Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nine Steps Towards Family Food Security

by Robert Waldrop

1. Grow some of your own food.
Plant fruit and nut trees, herbs, berry bushes, and other perennial food crops. Preserve heirloom varieties of plants and animals. Encourage schools and churches to start gardens. Grow greens and vegetables by your back door where they can be easily picked and brought inside the house.

2. Eat with the season.
Don't eat the same boring foods every day, 365 days a year. Experience the varied and changing tastes of the seasonal foods available here in Oklahoma. Fresh produce imported to Oklahoma from Texas, California, Mexico, Chile and etc during our winter is grown with environmentally damaging practices, consumes massive amounts of fossil fuel, and involves the exploitation of migrant workers. These are grave human and environmental costs which must eventually be paid by somebody, even if it doesn't show up in the cheap globalized supermarket price. If you buy seasonal produce in the winter, make sure it was grown in Oklahoma. Buying only local fresh produce in the winter helps stop social injustice and environmental degradation.

3. Buy directly from farmers.
Join the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and participate regularly. Look for farmers markets & roadside stands and stores that sell Oklahoma food. Don't buy any meats, eggs, or poultry from the Confined Animal Feeding Operation system. CAFOs cause grave environmental harm and involve production practices that are unnatural and unnecessarily cruel. If you can't find local animal products produced with sustainable and humane practices, become a vegetarian - but thanks to the Oklahoma Food Coop, this won't be necessary in these parts. Do your part to help develop a local food system.

4. Learn to process foods.
Here there are many choices: freezing, dehydrating, pressure and boiling water canning, brining, pickling, salting, candying. Buy larger amounts of produce when it is in season and preserve it for when its not in season. Freezing is very easy. The best jelly is the jar you make yourself. And your homemade pickles will be the best. Brew your own beer, wine, and soft drinks too. Invest in some equipment, such as a grain mill, pressure cooker, dehydrator (check thrift stores and garage sales for good deals). For about $210, you could get everything you need to grain wheat and corn into flour and meal, make noodles, dehydrate foods, and make your own jams, jellies, and tomato sauce.

5. Learn many things. Practice many skills. Teach others.
Be ready to adapt to major changes that may come your way. Accept responsibility for your own life, but understand your interdependence with others and the importance of community. Be aware of your environment and how your lifestyle impacts the community and world you live in and other people. "What I do doesn't matter" is a lie we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about doing wrong. Watch out for dangers and disasters that may be ahead, and act in advance to mitigate the impact of such events. The Bible says, "Remember the time of hunger in the day of plenty." The time to build the cellar is before the tornado hits. Pay attention to the details. Stick to your decisions. Don't get distracted. And don't procrastinate.

6. Make your own snacks.
Start by saving money in the over-priced junk food section. If you want comfort food, try chocolate pancakes with whipped cream and chocolate sauce that you make yourself. Junk food is really trash food, make your own treats and you will not only save money, you will have better tasting and much more nutritious treats!

7. Help the Oklahoma Food Coop reach even more people.
Tell your friends and family about this new way to do food. A journey of a thousand miles begins with only one step, but there are also second, third, fourth and many more steps. We are a grassroots organization, we believe we start small or we don't start at all. Do your part to help build a local food system.

8. Work together with neighbors and friends.
Many things are easier to do with a group. Neighbors, friends, families, or even churches could share the cost & use, of processing equipment. For about $1,000, a church or neighborhood association could get an electric grain mill, large pressure canner, large boiling water canner, noodle maker, oat roller, food mill and other "infrastructure items" useful for neighborhood food production and preservation activities. Promote solidarity and cooperation. Don't leave the poor behind for the wolves to devour.

9. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Nurture blessings and hope in your own life and in the life of your community. Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Make a small amount of progress each month and you can build a secure and safe future for your family.

Oklahoma Food Cooperative

Interview with Thomas Storck

On Cooperative Ownership

John Médaille Interview in Romania

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