Why Roots & Veggies?

Like the name, the answer has two parts. Both happen to contain topics that I geekily think are fascinating, hence my desire to write about them instead of just talking my loved ones’ collective ears off when they (mostly) don’t give a rat’s ass about this stuff.

Part 1: Roots

• Genealogically speaking, roots refer to where we came from – the country, town, neighborhood, and family that probably influenced the way we think about and eat food.

• Roots are a vital component of plants that ground them in place and deliver sustenance from the soil. Food does the same for us. It grounds us in the sense that it makes us sit still, even for a brief second, to take in fuel during the busier-than-necessary schedules that are so in style these days.

• Literally – roots. They’ve been tasty, humble, nutritious, and inexpensive foods throughout history, but they often get a boring rap (because people can be lazy and uncreative sometimes).

Part 2: Veggies

• They’re just plain beautiful – the thorny, purple-streaked flower of an artichoke, the graceful swan-like curve of a garlic scape, the blinding red of a fresh-picked tomato. Along with fruits, veggies are bursts of color along the entire spectrum; heirloom varieties push the pattern and hue possibilities even further.

• Vegetables, way more so than flowers, are mind-bogglingly rewarding and fascinating to grow. Tiny seed one day, giant melon roughly 70 days later with just a little water, sun, and compost – it still blows my mind. Grocery stores have removed us from witnessing this near-miracle, while conventional factory farming has reduced the intricacy down to a forced equation, and I think both of those things suck.

• Perfect at only certain times of the year, produce can easily be preserved by freezing, drying, or canning. All three processes are becoming lost art forms that our grandmothers relied on for veggies through the winter. I personally am addicted to canning, and I’m on a mission to teach as many people as possible that it’s not as scary as it sounds.

• Not only are they little beauties that can make us happy all year round, but veggies are a crucial and exceedingly overlooked cornerstone of good nutrition. And unlike a bag of chips, you don’t feel like crap after eating them. But lack of access – which can mean financial access (can’t afford it), physical access (can’t get to the stuff because of physical disability, transportation issues, or it’s just not available nearby), or informational access (don’t know how to cook it) – prevents an alarming number of people from getting enough of these healthy staples. Boooo on a grand scale to all that.

Bonus on the blog name: the more common phrase is fruits and veggies, but this is really roots and veggies. Haa.

It took me a really long time to decide to start a blog. First I had to get over the fact that I thought bloggers were self-absorbed people who didn’t have enough talent to get their writing into a real publication. You know, a printed one. I’ll go ahead and blame that on my journalism education, where “I” language was strictly forbidden in true objectivity and everyone’s jonesing for a by-line.

Then I was asked to be a guest blogger for the local food co-op’s “Eat Local Week.” At first I was a little horrified, but then it was kind of fun. I got to write about topics without waiting for a magazine editor to assign them. And you can say “shit” and “fart” more freely on a blog than you can in print (which of course I only do on my own blog, not other people’s). When people kept asking me to share the same recipes, techniques, or instructions for various food and gardening things, I decided it was time to collect all my half-knowledge into on convenient place where I could write for the hell of it and provide a resource at the same time. Full disclosure, though: I still like to call what I’m doing “writing a series of essays that I’m self-publishing online” rather than the kind of ugly, heavy, wet-sounding word “blogging.”