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Why You Need to Evaluate Your Food Security

What is food security?  According to Merriam-Webster, food security is the ability to consistently access or afford adequate food.  The arrival of Covid19, aka CoronaVirus had impacted the food security of a huge number of people.  The food, if available, could be contaminated by one of the hundreds of people who have handled it since it was in the field or factory.  For weeks I have had trouble finding quality chicken or even frozen vegetables at Costco.  Many stores are limiting the quantity you can buy of certain items.  As a result, you’re forced to grocery shop more often, increasing your exposure.  Or, if you’re like me, you live so far away from a grocery store that you usually only go once a month.

The supply chain is broken because the way people are now buying food is completely different than it was a few months ago. Farms that supply restaurants are destroying food because they are unable to meet the legal requirements to package it for retail sale. Right now, the safest and most economically sound way to protect your food security is to grow your own food.

Food Security - Taking Control of your Food Chain

food security, seedling, plantLet go of some of the fear and confusion. Provide for yourself and your family. Improve your health and immune system by growing and eating fresh, nutrient-dense food. Additionally, gardening doesn’t just provide food. It provides exercise, improved mental health, and even strengthens your immune system. You may be asking, “How the heck am I supposed to grow a garden!? I don’t know anything about gardening.” or “I don’t have space for a garden.” I’m here to tell you that you can do it and you do have space.

We’ve spent the last 4 years expanding our vegetable garden to over 3000 square feet. Is it perfect? No way! But we have been able to grow nearly a year’s worth of beans and potatoes, and each year we learn something that helps us grow even more. I promise, you don’t need a big fancy tiller or acres of room.

There is one particular quote that has been an inspiration to me.  “Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can.” by Arthur Ashe.  I’m going to use it as a base for the remaining parts in this food security series, but here is a quick overview:

Start Where You Are

Do you live in an apartment or condo? Grow something on your balcony. Grow herbs on your counter. Do you live on a small suburban lot? Add herbs to your flower beds. Carve up some of that grass.  Plant vegetables in between your ornamental shrubs.  You can find plenty of ways to grow food if you look.

food security, rosemary, herbs for chickens

Use What You Have

Don’t want to go out in public to find pots or soil? Use milk cartons, yogurt tubs, or other containers that you would otherwise throw away or recycle. Potting soil is best but if you have to, find an area to discretely remove soil from a garden bed.   Additionally, you could sacrifice a houseplant. If necessary, ask a neighbor if you can have a few shovels full from their garden. Soil amendments in a pinch – you can use Epsom salts, wood ashes, and similar things to amend what soil you do have access to, just go easy on them.

Do What You Can

To quote Justin Rhodes, “Just Plant!” Mail ordering seeds is hard right now, but some small hardware stores and nurseries do have them. If you have old seeds from previous gardening attempts, try it! The viability of seeds declines as they get older, but that doesn’t mean that none of that seed is good. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try. Many seeds,
especially broccoli and lettuce, are viable for 5 years or more. If all else fails, use the seeds of food you’ve bought in the grocery store. It isn’t ideal, but it is what’s available.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll expand on each of these ideas separate articles. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this video of Lukas Nelson singing “Turn off the News and Build a Garden” (Note: There is one obscene word near the beginning).
Here are links for part 2, part 3, and part 4.

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