I grew up in the 1970s in Dallas, Texas, at a time when processed food was the hot new thing (think Funyuns, Cap'n Crunch and Velveeta, and the list goes on...). So you can imagine what I must have been surrounded by foodwise.
Fortunately, my mom was a foodie at heart—she baked loaves of bread, cultured her own tangy yogurt, and not only grew a good-sized vegetable garden, but maintained a healthy compost pile. She was no doubt considered "weird" for the time and the place, and I for one have never stopped appreciating her weirdness.
My mom's garden was really sweet, and gave me a whole new appreciation of fresh vegetables as a kid. I remember once she grew a cucumber that was nearly as tall as my younger brother. We were in awe. I also remember stealing plenty of tomatoes, fresh off the vine and warm from the sun. And I still think that there is probably no better thing in the world that you can eat than a freshly-plucked tomato at the peak of ripeness.
Up until now, I haven't really been in a place where I could easily grow my own vegetables. So, a few weeks ago, on a whim, I decided to buy a few half wine barrels and start my own urban garden. I managed to find 4 barrels for only $20 each with free delivery on craigslist . What a steal! Finding the soil and then lugging it up our steep flight of stairs to the front of our house wasn't quite as easy, but somehow we managed.