Guns and Butternut Squash

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Rod Dreher of Crunchy Con fame suggests we welcome WWIII with grit, pep, and fresh veggies:

Instead of getting all Henny-Penny about how the sky is falling—even if it really does sorta look like it is—why not reject being paralyzed by despair, and get out in your backyard and plant a winter garden? During the war, Victory Gardens were planted to help Americans feed themselves, and to reduce pressure on the food supply. We don't have that kind of need now, of course, but a broader Mideast war that caused another oil shock could make it a lot more expensive to feed ourselves. Getting into habits of self-sufficiency now is smart. Besides, gardening can be a lot of fun.

Invade Iran, plant some rhubarb! Is there any better encapsulation of the Whole Foods Hawk?

Robert Stacy McCain pondered Dreher's granola-positive manifesto for Reason's June issue.

NEXT: My Candidate Has a Last Name, it's S-E-K-U-L-A-DASH-G-I-B-B-S

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  1. I love the smell of my vegetable garden in the morning. It smells like liberty.

  2. Because Charlie can’t hoe.

  3. Did you know that the US imports over 50% of its weather from Canada?

    We must make American independent of foreign rain! Water your garden with American tap-water, not foreign precipitation!

  4. Remember, fertilizer can be used to make explosives. The more of it we bury in our gardens, the less available for terrorists!

  5. why not reject being paralyzed by despair, and get out in your backyard and plant a winter garden?

    Because we’re in the middle of a dry spell and can’t even keep our lawns green. Besides, I have a black thumb; everything I plant dies.

    Getting into habits of self-sufficiency now is smart.

    Become a survivalist! Set your clocks back three decades! I still have the stuff I bought back then.

    Besides, gardening can be a lot of fun.

    Not. BTDT.

    Unless you already know how to garden (to the point that you probably already have a garden) look for a five-year learning curve before you produce a significant amount of usable food.

  6. We should introduce this guy to that Levine woman in the first post this morning. I’m all for being responsible in one’s purchases, and gardening is a great hobby, but, really, these guys act like they deserve a medal. And Larry’s right. I AM a good gardener, and I planted six tomato plants in April. I have reaped all of six tomatoes since then. It’s impossible to make a significant dent in the food budget with a garden unless one has a lot of space and lives in a place with a really stable climate.

  7. It’s impossible to make a significant dent in the food budget with a garden unless one has a lot of space and lives in a place with a really stable climate.

    I’ve always wondered–even if you have a large yard and flawless climate, considering how cheap food is today, wouldn’t garden-grown vegetables be more expensive than store-bought, once you factor in the value of your time? Unless gardening is something you do because you truly think it is fun, or you’re growing something expensive, like fresh strawberries.

    The time you spent in your garden, Karen–if you spent those hours working for just minimum wage, I’ll bet you’d earn enough money to buy far more than a mere six tomatoes.

  8. You mean food comes from the ground? How do they get it into, like, the stores and stuff?

  9. It’s all about having large tracts of land. Obviously, farmers make money selling their products, so there’s some point where it becomes economically feasible to grow crops. My great aunt and uncle used to grow their own produce, but their “garden” was enormous.

    Karen, there’s always a greenhouse to stabilize your climate. My brother’s in-laws have one of those.

  10. Jennifer, you’re absolutely right about the minimum-wage work being more food-productive than my tomato plants. Probably even for strawberries if you’re not buying them out of season.

    I do happen to enjoy gardening, and some of the stuff I raise, mainly the fresh herbs, make it easier for me to cook more interesting things. Still, I’d be a complete idiot to argue that there was an economic or environmental benefit, other than inside my own head, to my gardening. It makes the world a bit prettier, and a bit more convenient and pleasant to me, and it’s one of the more deeply satisfying hobbies one can have. And, in fact, that’s enough reason to do it. My tomatoes have nothing to do with the war on terror.

  11. He who hoes his tomato bed is NOT sleeping with Osama!

  12. Just to clarify, Karen–I’m not condemning you for gardening, especially if you think it’s fun. I just condemn the idea that an American in 2006 can save money by gardening.

  13. My tomatoes have nothing to do with the war on terror.

    Beautiful! To borrow a line from the guys at Marginal Revolution, that is definitely “The Best Sentence I’ve Read Today.”

  14. I never thought you were saying anything condemning to me, Jennifer, and I’m sorry I sounded so thin-skinned. It’s just that this victory-garden guy, along with the idiot who gave up shopping at low-class places for a year, exemplify the worst self-righteousness I’ve read in ages, and that’s saying quite a lot this year. I’m all for being a responsible consumer, I just don’t see why being an asshole as to be a part of it.

  15. I just condemn the idea that an American in 2006 can save money by gardening.

    I mostly agree with you, Jennifer. But technically the article’s argument is “the idea that an American in 2007 can save money by gardening.” Or 2008. Or whenever the “crisis” hits.

    • Stored food is still, for a variety of reasons, a much better alternative.
    • History indicates that even stored food won’t be necessary.
    • History isn’t always right.
  16. Larry, I think there’s a little truth to that statement; I believe there is something to that Peak Oil business, and while I’m not expecting the collapse of civilization I do think it’s very possible we’ll see a time where a person like me, in Connecticut, can no longer buy dirt-cheap strawberries that were in California only two days before.

    But I don’t expect to go back to a time when all Americans were subsistence farmers; I do, however, think there will come a time where we’ll notice food grown locally is far cheaper than food grown and imported from the other side of the world. (Right now there’s no price differential at all, that I can see.) But why doesn’t he say that, rather than try to say that suburbanites need to start raising their own food?

    It’s like those disaster-survival idiots who say “Armageddon will hit any minute, so why don’t you spend $100 to enroll in my class teaching you how to make a fire from scratch?” Really: if you expect things to get that bad, don’t spend a hundred bucks learning how to make fire; spend five bucks buying a lifetime supply of matches and a waterproof container to store them in. Better yet: spend fifteen bucks, and when the shit hits the fan you can sell your matches and get rich.

  17. Jennifer, all I’m getting for the Apocalypse is a black leather suit and a car with a bomb wired to the gas tank. And maybe a bottle of bourbon.

  18. PL, I can barely joke about this because I’m so damned fed up with the Peak Oil Fundamentalists. I’m more of a Peak Oil Bourbon-Drinking Episcopalian, who thinks the country really does need to end its dependence on limitless cheap gasoline, but when I try to explain why some fundie comes up and screams “Because we’re all gonna DIE when our civilization COLLAPSES! and this is capitalism’s fault.”

    When fundamentalists act out, moderates like me have to get all pissed off so the infidels won’t say things like “where’s the outrage?” Here’s the outrage. I wish the Doomers would stop dominating the Peak Oil debate.

    If you click on my name you’ll see my initial complaint on the issue.

  19. Jennifer, I think there’s a relationship between the The End of the World crowd, the anti-capitalist crowd, and the Gardening as Moral Imperative crowd: it’s the need to have the Final Answer to Everything. (And their ability to inspire me to overuse capital letters. That’s another story.) Anyway, instead of advocating what they believe to be the most sensible policy among a number of alternatives, or even arguing that we face serious problems if we don’t adopt certain policies, they must have the ONE FINAL AND ABSOLUTE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING. There are people like, well, most people who comment on H & R, who are comfortable with the possibility of being wrong, and these guys, who are completely convinced that once they’ve found the answer, they’ll never need to think again.

  20. True, Karen, but in this case the idiots are generating so much smoke that they’re obscuring the actual fire that needs to be put out. I do think our economy is headed for some serious problems. And yes, I think everything, including food, will get far more expensive. And if the Peak Oilers presented the issue that way, there’s probably a lot of people who’d be willing to listen, consider the facts and perhaps reach the same conclusion.

    But no. Instead you get hysterical shrieks about going back to the Dark Ages and 5 billion people dying of starvation and all the technological gains of the last 500 years lost so let’s all embrace Mother Gaia and all our problems will be solved.

    The hell of it is, even if these people were right, they’re giving the wrong advice. As someone on this thread already pointed out, if you think there’s going to be a worldwide famine in a few years the thing to do now is stock up on MREs and freeze-dried food, not try to make your family agriculturally self-sufficient in the suburbs.

  21. I totally agree that the Screaming Meemees are seriously damaging important causes, and, in the case of oil and the environment, one I really care about. (I have this irrational attachment to continuing to live, and to having my sons do the same thing. We kind of need the Earth to do that.) I don’t at all doubt that we face some serious problems, including scary increases in the price of consumer good that require transportation. There is no downside to changing from oil to another fuel, preferably one not controlled by decadent aristocrats in bedsheets who buy their own safety by taking much of their oil money and giving it to a bunch of murdering lunatics. You occasionally hear someone discuss the good that might come if we cease our dependence on oil, but mostly nothing but rants about The End Of The World As We Know It. Mostly, I can ignore raving, but, in this case, the raving distracts us from facing something that we really do need to address, and the sooner the better.

  22. Well, Jennifer, so long as we don’t run out of bourbon, everything will be okay. I intend to drink it and run my hotrod on it, post-collapse.

    On your blog, you should’ve said, “Armageddon tired of all this Peak Oil nonsense.” 🙂 Incidentally, my reaction to Alas, Babylon was a mite different than yours–Tampa got nuked by name in the book. Nice and creepy reading for a kid growing up in the Cold War.

    This discussion really emphasizes the whole problem. The majority of us seem to be wired to want to buy into complete explanations of the world, even when such explanations only achieve completeness by skipping over inconvenient facts or even filling in gaps with obvious fiction. “Faith” isn’t at all limited to religion. If I have any particular advantage over my fellow man, it’s my deep appreciation for my own fallibility and that of other people. Reality is this weird mix of simplicity and complexity, and our little monkey boy brains seem to have trouble with that.

    By the way, we have bananas growing in our yard. I’m gonna be the potassium king when the end comes.

  23. For self-sufficiency, don’t raise tomatos, raise potatos. It’s presently still cheaper to buy potatos shipped clear across the country, maybe even from overseas, but not if the oil gets too expensive. My father had a scheme: get a 55 gallon drum, put six inches of dirt in the bottom, plant potatos, add dirt as the plant grows; at harvest time, turn the barrel over, shake out the dirt, and you have a barrel of potatos.

  24. Alright. T-O-M-A-T-O-E-S P-O-T-A-T-O-E-S

  25. Alright. T-O-M-A-T-O-E-S : P-O-T-A-T-O-E-S

  26. It’s like those disaster-survival idiots who say “Armageddon will hit any minute, so why don’t you spend $100 to enroll in my class teaching you how to make a fire from scratch?”

    Texas Hunter Education; $15.00. Much better buy. (Or your state’s alternative.)

    The ones that made me laugh were the “junk silver” folks. They advocated hoarding silver dimes and quarters (made before today’s sandwich coins) for disaster times when the price of silver would be much higher than the face value of the coins. Theoretically you could then purchase $15.00 worth of food for a silver dime.

    Yeah. I could just see a farmer buying that line.

    Really: if you expect things to get that bad, don’t spend a hundred bucks learning how to make fire; spend five bucks buying a lifetime supply of matches and a waterproof container to store them in. Better yet: spend fifteen bucks, and when the shit hits the fan you can sell your matches and get rich.

    If you have enough to sell, you have enough to confiscate. If you’re lucky local government will still be organized enough to do it politely.

    Check camping stores for a magnesium firestarter. The size of a small box of matches, it will start hundreds of fires even when wet.

  27. george,
    You say tomato.
    I say tomato.
    You say potato.
    I say potato.
    Tomato, tomato
    Potato, potato.
    Let’s call the whole thing off.

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