Jess and Micah Russell
January 2018

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a series on Verastructure, a living space that realizes verastruct principles. 

It’s a new day. We are finally learning from our mistakes of the past six decades. We know to grab the peanut butter made from peanuts only, rather than the sugary processed brands we enjoyed as children. We check for that trusty “non GMO” stamp of approval on our corn chips. We buy organic fruits and vegetables. And when we go out to eat, we are more prone to choose a joint with locally sourced ingredients. The past five years we have chosen more sustainable food choices for the environment and our health. Or so it seems. 

It is not in our food choices, but in our relationship with the food we eat that we are still not sustainable. Mass production of even organic produce is still harmful to the environment as ecosystems are destroyed and food is shipped overseas with wasteful packaging and drastic means of transportation. For example the buying power of avacados, which are good for our bodies and seem like the green choice, has led to the deforestation of energy-rich lands such as those occupied by the most complex rainforest ecosystems. Effectively a less green option than a factory-produced food. And while the trend of buying our produce locally is a great way to combat this issue, there is still a better way — and it doesn't just benefit the environment.

We must grow our own food. 100% local is 100% sustainable. This is not only the “old” method of food, nor is it only a means of “saving the planet,” it is incredibly beneficial to us personally. We will have cleaner air from being surrounded by plants, have easier access to sustenance, and unparalleled food quality. Plants, including those we eat, remove toxins in the air, and process the carbon from carbon dioxide to produce oxygen-rich air beneficial for human respiration. 

Growing food in your home is time and effort efficient. Most people have to drive to a grocery store to get food, where the food was delivered by a production company, which got it from a farm. That’s a best case scenario. Providing for a family currently requires a car, an hour or two of time, a close grocery store, and complex supply chains, when providing for yourself week to week could be as simple as watering regularly and then plucking food off a branch or digging it out of the ground. 

The quality of food also improves. Not only is the food fresher, but it is tastier, and, by selecting the seed over time, can be bred to be exactly what you like best in flavor, color, shape, and texture, among other things. There is a dormant art of personally bred produce in America that is alive in much of the rest of the world.

For quite some time, even before Micah and I shared this dream, I have wanted to grow my own food. If not for a family — at least for myself. There’s poetry in the idea of picking off a tomato from your own garden and using it in a meal you love, a meal you directly worked for. That emotional connection with the food we eat, the earth we till, and our maker that provides is meant to be felt more often than not. The humans of earth have only recently turned away from this means of obtaining food. Verastruct suggests that as a species, we turn around, consider the past’s wisdom and with that long-lost knowledge, look to the future with a newfound sense of self-reliance.