This is a guest post by Trish Jackson, composed as part of the NSF “Science: Becoming the Messenger” workshopheld in Lawrence, Kansas on January 27-28, 2011.
Urban gardening is becoming more and more common, for a variety of reasons. As gardeners we think we’re cultivating our health and perhaps helping the environment. But are we thinking enough about the legacy of pollution where we garden?
15% of food is grown in cities, and this number is increasing. Cities are not only where lots of people live. They also are centers of industry, creators of waste heaps, and much of this history is reflected in the contents of urban soils. Soils in cities can have high levels of toxins like heavy metals (like lead, mercury, arsenic) and other funky, unhealthful stuff.
The last thing we want to eat is poison, especially when we’re expecting a juicy delicious tomato. We usually thinking of gardening as a good thing – the food is more nutritious, we use fewer natural resources, and we can avoid some of the pitfalls of factory farms like poisonous eggs or e-coli ridden spinach. So, what’s a gardener to do?