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Her mom prayed for dead insects and ambulance sirens: a mom with an artist's soul tortured by a white-collar job under artificial light with ringing phones and closed windows in the summertime. She stood 5' 2" tall with blue eyes, silver hair, and a sharp tongue.
She found the lump in her breast twice. Gone went the right breast. Gone went the left breast two years later. After the surgeries she wore pocketed shirts and vests filled with traveling sketch pads and pencils, bird-watching guides, and a steady supply of pain killers she couldn't stop taking.
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I love reading memoirs about rural and urban family farming and eating locally-grown food since moving to a small town (which used to be the chicken capital of the world), population 70,000. We are surrounded by three-bedroom, two-bath, ranch-style homes and working-class families where Afros, peace signs, and tie dye were never in, unlike my neighborhood growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s. The outskirts of our town are filled with country side, small family farms, and cottage industries that make home-grown honey, olive oil, cheese, and bread. My kitchen is full, thankfully, of almost all local-grown produce and grass fed, free range meat and poultry. Did I mention I have not been sick in two and half years?
It took me a while to discover them all. I was too busy shopping at chain stores for our food, proud to find the best deals and save that all-elusive dollar.
My how a little something called the Great Recession can change your outlook on life. OK, that's getting a little too deep. So let me sum it up by saying we now 'shop' at several local farms. The term is locavore: eating what grows within 100 miles of where you live. (We want to spend our elusive dollars wisely and help our local economy and maybe save the planet!)
One of my favorite books that addresses eating locally, creating urban farms, and becoming sustainable is Food and the City. I stumbled upon it in my local library in the new book section. After reading it, I actually felt inspired and hopeful, instead of my usually "we're all going to hell in a handbasket". This book illustrates the way forward for towns and cities and their inhabitants: creating a 'post-industrial urban edible landscape' where people grow their own food in backyards, rooftops, community gardens, city-owned lands, CSA farms, and empty factories left to rot because it cost too much to tear them down.