The Food Security Plan
By Gary Kline
Garden harvest may get eaten almost immediately, whether raw or cooked. It may go into short-term storage such as refrigeration. Frequently there is a modest surplus that needs to be “put-up”, stored or processed and preserved in some way. Or one can plan for production of a substantial quantity and variety of produce, and possibly enough to assure a year-round supply to augment what can be grown in season and under protective cover of some kind.
Although some type or other of vegetables, fruits and herbs may be grown outside nearly year-round, there will be lean times and times of abundance which need to be anticipated if one is to develop a complete food supply plan or program. One may need or want to purchase a portion of that food (as well as animal-source foods) from a farmer’s market, local farmer, or food cooperative carrying organically grown foods.
Garden planning of what to grow, how much of each kind of crop, when it is to be sown or planted and how enters into the planning. Those aspects will be briefly touched on in this paper, but the emphasis is on the harvest stage for each crop, and how the surplus is to be handled. There is an official term for this called a Food Conservation Plan. This is very similar to the concept of self-sufficiency and homesteading self-reliance. That is the model I’m suggesting as a desirable plan objective for saving money while maximizing nutritional health in feeding one’s family.
In times past, most of people’s food came out of their garden or off their family farm; and often was supplemented by local game and fish, and perhaps native berries, mushrooms and such. Likely they had a flock of chickens and a family milk cow. Nowadays, we generally think of the garden as supplementing commercially processed and packaged and more convenient products from food markets. If one grows a backyard food garden, this usually is only harvestable over a few months, between spring and fall.
Few people think of their garden as being their primary food source, or think they would have the knowledge or available time to convert to a year-round production system, assuming they have sufficient growing space. Urban lot sizes are growing smaller and smaller as population increases. Better ways of making more intensive use, for greater productivity of hopefully highly nutritious food, are needed and are being developed. I’d like to think this Advanced Gardening Course is a contribution toward those goals.
Nowadays, there are a number of compelling reasons to think of our back, as well as front, yards as our primary year-round food source, to include both fresh use, off-season and overwinter supply, and perhaps space and facilities for some chickens, rabbits and other small livestock, which also can be put-up or processed for storage in some cases. To do this calls for an integrated food production and food storage system and for food preparation skills.
Besides the health benefits, and likely lower medical bills, from having such a home production and food preservation system, there is the bonus of achieving greater control over your own life, safeguarding against emergencies, and contributing meaningfully to the remedy of multiple problems of modern civilization. Those problems of environmental contamination, food safety and food security, runaway degenerative disease increases, financial calamity and so on, are becoming more apparent and frightening daily.
Strangely, the option of people growing their own food supply - - - the best possible solution to all of these problems - - - seldom gets mentioned in the media or by governmental agencies still locked-in to a paradigm of cheap, convenient food cranked out by corporate farming that employs one percent of the U.S. population.
Compared to other industrialized countries, the amount of money Americans spend as a proportion of total income is rather small. This would be a bargain if it wasn’t questionable as to whether we are getting real food at the food market or so-called “grocery store”. In reality there is very little real food in supermarkets, although public demand has been putting more and more pressure on offering fresh vegetables and fruits and more organically grown food. Another relevant point is that if transportation became completely disrupted, the supermarkets would be out of food within a week.
© 2012 Gary L. Kline