Thursday, April 17, 2008

Locally Grown Food Will Keep Food On Your Table

Links to relevant articles are at the bottom of these observations.

Climate change is not same world wide: in some areas it is warming; in other areas it is cooling. In the Pacific Northwest, where we have our farm in Kitsap County's maritime climate of Puget Sound and Hood Canal, the weather is colder. For the third consecutive year, April is about ten degrees cooler than the norm. At night, it is very cold, down into the mid-30’s and up to the low-40’s. The soil cools off, and even the seeds of the early crops rot in the ground. This means that early crops come in later, and that we have to use season extenders such a row cover, hoop houses, and greenhouses to make sure we have vegetables for our CSA customers.

In other parts of the world, like in one of Australia’s grain baskets in its Southeast, high temperatures and no rain have caused the total failure of the rice crop.

Most of the grains and vegetables we humans rely on grow in a very narrow window of temperature: 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They will survive a few days of high temperatures up to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with water, but not for more than a few days.

Hunger has always been a problem; however it usually has been caused or exacerbated by very human political circumstances: war, transportation breakdown, and greed.

For those of us in the United States and Canada, the preservation of local farms is a buffer to these failures. We need to take ourselves out of the world food market, so that we can continue to put food on the table.

In addition, sustainable farming techniques – tending the soil as nature intended, as it was tended for millennium – will help increase production and preserve fertility of the land.

Local food is not a fad. It will be a necessity, and unless farms are preserved, they will be gone. It takes years to put farmland back into production. Even backyard gardens help preserve knowledge, a skill-base, and arable land.
Below are links to articles about these problems.

A Drought in Australia, a Global Shortage of Rice
Food Boom Brings Unpalatable Truths
Michael Pollan NYT blog: Food From a Farm Near You
Switch to Organic Crops Could Help Poor

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