The Future of Food

English: Home Composting, Roubaix, France Fran...

Home Composting, Roubaix, France  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent many years living in western North Carolina, very near Winston-Salem. If the name looks familiar, it should. WS is the home of the Reynolds tobacco company and the local NC farmers grew some of the best tobacco in the world.

When I was a young Girl Scout, our troop took a tour of the Reynolds tobacco company and saw the manufacture of cigarettes first hand. At the end of the tour, each girl was presented with a ball point pen with “Camel” stamped on the outside.

That was then, this is now when all of us are more aware of the peril of tobacco products.

Both of my parents smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. Every time we took a car trip, my siblings and I would get motion sick, or so we thought. I realized years later it was the smoke they exhaled in the mostly closed car. My Mom died and 56 and my dad at 79 from heart disease. My Aunt Audrey told me the reason she lived into her ninties was because she never smoked. I tried smoking when I was younger, but became deathly ill. I never tried again.


This past few weeks, as I walked my dog, I smelled the scent of tobacco. The neighborhood is permeated with it. If it were stronger, it would smell like Winston Salem in the fall when the tobacco farmers came to town to sell their crop in the auction houses.

But, its not tobacco, its composted leaves and yard debris called “Black gold” owing to its color. All over the neighborhood, you can find piles of Black Gold. The smell comes from the tannic acid found in all brown leaves. You smell it in the fall, on walks through wooded areas. Composted it smells like honey, earthy and warm.


Thursday (4/19/13), Dick Klade, The Gabby Geezer, at wrote about recycling. A great story about a wonderful effort underway here in the States.

 My county (Arlington VA)  takes recycling very seriously. Everything organic  and many inorganic things are collected for  reuse.

The county collects plastic, glass, and paper (including cardboard).  Residents are encouraged to set up compost bins  to handle yard waste, and rain barrels to help control runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. 

Yes, we recycle rain water too. A few years back, David set up five rail barrels. With my help, we built a system of underground drains to channel the rain water we don’t capture into the lowest part of the yard where we built a flourishing rain garden. We often experience sudden storms during the warmer months and the water would be overwhelming without our system of rain barrels and drains.    

The county encourages us to build back yard bird habitats, and preserve old dead trees for the Woodpeckers. In the fall the county collects yard waste we cannot compost and hauls it to the central composting station where it becomes Black Gold.


When she was younger, I helped my granddaughter Joy set up earthworm “homes.” Joy, who is majoring in Agricultural Science at present, was president of the Ecology Club at her school. With her help, I planted many native flora destined to attract local wildlife.

Today, The Washington Post ran an article by Barbara Damroch, one of our local garden gurus, about the future of food and kids in college studying agriculture. I thought you might enjoy it. Check out the link below:  

About those tobacco farmers? Many are growing organic foods today.   



16 thoughts on “The Future of Food

  1. Thanks for the kind words about my recycling post. Your county is doing a great job! It’s very impressive that they encourage leaving trees for woodpeckers. We have an old oak stub in our back yard. Not only do the woodpeckers love it, but at least three squirrels use the cavities for play areas (and probably storage). A rep of a tree-trimming company recently suggested we hire him to cut the “ugly” tree stem down. No way! It’s a beautiful thing in the eyes of the right beholders.


  2. All three topics are interesting. Hard to know which to comment on … but, as a resident of North Carolina for the past 35 years I am glad to see the tobacco fields giving way to soy bean and other organic produce.


  3. Dear friend, I apologize. I am behind in my reading…somehow. Perhaps in the chaos here I lost my directions. Perhaps I lost parts of myself.

    Noise? You have parrots and small dogs but object to noise. Thanks so much for the laughs.
    Love your yard. Love spring there. I miss the dogwoods I met for the first time on the Parkway in VA. Mother always tried to grow azalias in the hardpan and adobe of Chula Vista. They never grew, but she could grow everything else. I’ve given up. I recycle with enthusiasm even in the midst of chaos tho. Just last week we discovered that Goodwill will not only shred old papers here, they will recycle old computers…wonderfully exciting. We had three down in a corner of the garage that were unearthed in this clean out.

    I was thinking of you as I began scrubbing down the art and architecture shelves yesterday. About four books vanished. That’s all.


    • I knew you were hard at work clearning out ‘stuff,’ hence your absence.
      I let bags of books go, and then repurchased many of them. And I bought more books. As I mentioned in my comment to you, two hard cover books this week: Cranmer and The Boy King, Edward VI, both by MacCullough. (Can’t get enough of the Tudors it seems)

      Good news about the old computers. Goodwill took ours too. I think they sell them to China. Now those folks know how to recycle stuff.


  4. My sister in law probably smokes about a pack a day but believes she’ll be fine since her parents both lived pretty long. They didn’t look very healthy though and her father was walking around with an oxygen tank. My nephews have tried to get her to quit as well as my brother, but she hasn’t had the will. It’s so hard to watch and I don’t like to smell the smoke on my brother.


  5. Recycling, composting, re-using, making do and mending in all respects – great for our poor, ill-treated planet. As you know I am very keen.

    Tobacco? Filthy stuff. This comes from a 20 year smoker of 20 a day who gave up 25 years ago. I can’t tell you how glad I am that smoking is positively frowned upon in the UK.


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