to say “I got mine ! Don’t make me help anybody else.” How can you stand in front of those who have no health coverage & tell them bold-faced that they can go rot ?

    I sure hope SayNo was tongue-in-cheek, but it doesn’t read like it (again, we need html tags denoting ‘sarcasm’). The modern system may get him/her by ’til he/she dies, sure. With SayNo’s attitude it won’t be too long either.

    I feel the need to go turn some compost & work off some steam after reading that …

  16. Thank you Laura!! I do too!!

    I was upset by “SayNo’s” comments. Caring for others is something that’s gone missing from the American culture. Yet there are very few gardeners who do not share, give, and donate their produce, time, and love to others.

    Quite frankly, it’s one of the things that has truly changed my life forever for the positive – – being able to touch community is healing for sure.

    Thank you for your comment Laura!


  17. Amen!! I don’t understand why so many Americans have the fear that anything that will help someone will take away from them. (Well, I do understand: I think it is a very effective tactic.) I totally agree with this rant!

  18. Oh yeah, who cares if we use chemicals, we’ve all been fine so far… you have no idea what the global impact of lawn and crop chemicals is, has been or will be. Do you think the increased incidence of cancer, autism, Parkinson’s and countless other diseases is just a coincidence? Everything catches up to you, eventually.

  19. To Antiganum….About gardening as a theraputic mode of treatment…Im all for it 100% , used to use it as much as I could, but when your hands are tied by insurance companies on how and where and under what conditions you can provide mental health treatment treatment, it limits the times in the garden..As a retired mental health therapist, what frustrates me is the lack of people who are aware of this and who dont confront health insurance companies on this…Confronting healthcare providers whose hands are tied really doesnt get to the heart pf the problem for change….We dont like the system any more than you do but are forced to work in it or else be fired, This happens , in part, because not enough of the public speaks out against the insurance system that curtails what kinds of theraputic endeavors can be “reimbursed”.

  20. Jeff…You really arnt choosing your healthcare provider or your treatment…All of that is decided by the health insurance companies who open adn shut provider panels and decide what kinds of treatment will be reimbursed and therefore implemented…Switching to another insurance doesnt resolve that either because they all do the same marketing strategies of bait and switch to reel you in to make you think you are getting something good…..Then you see they just fooled you and switch to another insurance…leapfrogging from one insurance company to another and getting nowhere….Been there saw that for many years with my clients…The insane fact of it is it takes much more money to subsidize an insurance company than any govt. program…And insurance companies are unmonitored unlike govt programs, who can lose their funding if they dont do what they say they will do…So insurances can waste more of your money unchecked by anyone.

  21. Gardening is the only health insurance I have had for my entire adult life. It is all one can afford as a peasant gardener. Sadly, I have crossed the threshold of gardening’s efficacy as a preventative health tonic and moved into gardening as a causative agent of questionable symptoms.

    But gardening is still the only health insurance I can have on the income of a peasant gardener. My profession often gets no respect and is compensated accordingly.

    Barring pain strong enough to overcome my unwillingness to go further into debt or a life threatening emergency, I do not get medical care. That’s right. I do not get medical care. And I am of a certain age when I think, I sure hope that’s not cancer.

    While the recent meager health insurance reforms are a step in the right direction and will be fully implemented they say in 2014, I don’t know what good it will do me as an even older peasant gardener. What is affordable health insurance for the poor?

    And to the party of Say No’s and friends who like to ease their conscience by calling poor people lazy, stupid or what have you and that they deserve their plight, you can kiss my scrawny gardening ass. I get more done in one day than most fat slob couch potato Americans do in month of Sundays.

  22. I appreciated especially the comment made by ‘thistleandthorn’; “corporate America has so much invested in keeping us unhealthy”.

    Agreed! So much so that it seems absurd to dignify these parasitic industries by such undeserved titles such as “Health Care Plan” or “Health” Insurance…of any kind. There is relatively little profit to be had in promoting health as compared to the enormous windfalls that continue to be generated by promoting and managing disease. Let’s start by calling these by their more accurate names; Obama’s Disease Management Plan, and Disease Insurance.

    Sounds awful doesn’t it?

    And that’s the point….

    From our infancy, our parents were besieged with corporate advertising touting the virtues of manufactured shit purporting to be “food”. Our nutritionally bankrupt school lunches were also the product of successful corporate lobbying, and one really had to wonder where school “dieticians” or “nutritionists” received their professional credentials…from a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks or Frosted Flakes??

    In the military, there was also an appalling lack of basic nutrition as evidenced by the empty carbohydrate/high saturated fat/sugared slop routinely served to us in ‘mess halls’, which is especially ironic considering the old adage that “an army marches on its stomach”. Rightly are military cafeterias so called…

    Not to worry though…our benevolent corporate saviors were faithfully there to catch us when we started to finally succumb to a lifetime of practicing a corrupt western diet. They had the perfect solution for a culture where the overwhelming ailments were “lifestyle diseases”. DISEASE INSURANCE…for a price of course.

    And being the adroit corporate marketers they were, they disguised their product to a willfully complicit clientele who seemed more than willing to believe that they were purchasing “healthcare” instead of facing the much more unpalatable truth…they had abdicated personal responsibility for “healthcare”, and were now faced with the only other viable solution as they saw it…institutionalized disease management vis a vis patented & generic pharmaceuticals, surgeries, and other various and often dangerous allopathic remedies, which were all made available for an increasingly expensive price…$1200/month in Shawna’s case with a 57% premium increase when a child’s appendix became inflamed. Hey…a corporation’s gotta make a profit. Think of all the widow & orphan shareholders who count on this money…

    This is not meant to construed as a suggestion of any corporate conspiracies, nor is it intended as a defense of abrogating personal responsibility when it comes to lifestyle choices…it’s simply how things are when corporate profits are the overriding factor. There is much more money to be made in promoting and encouraging a disease-promoting lifestyle and then selling the “cure” on the backside than there is in selling true healthcare. Can you say “Chicken McNuggets” and Cialis?? Can an organically-grown tomato run with these big dogs?? Hardly…

    Free market, profit-driven anarchy is not always the best solution to every social problem, the current Tea Party lunacy & FOX News’ corporate pimps’ blatherings notwithstanding…While Obamacare represents a nauseating compromise with the necrotic stench of Big Disease Industry infusing it throughout, it is at least a small step in a better and more compassionate direction…

    Real HEALTHCARE includes, but is in no way limited to;

    a) Acquiring a true knowledge of the difference between healthcare and disease management masquerading as ‘healthcare’

    b) Adopting healthy lifestyle choices

    Foremost among healthy lifestyle choices, and certainly the most relevant to this blog would be gardening…especially environmentally sustainable gardening accomplished with as few harmful fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides as possible…preferably none… Eating fresh, organically-grown fruits and vegetables in as natural and live a state as possible is certainly one of the most valuable benefits which accrues from home gardening, but an equally important benefit is the inestimable value one gets from the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of gardening. Physical labor is one of the best premiums one can pay toward personal healthcare insurance, and there are few things outside of being a parent which can compare to lovingly improving and cultivating a rich soil in order to coax beautiful life from out of the dirt…whether it’s in the form of a perfect heirloom tomato, a bumper crop of magnificent open-pollinated red bell peppers, or a perfect hybrid waterlily or lotus rising from the mud below the surface of a placid pond. These examples simply reflect a personal bias…

    Real men love to play in the dirt!

    And last but not least…sticking it to the man online with the opportunity to RANT is soooo cathartic and FUN!

    Keep up the good work, Shawna!

  23. Shawna, you make several salient points. But perhaps the most important (to me) is taking responsibility. While I think the health plan is a good idea, it barely scratches the surface. Too many people have abdicated responsibility. They feel they they can make poor health life choices and the government will take care of them. This country was not founded on a strong federal government, rather on personal responsibility. Heck, we tossed out the British because they had their hand in too many decisions.

    Gardening is a positive for the reasons you mentioned. The most important IMHO, is the connection between what we do and the outcomes. It is only in the last few hundred years that big farms took the individual out of the equation of food production. Folks, for more time than not tomatoes didn’t magically appear shrink wrapped on a Styrofoam tray after spending a Roundup resistant life on a corporate farm.

    There is tremendous power in knowing where your food is sourced, and if came from your yard, with no added chemicals, then I have to believe it is better than a hothouse fruit out of season. Growing it yourself, you dug, sweat, and nurtured. All these are GOOD for you! Get out and move, breathe the fresh air, get a flush on your face, and dirt under your nails.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to the advances of modern medicine, but if we moved more, grew more, I truly believe we would need them less.

    Keep Digging and Eat Well!

  24. Thank you everyone, but Christopher, I want to hug you especially. I understand your pain and frustration over not having the ability to pay for medical insurance. When my oldest daughter was a little girl I went through a rough patch in my life where I couldn’t afford food, didn’t have a garden, and certainly didn’t know where I was going to turn next. I worked hard to find a solution and eventually things looked up. But at the time I felt like you do now – concerned that maybe I wouldn’t make it through.

    I solved immediate problems, but never have solved the larger mystery of national medical care.

    Also, I was very ill at that time, so if it weren’t for my eventually learning about being out in nature and living a greener, better way to take care of myself, I don’t know how I would have made it. Gardening is a big part of that positive change.

    Ultimately, I guess I dream of more people working together to help each other solve these problems – both personal and national.

    Maybe we’ll figure out a better way if we’re working together instead of being clobbered over the head and controlled by the big pharma companies.

    Thanks for everyone’s comments!!


  25. Also – the last comment says it’s signed by Steve Stroupe and not me – that’s because Steve wasn’t able to post his earlier comment on the page as he kept getting an error and I posted it for him on his behalf.

    You all can go to my Facebook page and confirm this – – he stated how he couldn’t post it and then needed my help and I said I’d post it for him.

    I forgot to change my signature back to Shawna for the post I just finished – so I apologize if I confused anyone.


  26. I’m in the “wait and see” community. I supported the health care initiative but then hear the nay-sayers tear it to bits and am left wondering who is right.

    I do know the health system is BADLY broken. A year ago I cut the bottom of my foot on metal out in the garden on a Sunday evening at 7 pm. There was no minor emergency clinic open (I called around), and I had absolutely no choice but to go to the hospital emergency room.

    Three stitches and one tetanus shot cost $3,000. Can you believe that? My jaw dropped when I saw what my insurance was charged, and this was supposed to be at a reduced cost.

    As to the idea of gardening as medicine, yes, I think there’s a lot to be said for gardening as a preventative for depression and a great form of exercise. I’d be as big as a house without it.

  27. Everyone considers a duty to sing about gardening virtues. However, it is not for the lame, one has to be in good shape, particularly

    Diseases, virus, bacteria in plants require research to diagnose, cure without pollution.

    Horticultural therapy has
    great advantages but only a
    few practice this modality.

    In brief, stop painting gardening as if going to the grocery store. It requires commitment, energy, time, intelligence and effort.

  28. Rip up the grass have less lawn for the kids to play on….get unhealthier

    Rip up the lawn: Have more tainted stormwater enter the rivers and streams, get unhealthier
    Rip up the lawns: Have less O2 produced per acre, less carbon stored in the ground less cooling effect: Get unhealthier and maybe actually cuase GLOBAL WARMING.

    Rip up the lawns: More dogs crapping on the sidewalk, more disease, get unhealthier

    Rip up the lawns: more college kids congregating indoors, or bars instead of the great lawn on campus: get unhealthier

    Rip up the lawns: less room for grass hoppers and others: get unhealthier

    The TROLL

  29. Wish you had done MORE research. Perhaps you’ve hurt the cause you’re promoting?

    All that EXERCISE gardening requires? Turns many people off.

    A Scottish study reported people living the longest had 1 thing in common, visual access, from their home, to nature. Not working in nature. This factoid remained across income/sex/race.


    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  30. Thank you for the wonderful article. As more and more mass-produced foods are found to be seriously contaminated (seems like almost on a daily basis these days), maybe we’ll wake up.

    As for gardening exercise compared to the gym–no contest. Fresh air! Birdsong, butterflies! Doing something that creates something beautiful or edible! Learning about NATURE. Not having to watch your fellow man run like a rat on a treadmill. Priceless!

  31. I think most people disagree with the health care plan because they don’t know enough about it. Like mandatory coverage — what about people who are broke and unemployed? Who decides how much they must pay?
    But I agree that gardening can help keep you mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy. It keeps me sane, allows me to grow muscle and groceries, and gives me a quiet place to contemplate the nature of things bigger than me.

  32. “Say No” is clearly ignorant to anything that does not directly affect him/her.

    “Who cares if we use chemicals in our lawns or it gets in our foods – we’ve all been fine so far with it – I can’t see that it’s hurting anyone.”

    Let me tell you who is hurt by this. I have a nephew and niece with Wilson disease, which causes excessive absorption of copper. Growers use copper sulfate to treat fruits and vegetables, which directly affects their health. Although they really aren’t sure of the long-term affects of copper sulfate, they just know it isn’t good. How promising. My pediatrician warned me that if I get my son tested for this disease he could be denied coverage due to a preexisting condition. Thanks to the new health care law, my son can’t be denied coverage due to a preexisting condition. We have been paying for his tests with an independent lab ourselves in order to avoid insurance companies for this very reason. And yes, we have one big-ass garden, fruit trees and hens- all without chemicals.

  33. Antigonum and Tara –

    I disagree with both of you. According to the Arhritis Foundation website, ( “Regular, moderate exercise offers a whole host of benefits to people with arthritis. Mainly, exercise reduces joint pain and stiffness, builds strong muscle around the joints, and increases flexibility and endurance. It reduces inflammation from arthritis and related conditions and reduces the risk of other chronic conditions. It also helps promote overall health and fitness by giving you more energy, helping you sleep better, controlling your weight, decreasing depression, and giving you more self-esteem. Furthermore, exercise can help stave off other health problems such as osteoporosis and heart disease.”

    You can read hundreds of sites with doctor-backed research online that state the very same thing.

    I do, however, feel that Tara’s statement about exposure to nature is also true and is a contribution to improved health. Proof of this are the studies done by the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory which focused on views of nature outside the windows in the slums in Chicago. The researchers were amazed at the positive reaction to landscaping. Here’s a link to their studies –


  34. TROLL –

    Please – you can’t be serious!?!?!

    If you’re ripping up a lawn, you’re replacing it with something else, not leaving it desolate so the winds can blow the soil away like the great Dust Bowl.

    I’ve replaced mine with vegetable garden which I use to feed my family and the hungry in my community. I couldn’t feed the hungry if I’d just planted grass.

    Behind my home I have built a community garden for my neighborhood so that people can walk by and enjoy it and receive therapeutic benefits.

    They wouldn’t be doing that if it were just grass.


  35. Damn, I ought to be slim and trim since I garden by hand. Must be what I am doing with the garden goodies. All those BLT’s. And Raspberry Pies. And Strawberry Jam.

    All the spading and knealing and pruning and taking up sod and moving stone and so on and so on has nothing to do with my aches and pains.

    Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  36. I already commented to say that this is the most beautiful front yard garden i’ve seen, and more like this will do a lot to convince people to rip out an unused lawn.

    On the health front, I just had surgery a week ago for a gardening injury. I’m calling it an extreme gardening injury to make it sound a little less lame 🙂

    The cost for all the medical care is just incredible to me. Our system here needs massive reform, there’s no question to me about it. There’s also no question to me that despite my injury, there are only benefits to growing healthy veggies yourself at home. If you’re getting loads of exercise and eating very healthy, chemical-free foods already, then I guess it’s not as important, but I don’t think that describes most people.

  37. Laura – you said it sister! LOL!

    And Raffi – I’m so glad you left your note – we in the U.S. are predominantly eating chemical filled foods if we are shopping in the traditional non-organic arena. Most boxed and canned items are filled with so many additives it’s like reading a medical dictionary or something just to get through the label.

    My thought – – is this all really necessary? As the author of this post I have to tell you that I do grow my own veggies and try my darnedest to eat chemical free and exercise a lot, but I am not perfect. It is a challenge to afford chemical free foods during the off-garden season because they cost so much. And it is a challenge to find time to exercise when you work 15 hour days trying to support your family.

    I guess, in the end, life is simply challenging, isn’t it? I do the very best I can even though I’m not perfect, and think it starts with reforming our mindset about what is or is NOT healthy, then working together to help each other take healthier steps.

    I’ve noticed over the years that gardeners tend to help one another. I love that about this amazing group of people right here on Garden Rant. Frankly, I think we all need all the help we can get.

    Thanks for all your comments!


  38. Well, 6 months after passage and signing into law the health care bill, did anyone notice that the World as We Know it did NOT end?

    In fact some seniors got checks in the mail, some young twentysomethings get to have insurance with their families of origin in the worst job market in 25 years, and some lives have in fact been saved by this law.

    Thanks for pointing out the inherently conservative nature of being responsible for your own family’s conscious consumption – whether you grew it yourself or just rejected anything on a label you couldn’t read… because the type was too small, the list too long, and the chemical additive names unpronounceable.

    Here in VA our dear attorney general aka “KookyNelly” blocked some aspects of the federal law from taking effect. One hopes rationality will finally occur in our Commonwealth -or perhaps envy- as people in other states begin to breathe a sigh of relief.

    For all the gardeners and small business people who have lived with the stress of no insurance, or of having to fork over more money to an insurance mono/duopoly in your state than you make in a year to be ‘covered’, and for all those who have had the private insurance industry play God or ‘death panel’ by deciding to terminate coverage, rescind coverage, or simply torture you with repeated denials for claims for this and that…

    here’s hoping that less stress will lead to lower costs and better outcomes for you and for our community….our national, irrational community!

    And, for all the seniors who watch too much Fox all day long and got scared witless, could you have the good grace to stand up and say THANK YOU out loud, for your ‘donut-hole-filler’ check you just got in the mail?!

  39. I don’t believe there has been any true debate among Americans (outside of government) over the health care plan. People didn’t oppose it or support it because of what’s in it. For the most part, they have no idea what’s in the plan.

    People support the plan or oppose it because they drank the cool aide of their political parties or the talk show hosts who made the most noise.

    When right wing radio started telling us the plan was bad, more and more people started believing it might be bad. No one actually reviewed the plan. No one actually found out what’s in it.

    Now a “majority” of people are against the plan not because they object to its contents. Rather, they have heard so much rhetoric dissing the plan that they have come to feel that maybe the plan isn’t so good.

    On the other side, the left wing has made no effort to educate Americans on what’s in the plan. If the left had spent just half the money promoting the plan that the right spent slandering it, chances are the health plan would have quite a bit more support than it does.

    So, we have massive failure from both sides of the aisle: On one side, a bunch of folks serving big industry simply by bashing the health care plan by distributing lies without context and without meaningful information. On the other side, a bunch of folks who are so certain they’re doing the right thing that they don’t even have to explain what they’re doing and provide context for us to understand and appreciate it.

    I’m ready for a third party to emerge. It scares me that the Tea Baggers may be that party.

    Fortunately, I garden, so I have a healthy way to de-stress from the fraud we’re fed by our politicians and corporations.

  40. I take exception to ‘no one actually reviewed the plan’. In fact I read the substantial drafts that came along and finally, the white house plan that broke the deadlock and got something done. With internet use and transparency by the administration it’s amazingly simple to find and read the drafts.

    Call me a policy wonk, but there was, and is, real money and real health at stake here – for me, my family and for many in our landscape industry. I watched some pundits, @Newshour, CSPAN, but most of all, I READ.

    Fitness of mind and body is at stake here; there’s plenty of flab in both, it appears.

    As the inscription said on the statue in ‘Animal House’: “KNOWLEDGE IS GOOD.”

  41. >I want to know why this plan has received such resistance

    Because there WAS no lack of affordable health care before. There was Medicaid for the truly needy and very cheap catastrophic coverage for the same price as all the people who “can’t afford” insurance are already paying for their cable, never mind their cellphone data plans. (Yes, for less than $130 a month, I can be insured against a major need.)

    Because the plan is funded by eviscerating Medicare, especially the private insurance options. The government made elderly people dependent, and now, they’re throwing them away.

    Because Medicaid as it is doesn’t work, and most doctors see Medicaid patients out of the goodness of their hearts because the reimbursement is so low that after office expenses, many of them actually lose money.

    Because obesity is the biggest problem and can’t be successfully legislated against. Just ask Britain. The rest of the “preventative care”–that’s full of all the “unnecessary tests” that are cited as driving up health care already! If a test comes back negative, it is, by definition, unnecessary. So somehow, “unnecessary tests” are supposed to go away and “preventative care” is supposed to replace them, and lower prices?

    Because it’s already driven up costs for average Americans and is expected to drive them up further. My daughter’s ER visit (for stitches), all out regular check ups, and my son’s allergist visit all went up by $5-10 a shot as a result of this “cost savings.” And I’m far, far from the exception. Even Obama has changed his cost-savings rhetoric since the bill passed.

    I’m in an industry (as a novelist) FULL of selfish, thoughtless people who choose to drop their day job before they can “afford” to pay for health care. Then, as soon as something bad happens, they go around with a hat out, looking for handouts. The fact is that health insurance just wasn’t on their list of priorities until they got sick–not even the super-low-cost catastrophic insurance. They had the money for the car they wanted and the clothes they wanted and the restaurants they wanted, but they preferred to spend it at Starbucks instead of on Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s cheapest plan.

    I gave money to a friend who got worked over by her insurance company during Katrina. I won’t contribute to the I-quit-my-day-job-but-didn’t-think-I-needed-insurance hat-passings, however.

    Even then, the uninsured aren’t turned away at the hospital door. My grandmother was the only one in ICU at the regional hospital who had insurance when she was there for complications from pneumonia. Nearly a dozen uninsured people were there, too, and a good fourth of them spoke only Spanish and so were almost certainly illegal immigrants. Even they were treated. Many of them survived. My grandmother didn’t, so you can’t tell me that they weren’t receiving the same standard of care.

    Health care is expensive because people want to fight death. Yes, the last few months are going the most expensive–they can hardly be less, because the need for medicine is greatest when someone might be dying. It’s cheap to take Tylenol; expensive to fight for someone’s life. But when we start deciding that some lives are to expensive to save–and I mean when we start mandating this, not when we give people the option of opting out of certain kinds of insurance because they don’t want to pay for it–then saving those lives never becomes cheaper. Most pediatric cancer patients died just 40 years ago. We “wasted” enormous amounts of money on thousands of dying children. But that money paid off as we discovered how to do more than prolong their lives a week, a few months, a year–we learned how to send most childhood cancers into remission for the rest of most kids’ lives. And it’s the same for every illness. Yes, we seem to throw away a lot of money on the dying, with only a small return. But the fact is that if we don’t spend lots of money on dying people now, their conditions will never become something we can cure. One day, our descendants will look back on our age with horror at the low level of medicine we were forced to live with–if we don’t mess it up now. There’s a reason the United States is making almost all the medical advances in the world now. We’re the only one putting the money into it anymore. Every other country has essentially opted out of medical researched and has decided that today’s medicines are, by and large, good enough.

    The ballooning health care costs aren’t a problem in and of themselves, in my opinion. It means that many people are so rich we can afford to devote more money to our health than ever before. I have no doubt that if the price of consumer goods and foods stays so incredibly low that we will end up, as a nation, devoting a full third of our income to our health care. Yes, there are areas in need of reform–we shouldn’t be “insured” for routine office visits, COBRA is a joke, the self-employed should have the same protections as the traditionally employed, tort reform is crucial, and insurance ought to be arranged to make comparison shopping for elective procedures attractive, and a few more things. But NONE of these things were addressed in the “health care reform.” Instead, many, many Americans were hurt by it. And if you think that a law will make people get off their rears and start eating right and working out–not until we have Chinese-style fascism will that be the case.

    There is no need for everyone to have the same health care. In fact, I am thrilled if some billionaire can spend 50 times what I can afford to keep from dying. Why? Because his usage makes the extreme and costly life-saving measures that much cheaper–if not for me, then for my kids and grandkids. We need to accept that it’s okay for people who choose to pay more to have more options. Medicine costs money. Really cutting-edge medicine usually costs a LOT of money. As it becomes routine, though, everyone benefits. We’re handing out to the homeless medicines that once cost a fortune to create. The trickle-down really does work in medicine just as it does in technology. But if we don’t allow for early adopters who pay a fortune, such things never become possible for the rest of us.

  42. Dear Gentle: Yes it is six months and the world as we know it did not go away that is because the first part just went into effect.

    So now the world as we know it is over…until we elect conservatives…..then the world

    Then the world will be over as we know it when they throw out the cons and put in the dems…..vicious cycle back and forth

    The TROLL

  43. Henny Penny, you seem to have a lot of resentment. It sounds like you have been very responsible in your choices and also in control of your situation, and assume that many around you aren’t so responsible, without considering that they may not always have been in control of their situation.

    I am a farmer and work 10-15 hour days, and because Americans don’t want to pay what it really costs to grow their food, I can’t afford medical insurance.

    Many uninsured in America ARE turned away in the emergency room, believe it or not. Really; even in the ambulance. Thank your lucky stars that your hospital doesn’t though, because that is how epidemics spread. I am sorry that your mother didn’t survive; not all outcomes are happy.

    I take exception to your assumption that in the emergency room, “a good fourth of them spoke only Spanish and so were almost certainly illegal immigrants.” This may be true; or it may not be true. Many of the people who work for me have difficulty speaking English, though they try, AND they are legal. Would you deny them care? In any case, you don’t know the truth about their legality. And, you really can’t compare their outcomes with your mother’s, since their health may have differed drastically.

    Also, America is not the only one making all the medicine advances out there now, sadly….and take a look at our statistics. I think you will find that we are sadly lacking when it comes to overall mortality rates and outcomes, and quality of care in general.

    Yes, research takes money (and time). My husband spent 25 years in medical research, and I know some of that cost comes from the cost of drugs, however most of it comes from private investment dollars, meaning wealthy people who have a personal interest in a specific cure. Do you think that it is in the best interests of our communities to allow private special interests to be solely in charge of what kinds of medical research gets funded? Better to have a democratic, studied meeting of minds to make such decisions.

    Meanwhile, we garden. I do believe that the garden is a common meeting place and interest for all people to meet, no matter their beliefs. The farmer’s market too….food is the common denominator!

  44. I want to add that home gardening is a luxury activity of the elite. It’s a frank waste of time and money compared to even a local farmer’s market as an economically foolish step by any rational economic measure.

    Take the time you spend gardening and apply it to any semi-skilled work, and you’d swiftly find how much more you can make doing practically anything else.

    Vegetable gardening only makes sense as a hobby. As a hobby, I really love it! But home-scale gardens are almost never economically rational.

    I garden because I enjoy it; I veggie garden because I like the taste better. Supermarket tomatoes are mealy and tasteless, true, but they are honestly only worse for me in the sense that I’d rather eat fewer of them than home-grown! The bonuses of vitamins and being pesticide free are, from every study, quite minimal, if they even exist at all. In fact, the natural pesticides of plants raised without artificial pesticides could, in many cases, be more dangerous to my health–however minimally.

    Don’t imbue veggie gardens with fake virtues and overblown powers. The feeling of good soil between your fingers is virtue enough.

  45. Henny Penny: You’ve got some bad information there. I’m a primary care physician and I work with insurance every day. In addition, I followed the health insurance reform debate pretty closely. I’ve even read the bill (which has got about as many words as a Harry Potter novel despite the triple spaced page count).

    No where in the bill is there anything that will allow the government to pick your docs. If, however, you currently belong to a PPO or an HMO, well, your insurance company is picking us for you.

    You are a decent person and you want to believe that “no one is turned away from the emergency room”. You are only partially right. ERs have to triage, stabilize, and deliver women in active labor. If you need chronic care, chemotherapy, elective surgery, casts for fractures, etc., though, you’re on your own. And absolutely none of it is free.

    People are uninsured for many reasons, but the majority of our uninsured citizens (that’s right — citizens!) are unable to get insurance. When my dad retired, my under-65 and perfectly healthy mom was unable to get insurance that covered her right leg because she had had a fracture from a bad fall (off a cliff!) and a second procedure to remove a pin. A friend’s physician mom was unable to get insurance that covered her colon because she had diverticulae noted on screening colonoscopy. Had she developed a completely unrelated colon cancer, it wouldn’t have been covered. A patient of mine — born and American citizen and employed full-time — lost her insurance when her employer stopped providing it. Since she had multiple myeloma she was unable to obtain insurance and died from a treatable asthma attack (lifetime non-smoker!) because she didn’t want to go into debt by going to the ER.

    You also stated that the Medicare private plans are going to be “eviscerated”. Well they should be (80% of my business IS HMO). The Medicare Advantage plans were a pilot project that was supposed to prove that private companies could be more efficient than the government. Actually, the MA plans cost 14% more than government run Medicare. The MA plans are not going to be “eviscerated”, they are just going to be asked to operate as efficiently as government. Since it’s my tax dollars there, it seems reasonable to me. United Health Care is a $3B business, it doesn’t really need a sizable subsidy from the taxpayers.

    I’ll be retiring in a few years and I’m worried about costs too. However, your complaints about recent cost increases are silly. The first few parts of the ACA went into effect yesterday and the bulk of the act doesn’t go into effect until mid-2014, so the price increases you mentioned were just regular price increases and unrelated to the ACA. The Congressional Budget Office is projecting a considerable savings to the country.

    And as far as your belief about the ICU being filled with Spanish speakers, I would suggest that you go look up “confirmation bias”.

    I don’t want to pick nits at you though. I know that you mean well and love your country as much as we liberals do, however, you are getting bad information from partisan sources. In all likelihood, provided that you aren’t in upper management in a majory health insurance company, this ACA bill is going to benefit you in many ways.

    As for the rest of you — some people do everything right; eat right, exercise, live a healthy lifestyle and still get sick! Sometimes it’s just plain bad luck!

  46. Henny Penny – My mother, her siblings & friends would be thrilled to know that when they were growing acres of corn, tomatoes, potatoes, beans & more to feed their large (rural, Catholic) families that they were indulging in a “luxury activity of the elite” ! Certainly they must have felt that way when filling the shelves & freezers full of all that produce in its various preserved forms, or digging it out in the midst of winter to fill empty belllies.

    Really. As if feeding nine kids on a farmer’s earnings or blue collar wage has anything to do with luxury !

    My parents taught me to grow good food frugally. I do the same as they did – grow as much as possible, then freeze it, dry it, can it, preserve it for later use … or give it away to those more in need of it. Just because I enjoy it doesn’t mean it’s not saving those who enjoy it lots of money, time & – hopefully – trips to the doctor.

    A new study links processed foods to incidence of depression. Depression is linked to job & family issues … If you’ve ever volunteered at a food bank you know that a good deal of what is handed out is highly processed, carb-loaded, shelf-stable staples. Fresh fruits & veggies are rare, often depending on grocer donations or backyard gardeners’overflow. I wholeheartedly believe that if we could find ways to make more community gardens in depressed areas of our cities & teach the residents to grow the food they want to eat, lives would be improved through better nutrition & activity thanks to gardening.

  47. Henny Penny –

    You are seriously misinformed about the amount of chemicals in our foods – to learn more about what is being done and what needs to be done regarding this situation, please start with the Environmental Working Group online – It is a not-for-profit and according to their website, “The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment….EWG specializes in providing useful resources (like Skin Deep and the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides™) to consumers while simultaneously pushing for national policy change.” Check it out.

    While we cannot control the chemicals we find inside our vegetables at grocery stores, we CAN control what’s on the outside. Wash your veggies purchased from the retail stores in soap and water. NO KIDDING. Here is a well researched link that explains why it is necessary –

    Thanks everyone – for your comments and concern!


  48. I think its cool that we are finding out more about, plants and roots that can heal the body . I got burnt last night by hot oil used cold water first, then took aloe plant squeeze it all over burn took pain away.We eat more fruits and vegetable less process food will live longer healthier ,and enjoy life better.

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