10. Keep Bees
Squash. Tomatoes. Berries. Apples. Cherries. Plums . . . So many food plants rely on bees for pollination. No bees = no food. It’s that simple.
You can become a full-blown urban bee keeper, join a bee co-op or set up a home for native mason bees. Stop using harmful pesticides and grow lots of bee-friendly plants and you will be well on your way to helping save this important population.
9. Raise Backyard Chickens
Chickens in your backyard take your table scraps and weeds and turn them into delicious nutritious powerhouses of protein. Eggs from the urban backyard really are a minor miracle and meet a crucial nutritional need. A few fresh greens, maybe some tomatoes and some boiled eggs and you have a lovely, complete meal only steps from your door.
Our chickens also represent a way to stretch our food dollars. Not only do they provide eggs for our table, we sell the extras to pay for their feed. The result is lots of beautiful organic eggs that didn’t cost our family a dime!
8. Join a CSA
Community Supported Agriculture is a cooperative between farmer and eater. You provide the farmer with payment at the beginning of the season in exchange for a regular supply of veggies through the season. This allows the farmer to purchase their seeds and supplies without having to beg the bank for a loan. They also know that end of the season all of their hard work won’t go to waste – they’ve already sold their harvest.
By protecting your farmer, you help protect your entire community from food-insecurity.
7. Grow Your Own Veggies
The best way to become more food secure is to take matters into your own hands!
Get out in the garden and get dirty. Get rid of your resource guzzling lawn and replace it with a bounty of delicious, organically grown veggies. Growing your own is cheap, easy and a good excuse to get some exercise and fresh air. Even if you only grow a handful of herbs on your windowsill, you’ll be amazed at the sense of pride and just how much better they taste when you’ve grown them yourselves.
Start small. Start anywhere. Just start.
6. Grow Heirloom Varieties
Turn your garden into an edible sanctuary for rare and endangered species.
Many commercial veggie growers use only one or two varieties of each vegetable. Imagine what happens if that particular variety gets sick! Heirloom veggies represent a treasure trove of genetic diversity. They rely on us to keep them going and we can only do that by growing them. Be a heirloom hero – keep a tomato from the brink of extinction and enjoy a tasty treat in the process!
5. Save Your Own Seeds
Once you’ve started growing open pollinated heirloom vegetables, the next step is to save your own seeds.
In my mind, seed saving is a no-brainer.
First of all – it’s free. Imagine never having to pay for seeds again!
Second – it’s easy. Lots of books talk about seed-saving as though its brain surgery. Don’t be deterred. Yes, you might end up with some weird new variety of squash. And it might be darn tasty! Just go for it – you can eat your mistakes.
Third – your veggies will get better over time. Each season you save seeds your veggies become more and more attuned to your particular place and tastes. They will be stronger, healthier and tastier.
Fourth and most important – you get to stick it to the agri-Man!! Can I get a Whoot-Whoot!? Corporations like Monsanto are patenting the very seeds of life. By growing and saving your own seeds you keep that priceless genetic information in public hands. Seed-sovereignty should be a human right.
4. Learn How to Can & Preserve
Eating local only works if we can keep ourselves fed when the garden is bare. Home canning and preserving is an essential skill if we are to become more food secure.
Start simple. Dry your herbs. Then your peppers. Make some fruit leather.
Pretty soon you’ll be holding canning bees with your girlfriends and filling your cupboards with jams and pickles and stewed tomatoes and meats.
I know canning can be intimidating – but don’t be scared. Be bold! Besides – haven’t you heard? Canning’s hip now!
3. Learn to Cook
Growing all those veggies won’t do you much good if you don’t know what to do with them. Learning to cook (from SCRATCH!) will help you free yourself from the grips of the companies whose sole mission in life is to hook you on crumby imitations of real food.
Make friends with your stove. Buy some pots and pans. Keep a larder stocked with herbs and spices and cooking will be less difficult. Try not to think of making dinner as a chore. Cook with family and friends and a bottle of wine and take your time. Talk. How old-fashioned.
2. Know Your Neighbours
What does knowing your neighbours have to do with food security?? Everything.
True food security lies in the strength of your community – and where does that community start if not at the back fence?
Above all else, share.
Those in power in the realm of food believe in the paradigm of scarcity. And so they go, greedily hoarding the stuff of life. Patenting seeds, privatizing water, degrading and polluting soils for short-term personal gain.
In order to move towards food security for all we must recognize that food security is at its heart a justice issue, not a supply issue. We have more than enough to go around. We must embrace the paradigm of plenty.
As I’ve said before – remember that song from when we were little: love is somethin’ if you give it away, you end up having more.
So share. Share your recipes, share your bounty, share your glut of zucchinis, share your knowledge, share your seeds, share your table, share your heart.Follow @slowfoodsmama