Blogger Spotlight: A Growing Tradition
July 18th, 2011
02:30 PM ET
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We're highlighting local and regional bloggers we think you ought to know about. We can’t be everywhere at once, so we look to these passionate eaters, cooks and writers to keep us tapped into every facet of the food world. Consider this a way to get to know a blog’s taste buds, because, well, you should.

Meet today's featured bloggers and blog:
Who: Thomas Nguyen Generazio, of A Growing Tradition
Where: Methuen, Massachusetts

I write my gardening blog from the perspective of a person who believes that the vegetable garden is a special place where childhood memories, culture and family traditions live on from one generation to the next.

I used to wonder what it was that led me to become the vegetable gardener and, for lack of a better word, "foodie" that I am today.

Why do I sniff and fondle all of my produce, wince at the newest processed food to hit the market and notice that the supermarket shelves seem to contain more packaging than food these days? Why do I spend hours cultivating the soil in my backyard, battle the neighborhood groundhogs and dream of ways to extend my growing season? And why do I feel nothing but perfect contentment every time I visit a local farm, comb through the booths at my local farmers market and spend all day cooking up a traditional feast for my family and friends?

As I flipped through the yellowing pages of an old family photo album shortly before I began writing my blog a few years ago, it struck me that I'd become the consumer, gardener, cook and to a certain extent, husband and parent that I am now not because of what I've read in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times or seen depicted in a PETA hidden video. I am who I am because of how I was raised by my father.

Glued to each page of this album were photos taken during countless food celebrations, fishing excursions and farm visits that seem to span all the years of my childhood.

Then there were the many trips to Chinatown, outdoor produce markets and botanical gardens - the sights and smells of which I can still recall vividly.

Lastly, there were the photos taken of me and my four siblings playing in our father's wondrous urban vegetable garden, a now mystical place that I long to return to but never will.

This trip down memory lane also made me realize that over the years, I'd slowly grown into a person that is a lot like my father in many ways. He was the quintessential Luddite, always insistent on doing things the traditional or what I used to consider the "old-fashioned" way.

As a consequence, all family traditions were strictly observed and ceremoniously carried out. He was a modest person who would rather risk a stomach ache than let any food, good or bad, go to waste. By the same token, he was also someone who knew how to revel in a good meal and often ate and drank to excess.

All of these things used to mystify me about my father until I grew to understand that he was of a generation that had witnessed and experienced true human suffering.

After the Vietnam War, he saw our family through periods of famine, planned our death-defying escape from a Communist regime, kept us hopeful during our time at the refugee camps and brought us to the United States in hopes of a better life. I soon realized that if I'd endured hunger and the kind of familial/cultural separation that my father experienced during his lifetime, matters of food and tradition would become all the more important to me as well.

As I consider the reasons why I strive to live a greener life, why I grow a vegetable garden and why I hope to share my experiences with the rest of the world through my blog, I find the ones closest to home to be the most compelling.

While issues such as what's wrong with our agricultural industry, what deadly toxins might be lurking in our food or what is lacking in our current energy policy are matters of urgency on a national and global scale, these things only drive me personally to a certain extent.

Ultimately, I grow the vegetables I grow, cook the foods I cook and live the way I do because I hope to preserve something that was handed down to me by my father many years ago – a tradition of growing one's own food, nurturing one's family and celebrating one's cultural heritage.  These are the same values I try to instill in my own son.

Do you read a local blog that you'd like to see featured? Send 'em our way for a chance in the spotlight.

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Filed under: Blog Spotlight • Blogs • Think

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. M

    A Gardening Tradition was a wonderful blog. But it has disappearead. Does anyone know if Thomas is OK?

    June 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  2. Elizabeth Howes

    While it sounds like our childhoods were very different in many ways, some of my absolute favorite memories also surround the time spent in my mother's garden as a kid. Everything about it - the tiny flowering buds, the smell of the rich soil, the taste of freshly picked produce and the undeniable tranquility helped shape my career as a chef/food writer today. I'm looking forward to keeping up with your work.

    July 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  3. Jackie

    Keeping tradition like this is not only beautiful but it is a BIG DEAL! It is a beautiful bond between families and generations. It helps preserve memories, understandings, and tolerance. Great story, very inspiring!

    July 19, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  4. SoundOfForest

    Keeping tradition is not a big deal. We all better be back to peasant-hood before the planet gets baked nicely.

    July 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Tommy Chong

      Duuuuude, let's get baked ......

      July 19, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  5. Rabbi Green

    SO not what I thought of when I saw "Link to the Past", but still a great piece...

    July 18, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  6. elise

    Great read!

    July 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
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