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Liberty Starts At Home ( Part III ) Food Security, NAIS, Growers Markets

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This is part III of a serial publication of my Essay, "Liberty Starts At Home--- Secure People Make Secure Community. In the previous posting, we discussed securing a community water supply. In this posting we discuss issues with communty food supplies and practical programs to overcome them.




Food security is perhaps the most discussed aspect of this issue. Not only is nutritious food required for bare physical survival, but food has a deep seated cultural importance that reminds us all of where we came from and how we connect to others in our community. With increasing globalization and the disappearance of the local green grocer, many communities are without a local source of fresh food.


Many children and even some adults today have no idea what fresh food looks like. They have never seen a farm and perhaps not even a garden. I have met older children who have no idea that beef comes from a cow or that lettuce grows in the ground. We had a teenager visiting us for part of last summer on our Missouri farm who was horrified by what we served for dinner after she had seen it growing.


Because these communities are entirely dependent on commercial food, they have no real choice about what they eat and its nutritional value. Many people in urban (and, increasingly rural) communities are dependent on public commodities programs and therefore do not even have the limited freedom of choosing between items on a grocery shelf. Urban areas have approximately one week's food supply if trucking shuts down for any reason, but even rural communities dependent on production contracts are increasingly at risk. It is simply not reasonable that people in the best farming regions in the country need assistance obtaining food!


Reverend Thomas Henderson of Tennessee is a champion of Food Security. His programs in Nashville Tennessee and at Camp Dogwood takes inner city adults and children out to the camp to work on a tilled plot. In exchange, they go home with fresh food. The program also involves jumpstarting urban industry based on Food Security. Inner city cottage industry uses the fresh vegetables from the camp and from community gardens to make products like salsa for local and regional sale. Such projects breath life into otherwise economically devestated communities and allows community members to work within the community.


Locally, in Mount vernon, Missouri we have a "Grower's" Farmer's Market. You cannot sell at the market unless the majority of your products are grown or made locally. This prevents the wholesale trucking in of cheap food to drown out local producers which happens at many "farmer's markets". The grower's market creates a small pocket of sustainable industry for regional small farms and cottage industry. We ourselves sell handmade soaps, candles, and other items.


In a not-so distant past, practically everyone had a small herb garden for fresh herbs. Certain plants like lemon verbena or orange thyme became popular during citrus shortages. Even with a modest ability to grow their own plants on a windowsill, past housewives were able to control some of their expenditures when prices were unreasonable.


Programs like the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) are worse than useless and will not protect our food supply. The cost of NAIS alone will drive small farmers, community efforts, and grower's markets out of business. This will result in more industrialization, greater centralization, low genetic diversity and higher vulnerability to disease or attack.


In order to secure and protect our food supply, many more programs like Reverend Henderson's and Mount Vernon's must be started nation--- and world ---wide. A local economy based on a grower's market and a community gardening co-op is resistant to transportation shortages and political turmoil. A hundred farmer's markets with individual stalls is more difficult for terrorists to sabotage than an industrial packing plant. Small farms and ranches with high biodiversity and are resistant to diseases. Remember the Irish Potato Famine?

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