When Gardener’s Supply arrived in the Intervale in 1985 there were hundreds of junk cars, trash lined the dirt roads and a proud tradition of caring for the land and growing local food had been abandoned for decades.
Thirty years ago there were a billion people on the planet hungry and “food insecure” (ie. unable to access enough food to meet basic needs). Today there are still a billion people suffering in this way.
Our food system is failing us globally. In the US 50 million Americans — 1 in 4 children —don’t know where their next meal is coming from. 1 of 2 kids in the US will be on food assistance at some time in their life. This is a system and economic problem, not a production issue.
Mark Bittman wrote a good column for World Food Day Oct 16 reporting that industrial agriculture is NOT solving the hunger problem: How to Feed the World. In fact he points out that there are two food systems and one (industrial agriculture) can be highly inefficient:
"Let’s at last recognize that there are two food systems, one industrial and one of small landholders, or peasants if you prefer. The peasant system is not only here for good, it’s arguably more efficient than the industrial model. According to the ETC Group, a research and advocacy organization based in Ottawa, the industrial food chain uses 70 percent of agricultural resources to provide 30 percent of the world’s food, whereas what ETC calls “the peasant food web” produces the remaining 70 percent using only 30 percent of the resources."
In North America, home and community food gardening and the local food movement are essentially part of the “peasant food system”. There are no massive subsidies and no federal Farm Bill funding more efficient and environmentally healthy local food production. (more...)