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When Burghers Try To Be Bauers

— I come from farm country and my Kansas relatives are farmers. But I've never lived on a farm. So why would I want to grow vegetables and raise chickens when I could buy all that stuff at the supermarket? I was wondering this as I hosted a These Days program about the garden-to-table culinary movement.

My chicken coop has everything except actual chickens.
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Above: My chicken coop has everything except actual chickens.

Garden to table, AKA farm to table, is trendy. But then so am I. I've just built three new garden beds in my backyard, and my wife has enlisted the help of friends to build a chicken coop. Yes, we're going to have chickens near the center of San Diego because code allows it.

Europe has lots of very respectable burghers because city dwelling has a long and ordered tradition across the Atlantic. But Americans are bauers (farmers) at heart and we're bad city dwellers. This is why we build sprawling suburbs. This is why Hank Hill followed the Tao of lawn care. It's why Henry David Thoreau became a hero.

There are logical arguments in favor of growing your own food. It's fresh and tastes better. It's more environmentally sensitive, etc. But most of us do it because it makes us feel like we're still living on the farm.

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