Food Transportation and Sustainability
Have you ever noticed that your supermarket in Chicago has bananas for sale in February? Down here in South Florida, we have chestnuts available at Christmas time, and lots of other stuff that you know came from a place far, far away. Can anyone even remember a time when the only things you could get to eat were produce that was “in season” and locally grown? I can’t. We take for granted amazing things like coconuts for sale in a market in Montana, and don’t realize that the variety that we have been blessed with, even in the dead of winter, is something that is plain old unnatural. Even worse, the fuel used to transport all these wonderful things to our area leaves a carbon footprint and increases our dependency on foreign sources of oil.
In the old days, we could only eat whatever food was in season, and grown relatively close by if not locally. The complex infrastructure that allows us to eat a wide variety of produce is still intact, but one day that infrastructure, fragile as it is, may no longer be there. What will we do then, after being spoiled our whole lives by the luxury of having the entire world be our grocery store? We’ll have to eat what is grown nearby and producing at that time of the year. It will be a shock, and it won’t be pretty.
I’m looking at our garden. It’s pretty extensive for a suburban property; yet, because it’s so hot here in summer, we have less variety that what we usually have in the cooler seasons. Agriculturally, this is our winter. Despite this, we South Floridians still have cucumbers, okra, some melons, peppers, bananas (yes, we have bananas), sugar cane, avocados and mangos. If we only ate what grew naturally and at this time of year, I could scare up a diet that would keep us healthy just by adding a protein source. But what if we were up north in the winter? We’d be living off whatever we were able to store: corn, potatoes, apples, more if we were skilled at dehydrating.
What if a Collapse Occurs?
What if a collapse occurs, and there’s no transportation of food to our area? Without significant food storage, our diet would be pretty bleak by today’s standards. It’s important to plan out now what your daily meals will be like if the you-know-what hits the fan one day. If you’re a prepper, your food storage will fill in the gaps. If you’re not, you’re in trouble.
Here’s a challenge for you. Spend one season, maybe even just a couple of weeks, eating only what’s locally grown and in season for your area. This won’t be a terrible sacrifice in the summer. Many farmer’s markets will sell only locally grown produce. Doing this will teach you what is locally grown in your area, and this is good to know. Visit the same market at different times of the year, and you’ll see how availability changes depending on the season. This will give you a true picture of what is going to go on the table if things go South. If you’re smart, you’ll save some of the seeds from the produce you buy, and plant it next spring. At the very least, you will gain an appreciation for the bounty that we currently enjoy, even if it is somewhat at the expense of the environment in terms of fuel used to deliver it to us.