A recent Quora post caught my eye and demanded an answer straight from Magnolia Gardens. . .

What inspired you to start growing your own food?

I grew up in a patently non-gardening household and had precisely ZERO interest in growing my own food. . .until a confluence of factors changed my life (seriously):
1) turning 30
2) buying a home
3) building a family
4) gaining weight
5) becoming addicted to Food Network & Cooking Channel programming
I believe all of these factors are tied in together, somehow. . .but seriously, it started with Food Network (point 5). Iron Chef America, to be precise – the dishes, the pageantry, the tongue-in-cheek seriousness of the show (see: The Chairman), the judges (Steingarten, in particular) – made everything look so wonderful. I had grown up on the original Iron Chef, but mostly watched it through a gimmicky lens. . .this was different, however, and sparked my wife (point 3) and I to start trying ‘fancy’ restaurants, tasting menus, etc.

This, unfortunately, led to (point 4) above. . .not a good thing once one starts aging (point 1). At that point, I wizened up a bit and started to adopt the diaita model (greek, ‘mode of living,’ as opposed to ‘dieting’ in the traditional sense. It began with exercising, eating healthier, really committing to a changed lifestyle. That opened me up to cooking – which, obviously, was a whole new realm for me physically & emotionally. Once the cooking started, a latent passion was unleashed. I wanted to cook breakfast, lunch, dinner. . .but with cooking comes temptation – “more butter” “more oil” “Fry that thing up” etc. And obviously trying to life smartly. . .these principles don’t jibe. Naturally, I was turned on to Farmer’s Markets and the (literal) cornucopia of fresh ingredients, a panacea to any cook that wants to eat healthy.

Best case scenario occurred as we bought our home (point 2), which created the opportunity for us to do what we want with our modest yard. After going to our next Farmer’s Market, my wife said to me “why don’t you grow your own vegetables?” And simple as that, inspiration struck and I began growing my own food; radishes, tomato, cilantro, onion, garlic, broccoli, etc. Was an absolutely beautiful start and to this day I thoroughly enjoy rotating out my ‘crops’ and tending to my plants.

While I have an unnatural & alarming chile papper fetish at this point (, holy moly – ghost chiles, habaneros, trinidad scorpion), the veggie-cessities are still present, and I have fun, feel good and am much healthier.


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