I was trying to analyze why I felt annoyed with the people featured in yesterday's story on the front page of The New York Times: A Locally Grown Diet With Fuss but No Muss. After all, it's not as though the rich haven't been hiring others to create and maintain gardens for them for centuries.
We haven't expected dukes and countesses to get out and plant phlox or pick their own pears. Traditionally, they hired designers to create their gardens and had bunches of underlings to maintain them. And often received lots of credit for their beautiful gardens.
And that's still true among the very wealthy, as I recently noted in a mention of the gardens at Buckingham Palace, which are groomed by a staff of eight to 11.
And as comments on the Times article point out, having someone plant and harvest vegetables in your backyard isn't much different from hiring someone to mow your lawn. And it provides jobs for those doing the work.
The Fresh Greens blog in US News & World Report notes that these people are missing out on the pleasures of gardening. But not everyone finds gardening pleasurable. I do, but I can understand that some might prefer to ride bikes or hit golf balls.
More likely, as was mentioned in the article, many of the the people doing this are working long hours. I understand that, too. In that case, you have to decide what's important for you to do yourself and what you can more easily have others do. (I used to bake bread regularly; now I buy it.)
So, if there's plenty of justification for this trend, why did it seem annoying to me?
I finally decided it was the "locavore" tag. It wasn't what they were doing as much as they were hopping on the bandwagon of the latest trend they've read about, eating locally grown foods.
Many have watched masses of people adopt recent fads -- SUVs, McMansions -- and wondered what in the world they were thinking.
Is there a downside to having fresh veggies in your backyard or having locally grown foods delivered to your door? Except for the delivery part, probably not. (And let's face it, how many people except me walk to the farmers' market to buy local produce or pick up their weekly bags of Community Supported Agriculture produce?)
So I decided that maybe there wasn't a reason to be irritated. I prefer reading about the new boom in community gardens and guerrilla gardening. But if rich New Yorkers want to feel trendy with food someone else is growing for them -- even if each tomato probably costs them $10 -- that's OK with me.
I doubt they'll stick with it, though. Trendy people like to be early adopters of whatever the next trend is. But I hope they do continue -- and that eating home-grown food isn't just one more fad that fades away as it did in after the boom in the 1940s and '70s.