Tag Archives: Food

20. Urban Agriculture

12 Nov

Wow! already I am at 20 posts in this 100 in 100 challenge! Whooda thunk it?

Time for some more edumakayshun.

Urban Agriculture seems to be a hot topic in the grower’s world these days or maybe I am just a bit late to the table. The latter is probably truer than the former. A quick study of the term reveals two words; “Urban” and “Agriculture.” “Urban”  meaning, “of or relating to cities and the people who live in them,” and “Agriculture” which means, “the science or occupation of farming.” So putting them together produces something akin to the science or occupation of farming as it relates to cities and the people who live in them. Actually Google Web Definitions defines “Urban Agriculture” as,

The practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around a village, town, or city.

Compared to its much larger, more familiar cousin Rural Agriculture, Urban Agriculture takes a more compact and intensive form. Located in or near more heavily developed areas, participants in urban agriculture often are limited in space and location. Eventhough the optimal growing conditions of rural agricultural areas (space, soil, water, and direct sun light) are not in abundance in many cities and towns, growers have developed many different ways to compensate for that which is lacking.

  • Square foot Gardening is a popular practice of intensive gardening that turns the traditional row cropping method on its head. By ordering and planting seeds in a density pattern based on individual 12 inch by 12 inch squares, growers of this method can reap comparable yields to growers requiring 3 or 4 times as much land area to plant in rows.
  • Vertical Gardening is the practice of using stakes, trellis, small containers, and whatnot to extend one’s growing space into the 3rd dimension, up.
  • Community Gardening is the range of methods that pools together multiple individuals to grow or produce their own food or food for market from communally allotted or organized tracts of land.
  • Community Supported Agriculture is typically the practice of a single grower pre-selling his crops in the community market in order to more directly estimate the demand for his produce.

This is a shortened list for sure. Others that belong on here include urban farms and hydroponics. Perhaps these can become fodder for future posts.

20 of 100. Wow. In need of some real inspiration though. It is beginning to be difficult just putting two sentences together. What have I got myself into?

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10. Oh SNAP! Where did it all go?

1 Nov
English: Logo of the .

English: Logo of the . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning millions of Americans woke up to the startling reality that they will face a hungrier and poorer 2014 just in time for the beginning of this holiday season.  This sad reality comes as the US Congress allowed the expiration of the temporary economic stimulus package enacted in 2009 by the Obama administration. As of November 1, 2013, families and individuals receiving federally supported food stamps will see their benefit cut by as much as $36 per month for a family of four, or $1.40 per meal per person down from $1.48 per meal.

The House proposal, now being negotiated along with smaller, yet still significant, Senate cuts of $4 billion, would result in 3.8 million people being removed from food stamps in 2014,according to the Congressional Budget Office. The haggling comes at a time when more than 15 percent of Americans remain mired in poverty, and more than half are at or near the poverty line when stagnant middle-class wages are matched against rising costs of living, US Census data show.

courtesy Mother Jones.com

SNAP, as it is commonly called, is the federal government’s economic assistance program providing nutritional support to persons and families living in or near poverty in the form of Food Stamps. This assistance goes in large part to feed children and the elderly whose food is insecure. There are some abuses to and in the system which have given it a much maligned reputation. But the benefits to the security, health and over-all well-being of its recipients are clear and to reduce and/or remove these benefits in such economically difficult times is bad, to say the least. Especially when one considers that 1 in 8 Americans already deal with hunger on a daily basis, and most of them are children, infirm, and/or elderly.

 

How then are we to feed them? Can they be expected to feed themselves?

Suppose individuals and communities learned and practiced the skills of growing thus bringing the food cycle closer to homes and neighborhoods rather than depending on the industrial food machines of this day. What would happen if more of the fresh food “revolution” in our country made its way down to the lower social and economic brackets of our great society instead of being a bling ring on the fairer fingers of the nuanced and nouveau riche? Suppose more land were readily available for growing rather than constant sprawling development. What if the public schools in our cities did more to teach and encourage agricultural and horticultural practices beyond the operation of a lawn mower and weed eater? What if there were more economic incentives for persons and civic organizations to establish and maintain urban and suburban farmlets? What if more farmers’ markets and grocery stores carrying fresh produce started showing up in the harder parts of our cities and towns and not just the affluent and safer ones? What if we “economically stimulated” healthy eating and lifestyle choices for all levels of society, not just the middle and upper class? 

When societal norms and customs prohibit all members of that same society from attaining and living in and from a mutually accepted quality of health and wellness regardless of social or economic status, then that same society ceases to exist as one and relegates itself to a cluster of many. Thus, it becomes a collection of hierarchical factions grouped into many “have”s and “have not”s.  This is a defacto state of injustice. When a nation accepts this as the norm, especially in the areas of health and well-being, then it is always going to be the weakest, the most needy who will be cast aside and strode asunder the foot and mood of the mightier; of the able. This is not a new thought, however. Aristotle has often been quoted as saying you can judge a nation by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. And many other philosophers, politicians, preachers, and activists have espoused this idea throughout history.

“…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. “

Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey 
November 1, 1977 
Washington, D.C.

“The greatness of America is in how it treats its weakest members: the elderly, the infirm, the handicapped, the underprivileged, the unborn.”

Bill Federer

I do not intend to rant and rail against established machines and practices of our day. Rather I hope to encourage, to rally a cry for a change at the personal level rather than depend on the collective and sluggish effort of indebted government. If society is by default a sum of its parts, then if you start changing the parts you will by extension start changing the whole. Much like the peaceful civil rights movements of the mid-twentieth century that changed America, and the world, let us too begin at the personal level. Let us fight back at the injustice in our food distribution by bringing the food cycle down to lower more personal levels, where possible for each individual. Let us combat food deserts in our cities with persons willing to go into them and offer their produce directly to the consumer rather than through the marked-up marketplace. Let us control growth retake our lands one green acre at a time. Let us teach and encourage the next generation of farmers and growers with respect and thanks. I do not have the solutions here for all my readers. I do not have the strength to wield such a power. This is what I do have though; my health, the health of my family, and by the blessings and grace of God, a couple of small plots of land to grow on and some ideas of how to grow it forward. 

Thank you and God Bless.

 

Food Justice

20 Sep

What is Food Justice?

According to a quick Google search of this query, Food Justice is

Communities exercising their right to grow, sell and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate and grown locally with consideration and deep care for the well-being of the land, workers and animals, critters and all creatures.

The Food Justice Project at the Community Alliance for Global Justice adds that Food Justice is

the right of communities everywhere to produce, distribute, access, and eat good food regardless of race, class, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, ability, religion, or community.

And, lastly, a quick look on Wikipedia clarifies Food Justice as a “collective approach to achieve food security.”

[the Food Justice view] notes that globally enough food is produced to feed the entire world population at a level adequate to ensure that everyone can be free of hunger and fear of starvation. That no one should live without enough food because of economic constraints or social inequalities is the basic goal.

Look at that last one again.

globally enough food is produced to feed the entire world population at a level adequate to ensure that everyone can be free of hunger and fear of starvation.

If the United States is the world’s largest agricultural producer, the land of plenty, then why then do 1 in 6 people within her borders struggle with food insecurity everyday? (hunger facts, feedingamerica.org) But this plight is definitely not only in the “land of plenty.” According to the United Nations’ World Food Project, 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. (hunger statistics, World Food Programme, www.wfp.org)

One Man Does make a Difference

All these numbers, all this talk is very big, but it’s not too big for one individual to make a difference. Growing It Forward is not a new solution; it is not a total solution. Growing It Forward is one man’s vision to make a difference using what he knows he can do; that is growing good food to help feed the needy in his area.  If he only feeds one, then that is one less hungry man, woman, child; one less hungry mother, father, son, or daughter. That is one more student able to pay attention in class, one more retiree able to buy his medicine, one more mother able to feed her children. That is one more. That is one less. One is more than none.

If this one man can make a difference then so can you. Join the fight to end hunger in your area. Yes, there is a need in your area too. Stand up for Food Justice; stand up and say that good food, plentiful food is not only for those who can afford it but for everyone regardless of the ability to pay. Make a difference today by helping to end hunger in your area. Start by doing what you can because one man, one woman, one person does make a difference.