I live in a community of energetic urban gardeners.
Accidentally, I assure you.
On any given day I can see these earnest neighborhood farmers planting Swiss chard, weeding the root veggies, harvesting something they call “tatsoi,” or building a hoop house. (To the disappointment of every person in my home, a “hoop house” has nothing to do with basketball.)
The neighborhood’s “head gardener” assures me that in the event of a global food apocalypse precipitated by a sociopolitical collapse, we’ll have food.
I assure the head gardener that until said looming crisis shuts down my chain grocery store and the McDonald’s down the street, I won’t be lifting a single green thumb to help.
Clearly, my brazen apathy suggests that I’m not really expecting the economy-inspired food-pocalypse to happen any time soon. In that respect, I’m like a lot of North Americans with convenient access to Cap’n Crunch cereal and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
Despite my lazy gardening and shopping habits, I’m not a complete buffoon. I’ve seen the popular documentary The Story of Stuff, and I understand that some of us on this planet are consuming more than our fair share of resources. I comprehend the premise that those who pay the biggest price for overconsumption and the pollution it produces are those with access to the fewest resources. I even understand, at some level, that my own progeny will be affected by these patterns of consumption.
And yet for years I’ve chosen to believe that the food crisis precipitated by an environmental fail—the one where our planet’s overconsumption has loaded the atmosphere with greenhouse gases—would be centuries (preferably millennia) off in the future.
As you might imagine, that’s been a very convenient story for me.
Last year, though, I met a woman who challenged this story.
She wasn’t one of these gardening nuts, like the head gardener.
She wasn’t an alarmist Chicken Little “the sky is falling” person.
She wasn’t an environmental scientist with access to data-filled spreadsheets.
Wema—and every other person in her rural Malawian village who’s never tasted Cap’n Crunch—is a garden farmer, continuing in the proud line of farmers that’s as long as human
history (Genesis 2:15). As Wema described the environmental challenges that have already impacted farmers in her village, she said six words that changed everything for me: “It hasn’t always been this way.”