Recently while working in the greenhouse, I was listening to an NPR report about the lack of food security that happens in so many parts of the world, including the United States. The report was specific to the people of Central and South America, where many of those countries are facing terrible losses of their primary food crops and cattle, up to 70% loss of some crops like beans and corn, due to serious drought conditions.
Drought periods are becoming more frequent and lasting for longer periods of time as climate change manifests as part of our daily lives, and this is true for many places around the world including my own area in southern Colorado which only this year broke out of a severe drought that had lasted a really long time. Extreme weather patterns, not just drought situations, but flooding and excessive periods of rain like they have been having in Arizona , extreme cold as the northwest and mid-western United States experienced last winter…these are realities we must learn how to cope with as our planet’s climate shifts, be it in Australia, Peru, Iceland, Africa…all over the globe.
And it is not just climate change that affects our food security. People have their ability to eat nutritious threatened by many different reasons, including economic influences, logistical problems like food deserts in urban areas, lack of knowledge about how to prepare nutritious meals, too much time spent working and not having time to eat appropriately. There are a whole gammet of reasons why people’s ability to eat well are threatened, some of which are relatively easy to alter and control like learning to cook a squash or a pot of rice properly, while other factors like being able to afford good food or not having sources to purchase healthy foods can be more difficult at times to correct.
The report left me pondering the situation that will leave people unable to have even basic staple foods they rely on available to them. It left me thinking about ways folks can take more control over their ability to feed themselves well.
Certainly, one thing nearly everyone can do in some capacity is to grow at least a portion of the food we need for our pantries. We may be able to plant a decent sized garden in our yards, or we can container garden on our porches or indoors in our homes.
This is a pot of ginger and a small lime tree that I grow on my back porch during warm months of the year and bring them indoors for cold months making them house plants in winter.
Growing pots of salad greens, baby carrots or beets, green onions, herbs and even red robin tomatoes are all plants that can be grown as indoor gardens with bright indirect or direct window light. Nothing beats being able to snip fresh-cut thyme or chives to cook from a pot growing on the counter and adding them into an omelet or topping a baked potato.
These are small steps that add to your food security of being able to feed yourself well and nutritious. Seeds are inexpensive and a packet goes quite a long ways in producing a large amount of food. Consider trying it if you are already not doing so. It is autumn, and outdoor gardens in many climates are finishing up for the growing season, but that does not mean you have to stop growing fruits, vegetables and herbs entirely for the cold seasons of the year.
Another avenue that is open to many of us, and this is true world over, is to utilize farm markets or food markets as a way to buy food more locally and seasonally. Here the farm markets will be ending at the end of September or early in October because it is the end of the outdoor growing season where I live. That said, it is a perfectly good idea to go to the farmers market and buy some fruits or vegetables that keep well and quite a long while at room temperature like apples, squash and pumpkins, beets and turnips, onions and garlic. All of these types of produce can be stored in baskets and used up well into the fall and winter. As the outside temperatures cool down cooking a pot of crock pot spiced apples means a delicious and good for you part of your meals.
You can also consider making some of your own herbal remedies to help care for your health and well-being. Here I’m preparing Echinacea tincture from freshly harvested echinacea flowers I cut in the garden. Lemon balm can be dried for tea. Spearmint is delicious and nutritious prepared as an herbal honey. Lavender flowers and leaves are good stress relief remedies when added to the bath or for an herbal foot soak…on and on it can go. This will add to your health security.
There are other simple things that you can do to take good care of yourself and the earth. One very easy thing to do is air dry your wash. A clothes line is not an old-fashioned or outdated part of your landscape. If you dry your laundry on a clothes line outdoors or indoors on a wooden drying rack (you can buy these easily at hardware stores or by mail order at places like Lehman’s) you will save yourself some money that it would normally cost to run your household dryer or pay for dryers at the laundromat, a minimum of $150.00 per year! That’s a decent bit of cash that could be going to pay a water bill or buying groceries at the market, or even paying for entertainment like going to the swimming pool or the movie occasionally throughout the year. This is really good for the environment too, as air drying clothes does not use fossil fuel of any type. This adds to your environmental and economic security.
Finally, consider ways you can take care of your mental security like reading good books or listening to wonderful music. Going for walks or bike rides is good for mind, physical body and the spirit.
You may have heard about neighborhood “free libraries”, which are little book boxes on poles built at the edge of people’s property or yard space…a bit like a mail box kind of thing. Books are placed inside these little boxes that can be borrowed or taken for free by neighbors passing by, and they can leave a book in return that someone else can take to read, and so the cycle goes. We could even start music free libraries too couldn’t we. At our house we have for years had a “give-away reading basket” that sits in the living room near the hallway door. Whenever I finish reading a book or a magazine, etc. I toss it into the basket. Friends, family and our farm crew know that anything that is in that basket is available for immediate adoption. In other words they can take a book(s) home for their own use and then pass it on to someone else when they are finished with it or keep it permanently if they like. Every household, large or small, could have a give-away basket of sorts, whether that be for books, clothes or whatever. Sharing our “stuff” with others when we are finished with it is always a great idea.
So, I hope I’ve left you with a few things to ponder. You can go to other pages of this blog and find recipes for crock-pot apples, how to grow ginger or make your own herbal tinctures, plus so much more. Have some fun exploring the pages of this blog and see what you find that is useful or interesting to you.
With Green Thoughts, Tammi