New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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When eating organic was totally uncool

Hmong Farmer. Photo by Victor Bareng. Minority Farmers in America.

Before hipsters got rooftop gardens, my poor, refugee family ate that way because we had to. And we were ashamed.

By Pha Lo
Jan 6, 2011


To me, the organic food movement has become dizzyingly, surreally chic. Farmers have become rock stars; the most exclusive restaurants name-check them so much you can almost see dirt on the menu. But before organic produce exploded into a $25 billion industry, before city gardening became cool, I grew up in a Hmong refugee community, living the urban organic lifestyle not because it was fashionable, but because we were poor. I couldn’t wait to leave it behind.

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January 29, 2011   1 Comment