One Step Closer to Food Security
By B. McPherson
Food security is on the minds of more and more people these days. Whether it is the desire to eliminate GMOs, pesticides and antibiotic resistant bacteria in our food or simply to ensure that there will be sufficient, nutritious food available when we need it.
I am gradually moving closer to that goal of food security. When I retired I started my kitchen garden. It’s quite a lot of work during growing season, but Nature is generous and most of the summer vegetables and some of the winter ones are grown there. The soil that I purchased was poor and gradually my husband and I are improving the nutrients and texture of it. Judicious applications of well rotted horse manure help the process along.
The next step is establishing a secure source of meat. I am not choosing to go vegetarian but am very choosey about where my dead animals for the table come from. Chickens meet the criteria beautifully. They are small enough to be easily handled, good to look at, and if one decides they are too nice to kill, will give a generous number of eggs for the table with minimal care. Their droppings will go to enhance the garden soil and their voracious appetites for bugs and slugs will help maintain the garden’s health.
Now that the garden is put away for the winter, I can surround myself with seed catalogues and dream about the chicks I will get in the spring. I have a line on some heritage hens. I’ve got the books that tell me more than I want to know about hens, roosters and their offspring. Everything is set. There’s one small hitch. The hen house has yet to be built. There’s a cement slab waiting for a creative person to make it a hen Hilton. Ah, but I can dream and plan, plan and dream during the dark hours of winter.
Actually, food security is an increasing global issue. The Green Revolution of the 60s is credited with saving many people from starvation, but like many of man’s achievements, it had unintended consequences. Many more people survived to reproduce. The high yielding crops needed more water and petroleum based fertilizers. Salt has ruined some former farm lands and the gradual increase in farm sizes have mandated an increase in petroleum fueled equipment which tends to compact the soil and make it less useable.
Added to that is the more recent phenomenon of genetically altered seed which has the promise of increased yields with little hand weeding. While the debate is out on whether the promise is fulfilled, the farmer who grows GMO food is required to sell his seed back to the corporation that manufactures it. The thousand years old tradition of seed saving for the next crop is broken and leaves the farmer dependent on the supplier for seed and buyback.
With the accelerating climate warming that Earth is witnessing, the movement of food crops thousands of miles to market is becoming less and less acceptable. Plus, those burgeoning populations that currently supply out of season vegetables to the N.American market may have to use the food for their own people. Last year India put an embargo on some of its rice exports in order to ensure enough for their own people.
While most people living in an urban setting will not be able to achieve total food security, there is always something that can be done. Grow lights allow even the darkest of apartments to cultivate herbs and greens. An apartment balcony is sufficient space to grow veggies in a barrel. And don’t forget to stick in some strawberry plants. Those little morsels will spoil you for the ‘steroid’ berries that most supermarkets sell. And if you still think you have a brown thumb, find out where your local farmers’ market is. Patronize your local food producers. You might even find that you like fresh broccoli.