Saturday, February 14, 2009

Keep Eating. Here's how.

Where does your food come from? Same place as mine. The store. We depend completely on global food supply chains for our survival. All of our eggs, meat, bread and chocolate is in that basket. It's a great big comfortable basket, but it's also a single point of potential failure.

Between irrigation and chemical fertilizers, we have expanded food production greatly over the years, but that growth in food production is nearing its end. Limits on water for irrigation and diminishing returns on chemical fertilizers, point towards declines in future food production. Anthropologists say people always raid before they starve, but we can delay that grim choice with a little self reliance.

Right now, if something happens we don't have any sort of backup system. Your neighbour, who we'll call Flanders, probably has a 72 hour emergency kit or a cellar full of preserves, but that won't exactly help you unless you're already on really good terms.

You thought you were diversified when you bought stocks and bonds, but getting all your food from one food system still leaves you vulnerable. If something major happens to the food supply, neighbours (or countries) with food will be keen to feed themselves rather than sell it to you. You can't eat money. Better to look out for number one.

There is still time to figure out how to farm your back (and front) yards with compost and rainwater. This will become a survival tool, and it's important to learn that skill now, before you need it. If you need the produce from a garden, you're going to need it desperately, and nature doesn't do drive thru.

Make the beginner's mistakes in gardening this year, before you need to count on the garden. Your successes will be tasty; failures educational. If you don't have a yard, community gardens are good places to expand your social circle and build up the network. Flanders might even help you get started.

Extra credit: Get together with some neighbours and share seeds or gardening tools. It's cheaper for everybody, and you build a support network.

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