Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Food Security

Food Security is an idea I've just started to spend some time with.  Mostly because the idea is prevalent in some of the gardening blogs I read.

Professionally, I've always preferred the idea of being vertically integrated over significant outsourcing.  But I'm not sure if that came from my first professional job or if self-sustainment has just been an important idea for me for ages.

Anyway I find it interesting that this idea has been rolling around in my head recently since a new case of Mad Cow Disease was found in the US this month.

They're saying not to worry, the surveillance process is working... that the meat was not destined for human consumption.  Of course the video they show is of a cow falling all over itself and a kid suffering from eating tainted meat... So the words say don't worry, but the video says panic.

Last year there was a big issue with Listeria and Cantaloupe that was traced to a farm in my state and before that it was E-Coli and Spinach, Salmonella and Peanuts and then there's the whole pink slime thing... and so maybe the meat wasn't destined to become human food, but a rendering plant produces things like soap and ingredients for animal feed so maybe your dog could become infected.... and... well, it would be pretty easy to take this in a very alarmist direction.  So yeah, it's pretty difficult not to be concerned about the safety of our food supply.

Certainly the less distributed the source of the food, the more likely issues will cause a bigger problem with the population.  So I'm very happy that buying local and organic has been enjoying a resurgence lately.

I started buying organic foods when I was in college.  I learned as a kid that you are what you eat and I did not like the idea of eating pesticides.  When I learned about Farmer's Markets I started shopping there because it meant less transportation and pollution... and supporting local businesses is a good thing... and more plants mean more oxygen and less carbon dioxide.  Finally when I had my own house, I planted my first vegetable garden because I like to watch things grow and home-grown always tastes better than store-bought.

Now, a few years later we've acquired a freezer and I've learned about canning foods.  I still very much enjoy the process of growing plants but now my garden is much more about feeding us than it is just about something fun to do.

We're a long, long way from being fully self-sustaining.  And the idea becomes daunting when you start to think about the meat you raise and the food you need to support that.  So I am doing my best to trust that the government surveillance programs are working and that the food producers are making intelligent, long-term decisions while I continue to build my own farm.


Voie de Vie said...

It's very intriguing to me how we each interpret words and ideas based on personal context. When I saw your blog post title, I had a very different idea of what the contents would discuss. Food security has an additional meaning in the context of poverty (law) - and that's where I thought you were going. Of course, given your continued path of self-sufficiency, I absolutely see how you perceived the term.

Kathryn Ray said...

You make a great point. Food Security in the context of access is a huge issue in our country as well.

AC said...

Interesting--the title made my mind go the same place at Voie de Vie's. But I think they're not entirely disparate problems. It could be argued that our current system of the mass production of food has helped fight hunger, but at what cost? Do the costs outweigh the benefits? Is there a better way (food stamps count for more at farmer's markets, for produce, etc). It's a tough question.

Natalie said...

Interesting posts. I have been doing some canning for a few years...not everything we eat obviously, but I do what I can. This year, I am buying a pressure canner to try to can as much as possible. I look forward to the experiment. Thanks for sharing.