The future of the food supply

I have been thinking about writing this post all week but haven’t much idea of where to start. I want to preface this by saying that  I am not writing this in order to create fear but instead to try and create the idea of change and to try and increase the knowledge and awareness about the future of our food supply.

With the recent occurences of food rioting worldwide , for example the food riots in Bengal in 2007 and  the  global rice shortage in 2008 that coincided with dramatic increases in staple food prices, which  triggered food riots across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. And it’s not only those living in Africa and the Middle East who suffer from hunger and  difficulties with food with over 145 million people in the WHO European region are obese, while 23 million are undernourished.1

The keys issues to the disappearing food supplies are:

  • The disappearance of useable soil including soil degradation 
  • Climate change – including drought leading to failing harvests in the US, Ukraine amongst others
  • The world consuming more food than it produces
  • Government subsidies and the creation of ethanol (therefore diverting corn and also land to the production of fuel rather than food)

I want to discuss each of these topics but will probably need to do them section by section.

The disappearance of useable soil is something that is relatively easily solved through the use of smarter farming practices. These include using greenmanures (cover crops) which is the technique of using certain plants to re-add nitrogen back into the soil rather than using chemical fertilizers, using mulches and using conservation tillage or no-till techniques. 2 But for the urban dweller or non-farmer these are things that can still be applied to our own gardens. Being smart about composting and not dousing our gardens in chemical fertilizers when we can use composts, mulches and different types of manure.

I’m also a big believer in urban gardening and trying to get countries to produce more of their own food and eating seasonally. In Sweden more than half of our food comes from Norway and other EU countries . I wonder what would happen if as world food supplies become more and more scare, where would countries like Sweden get their food from. What would it be like eating a more seasonal and sustainable diet, for example not having avocado’s or pineapples.

I also advocate preserving fruits and some vegetables through pickling/ chutneys using the water bath method or using a dehyrdator. Most of my knowledge has been gained through the website sbcanning.com (who also has a facebook group) and through books including the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I’m no where near an expert or Master canner but if you can  choose your food carefully it adds up environmentally but it also quite often alot cheaper to eat seasonally.

jam

— Part two to come.

1: World Health Organisation: 2006, ‘145 million people in the WHO European Region are obese, while 23 million are undernourished: on World Food Day the Region faces a double burden of malnutrition’ World Health Organization), accessed on Nov 20.

2. http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G1650

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