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Have we lost our food roots?

Strange things continue to inspire thoughts of farming for me. A couple of nights before the old year turned to the new I was watching Jeopardy.

Strange things continue to inspire thoughts of farming for me.

A couple of nights before the old year turned to the new I was watching Jeopardy. It’s a show I have to admit I love, and tape daily, which allows a quick fast forward through the advertisements and boring talks to contestants, turning the show into about 18-minutes a day of mind exercise.

I fail mightily on categories about American politics, opera and a host of others, but I manage to get a few answers daily, and I like the challenge of it.

But back to the particular episode. There were a couple of questions where flowers were the response, the azalea on one occasion, and the other now forgotten. But I managed to pluck both answers from my mind ahead of the contestants, which I have to thank my paternal grandparents for. Both were avid gardeners, both to fill the larder, and for the aesthetics of beautiful flowers.

I had not really thought the gardening gene had made it from their generation to mine, but at least some of the knowledge stuck it seems.

And, while I am now greying around the temples, largely because most of my hair has long ago fled to greener pastures somewhere, I may be beginning to manifest some gardening interest.

As an example I have long marvelled at bonsai trees, and am thinking that I may take the plunge to try growing one this year.

I also have to say as I was contemplating a topic for this week’s column I was sitting with a coffee in hand looking out the window of the restaurant on a frosty, but bright morning, and my mind somehow settled on how in my youth my parents and grandparents would be anticipating gardening catalogues arriving as the new year arrived.

The winter solstice might be the actual signal of lengthening days, and the calendar turning heralds a new year, but the gardening catalogues somehow made those days warmer and spring seem so much closer.

Now as a suite resident there is no garden for me to tend, and I’m not sure I would if there was space. But I do know I could.

I understand planting, weeding, watering, fertilizing, watching for insect issues, and harvesting.

I might need a quick refresher, but the idea of blanching and freezing vegetables is not foreign to me, nor the basics of canning, although no bean deserves the indignantly of being canned from what I recall of the texture of the darned things on the plate.

But, I sit here knowing that while my son might be able to read a book and grasp the concepts of preserving food, he has not seen it at the elbow of parents as I did.

There is a loss of the intergenerational transfer of the basic skills of feeding oneself.

I truly wonder if you dropped a dozen chickens at every home in a city like Regina today, how many people would know how to care for them, gather eggs, and butcher them for the table if needed?

And it goes farther than food too.

I profess I might succeed at sewing on a button, but it would be an ugly job.

Darn a hole in a pair of socks? You might as well ask me to operate on a brain.

Somehow we have allowed ourselves to have complete faith in food filling store shelves from now until eternity.

We are more comfortable buying new socks than taking a moment to repair the old.

Such things might be seen as progress I suppose, but I am left wondering what happens should we need once more to garden to fill larders to survive? Or if we were required to do so without the stocked shelves of department stores?

Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.

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