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Food Safety & Security

This is a reprint from Winter 2008 edition of Black Oaks Center Clearing Newsletter; Food Security, Resource Depletion & Climate

by Fredrick D. Carter

Nourishment is a prerequisite for life.  In a society, where food is a commodity, many of us take food for granted.  We assume that food will be forever present and that what we want to eat will be available when we want to eat it, indefinitely.   There is mounting evidence that our food is not secure.  

Resource depletion is threatening present and future food production.  Rising fossil fuel prices due to peak oil and natural gas, are reflected in the 75% rise in food prices over the past 2 years.  Most of the food we eat is ushered over 1500 miles using massive amounts of crude oil.  Embodied energy costs for production are chipping away at the bottom-line in commercial agriculture and food industry.  After a crop leaves the farm, 2.5 times more fossil fuel energy is spent in food processing, packaging, transport and sales than what was needed to culture and harvest the crop.  

Other natural resources that are necessary for food production and in limited supply are clean water and healthy soil.  Dwindling amounts of both have lead to chemically laden plants and animals in the food chain and soaring cases of environmentally related illnesses.  

Thousands of acres of deforested lands contribute to rising CO2 emissions, a main contributor to climate change and global warming.  Unpredictable weather patterns and a rise in environmental disasters have affected food production world wide.  The wide spread use of GMOs is a looming threat to food security.  90% of all U.S. citizens purchase their food from supermarkets.  Processed foods account for 3/4ths of all food sales globally.  In truth, our food is far from secure.  

The Food Security Coalition of North America defines community food security as a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self reliance and social justice.

The Basics of Community Food Security
  • Local organic food production
  • Eating whole, natural, organic, local food
  • Low fossil fuel, organic gardening
  • Collective wholesale food buying

Ways to Secure Food for Your Family

Grow your own food!!!

Encourage mosques, churches, schools and civic organizations to do collective organic gardening.

Create outdoor and indoor gardens that are maintained chemical free. 
Plant berry bushes, nut and fruit trees and other perennial food crops.   Grow herbs & vegetables by the door, in the back yard, in a vacant lot, or even in a sunny window. 

Eat locally grown healthy food
Organic food that is grown within 100 to 200 miles of where you live is not only healthy for you but healthy for the local economy.

Eat foods that are in season
Eating with the seasons helps to strengthen the immune system.  It is very much a part of being “grounded” & in harmony with the nature around you.

Purchase healthy food collectively in bulk when possible
Join a food buying club or a co-op.  Go in with family and friends to purchase items that everyone needs in volume wholesale and split it up.  This saves not only time & money in the long run, but frees you up to do other things besides routine grocery shopping.

Stock up on dry goods especially during inclement weather.  Keep them in pest free containers.
Air tight glass jars, stainless steel or tin containers make it difficult for unwanted varmints to take advantage of your stash.  Store staples in cool, dry areas. 

Keep some of your household savings as family food storage, at least 2 to 3 months worth.
The beauty of buying food in bulk is having surplus in the event of an emergency.  You are now less vulnerable to any unexpected crisis. 

Store what you eat and eat what you store
This will make your family more safe, secure and in control during hard times.

Buy directly from farmers with healthy farming practices
Not all farmers can afford the expense of being a certified organic farmer,but they do practice organic farming.  Seeking out and purchasing food grown from such farmers in your area is a cornerstone to community food security and a beginning of economic relocalization.

Learn how to process foods in ways that do not require ongoing energy use like a cold storage, dehydrating, pickling, brining and canning.   
These are low energy, safe ways to store food in the event of power outages.

Save & preserve organic, heirloom seeds, plants and animals.
Over 50 % of the seeds available are genetically engineered and will not reproduce.  This is a constant threat to food security.  Heirloom husbandry is another way to secure local food.