Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Food Security

Last year about this time I read the book Independence Days, by Sharon Astyk.  At first I didn't know what to make of it.  I picked up the book because I thought it would be about canning and drying food, which she does get around to talking about eventually.  However, she first spends considerable time discussing her personal reasons for preserving food, which boil down to many flavors of food security.

Many of the things that she talks about are things that occasionally run through my mind, at least since my first pregnancy.  What will happen to our food supply in the future when the demand for oil begins to outstrip the supply?  When the demand for water continues to outstrip the supply in many areas?  What does common sense demand we do to prepare for such a future?  What moral considerations should guide our food decisions today, in light of possible future problems?  In light of current agricultural practices and their impact on the people and environment of our world today?  These aren't actually new concerns - they've been with us for generations - but they are receiving a lot of attention right now, in part due to the economic upheaval and uncertainty of the past several years.  I think each one of these issues is extremely complex and could be (and probably is) a book in itself.  If you've got an hour, check out the Wikipedia article on "Food Security".

Recently I picked up Independence Days again, after realizing that some things in the book had really stuck with me.  I was curious how I would feel about it after a second reading, and, well, I still don't know what to make of it.  There are a lot of people, especially on the internet, with really strong opinions about these topics.  (See a recent post on one of my favorite blogs, New to Farm Life, and associated heated comments.)  At times it really reminds me of a religious community - certain opinions are assumed to be universally shared and therefore require no justification.

So here's my plan: for the rest of this year I will write periodic follow-up entries to this one, trying to gather useful facts and references and sort out my own opinions on some of these issues.  I welcome your comments, whatever side of the battle line you stand on, and hope that my ramblings won't turn you away.

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