Monday, December 07, 2009

Houston Food Security

On Saturday December 12th, 2009 I'll be down at the Last Organic Outpost talking about Houston's food security program and giving free guided edible weed tours. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've become involved with a grassroots (ha ha ha!) movement to feed Houston in case of some sort of economic or social disaster. I figured I'd use this post to explain a few things about why we are doing this.

Joe, Marcella, and I all have a strong belief that there are strong potential threats to America's current food distribution system. Most food travels hundreds and more often thousands of miles from where it is grown/raised to where it is eaten. Current estimates say Houston has less than three days of food on grocery store shelves, restaurant freezers, and assorted train and trucking distribution centers. Disruption of this unnatural food chain would lead to riots, destruction, and starvation.

What could cut this chain? One potential threat is from Iran shutting down the flow of oil in response to Western actions against it's nuclear bomb production facilities. No oil means all the trucks and trains stop, along with delivery of our food. It's estimated greater than 10% of the US's demand for petroleum goes towards growing and transporting food. That means we burn at least 755 MILLION barrels of oil each year to feed ourselves, most of that due to transporting the food from farm to market. Yowza!

Other threats include swine flu reaching pandemic levels, crippling food distribution or current economic policies plunging the USA into hyper-inflation and chaos.

And of course don't forget zombies!

Whereas food security is very important to me, I also have another reason for increasing the local production of food: doing so frees up farmland allowing it to return to a more wild state. Many cities have created parks and other "green zones" in attempts to keep wild areas available for native plants and animals. These green zones are nothing more than window dressing to make people think nature is alive and well around them. Separated by miles of urban environment, there is no dynamic transfer of species between these islands of undergrowth. Their diversity of life is nothing like that of real forests.

To truly invite wilderness back into the world requires huge swaths of land be allowed to go fallow. The only way to do this is to move food production into the towns and cities. Chinese cities are prime example of this. I was amazed while over there how food gardens were grown on every bit of available space in cities. Rows of cabbages line the roads, beans grow on balconies, squash hangs from roofs. The city of Shanghai has almost 20 million people yet manages to supply a majority of it's own food. Imagine Houston doing the same thing. Imagine all towns doing the same thing!

More to come...

Adventure! Excitement! I hate lawns!


Izzy G. said...

It would be great if next year around this time you'll have a lot of fresh stuff (conventional vegetables) to donate for soup kitchens.

Ursula said...

Texas Zombies? Perish the thought! How hardcore would they be? Very good post, people need more awareness about logistics and how crucial they are to the modern lifestyle.

Merriwether said...

Izzy, the LOO already gives fresh vegetables to food banks, though only "normal" stuff, not wild edibles.

Ursula, Texas zombies are some scary dudes. Even dead Texans can handle guns. Luckily they usually fumble reloading. :-)

Anonymous said...

You really are doing an excellent service to your community, Blast. This is such a great idea!