Chelsea Green Publishing

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Food prices are set to explode, so start your garden now!

I’m all for renewable energy, but we’re facing a critical shortage of food in the coming years as the world’s population continues to increase while there is less arable land, dramatically higher fertilizer prices, and shifting agricultural zones due to climate change. In this climate, it is madness to use our good land and fertilizer to grow corn for our gas tanks. I would rather see these giant tracts of agribusiness land divided up into smaller farms where real people can improve the soil and grow food (for themselves or the rest of us). Therefore, I am opposed to the ongoing ethanol subsidy being discussed in Congress, and I am in favor of smaller-scale, locally grown foods. The best local foods are the ones grown at home, and if you are not gardening on your patio, rooftop, walkway, doorstep or balcony (yes, you can grow food there), then now is a great time to get started. If it’s too cold outside, then use this winter to read, learn, and plan so that you can hit the ground running and have a successful garden in the spring. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) just released a report in which they forecast that corn prices could double in the coming years with rice prices not far behind (increasing 31.2%) as rice starts to be substituted as animal feedstock, etc. The group mainly blames ethanol and climate change for the coming increases. But I’m sorry to say that I disagree with this group’s conclusions, because as far as I can see, they are not factoring in some much bigger sources of impact upon food prices: the coming peaks in the production of oil, phosphorus, copper, and a number of other commodities. A scarcity of one of these alone would drive food prices dramatically higher, but the fact that demand will shortly exceed supply for all of them is truly frightening. The entire economy and food web depends upon their affordability and availability, and we’ve done precious little to prepare or transition from this dependence. Does anyone still believe that industrial-scale agriculture can weather these storms and keep food prices anywhere close to where they are now? Let me tell you, if grain prices in 2-3 years from now are only 2-3 times higher than now, that will have triggered food riots all over the world between now and then, but it will still be a bargain. This could get much worse, so get set for a bumpy ride. And grow or produce as much of your own food as you can, wherever you live, so you can save your pennies for whatever else cannot be obtained as easily or affordably. I always hope I’m wrong, but I believe the days of cheap food are nearly over.

Furniture from Mycelium

The house is filled with the earthy smell of mushrooms cooking. It’s not a welcome-to-winter soup simmering or a ragout thickening; I’m baking a little mushroom footstool in the oven. That’s not all that’s baking in that house, you may be thinking… Read more: Read More..

Roasted Squash Soup (Recipe)

Roasted Squash Soup This recipe makes some delicious squash soup, which is a healthy way to keep yourself warm as the evenings turn cool. If you like a creamy, herby, or spicy soup, there are some flavor variations included below. I recommend using a sweet, dense-fleshed winter squash such as butternut, buttercup, or kabocha. Alternatively, […] Read More..

Grameen is installing 1000 solar home systems a day…in rural Bangladesh!

In one of the poorest countries on the planet a renewable energy service company is installing one thousand solar home systems – a day. Not in its capital or busy urban centers, but where 80 percent of the population lives – in rural Bangladesh. The company, Grameen Shakti, literally translates as rural energy. By the […] Read More..

Long Orange Firecrackers

In our home garden, we just picked carrots this week. From one raised bed, my kids unearthed an armload of long orange firecrackers. Picking carrots, potatoes, and root/tuber vegetables is such a satisfying harvest. There is something special about bringing up buried treasure: you’re never quite sure what is hidden until you pull it out […] Read More..

Some Sick Chickens and Eggs in Your Food Supply

The U.S. government is attempting to cut the jobs of 1,000 poultry inspectors to save $85 million per year. The new plan is to have the poultry industry “self inspect” themselves (after all, the same concept worked well with Wall Street, right?). One poultry industry inspector will now be responsible for “inspecting” the dizzying number […] Read More..