Food-Not-Lawns advocate Stan Cox, in an article on AlterNet, made the argument that while there are many benefits to converting your lawn to food-producing garden, rebellion against large agribusiness is not one of them. He asserts that the size of the dent that would be made in the profits of agribusiness—even if every American converted his and her lawn to garden—would not amount to squat.
The food that we would be able to grow in our yards—vegetables and some fruits—account for only a small percentage of the American diet. All our wheat and dairy goodies would still need to come from large scale operations—the bread and butter of large agribusiness. (Yeah. I had to.)
Yes, we could supplement our own garden produce with local wheat and dairy products, but the industrial food complex (restaurants, hotels, schools, etc.) would still rely on established and cheap supply chains. So, Cox argues, “sticking-it-to-the-man” isn’t really a benefit of home food production. Despite that, however, Cox points out the many advantages.
From the article:
Don’t get me wrong: Growing food just outside your front or back door is an extraordinarily good idea, and if it’s done without soil erosion or toxic chemicals, I can think of no downside. Edible landscaping can look good, and it saves money on groceries; it’s a direct provocation to the toxic lawn culture; gardening is quieter and less polluting than running a power mower or other contraption; the harvest provides a substitute for industrially grown produce raised and picked by underpaid, oversprayed workers; and tending a garden takes a lot of time, time that might otherwise be spent in a supermarket or shopping mall.
So it was in 2005 that our family volunteered our front lawn to be converted into the first in a now-expanding chain of “Edible Estates,” the brainchild of Los Angeles architect/artist Fritz Haeg. We already had a backyard garden, but growing food in the front yard (which, as Haeg himself points out, is a reincarnation of a very old idea) has been a wholly different, equally positive experience.
Our perennials and annuals are thriving, we’ve gotten a lot of publicity, and I’ve been talking about the project for almost three years. Yet neither of our gardens, front or back, can stand up to the looming agricultural crisis. Good food’s most well-read advocate, Michael Pollan, has written that growing a garden is worth doing even though it can make only a tiny contribution to curbing carbon-dioxide emissions. He might have added that growing food is worth it even if it does very little to revive the nation’s food system.