Monthly Archives: May 2010

Adventures in home-grown veggies

How embarrassing to see that it’s been almost two years since I’ve updated this blog!

Well, at least I have something wonderful to show for my absence: a brand-new veggie garden! The landlady let us dig up the yard– my boyfriend’s parents came down about ten days ago with a roto-tiller. We made a garden plot about 12 feet by 20 feet, which is plenty big for our purposes. We’ve since planted both seeds and seedlings. We would have liked to have started everything from seeds, but we got off to a late start. Tomato and pepper seeds need to be started indoors a few months before transplanting.

Matt’s dad with the roto-tiller

The compost pile we’ve just started

Our version of “American Gothic”

The tomato plants

We planted tomatoes, green beans, carrots, red and green bell peppers, jalapenos and habaneros, and yellow squash. I expect to be making plenty of spaghetti sauce and salsa!  I plan to take a workshop in canning and preserving offered through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (a great resource for learning about gardening).

I grew veggies in containers last year, and it was exciting and rewarding to harvest my own vegetables.

I can only imagine how great it will be when my new full-size garden starts producing veggies! I’ll keep posting updates, I promise.

Rows 1 & 2: tomatoes;

Row 3: green beans;

Row 4: carrots;

Row 5: red bell peppers;

Row 6: green bell peppers;

Row 7 left: jalapeno peppers;

Row 8 left: habanero peppers;

Row 7/8 right: yellow squash.

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Filed under frugal

Home Economics for the 21st Century

If my Google Reader inbox today is any indication, there seems to be a movement calling for schools to reinstate Home Economics classes.

This article appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Bring Back Home Economics Education (pdf file)

I absolutely agree that bringing back a revamped version of Home Ec is a great idea. Now, I suspect Home Ec went away as an understandable reaction to the gender role stereotypes of the 1950’s and ’60s.  There is often a fine line, however, between reaction and over-reaction. Reflexively swinging to the opposite extreme rarely solves a problem. If anything, it creates new problems.

Feminism, as I subscribe to it, is simply a state of independence– being able to take care of yourself, with or without a man. That may be oversimplifying (and probably to some, underestimating) the matter. Nevertheless, “taking care of yourself” without a doubt includes being able to feed and nourish yourself, as well as manage money responsibly. These were the two pillars of traditional home economics.

Even more than before, parents and caregivers today cannot be expected or relied on to teach children how to prepare healthy meals. Many parents never learned to cook and instead rely on restaurants, take-out food, frozen meals, and packaged food as basic fare. Many children seldom experience what a true home-cooked meal tastes like, much less see what goes into preparing it. (Alice H. Lichtenstein and David S. Ludwig)

Am I saying that feminism necessarily means malnourishing yourself and your children? Not at all.  But boasting the inability to cook as some sort of feminist merit badge strikes me as foolish, that’s all.  It is something women should think about, at the very least.

There may be other factors contributing to the widespread inability to cook healthy meals at home. In the absence of home cooking, for example, heavily processed convenience foods have stepped in to fill the void… and to fill stomachs. Far be it for me to suggest some nefarious food industry conspiracy behind this. I’ll just say that for consumerism to work as a way of life (as it has in America for some 60 years), it has been necessary to discourage responsible money management and to encourage poor eating choices.

Just think about the long-term benefits of teaching young people how to live healthy and sustainable lives:

An informed generation of children may also influence the eating habits of US families, just as tobacco education causes some students to discourage their parents from smoking. Ultimately, as this generation of school-aged children and adolescents reaches adulthood, they may serve as positive role models for their children and, through their longterm purchasing habits, ensure healthful food choices are readily available in homes, supermarkets, and restaurants
throughout the country. (Alice H. Lichtenstein and David S. Ludwig)

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Filed under budgeting, consumerism, cooking, food, frugal, menu planning, money, money management, personal responsibility, simplicity