Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Food Everywhere War

Not a lot of volunteers have been showing up...
-Joe, founder of the Last Organic Outpost

The LOO back in the spring.

The sand-filled playground last spring.

The playground last Saturday, overrun with nutgrass.

The LOO paths and plant beds covered in weeds.. :-(

All Joe wants to do is feed everyone. Unfortunately when the weather got hot everyone who had been helping him decided it was too hard. Considering Houston is one step away from being a tropical rain forest, it didn't take long for weeds to take over. The front section that Zombie Squad had spent days clearing has turned back into jungle. Worse, all the raised beds are under attack from nutgrass, quack grass, amaranth, purslane, and lamb's quarter... True, the last three are edible, but since very few people are even out picking the "normal" crops, wild edibles are just wild weeds right now. I was out there with Joe last Saturday spending several hours pulling up weed after weed, but two people aren't enough to fight this war. Since the pickers aren't showing up either, plenty of food is just sitting there. Anyone who comes out to weed can walk away with all the veggies they can carry.

Mmmmm, eggplant!

Yeah baby, it's okra!

Joe is kind of discouraged, but he's also very strong and the fire of his Food Everywhere goal still burns fiercely. I love his new phrase "Food Everywhere", it's a lot more friendly and optimistic than "The Houston Food Security Program". He's hoping this new name will get people more excited. Considering everything that is going on in the world, I can't help wonder if we'll have things ready in time. You know things in the Middle East are heating up? If that powder keg blows it's a given gas and diesel prices will go through the roof, making transportation of food really expensive which will make the food really expensive. You may have noticed retailers have quietly increased the price of food by 6% lately. With the droughts in Russia/Europe, the cold weather in the USA, and the flooding in Asian the price of food staples are set to climb even higher.

Of course, the Last Organic Outpost may be rendered illegal under some interpretations of the Food Safety Modernization Act S.510 currently on the US Senate calender. This bill requires growers, producers, manufacturers, distributors, etc to maintain detailed records and safety measures to insure no possibility of contamination by any harmful chemical, organism, or terrorist poison attack. Failing to do so would make it illegal to transfer, sell or give away any of the food. This poorly-written bill technically could even make backyard gardens illegal if the grower doesn't follow this law. I'm not sure what effect the bill would have on harvesting wild foods.

Adventure! Excitement! Food fight!

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