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I find the idea that Kingsolver's project was elitist to be quite an odd one. Yes, she did have access to more land than most of us have, but consider to what unproductive use most suburban homeowners put the land that they do have. Many communities have garden plots that are open to all, and in my limited experience in the inner city, there's a fair number of empty lots that could be put to work. Also, CSAs allow us to borrow, in effect, space from rural areas to urban centers.

I hear what you're saying about Minnesota winters. I live in central Illinois and we have a fairly harsh winter here as well. But there's an old technology that allows us to borrow time from the summer in the winter - canning! Remember what Kingsolver said about this labor, that she resisted it when she was young as an embodiment of women's oppression, but came back to it later as joyous work, done entirely on her own terms and acting as a force that helped the center to hold in her family.

I know that time has become the limiting factor in our society, that it seems as if we can't squeeze any more time out of our days between working, commuting, raising children, taking care of the home, being involved in the community (if we're lucky) and all the other little hassles of life. But that's a question of priorities and of context. Perhaps moving some of our energy from the money economy to the home economy would yield great benefits. What if some men started staying home and raising children? That would help to break the stigma of "woman's work". What if more of us became teachers? The school calendar still follows the seasons.

I've been reading a lot about this lately, and from Michael Pollan's writings on the state of our industrial food system to Eric Schlosser and Morgan Spurlock's work on the unhealthiness of our American diet as presently constituted to Kingsolver's experiment in self-sufficiency to Wendell Berry's meditations on the erosion of rural America (literally and figuratively), I've come inescapably to the conclusion that our food system must return to the decentralized production of the pre-WWII era. The industrial system will break down when petroleum becomes too scarce. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. So it's a question of how we adapt - with forethought and prudence, preserving the health of the land and recreating local distribution systems while we still have plenty, or scurrying around like chickens with our heads cut off when the good times end.