Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shopping for Food Security - Part 2

Looking for ways to grow local, sustainable, small farms in PEI

Shopping for Food Security - Part 2

In the last blog post, I explained how organic farmers seek and plant organic seeds grown by other organic farmers and how that has increased the supply and diversity of organic seeds available to farmers and gardeners.   I explained that we are also starting to buy, plant and save open pollinated seeds to create our own seed bank at Dunn Creek Farm.  And I closed by promising to explain how food shoppers can protect and expand healthy diversity in the market.  The simplest explanation is that farmers grow seed for the food you buy. If you choose variety and diversity in your diet, you are supporting biological and genetic diversity in the field and in the market.

Thomas Morrison was kind enough to forward his writing on the topic of food diversity and security. I'm pleased to include him as a contributor.

The Importance of Biodiversity in Farmers Markets

Doug Band and the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) as well as US Ecologist Gary Nabhan have recently come out as strong proponents for crop diversity. Nabhan’s position is that in order to keep the idea of diversity at the forefront of our society, we must apply it to biology of crop diversification. †His theories of promoting sustainability through grocery shopping have become popular. In a recent interview Nabhan said, “in other environmental issues we tell people to stop something, reduce their impact, reduce their damage.” His article Coming Home to Eat published in 200l can be cited as influencing the popularity of green culture, the local food movement, and the increased appearance of farmers markets all over the country.

A host of other organizations have begun to promote sustainability through the act of conservation. Bill Clinton, Doug Band and the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) have set their sights on emission reduction projects throughout the country. In order to do this, they have partnered up with Donlen, GreenDriver, and Environmental Defense Fund with the purpose of reducing commercial fleet emissions by 20% in the next five years. †The Earth Day Network has brought together local and national conservationist groups and green enthusiasts to participate in an open forum. This forum serves as a space to incite discussion and dialogue on new ways to create a sustainable planet. Individuals can reduce their carbon footprint, create less waste, and stop the unnecessary wasting of water. Gary Nabhan strongly suggests as members of society we take a larger look at the state of our planet.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization produced a study with results indicating that a quarter of crop diversity is left and a dozen species provides 90% of the animal protein consumed around the globe. More over, roughly four crop species supply half of the plant-based calories in the basic human diet. Nabhan theorizes that growing food locally will have a massive impact on our planet’s sustainability. The “eat what you conserve” theory says by eating the produce that we are attempting to conserve, we are simultaneously promoting the granular dissemination of a vast amount of plant types.

Agriculturist Marco Contiero adds to the theory by saying, “biodiversity is an essential characteristic of any sustainable agricultural system, especially in the context of climate change.”
According to Conterio, since individuals raise and harvest our own crops and plants, we should purchase the crops harvested and produced by other local growers. If individuals buy food grown and harvested locally, the large carbon footprint associated with the transnational transportation of food is no longer a problem. Both arguments require an active effort toward conservation and sustainability. As the spring approaches, visit your local farmers market to get all the best in seasonal fruit and vegetables. Visiting your local produce stand is also a great way to promote biodiversity, support your local economy, and experience the delicious regional food varieties.


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