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How Secure is Your Food Supply?

Campbellton Community Garden: Raised Beds

Campbellton Community Garden

Campbellton Community Garden

Food Security

Food prices are rising, and more and more people are turning to growing their own food to help keep the costs down. Unfortunately, far too many people do not have the room to grow much, and while growing something is better than growing nothing, very few of us can feed ourselves without going to a store and buying food.

So what happens when you have little or no land and your income is insufficient to feed your family? Food security is often discussed in terms of what we called the Developing countries. However, there are far too many people across North America who are a pay cheque away from hunger.

Sure there are food banks and lunch and breakfast programs that can help but there is no guarantee they will always be there to help. The food banks depend upon people being able to give surplus food and what happens when the surplus dries up?

When would your food supply run out if you were unable to buy food anywhere? Do you ever think about how secure or perhaps, better put, insecure your food supply is? What is food security?

In 1996, the World Food Summit defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.

Generally speaking, food security is defined as including both physical and economic access to food that meets people's dietary needs as well as their food preferences.

Food preferences include vegan and vegetarian choices as well as ethnic cuisine.

Food is a commodity. This means it is bought and sold in a marketplace. This is a good way to do business, as long as all the participants have the means to shop, and buy the food their bodies and minds demand. Unfortunately, many families cannot feed themselves on the income they receive each month, and the money often runs out before the month does.

What can we do? We can encourage the growth of local food growing and producing business by shopping local as often as we are able. We can encourage the development of community gardens, yard sharing and community shared agriculture projects.

Community gardens, such as the one in the accompanying picture in Campbellton New Brunswick, enable people without any other access to land, to grow some of their own food. This increases their ability to take care of themselves, and fosters a sense of community among the gardeners.

Community gardens also provide a gardening education to those who need it, and new gardeners can learn about techniques such as starting seeds indoors in order to extend the gardening season.

These actions localize food production and can create jobs and incomes which means people have money to spend. This localization of food production is happening across the continent, but it needs support both consumer support and political support at the municipal, provincial or state and federal levels.

Food security is a political issue, besides finding ways to grow your own food and shopping local, talk with your political representatives and tell them to make food security a priority. Remind them food is a right, one they need to honour.

Staring Seeds Indoors

Pumpkin Seeds started indoors gets jump on gardening season.

Pumpkin Seeds started indoors gets jump on gardening season.

Food Dehydrating

Food Dehydration


Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 21, 2014:

Thanks, growing food locally is a sound response to the current food reality.

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Cathi Sutton on February 21, 2014:

This Hub was timely when you wrote it, and maybe even more important now.

Food prices are rising as supplies are getting thinner.

Good Hub, and very good advise about community gardens!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 28, 2011:

This is a sound point, Paul 'As long as "market forces" remain unrecognized as "market farces" in terms of managing human existence and human needs, this will be the case.'

rpaulis, yes community gardens are a great vehicle for creating community.

rpalulis from NY on February 28, 2011:

Excellent Hub, I never gave much thought to how secure my food supply is. I am so thankful that I do have land and am able to grow a lot of my own food. I think community gardens are great as well. Great for those obviously who do not have the space/land to have a garden of their own, but also great for the community, bringing folks together with a common interest.

Paul Wallis from Sydney, Australia on February 27, 2011:

Great hub, Bob, and in Australia, which has probably the highest ratio of food production to population, we're already copping the result of the floods on the shelves. Prices are going up, and even the suppliers are lost in the maze.

The word is "mismanagement", and it applies across the board in economics. Commodity markets are extremely vulnerable to exploitation, and this is perhaps the logical development of that fact. As long as "market forces" remain unrecognized as "market farces" in terms of managing human existence and human needs, this will be the case.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 26, 2011:

Keep up the gr8 work.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on February 26, 2011:

That's exactly what I'm trying to do with my article series about corporate greed! ;-) Rock on!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 26, 2011:

The task is large but there are those who are undertaking it, working with them, making connections and doing what we can were we live are part of what we can do.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on February 25, 2011:

It will take a major revolt from among the masses--if we get sick enough of it. The downtrodden "class" is growing exponentially. As the 'haves' become ever more numerous and greedy, they will find the society they have created is so top-heavy that those of us on whom they depend to support their obscenely lavish lifestyles can no longer do so, and they will crash down hard.

But it won't happen without protests en masse.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 25, 2011:

I often wonder what kind of an upside-down world we live in, political and social priorities are simply wrong.

Thanks DzMsLizzy, the future is indeed bleak unless we shift direction and that seems unlikely to happen,

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on February 25, 2011:

I know this all too well. "Just a paycheck away..." when you are on social security and disability..those "paychecks" dry up before all your bills are even paid.

While you may qualify for the "SNAP" program (formerly called "food stamps"), it is a cruel fact that any changes in your income must be reported.

When I qualified for social security, that income resulted in chopping our SNAP allottment in half! AS IF that money became available for food? only let me be SLIGHTLY less behind on my insurance and utility bills.

WE do have land to grow some vegetables, but we also have 'robo-gophers,' and no extra money to construct gopher-proof planting beds.

The way food is mass-produced, distributed and often wasted by wanton destruction (as Randy points out) in this "country of plenty" (yeah--if you're filthy rich), is nothing short of criminal.

As the costs of transportation rise, the cost of food follows in an even higher proportion! (Like the logarithmic scale for earthquakes!) Gas is on the rise again, and if it reaches $6/gallon, as was predicted a few days ago on the news, it will be the downfall of this country!

You raise excellent points!

Voted up and shared!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on February 25, 2011:

Excellent hub, thank you. The food that ends up being destroyed in the US for various and absurd reasons is very troubling. When I think of the people in need who go without, I wonder what kind of an upside-down world are we living in?

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 25, 2011:

Randy, more experience and observation, I think.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on February 25, 2011:

There are thousands of acres of vegetable produce plowed under just in my area. The farmers get only a fraction of the price paid in supermarkets. When the prices paid for the growers products fall below the cost of harvesting them, they are simply left to rot or plowed under.

Sometimes entire fields are destroyed without a single vegetable being picked. But even when the price paid to the farmer drops below a profitable harvest point, it stays the same in the grocery stores. Go figure!

We produce plenty of food to feed this country and many more people around the world, but the food supply and price is controlled by the major food retailers.

The guy brokering the produce for the retailers make much more of a profit making the deal than the farmer-who takes all of the risk and expense of growing and harvesting the vegetables- can ever dream of.

But this is merely the opinion of a farmer.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 25, 2011:

Then it is time it became part of the larger plan.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 25, 2011:

Of course we do. Some of that is already going on. But it's not enough, because it's not part of a larger plan.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 25, 2011:

Perhaps we need to look at converting empty buildings into community urban gardens and use renewable energy source to power them.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 25, 2011:

This is a huge issue in North America where so much of the food we consume goes through layers of processing and then travels long distances to arrive at the table. Our only guarantee of having access to this food is through paying for it with wages or with government funding. It's a fragile system; a broken link anywhere in the chain spells disaster. To your point, both payment methods are in jeopardy; families are a pay check away from having no food on the table, and as much as we don't like to hear it, hunger already exists here because there is not adequate private or government assistance.

To PR Morgan's point, to allocate arable land for the production of fuel is a stop-gap measure for becoming less dependent on foreign fuel sources. America's need for instant gratification in all areas makes it impossible to develop and implement a 10-year, 20-year, 100-year plan for food production and distribution, but this kind of long-range thinking is needed. The concept of using plants to replace fossil fuels is fine; the method hasn't been worked out yet...maybe in 100 years, with a responsible plan, it will be.

There is no doubt that locally produced food is part of the answer. However, locally produced food is often more expensive, and depending on where you live, it may also be seasonal.

I live in an ex-urban development, surrounded by huge tracts of fertile land that are now destined for commercial development. These tracts could feed the entire community with every kind of nutritious food. It doesn't take too much imagination to envision pasture, crops, and small processing plants. But the outside-the-box thinking, the courageous vision backed up with a viable plan, is missing.

Thanks for a provocative look at what's wrong with food supply security.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 25, 2011:

The cost of shipping food across country is high especially when the environmental impact is considered, thanks for dropping by.

fucsia on February 25, 2011:

An important argument. Your advice is very useful also to protect the environment from unnecessary transport of food.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 25, 2011:

Thanks PR, I agree using arable land to grow fuel is just wrong.

PR Morgan from Sarasota Florida on February 24, 2011:

You are absolutely right. We are using food for energy, and i believe that is a bad idea. It is driving up the price of food. We need to find ways to conserve energy and increase food yields for our populations. Great hub..up and awesome!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 24, 2011:

Thank you both for dropping by, the future of food producers and consumers should concern everyone.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on February 24, 2011:

As a farmer, my food supply is fairly secure, but I do worry about the future of the food producers and consumers. Especially the way things are going now.


Hello, hello, from London, UK on February 24, 2011:

You have certainly raised a good point here. Great hub.

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