Thursday, 17 September 2009

Food security

Once again, I can go out to collect enough food for us for the day... and more.
This has been my plan for many years... I do not have much money or a particularly luxurious lifestyle,  but there is a particular kind of security in being able to provide ones own day to day needs in this way.

For many people who have low incomes,  food is a large part of the budget.  People chase "specials" that are designed by food manufacturers and marketers to maximise profit for companies rather than being healthy or designed to help consumers or their budgets, despite advertising and promises.

As agri-businesses, from farming to food processing, take control of the food system, their profits have increased greatly.  This has been good for those companies and their shareholders,  but it has meant that many people are less able to eat well.

In order to increase profits,  cheap mass produced food containing more and more sugar (including high fructose corn syrup) and fat (with increasing proportions of omega-6 rather than omega-3 fatty acids, for longer shelf life) are consumed and many people become ill.  Rates of diet related illnesses have increased as food has become more "processed" using these cheaper ingredients.  Company profits have increased, and we are told how lucky we are to have such an availability of food, even such "out of season" treats as winter grapes!

Climate change is beginning to have an effect on food production.  Last year there were shortages of a number of commodities because of failures of crops and conversion of some crops to energy (ethanol.)  Stockpiles have been reduced and shortages are expected to be more frequent in future.   In the past,  when money or food was in short supply,  even city people produced a significant amount of food. (There are estimates of up to 40% of fresh food being grown in the city of London during the second world war.)  People used to have more contact with their rural relatives and the associated assistance that might be available.   Much of this has changed and over several generations and there seems to be a population of city dwellers who consider it normal to be dependent upon manufacturers and their supply chains for all of their food.  This is a significant change in a relatively short period of time.

The world is facing peak phosphorus, peak oil and with the associated climate changes, a reduced ability to grow food crops and transport them inexpensively.  The mechanisation of agricultural production and food processing has disempowered people.  This lack of control over ones life has many consequences.   I believe that a lack of control over one's life can lead to depression.  All of this is remediated with manufactured medications and vitamins and diet programs that cost even more money.  It might be more productive to plant potatoes!  Growing food can definitely improve one's mood.
"Growing your own food by messing around in your own garden proves to be nature's fruitful way of cultivating your health—physically and psychologically."

Corporations now sell us everything that we need for survival...  food, shelter, clothing and even water.  Air is still free!  This is now considered to be "normal" and people are at the mercy of agricultural industries and their associated manufacturers.

Eating is the most political act that we do each day.

Growing even a small amount of food can change attitudes and well-being.  Many people are beginning to grow some of their food and whether it is a pot of herbs or burying a sprouted potato to later retrieve enough for a meal, there is real joy in this kind of production. On the day when a complete meal is produced from the garden... no added "shop" food...  the satisfaction is like no other!
Producing ones own food provides a connection with ancestors back to the beginning of agriculture.


Fiona (posts by her mum and dad) said...

And we were just talking about HFCS at the table tonight....thanks for the super duper blog post.

Joel said...

Well said! Definitely a very affirming way of taking back control over one's own life. I think Derrick Jensen writes something about how independence is based in one's access to a landbase that sustains them. Keep up the great work!

Jane said...

I am a fan of Derrick Jensen... I have read the first volume of "Endgame" and I'm waiting on vol 2.