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massive floods in the US, deaths of livestock, farmers going bankrupt--what to do? Grow more food

 
gardener
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Location: Western Washington
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

James Landreth wrote: small kitchen gardens will insulate them from the price pain.



Very few small kitchen gardens produce sufficient calories for the families that grow them.  Without sufficient calories, we starve.  



I agree that calories are important. It's probable that no small kitchen gardens, in fact, supply the calories that people need. What I’m referring to is shorter term shortages and rises in food prices--not the complete dissolution of the industrial agricultural system. Hopefully we still have many years to transition to a more sustainable, resilient way of growing food, though we’ll do so with weather conditions continuing to be volatile.

I think fruit and nut trees are an important part of becoming more resilient, though nothing is foolproof. Both can provide calories, including animal feed, and even if they don’t replace all the annual staples if they can even reduce the amount of garden I have to grow I will be grateful. I love gardening, but there were a few years where I was growing a lot of what I ate in the annual garden due to necessity, and honestly, it was pretty exhausting. I look back on it fondly in some ways but hope that more of my food will come from trees in the future.
 
gardener
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I grow very few calories, but in my opinion my garden still insulates me from rising food prices to an extent.  "Just calories" are pretty cheap -- grains and legumes can most of them be found for a buck a pound or less if you shop smart, and a pound goes a long way.  If those prices multiplied by ten after several years of bad years for the industrial farms, I could still buy enough calories without much pain.  But fruits, greens, vegetables, and herbs are more expensive and likely to go up quicker under bad conditions (I saw celery at six dollars a head at my local grocery not long ago due to, apparently, bad weather in California.)  If my garden gives me a bunch of fresh herbs and vegetables, I can devote more of my food budget to the calorie crops that get harvested with million dollar combines.  Indeed, my entire growing strategy is focused on replacing the most expensive things in my shopping cart with self-grown produce, and (since I don't eat much meat or dairy or refined oil) those expensive things are almost never full of calories.
 
master pollinator
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Trace Oswald wrote:
What you say is true Tyler, but I think the point James was making applies more to crop shortages, rather than a complete absence of food.



You're right.  I was catastrophizing.  Things are so dire these days, it's difficult not to do that sometimes...
 
pioneer
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I think in alot of catastrophe situations there would still be food distribution, but that food distribution would be boring staple foods ( rice/beans) etc... so people having some vitamin rich foods is very helpful.  Yes, do more if you can !

And dont forget food storage, you can get one persons worth of one months calories in sealed #10cans ( a case of 6 cans, beans, rice, oats, wheat berries..) that will last for over 30 years for about $30 for that one person/month of calories from a Latter Day Saints food storage center.  It would be prudent to have 3 months tucked under the bed.  Get one can each of the dehydrated carrots and onions they sell, I have opened and tried these and they are very well done, after being soaked in water, they are like fresh in both smell and texture.  Make sure no matter how small your apartment or house to grow some greens. Yes, grow more variety of foods if you can.  

If you have a yard, have an apple tree and add a plum tree if you have room fro a second tree, these are so versital and dont need any work to have a crop ( apple juice, apple sauce, dried apples, apple crisp all winter....plum jam, dried prunes, fruit leather mixed with the apple)


If you just have Magenta Spreen Lambsquarters all summer and red russian Kale all fall-spring,  those are very nutritious,  very good vitamin and mineral source, super vegetables realy and easy to grow and dont take much room, they go with everything too, soups, stir frys, salads, side dish.... they also dry realy well, no dehydrator needed, then store the dry leaves in a jar if you live in a climate when you will have time between crops.   If you have room for more than that, consider a couple tomato plants, so good fresh and canned or dried to use in cooking the rest of the year.  
 
pollinator
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such bad days in the midwest-- after weather and floods, now drought. someone is quoted here as saying 90% of corn yields will be affected. along with major damage to sugar beets and beans. Tough times to be a farmer.
https://nyti.ms/313rkBu
 
gardener & bricolagier
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Reading the NYT article Tereza linked remind me of one of the most educational things I ever accidentally did. I always read more than one book at a time, and at one point I was concurrently reading Jared Diamond's "Collapse" and Timothy Egan's "The Worst Hard Time." Collapse is about various cultures who have collapsed due to bad decisions about what to do in a culture with natural resources. The Worst Hard Time is about the dust bowl in America in the early 20th century. To me it was like looking at the problem in the long overview, and in a close up at the same time. The current news is looking at it all happening again real time. It's the same thing, has happened before, and too many people aren't learning the lessons of history, and it is happening again.

Things like this is why permaculture looks like the best answer to me. Design assuming possible extremes, and have back up plans to account for their effects. Keep erosion from happening, and water balanced. This isn't hard, but so many cultures have failed it, reading the news, we as a culture aren't doing a lot better.

 
Posts: 55
Location: Ontario - zone 5b
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Canada isn't fairing well this year either. Albertan friends say that after a spring drought, farmers are struggling through a rare wet summer, with rain and cool temperatures most days. Here in my part of Ontario, we had a wet spring, with fields standing bare for a month past usual, too wet to plant. Thought of this thread today as I listen to our first real rain in almost a month.... fire bans all over the place and grass and trees are yellowing early.

My father lived through WWII and was starving most of his childhood except for the things his mother grew or he foraged/stole. My mom grew up on a small farm, poor, but never hungry thanks to a large garden. I think growing food as a preparation for "what if" is in my blood. The least I have ever had was 2 tomatos and 4 pepper plants.

I am so glad we planted a bigger than usual garden this year-spurred, I admit, at least partially by this thread! Food prices are nuts ($7 for a medium watermelon!), and every thing I can scrounge out of the garden is something we don't have to pay for. The garden is new this year, the growing season has been slow and the soil is poor, but has given us a few meals now. I plan to preserve a lot this year.... if prices are bad now, I can't imagine winter.

We don't grow staples, other than a few potatos, instead focusing on expensive nutrient rich food we are more inclined to skip at the grocery store when prices climb.
 
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