The Answer To Our Problems Is In Our Own Backyard: Food

Photo by David Barrow

The USDA defines a Food Desert as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.”

Food Deserts typically hit the lowest income areas the hardest resulting in higher rates of obesity, health problems, and health-related deaths.

Simply put, our pre-packaged, fast food lifestyle is killing us. Even if you’re lucky enough to not live in an area with limited access to fresh, healthy food, you are probably still consuming more processed and pre-packaged food than any other country in the world and certainly in human history.

We’re not meant to live on hydrogenated foods.

The common complaint: it’s expensive to eat fresh food.
The answer: it’s expensive to let someone else do all the work for you in anything.

We all know that when we take our cars to the mechanic, it’s not the parts that are going to cost us the most…it’s the labor. It’s the same way from cars to cucumbers.

Now, I’m sure you don’t own your own sprawling acreage, rows upon rows of crops, and a old John Deere tractor. But what you do have is some amount of space with which to grow your own food. Even if it’s just a little. Most Americans are surrounded by land perfectly adequate to grow some portion of their own food. Yes apartment dwellers, this means you too.

If even a small percentage of American homes were to tear up their water and gasoline-slurping lawns and plant simple vegetable gardens, we would see a huge decrease in our amount of water and gasoline usage, not to mention significant drops in diet-related medical conditions which cost guess what…billions of dollars every year.

Many cities around the country are understanding the impact, both environmental and financial of outsourcing our food system to far away places or grown by irresponsible, reckless, and unaccountable commercial agriculture corporations. I’m looking at you, Monsanto. But no one does it better than Detroit.

Detroiters have taken a dire situation of population flight, urban decay, and food insecurity and turned vacant land into one of the largest urban farming movements in the world today.

Read: Why Can’t More Cities Be Like Detroit? via Forbes

Taking control of our own food system, if we do it right, also helps in another area of concern: water. Saving the water supply for food production as opposed to vanity landscaping will mean that we are using our water more sparingly and more efficiently.

Commercial agriculture currently absorbs about 80% of our water, which means we have 20% of our water to use for human consumption…or the front yard.

In the future, as the population and demand increases, Big Ag and the U.S. are bound to butt heads for water rights with citizens likely to come out on top. Which means we’ll have enough water to drink…before we eventually run out of food.

Food security can and needs to start today, with you, by starting to grow your own food. If only one plant at a time.

This Spring I’ll be documenting my own urban gardening with a new experiment: container gardening. While I’ve grown herbs and vegetables in pots the past few years as a supplement to my garden beds, this year is different in that I don’t have access to a yard that I can till up or put garden beds down on, so I’ll be limited strictly to containers. I’ll show step-by-step how I’m doing it and how my experiments turn out.

Hope to see you then and have lots of green to show for my trouble.

See also: The Answer To Our Problems Is In Our Own Backyard: Water

Here’s a wallpaper for sticking to the end:

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