Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Importance of Local/Home Food Production

Decades ago........the world watched Cuba cut off from much of the world trade, for one reason or another. Many complicated things resulted economically & politically, but what I'm looking at is the collapse of readily available food, especially to urbanized areas. And due to the unavailability of gasoline, the rural parts of the country also felt the effects. Food supplies shriveled. Hungry, resourceful people began growing small plots of food locally. Empty urban lots, rooftops, flower pots and containers, roadsides. Country gardens using hand tools and donkey power became more common. Luckily, in general, enough people retained the knowledge of how to grow food.....importantly, enough food, not just dribs & drabs. I've read that there was hunger but not mass starvation. 

Present......another country is in a food crisis - Venezuela. Once again, the hardest hit is the urban population. The circumstances in Venezuela are different than Cuba's, and the rural situation is not the same, but the bottom line is that not enough local food is being produced. People are not getting enough to eat. I don't know if the city residents are trying to grow their own food, though I've read that some urban plots are being developed for food gardens.....but at a very slow pace. Lack of knowledge? Lack of resources? Or some other factors? I'm getting the impression that severe hunger, especially among the poor, is at a serious level. 

Hawaii.....a state who has put itself into a precarious situation. It relies extremely heavily upon imported food. If some crisis would stop or significantly curtail the daily import of food, Hawaii's residents would quickly become hungry. How quickly could locally grown food meet the need? Could the general population grow home gardens? Would they have the knowledge and resources? How quickly could enough food be had to prevent mass severe hunger or even starvation? 

In the United States there has been quite a silent, and not so silent, movement that curtails people from growing local food. 
...home associations and town restrictions on vegetable gardens and small livestock within the community boundaries
...zoning ordinances restricting livestock, even in rural zones 
...regulations per water use and harvesting
...regulations per manure use, and even newly created regulations governing compost use
...regulations controlling the sale and distribution of food
As long as society is stable, all this regulation seems just fine and is usually welcomed by the general populous. Stability is the keyword. 

If Hawaii, or the USA, is suddenly faced with a crisis, will there be enough food available? I'm seeing some people and organizations asking that question. If the population needs to turn to home gardens and small farms, will the knowledge and resources be there? Will officials try to continue to enforce their restrictive regulations? 

I have no answers or solutions for the big picture. I feel that I can only look at my own farm, my own small community. But I do feel the general population should at least acquire the knowledge of how to grow food for their family. I look at the examples of Cuba and Venezuela. I look at war damaged countries of the world today. I see that access to gasoline, fertilizer, agricultural chemicals, seeds, livestock feed, and veterinary medicine becomes a real problem, and are often unaffordable or unavailable. Could American food growers continue to produce food and distribute it? Could the common man grow enough food to eat? How many will go hungry?

Honestly, I try not to think about this stuff too deeply, though I'm quite aware of the problem. It would just drive me insane because there's not much I could do about it. There already have been lots of warnings about the possibilities. But people and officials in general are not heeding the warnings. Historically, that has always been the case. 


  1. May I re-post this and give you credit? This is a very important issue and I think you hit the nail right on the head.

  2. Don't expect government - especially Big Government - to have solutions. More pointedly, do expect government to use confiscation approaches, and to disregard property rights or protection from looting. Remember Katrina (there's a website or blog with those words in its title). The tendency for some to think socialism will solve such worries need look no further than Venezuela, a country that had previously flourished, with robust agricultural resources. The despotic socialist Maduro regime resists an orderly democratic change. Cuba remains a failure. The four horsemen may yet ride again. If you have the blessings of land, water, climate, and resources, you can withstand catastrophic events, but a large segment of the general population will not have even a fraction of such blessings, and likely no knowledge of self-reliant preparedness. The Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared" looks smarter now, for those who pay attention. Too bad it ain't kardashian, though....
    Watch Puerto Rico for forewarnings, since they are "closer to the edge". I have some optimism for them, and perhaps they will begin to actively embrace those values of personal responsibility, respect for others, self-reliance, respect for the rule of law and the like.

  3. Agreed. One thing I am very involved with is Hawaii Farmers Union United which has a 5 point plan to create more local food security, more local food production. I know there are chapters on the Big Island, not sure if there is one in Ka'u. www.hfuuhi.org and there are several FB pages for each chapter. At least I feel like I'm being part of the solution. - Courtney, Maui Jungalow blog

  4. When we came for a visit last time I decided I was going to start an Island breakfast cereal company. My husband has to have a certain breakfast cereal and it costs WAY too much. I converted him to papaya with lime temporarily. :-)