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Saturday, February 26, 2011

But We Don't Buy Food From THERE

Actually, yes we do- THERE being Africa and the Middle East. A pound of conventionally raised food uses about six gallons of petroleum. Americans pretty much eat oil. And where are oil prices most influenced by?

Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and their neighbors Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen, Ivory Coast and others, are having a pretty volatile time of it right now. We can admire and stand with The People there, who are fighting for self-determination and dignity. In Egypt and Tunisia things seen to have gone off pretty peacefully, unlike in Libya or Bahrain- though even in those more fortunate countries the final results aren't in yet. Revolutions being what they are, those brave folks could still easily end up with worse than what they had before, gods forbid. Whatever happens, it's a safe bet that we'll soon see oil prices to make the ones in 2007-2008 look low.

So, other than that the protests were kicked off by food shortages and killer food prices, why is this a local foods issue? Ask a conventional farmer. The ones I know are very nervous. Industrial Ag is very petroleum intensive. As oil prices rise, they wonder whether they'll be able to afford fuel and petro-based fertilizers and chemicals. I truly feel for them. The practices they've been crowded into adopting have them over the barrel, literally. It's criminal short-sightedness, and not the farmer's fault.

If farmers can't afford to grow crops, where will the food come from? Who will fill up the trucks bound for Wal Mart, SafeWay and the A&P? Who will patronize small-town stores? Whose kids will go to the schools? Who will pay the taxes to undo massive deficits?

Carol and I eat about 60% things grown by us or our neighbors. In a pinch we could make that 100%- and we're working in that direction. Can you say that? How many people can?

Many people COULD get there if they tried, and many are working toward it. This may just be the summer when things get REALLY crazy. This is the year to plant that garden, build that winter greenhouse, and get to know your local, sustainable farmers. Organize your church, your temple, your mosque, your school, your neighborhood, your extended family, or all of them. Resurrect the solid American tradition of Community Mutual Aid. The Big Guys will not do this for us.

You can do more than you think you can.
It's time to do it.

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