Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Food Crisis Solution: Go Back to the Beginning?

Much has been said, over the years, about the global food crisis and world hunger. At the same time, food waste in many countries is at an all time high. Perhaps part of the problem is that food production has become too big; too global. Perhaps the answer is to go back to the beginning with local/regional food production and distribution.

A return to seasonal selections of food based on local/regional geography. Less transportation costs, shorter distance from field to table, less waste. A resurgence of small family farms able to offer healthy, produce, meat, fruit, nuts, eggs, cheese, etc. in a sustainable way. Personal relationships between farmers, grocers, butchers, bakers, restaurants,
and consumers.

“Slow Food reminds us of the importance of knowing where our food comes from. When we understand the connection between the food on our table and the field where it grows, our everyday meals can anchor us to nature and the place where we live.”
~ Alice Waters, chef, author, Vice President of Slow Food International

In metropolitan areas, abandoned buildings and vacant lots are being converted to vertical farms and urban gardens, eliminating food deserts, and providing employment opportunities for inner city inhabitants. Will Allen's Growing Power is testimony to the ways a community can benefit from urban farms. Urban farms can be found in New York, Chicago, London, Paris, Berlin, and Sydney, as well as many other cities around the world.

"Our connection to, and knowledge of, the food we eat, the land upon which we grow it and the people who plow, plant and pick it is more important to our future than all the money in the world. "                      ~Nancy Kotting-Two Men, Two Farms and a Legacy We Can All Learn From

Small, local farms can also successfully eliminate the issue of food waste in communities by using waste food from restaurants, grocery stores, and schools as compost. California Safe Soil has developed Harvest-to-Harvest, or H2H, a liquid fertilizer made from food waste. Comprised completely of organic matter, H2H vastly reduces the amount of chemical fertilizers needed by a crop. Just as important, the liquid can be applied to crops with farmers’ existing irrigation equipment, reducing the necessity for extra labor or equipment costs. The company sources food waste from a number of Sacramento-area grocery store chains to create its product. 

Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, which has an extensive sustainability policy, uses their grains in almost every area of its business. After brewing, some of the waste go to local farms where it’s fed to the livestock and poultry that end up being served back at the brewpub. Some of it goes to the baker who makes the bread and pretzels on their menu. Another portion is composted for use at their urban farm and another urban farm in the city. The grains, which are rich in the nitrates and sulfates on which fungi thrive, are also used by local mushroom cultivators to grow mushrooms that end up as toppings on pizzas or salads. 

It's time for agriculture to become, local and sustainable, if we are to have a secure, healthy food supply in the future.

Until next time...become the change you imagine.