November 20, 2008

The Age of Asparagus

2008 1532 page28 capor the longest time—as far back as anyone could remember, in fact—there were simply two choices regarding a truck garden: you either accepted your position in the world’s order as a truck gardener, or you didn’t.

Most people felt you had to believe in something; that seemed plain enough. As a result, to at least some extent, nearly everybody planted and harvested the basic fare whose benefits to the human race seemed so readily self-evident: potatoes, peas, carrots. This was widely considered to be the simple, everyday stuff from which you could always cook up a fundamental stew. It had kept humankind surviving through six or seven thousand years and was a comfortable tradition. No one questioned it.
2008 1532 page28That’s Different
But then, seemingly out of nowhere, a few radical-thinking produce growers happened along who had become disenchanted with such God-given vegetables, and they began looking around for produce of a more exotic nature, the kind that could answer a growing desire for something new and different. They began to search the night sky and read the position of the planets in relationship with one another, as though these phenomena from light years away ought to have something to do with what you plant in your truck garden. “When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars,” they at last announced with a prophet’s intensity, “it’s going to mean the dawning of a new era for humankind: ‘The Age of Asparagus.’”
Some began immediately to pull out their peas, carrots, and potatoes and plow up their garden plots and replace everything with asparagus. “This is a bold, new concept,” they said with fire in their eyes, “that transcends anything we’ve done with our soil before. Potatoes and peas and carrots are all right as far as they go, mind you, but when it comes right down to it, asparagus is at the root of all produce. It is primal and eternal. It answers the questions of the ages for truck gardeners. We have to learn to open up our minds to the expanding future.”
No Compromise
Some merely dismissed the Asparagans as a bunch of spacey, neo-cabbage heads who had no clue in life. Without realizing it, however, many of these produce growers who laughed off the new philosophy actually had some asparagus cropping up here and there among their own rows of peas and carrots and potatoes. Through the years, truck gardening had become such a mindless routine for them that it was possible to tend their produce in their sleep, and this is basically the way they went about their gardening.

What Do You Think?

1. Have you, or someone you know, ever been captivated by some new fad or trend (be honest)?

2. Why is it so easy to adopt an air of
superiority with those who don't believe as we do, about religion or anything else?

What does the word balance mean to you, an dhow do you implement it into your faith and practice?

When you assemble your system of beliefs, what forms the foundation of your faith?

And, to make matters worse, it appeared that many truck gardeners wouldn’t be able to identify accurately an asparagus shoot if they tripped over it, which many did. They’d allowed their skills in the classification and analysis of plants to slip to such an abysmal level that they’d adopted the general rule of thumb: “If it’s green, it must be pristine.”

At least part of the cause for this shift in philosophy could be laid at the feet of the media. Periodicals such as Thyme, Better Homes and Truck Gardens, Newsleek, Photosynthesis, and Reader’s Digestion began blatantly to legitimize the growing of asparagus and to ridicule the propagation of the more traditional peas, potatoes, and carrots. In book stores, whole new Asparagan sections were placed strategically right next to the shelves containing the gardening books. And television programs and motion pictures depicted entertaining but subtle changes in the growing of vegetables.
This sent some of the truck gardeners—an appalling few of them, unfortunately—scrambling for their copies of The Farmer’s Almanac. On the surface of it, the Asparagans made a certain amount of sense. This new philosophy had an appealing, upbeat ring to it that you almost naturally wanted to believe was true. Many produce growers liked the sound of the idea that the answers to all their gardening problems could be found within themselves. Could there be any truth in the things they were saying about the direction of the world, about where it had come from and where it was going?
Firmly Rooted
Those wise enough to refer to The Farmer’s Almanac, however, found solid answers to the questions that were flying around in the truck garden community. It was heartening to them to realize that for every question the Asparagans introduced, there was a “Thus sayeth the Farmer.” And when harvest time finally came around, they were especially thankful they had remained faithful to the almanac and hadn’t discarded the best of the past for the fleeting 
novelty of the Age of Asparagus. 
Gary B. Swanson is associate director of the Sabbath School/Personal Ministries Department of the General Conference.