This is prime time for Veg Hill. Each day the Farmer-in-Chief hauls in big baskets of cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, peas, okra, cabbage, squash, and zucchini (see the picture below). We are delighted, of course, and grateful for our blessings. But what do we do with all this food now, and what will we eat in January?
The answer to the first question is simple: we eat what we need, store what we can, and give away the rest. The answer to the second question is longer and takes more thought. Amanda and I have begun making long-term plans for a more resilient food strategy, so we thought it might be time to share them with you. First, let’s establish why this matters. We have been concerned for some time, and lately that concern has increased, that the industrial food system on which most of us depend for our daily bread is distorted, brittle, and doomed. Designed to maximize subsidy support for a handful of large and powerful corporations rather than to provide food for people, and built entirely on a foundation of cheap fossil fuels, that system is already declining as peak oil makes fossil fuels pricier and harder to obtain. Amanda and I will grieve the demise of the industrial food system just like everyone else. It has been our meal ticket for more than five decades, so it would be easier for us if it could continue. The only difference between us and most Americans is that we connect the dots differently. We realize that our globalized industrial food system MUST collapse. Every indication is that Americans will soon find that obtaining food each day becomes more challenging than it has been during the last five generations. Read that,
more challenging than anyone alive today can remember. Our diet – and indeed the diet of most Americans – consists of (1) breads and grains, (2) vegetables, (3) fruits, (4) milk, yogurt and cheese, (5) meats, beans, and nuts, and (6) fats and sweets. Amanda decided nearly 20 years ago that red meat isn’t for her, but other than that, we have few self-imposed rules about what we eat. This is good, because it frees us up to enjoy our calories where God provides them. A great many of the rules we Americans are fond of making for ourselves – “I don’t eat anything with a face,” “Nothing from a can for me,” “I drink only skim milk” are artifacts of a brief little bubble of super-abundance during which ordinary citizens could be choosy about where their calories come from. I know you have trouble believing this now – goodness knows my adult children do – but during the lifetimes of most of us alive today, all but the richest of us will be hungry for calories, and we will be grateful to get those calories out of our own yard, out of a can, or any other way possible. Vienna sausage, anyone? During the days to come, I invite you to think through food resilience with Amanda and me. We will look at these food groups in sequence. As we do, you’ll see there are some areas where we are well-positioned, and others where we are still quite vulnerable. My present hope is that we will finish each group with a description of our strengths and weaknesses with reference to it, some key projects or areas for improvement, and an overall grade. My hope, of course, is that as you reflect on our very personal struggles and strategies, you’ll be better able to ponder your own.