Farmers markets and vegetarianism aren’t enough for white people. They have to grow their own, even if they grew up with a disdain for home gardening as something taken straight from victory gardens and American Gothic. Growing your own food starts out innocently enough by shopping for organic food at Whole Foods and co-ops, recycling bags, and gathering up used grounds for compost with each visit to the local coffee emporium. Some white people who grew up in the 60’s remember sorting out the seeds from their marijuana on the jacket cover of a long-playing record album and talking up a Whole Earth Catalog lifestyle before moving into investment banking and the practice of law.
The 80’s led to an affection for multiple forms of fresh basil, easily enough grown from pre-seeded kits purchased at Smith & Hawken, the only garden shop which dare show its face at upscale malls. From that simple step, it was a downhill slide to Vermont Bean Seed Company and Territorial Seed Company, mail-order seed companies tailor-made for white people who snickered at the gingham-shirted Ma and Pa Kettle kinds who had to settle for buying their garden seed from places like Henry Field’s Seed & Nursery or Earl May.
Before long, it wasn’t just a matter of being green or organic. Or saving money. Before long, the notion of heirloom tomatoes wasn’t even the point. It was pure back-to-the-land, yielding up bragging rights more valuable than the crop of tiny pink, white, and orange tomatoes which white people, posing as Lady Bountiful, now can foist off on others less privileged, chiming in smugly that these tomatoes were grown right from seeds harvested from last year’s crop.