There was another story on the news tonight about the rising price of food. Of course the media sensationalizes and promotes the fear that we’ll soon be starving in the streets, but maybe there will be some positive effects stemming from the inevitable increase in the cost of our food.
In North America we are incredibly spoiled, we have won the birth lottery and don’t appreciate how fortunate we are. Most of us live our lives in comparative luxury. Our homes are warm and weatherproof, our streets safe to walk, we have access to education, recreation, religious and political freedom, and of course – food.
Food is so plentiful and cheap that we waste great quantities of it; by not finishing what’s on our plate, allowing foodstuffs to spoil before we get around to eating them, and simply buying more than we need! I’m sure there are families that could survive quite handily on what the average North American family wastes each week.
Not that there aren’t hungry people here, hunger is everywhere, but you are unlikely to die of starvation in North America. We have a greater problem with obesity, which is just embarrassing when people elsewhere are starving to death…
Perhaps if we have to pay more for our food we will value it more highly, waste less of it, and look for new ways to feed ourselves. Over the last few years I have seen a general shift towards growing food rather than just ornamental gardens. All sorts of people have been experimenting with growing vegetables, as well as keeping chickens, goats or other livestock to secure a close-to-home food supply.
Even people who aren’t interested in tending livestock or growing a veggie garden are seeking local producers of food, out of a desire to tread more lightly on our planet by reducing the distance their comestibles must travel to reach the plate.
At the garden centre where I work, it has been really satisfying to help people who are garden virgins, looking for advice and ready to get their hands dirty. Since I was a kid I have gotten a kick out of growing food and it thrills me that my obsession has become a trend!
I hope our seed companies and suppliers are ready for it, two years ago they weren’t and there were shortages of all sorts of edibles, from seeds to onion sets, seed potatoes to small fruits, anything that could be eaten was snapped up quickly. Last year they ramped up and did much better on the supply end, but I have a feeling that this year could be a little nuts! Or maybe I’m just reacting to the fear mongering media…
While I certainly won’t be happy about rising food prices, I hope that it spurs more people to try growing some of their own food. It’s not that difficult and the results are very rewarding. You haven’t tasted a strawberry until you’ve picked a sun-warmed crimson globe from your garden and popped it directly into your mouth – heavenly!
Just make sure you get to the garden centre early this year for your seeds, sets and transplants. And if you are new to food gardening, ask lots of questions, use your common sense, and experiment a bit.