Grass Is Not Food

As part of the “American Dream,” people have been conditioned to want a car, a middle class income, and a home. This home is not just supposed to be any type of home, but a house, preferably a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a two-car garage. So many shows have been devoted to the acquisition of property, and the most important aspect of that property is the size of the most noticeable asset: the lawn. Celebrity homes have been shown to have massive acreage dedicated to displaying how much grass they can afford to maintain. In reality television, there has been an obsession with a nice lawn for children to play on and for dogs to enjoy, never paying attention to the actual reality that more trees and home gardens are essential for cooling the planets temperature and reversing the effects of climate change.

For one thing, having large lawn exhibits careless disregard for the food shortage in the nation which is caused by an overabundance of processed and prepared foods, not raw produce, which–even if imperfect–is processed into preserves, jams, and sauces. Despite the fact that more land should be used for growing food, more people will tirelessly exert themselves for something to display wealth. Growing food on land is the reason why the United States administratively began, but ever since industrialization, people have been moving towards resisting any type of personal growing on private property. In short, people of means are supposed to have food services (supermarkets, delivery) in their communities, not food.

By not growing food on properties, there is an expectation that people expect to consume instead of produce their own food. Apartment complexes will have multiple pools, dog parks, gyms and business centers, but there are almost no community gardens, which could improve the community without costing residents more in fees. Within the paradigm of the assumption of consumption, residents allow corporations, local government, and the inherent bias of the United States to decide what will be consumed. Will it be cooperative produce and regenerative agriculture, or fast food and processed corn? The answer depends on where someone is located, and how much money one has to spend. Because of the decisions being made by people other than constituents, the consequences are born in a rise of heart problems and diabetes in marginalized communities.

Planned unit developments are even worse because of homeowners associations, which demand conformity in addition to the extra fees used at their discretion. When buying homes, the purchasers would assume sovereignty within their property, as they bear the cost of the home and any issues. Homeowners associations demand that people not only adhere to certain guidelines, but will challenge those who “rebel” by imposing additional fines and potentially taking people to court. Most planned unit developments do not have community gardens and/or expect people to garden visibly in their front yards. In short, homeowners associations are partially responsible for excessive water use for no real reason than to preserve nostalgia.

The most egregious slight offered towards people without lawns is condescension: lawns are considered a sign of stability. Those without lawns are presumed to have a tragic existence, one worthy of shame and immaturity. What if, instead of expecting everyone to grow a useless plant, people were required to grow a higher percentage of food than grass on their property, or pay a fine? What if organizations dedicated to keeping grass on the ground were considered unconstitutional in their requirements to use water instead of grow food? What kind of community might that create, and why would anyone not want to be a part of it?

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