With the solstice, and the darkest night of the year, comes final evaluations of the year's food production. The data are mostly in, the news is quite bad. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a74e1668-ac42-11dc-82f0-0000779fd2ac.html
"The US Department of Agriculture has predicted that global corn stocks will fall to a 33-year low of just 7.5 weeks of consumption, while global wheat stocks will plunge to their lowest level in at least 47 years at 9.3 weeks."
And there's this:http://www.guardian.co.uk/china/story/0,,2221372,00.html#article_continue
"The risks of food riots and malnutrition will surge in the next two years as the global supply of grain comes under more pressure than at any time in 50 years, according to one of the world's leading agricultural researchers.
Recent pasta protests in Italy, tortilla rallies in Mexico and onion demonstrations in India are just the start of the social instability to come unless there is a fundamental shift to boost production of staple foods, Joachim von Braun, the head of the International Food Policy Research Institute, warned in an interview with the Guardian."
This blog will be quiet for a bit, while we enjoy the rebirth of the cycle of light and darkness, and relax in the quiet time of the winter. For those of you celebrating Christmas and Yule and the Solstice, I wish you a good holiday. And as we go into this time of feasting, pleasure and joy, I hope each of us will think hard about what our role in averting hunger can be in the new year.
Some of us will plant gardens, or expand the ones we have. Some of us might start selling a little more food. Some of us may volunteer with local food security programs or poverty abatement groups. Perhaps we'll give talks at our local church, synagogue, mosque, temple, community center or farmer's market about local food and food security. Perhaps we'll bring food to a neighbor and let them taste the lush glory of local eating.
Maybe we'll start a farmer's market or a coop. Maybe we'll talk to a neighbor or three about the importance of local food systems. Maybe we'll run for zoning board and change that rule about backyard chickens. Maybe we'll get some chickens this year, or rabbits or worms or bees. Maybe we'll work on preserving open space for the animals already here on the planet.
Maybe we'll join Seed Savers, pick out a single variety, and commit to maintaining it in perpetuity so that it doesn't disappear from the earth. Maybe we'll grow a new crop, or more of it, and donate to our food pantry or a local low income family. Maybe we'll make a donation to the Heifer fund or another charity that supports local food systems. Maybe we'll give a little more, and live with a little less and be happy.
Maybe we'll buy more local food, and less from the supermarket. Maybe we'll encourage our local schools or restaurants to buy from local farmers. Maybe someone will start a seed company, microbrewery or a CSA. Maybe we'll get our town to plant fruit and nut trees instead of regular street trees, or start a permaculture forest garden. Maybe we'll start a Victory Garden campaign in our town, city, state... Maybe we'll start thinking of "Victory" as not something you get from war, but from a world where no one goes hungry.
Maybe we'll learn to cook something new from scratch, or teach someone else how to cook staple foods. Maybe we'll do something to promulgate the joys of a really local diet, or explain the problems of CAFO meat and industrial agriculture to someone who doesn't understand. Maybe someone will run for office, and change agricultural policy in your region. Maybe we'll feast gloriously, and eat a little lower on the food chain the rest of the time.
Maybe we'll can or dehydrate something this year, ferment or preserve something we've never tried. Maybe we'll teach a neighbor, a friend, a school class how to put up food, or how to forage. Maybe we'll get our kids to eat the kale this year,
even if we have to disguise it somehow. Maybe we'll get our spouse to eat it too.
Maybe we'll build soil, add organic matter, and sequester some carbon this year. Maybe this year will be the one we give up the chemicals, or the gas powered tools. Maybe this year we'll stop treating the earth like dirt.
Maybe we'll do what we've been doing all along, only more and harder, because we understand what is at stake. Maybe we'll take on a new project, marshall our time and energy a little better. Maybe we'll start tentatively and gain confidence, or take courage and go further with this than we ever have. Maybe one of us will make a difference, or all of us will.
Remember, there are moments that are dark - it isn't just seeming. But the light comes back every year, and it can come back in the face of any darkness. Be the light.