This article is in response to a recent article I shared about Crops rotting in the field because farmers lacked the labor force to complete their harvest.There are many reasons for the lack of labor force but we'll stick to the FOOD issues for now.
What would happen if there were no more fancy colored lettuce in plastic bags and boxes on store shelves?What would you do if they were there but you could no longer afford them?
According to the USDA, food insecurity decline in 2015 by 1.3% from 2014.That sounds great but when you look at the staggering about of people around you that struggle every day to feed themselves and their family it isn't very comforting.
Reasons for Food Insecurities include
Rising food costs
Crop failure due to Weather or Water Shortage
Farm labor shortage
Interruptions in transportation of food
To keep it simple, this article refers to 2 types of food security.The first is the supply chain of food and the second is consumer access based on affordability.
As a homesteader, we grow quite a bit of our own food but we understand that not everyone shares our passion for self-sufficiency.Even though we grow, there are still plenty of food items that are sourced locally or thru grocery stores.Those items don't just magically appear in the store.Someone has to grow them, care for them, harvest them and then transport.One "blip" in the supply chain can be devastating.
We've seen the evidence of food shortages in recent years.Venezuela is an example.Some argue the food is there but the government has control.Some argue that the food is there but it's too expensive and others that there is a true food shortage.Whichever theory you choose to follow, the fact is that the people of Venezuela are in trouble.
In some instances, it's not the lack of food that can be the issue but rather wasting food.Every day perfectly good produces is thrown out because it isn't "pretty" enough to sell.
In 2006, USDA introduced new language to describe ranges of severity of food insecurity.Let's start with the clear definitions from the USDA
High food security (old label=Food security): no reported indications of food-access problems or limitations.
Marginal food security (old label=Food security): one or two reported indications—typically of anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food in the house. Little or no indication of changes in diets or food intake.
Low food security (old label=Food insecurity without hunger): reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
Very low food security (old label=Food insecurity with hunger): Reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.
Why do we need these definitions?Well, to better understand their statistics!
Food secure—These households had access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
87.3 percent (109.3 million) of U.S. households were food secure throughout 2015.
An increase from 86.0 percent in 2014.
Food insecure—At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security.
12.7 percent (15.8 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2015.
Down from 14.0 percent in 2014.
Very low food security—In these food-insecure households, normal eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at times during the year because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.
5.0 percent (6.3 million) of U.S. households had very low food security at some time during 2015.
Over the past two decades, food prices have risen 2.6 percent a year on average. But recent factors have slowed food price inflation. The change is only temporary, though. Once those downward pressures abate, food prices will resume their normal upward trend. Let's do the math. In the last 20 years, food prices have increased by 52%
Food Shortages from the Farm
"UK summer fruit and salad growers are having difficulty recruiting pickers, with more than half saying they don't know if they will have enough migrant workers to harvest their crops." source
"Volatile prices can be blamed on a dismal California harvest, which started in February."
"She said trees were stressed after five years of drought. Extreme heat in July 2016 also hurt this year’s crop. Global supplies also are down." source April 2017 "Lettuce Shortage sends prices soaring" source April 2011 "Eggplant shortage disrupts supplies to local eateries, groceries" source MOST of your store-bought food is Imported! "It is estimated that the average American meal travels about 1500 miles to get from farm to plate." source "Today, the typical American prepared meal contains, on average, ingredients from at least five countries outside the United States." source We are fortunate in the US to have access to grocery stores and sophisticated transportation methods. I've given you a good idea with the sources above of the different forms of food insecurities we face. I've also shown that even with our current technology and infrastructure, food insecurities do exist. What can we do? As a homesteader, I can tell you what we are doing. Plant a garden and GROW. Every season we expand our gardens to be able to produce more fruits, veggies and herbs. What we do not eat, we preserve for future use or share our abundance.
Garden goodies I dropped of for my Mom
We barter fresh produce with one neighbor in exchange for her horse poop. We use the aged horse poop in the garden to produce healthy, abundant crops. Backyard chickens are a newer adventure for us and so far we're thrilled. It took 5 months growing these tiny chicks into hens but they are now rewarding us with eggs every day.
Organic eggs from our Hens
Stock your pantry. For items that you are unable to grow, but in bulk and store for later. We do this as well and it has saved quite a bit of money in the process. Just be sure to rotate your "back-ups."
I hope you have enjoyed another educational article. if you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to email@example.com
JOIN US in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge! Have you heard of the challenge?
Mary's Heirloom Seeds is joining National Pollinator Garden Network CHALLENGE. NPGN collectively represents approximately 800,000 gardeners, 10,000 schoolyard gardens and bring a baseline of a 250,000 registered pollinator gardens nationwide from across its five main founding organizations.
The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC) is a nationwide call to action to preserve and create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across America. We will move millions of individuals, kids and families outdoors and make a connection between pollinators and the healthy food people eat.
The focus of the NPGN is: to inspire individuals and community groups, institutions and the garden industry to create more pollinator habitat through sustainable gardening practices, habitat conservation and provide these groups the tools to be successful.
So how are we getting involved? We already offer a SUPER unique election of Wildflower Seeds and Herb Seeds that are bee-friendly. We grow organic and plant for the bees in our own gardens.
FIRST, we are adding more Bee-Friendly SEEDS at Mary's Heirloom Seeds! **Listed below**
Next, we are offering 50% OFF every single variety listed under FLOWERS. Yes, you read that right.
50% off Flower Seeds now thru February 10th when you use code BEES50 at checkout in the appropriate box.
How does it work?
CLICK HERE for our huge selection of flower seeds. At checkout, find the box marked "discount"
Type in BEES50
in the box and click "apply" to automatically calculate your saving. If you have trouble using our discount code, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you locate the appropriate box.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species - the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.
The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.
"Today's Endangered Species listing is the best-and probably last-hope for the recovery of the rusty patched bumble bee," NRDC Senior Attorney Rebecca Riley said in a statement from the Xerces Society, which advocates for invertebrates. "Bumble bees are dying off, vanishing from our farms, gardens, and parks, where they were once found in great numbers."
Large parts of the Eastern and Midwestern United States were once crawling with these bees, Bombus affinis, but the bees have suffered a dramatic decline in the last two decades due to habitat loss and degradation, along with pathogens and pesticides.
Indeed, the bee was found in 31 states and Canadian provinces before the mid- to late-1990s, according to the final rule published in the Federal Register. But since 2000, it has been reported in only 13 states and Ontario, Canada. It has seen an 88 percent decline in the number of populations and an 87 percent loss in the amount of territory it inhabits.
This means the species is vulnerable to extinction, the rule says, even without further habitat loss or insecticide exposure. Canada designated the species as endangered in 2012.
The bees live in large colonies that can be made up of 1,000 individual workers. All types of the species have black heads, the rule states, "but only workers and males have a rusty reddish patch centrally located on the abdomen."
Habitat degradation may be particularly harmful to these bees because of their feeding habits, as described in the rule:
"The rusty patched bumble bee is one of the first bumble bees to emerge early in the spring and the last to go into hibernation, so to meet its nutritional needs, the species requires a constant and diverse supply of blooming flowers."
Last October, the Fish and Wildlife Service gave endangered status to seven species of yellow-faced bees native to Hawaii, the first time any U.S. bees received this kind of protection.
Pollinator decline is a global trend. A recent major global assessment sponsored by the U.N. suggested that about 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species are facing extinction. Since some 75 percent of food crops rely at least partially on pollinators, that raises serious concerns about the future of the global food supply.
We can ALL try to do our part!
How can we help? 1. STOP spraying synthetic pesticides and even organic bee-killing pesticides around your yard and help your neighbors do the same
2. Plant more flowers for hungry pollinators. ****Please be aware that most of the "big box" nurseries sell chemically treated plants that will kill bees and other pollinators
3. Leave the weeds! Dandelions are beneficial flowers for bees and other pollinators
4. Look for local honey! Yum! This supports beekeeping in your area.
5. Bees get thirsty so we leave out a small dish in our beds for them to drink
Going organic is great but growing your own organic is even better! In our own gardens, we take extra measures to ensure a thriving bee population. Without bees, our gardens are pathetic!
To help YOU grow a healthy garden and help the bees, we've added 2 NEW varieties to our SEED SALE!
FOOD. Without food, we would not survive. Whether you are aware or not, our food choices make an impact every single day.
"Simply put, food is at the juncture of some of the most important issues facing our society (and world!): conservation, climate change, animal welfare, corporate control and consolidation, public health, fair labor and immigration, to name a few."
Now more than ever, the food choices we make are critical to our body and the planet. It seems that every month, there is a new herbicide or pesticide approved for use on food. More genetically modified or engineered "phood" are being approved and planted. Commercial farming and factory farming are heavy pollution producers.
-It has been estimated that produce travels an average distance of 1500 miles before it is consumed
-Over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the United State (US) each year and approximately 5.6 billion pounds are used worldwide source
"The World Health Organization estimates that there are 3 million cases of pesticide poisoning each year and up to 220,000 deaths, primarily in developing countries. The application of pesticides is often not very precise, and unintended exposures occur to other organisms in the general area where pesticides are applied."
The stats above don't even take into account the cancer rates associated to pesticide use and consumption.
"Using the metaphor of a tree, it charts the loss of U.S. seed variety from 1903 to 1983. And what you see is that we’ve lost about 93% of our unique seed strands behind some of the most popular produce"
"Garlic can be whitened by using chlorine or with a mixture of sulphur and wood ash. Whitening garlic helps to make it look healthier and more attractive to consumers. In fact this obsession with white foods has lead to the bleaching of many food products (flour, salt, sugar) using chlorine dioxide or benzoyl peroxide."
"Nearly 200 million farmers in China, India, Vietnam, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America harvest grains and vegetables from fields that use untreated human waste."
Your choices make a huge impact on food and you are not alone. There is a growing movement in this country to make better, healthier food choices. More people are choosing to grow their own food and not just veggies and herbs. Humanely raising meat is one of many ways to make a positive change. Some call it homesteading and for some it's just a way of life.
What steps can we make to create a positive change?
-Grow your own food and grow it without synthetic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers
-Plant for the BEES to ensure continued success in the garden
-Eat less meat and "better meat" (humanely raised and locally raised)
-Support companies making a positive change
-Boycott companies who support biotech seeds and polluters
Since food is daily decision, each day brings a new opportunity to create a positive impact. We're all in this together. 2017 will be our largest garden ever and a chance to continue making great things happen. Mary's Heirloom Seeds will continue our efforts to protect seed diversity. We will continue to volunteer at schools and other organizations.
Will you join us?
I hope you have enjoyed another educational article from Mary's Heirloom Seeds!
Another one of my favorite heirloom varieties is the Thai Roselle, also called Jamaican Sorrel, Florida Cranberry or Red Thai Hibiscus. This is another unique variety that would make a great addition to your garden! From Mary's Heirloom Seeds, "A valuable plant for making cranberry-flavored bright red beverages, jelly, pie and tea. Much grown in Asia and the mid-east as the flavor is wonderful. A tasty sauce can be made by boiling and sweetening the fleshy calyxes; the leaves are also used to make a drink. The entire plant of this Hibiscus is red and very beautiful. Start early, unless you live in the far-south. Citrus-flavored flowers are delicious on frozen deserts. Also called Jamaican Sorrel, Florida Cranberry and Hibiscus"
Roselle was called “Florida cranberry” in the 1890s. The flowers and young leaves are edible and have a citrus tang.
Hibiscus, of which Roselle is a variety of, is a tropical plant, but if started indoors it can be grown successfully in more northern climates. You want to start your Thai Red Roselle around the same time you would plants like peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. Since this is a heat-loving plant, you want to give it as much of a head start as you can.
Thai Red Roselle is susceptible to aphids, so either use an organic spray or companion plant to control insects. Roselle branches should be pruned when they are 12-18 inches tall to help control height. These plants can reach up so 6 feet in height.
From esgreen, "Botanically speaking, it's Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (family Malvaceae) and it’s the bushy H. sabdariffa var. sabdariffa that produces the edible products.The edible parts used to make “juice” or tea (actually, an infusion) look like reddish dried-up buds. In fact, they’re not flowers but calyces. It’s the calyx, the red, fleshy covering enclosing the flower’s seed pod, which is used for flavoring, cooking and food coloring. The flower of this variety of sabdariffa is yellow, white or light pink.
Roselle(Hibiscus) has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic and mild laxative, as well as in treating cancer and cardiac and nerve diseases. Although information is limited, the potential for hibiscus use in treating hypertension and cancer, as well as for its lipid-lowering and renal effects, are being investigated.
Although roselle is being studied, it hasn’t yet been proven to have the healing powers of bael fruit. It is high in calcium, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin C and iron, as seen on this Purdue University page. And the beverages have no caffeine. In East Africa, "Sudan tea" is consumed as medicine to cure coughs. In Guatamala, roselle is believed to cure hangovers. In Senegal, a roselle extract is said to lower blood pressure. In India, Africa and Central America, infusions made from roselle calyces or seeds are prescribed as a diuretic, to stimulate bile production and to treat fever."
I realize that we don't talk enough about the WHY we plant Heirloom Seeds.
Today, three corporations control 53 percent of the global commercial seed market.
Read that sentence again and let that sink in...3 corporations OWN over half of the global commercial seed market!
In 2013, the Center for Food Safety published a report Seed Giants VS U.s. Farmers. This report documents corporate control of seeds, links to loss of seed innovation, rising seed prices, reduction of independent scientific inquiry, and environmental issues.
"In the last few decades, the U.S. has led a radical shift toward commercialization, consolidation, and control of seed ownership. Three agrichemical firms—Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta—now control 53 percent of the global commercial seed market. The top ten seed firms, with a majority stake owned by U.S. corporations, account for 73 percent."
Among the report’s discoveries are several alarming statistics:
·As of January 2013, Monsanto, alleging seed patent infringement, had filed 144 lawsuits involving 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 different states.
·Today, three corporations control 53 percent of the global commercial seed market.
·Seed consolidation has led to market control resulting in dramatic increases in the price of seeds.
From 1995-2011, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans has risen 325 percent; for cotton prices spiked 516 percent and corn seed prices are up by 259 percent.
Additionally, Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers reports a precipitous drop in seed diversity that has been cultivated for millennia. As the report notes: 86% of corn, 88% of cotton, and 93% of soybeans farmed in the U.S. are now genetically-engineered (GE) varieties, making the option of farming non-GE crops increasingly difficult.
While agrichemical corporations also claim that their patented seeds are leading to environmental improvements, the report notes that upward of 26 percent more chemicals per acre were used on GE crops than on non-GE crops, according to USDA data.
Also in this report "Many assert that present-day seed patenting policies are needed in order to feed the planet. However, as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has shown, hunger is fundamentally a problem of poverty, food distribution, and inequity. The United Nations General Comment on the Right to Food concurs: “The roots of the problem of hunger and malnu-trition are not lack of food but lack of access to available food.” Even though we currently grow enough food to feed the world, more than one billion people go hungry. Another two billion suffer health problems, including malnutrition, from being overfed with unhealthy food. For example, today, the number of children suffering from obesity almost outnumbers those children suffering from hunger.
Unfortunately, some of the largest "organic" seed suppliers in the US also purchase their seed stock from Seminis (Monsanto).
At Mary's Heirloom Seeds We do not, nor have we ever, sourced seeds from any agrichem company such as seminis.
From GMO Journal, "Since genetically modified crops (a.k.a. GMOs) reinforce genetic homogeneity and promote large scale monocultures, they contribute to the decline in biodiversity and increase vulnerability of crops to climate change, pests and diseases."
What does all of this mean?
On a personal level, I do not want to put my family's future in the hands of Agri-Chem corporations.Depending on store-bought food, grown from questionable seed stock is NOT the way I want to live.
From Food Security, "Without a strong base of diverse seeds, food production is threatened by disease and climate change. Promoting the use of diverse seed types enhances food security and promotes the preservation of traditional cultural practices and values. Seed security can come from preserving seeds in an underground bunker, but at a more pervasive level seed security comes from seed sovereignty and the right to use and exchange seeds freely within a community."
Using the metaphor of a tree, it charts the loss of U.S. seed variety from 1903 to 1983. And what you see is that we’ve lost about 93% of our unique seed strands behind some of the most popular produce
What can we do to PROTECT ourselves ?
Before you take your next bite of food, be conscious of where it came from and ask yourself if you are supporting the people who poison the planet or those who are trying to protect it.
When you GROW your own food from heirloom seeds, you are continuing a tradition documented for generation.Seed saving is imperative. We must protect our seed diversity.Now more than ever, every bite we take and every seed we plant has the potential to shape our future
We've posted several articles about getting started as well as seed saving &storing on our blog.It has become obvious to me that WE must be in charge of our food supply. WE must protect our seed diversity.WE must make a stand against these seed monopolies before it is too late.
Are you interested in GROWING your own Organic Food but not sure where to start? Below are a few links to help you get started