Food Supply Crisis
Everything I read in the paper and on the internet, and every trend I see in the grocery store leads me to believe that our food system is about to have an upheaval. I think it will be tough for a while, and we consumers will suffer, but ultimately if we survive the food supply revolution we will wind up with a better way of feeding ourselves.
The Problem With Grocery Store Produce
We see produce coming into the grocery stores with bacterial problems that kill many, cost millions to track down, and waste millions again in food produced, shipped, and then destroyed because it wasn’t viable. We have watched the quality of meat eggs dairy and produce go down the tubes while the prices soar. All of the produce in my market comes from countries all very far away. Maybe 2% of the produce is marked grown in the US, and half of that is the produce marked Organic. The cost of shipping food from very far away is thrust upon the consumer, and when we buy it we become responsible for its giant carbon foot print. How fresh is produce that travels here from thousands of miles away? If you want a slightly better quality of food you have to choose Organic which is very expensive, and becoming so trendy that I find suspect the mission of those giant corporations now producing Organic foods for large grocery chains.
I was listening to NPR the other day and heard about a university student who had won a prize for creating a model for urban grocery store rooftop hydroponic gardens. The food in his model was grown in the hydroponic fashion on grocery story roof top greenhouses. Isn’t that brilliant? The food wouldn’t have to be shipped, it would be extremely fresh when it hit the market, and more people in town would be hired to grow food there. His model accounted for 90% of the produce a grocery store might stock. That is one possible future, and one of the solutions we will come up with for this problem of growing too far from markets. It isn’t being done yet though.
Locally Produced Food Is The Way
Right now there aren’t nearly enough local farmers and ranchers in place to supply the needs of the masses. I hope that changes, but the farm life is a life of hard labor, and to be successful today’s farmer must also be a great business person. It takes great passion to choose a farmers life, and then much diligence, hard work and planning to make it work. Anyone however can be a gardener.
What Can We Do?
Shop your local Green Market, and support your local farmers. Start a garden at home. If you haven’t started your home garden, and you have a bit of land, or even a patio or balcony that gets some sun, or a rooftop on which you can put a box, then you too should grow. If you have some land and are already growing you should consider setting aside a little more land to grow some more. I believe there will be a need for our surplus harvests in the near future. Start a community garden. Help your neighbors with their gardens, and share harvests back and forth. My neighbor’s tomatoes always come before mine, and I am still harvesting mine long after hers have finished. She grows string beans, and broccoli. I grow black eye peas and collard greens. We both do lettuce and salad greens, but our harvests are timed differently. We always have something to share. The lady across the street is glad to have our surplus anytime we walk it over there.
Even If You Don’t Worry About Our Food Supply
Even if you doubt that there will be a food crisis in the grocery stores, you know that you could do better for your family, your budget, and the environment by supplementing your produce needs in the garden. Food grown in good soil at home is loaded with vitamins and nutrients that commercially grown produce is lacking. It is way fresher than store bought. It was not shipped to a grocery store, and you didn’t drive anywhere to get it so it has little or no carbon foot print. Grow natural or organic, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides, composting your kitchen and garden wastes along with manures and you reduce the carbon foot print of your garden to a negative value. Natural gardens help to create micro ecosystems on your property. Add a small pond or water garden and see how lively your yard gets.
Do It For The Children o.~
Little kids need to see their food come from seeds and up out of the soil. It gives them an understanding of the world that florescent lit grocery store produce sections never will. Furthermore, kids who are involved in or even just watching you in the vegetable garden are more likely to eat the harvest at the dinner table than kids who are disconnected from the growing process.