Why Grow Your Own Food?
Simply put, the less dependent you are on a system you don’t control, the more stable you are should trouble arise. Also, if you control your own food production, you manage exactly what goes into your food system. This, in turn may help you and your family’s long-term health. Producing your own food also adds an extra buffer to your preparedness plan. If disaster strikes the global food system or overpopulation takes its toll on food prices, you’ll have your own supply of food to fall back on.
The Individual Effort
If more people produce a portion of their own food, they may help stave off a food crisis and keep themselves more resilient should one occur. Imagine if everyone could produce just 25% of what they eat each year. It’s not a reality yet, and a daunting task for urban dwellers. However, with technology moving forward it could become simpler and more accessible. Aquaponics, hydroponics, square foot gardening, vertical gardening and permaculture are a few of the ways we’ve learned to use nature’s principles to our advantage. This site has a heavy focus on perennial gardening, permaculture technique and aquaponics. There are a plethora of perennial plants that require minimal effort and produce food for years on end. (We’re categorizing them in our Survival Plant Database.) Even if all you have to work with is a small balcony in a Chicago, planting just a few edible plants that can consistently produce food is a step in the right direction.
Sustainability of Current Practices
Survival and preparedness thinking goes beyond our short human lives. We need to consider our long-term future and search for solutions now. If we end up destroying our earth due to shortsighted thinking in our food production, what then? (A SpaceX rocket to another planet perhaps?) Mono-culture styled growing operations, bulk use of synthetic fertilizers and insecticides are a result of the 20th century’s noble attempt to feed the world. These methods have doubled and tripled food production per acre. Norman Borlag, father of the “Green Revolution” is credited with saving over a billion human lives and ushering in these modern agricultural practices. He is truly one of the unsung heroes of the last century. These methods do work and have made farmers very good at producing a few things…..corn, soy, wheat and rice. However, modern fertilizers require the use millions of tons of phosphorus and other minerals that have to be mined, processed, and shipped. This is just so an average corn field in central Illinois can have the nutrients required to grow a plant into maturity. Ironically, nature does a fine job producing it’s own plant nutrients through the simple process of breaking down plant and animal waste. I seems that maybe we missed the sustainabilty boat somewhere in all the excitement over maximizing production per acre.
Depending on how science advances, modern style agricultural technique may become harmful to global ecosystems or the savior of the human species. We’ll see. I think we need to get creative and start using nature to our advantage instead of working so hard against it.
The Grain Happy System Is Also Affecting Our Health
This new style of agriculture has also spawned a food industry to build a plethora of products out of these cheap abundant grains. Try to find a processed food item the does not contain kind some corn or soy based ingredient. It’s nearly impossible. Even our livestock are fed diets exclusively of corn and soy. We’re becoming “grain fed” as well. Meanwhile, fat been demonized for the last 50 years,thanks to the Lipid Hypothesis, and high glycemic carbohydrate intake (sugars,flours, starches etc) is at an all time high.
This article from Scientific American notes that research refined carbohydrate to be the culprit for our high obesity, heart disease and type 2 Diabetes rates.
Eat less saturated fat: that has been the take-home message from the U.S. government for the past 30 years. But while Americans have dutifully reduced the percentage of daily calories from saturated fat since 1970, the obesity rate during that time has more than doubled, diabetes has tripled, and heart disease is still the country’s biggest killer. Now a spate of new research, including a meta-analysis of nearly two dozen studies, suggests a reason why: investigators may have picked the wrong culprit. Processed carbohydrates, which many Americans eat today in place of fat, may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease more than fat does.
The traditional family farm has also changed drastically. The once diversified farms of the Midwest, raising livestock and growing a variety of produce have shifted to growing one or two crops. Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore’s Dilema comments on our grain-centric agriculture in the US:
Beginning in the fifties and sixties, the flood tide of cheap corn made it profitable to fatten cattle on feedlots instead of on grass, and the cost to raise chickens went down due to giant factories rather than housing them in farmyards. Iowa livestock farmers couldn’t compete with the factory- farmed animals their own cheap corn had helped spawn, so the chickens and cattle disappeared from the farm. and with them the pastures and hay fields and fences. In their place the farmers planted more of the one crop they could grow more of than anything else: corn. And whenever the price of corn slipped they planted a little more of it, to cover expenses and stay even. By the 1980s the diversified family farm was history in Iowa, and corn was king.
It’s ironic that many Midwest farmers grow thousands of pounds of food yearly, yet can’t even feed their family from their efforts. It’s an amazing amount of reliance on the big food system.
Back to Our Roots
Never in our history have we placed so much of our trust in others to produce what we eat. If you’re one of the fortunate people in the world to have some workable land—-make use of it! We’re humans. It’s what we do! Ponder this for a moment. Humans have grown and hunted their own food for thousands of years. Civilizations and societies were built around fertile land, shelter, and access to water. Growing, foraging and preparing food used to bring families and communities together on many levels. Unfortunately, the necessary skills for planning, planting, harvesting and preparation have been forgotten by most of us. Even cooking at home is turning into a lost art. We’ve managed to scrap all of our ‘food intelligence’ and jump right to the eating.
Grow Your Own
Whether it be a hunting wild game, raising chickens, or planting the spring tomato crop, we need to get back in touch with our food. Learn to grow things that require less work. Learn unique ways to do it in co-operation with natural cycles you observe. Learn to do it year after year. Fend for yourself.