Pages tagged "Food Security"
Experts Say Saving Seeds Is An Important Piece Of The Food Sovereignty Puzzle
Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash
The U.S. is in the midst of a gardening renaissance. As the coronavirus pandemic prompts big questions about the future of our food system, people everywhere are buying up seeds, pulling up lawns, building raised beds, and flocking to learn from Master Gardeners.
Most of these new and seasoned gardeners are making careful decisions about what type of plants they want to grow and how to organize the beds, but it’s also a good time to consider another, perhaps more important aspect of food sovereignty: what kind of seeds you’re planting and whether or not you’ll be able to save and share them next year.
To save seeds is to preserve food culture. Heirloom crops wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the gardeners who meticulously grew and saved seeds including the Brandywine tomato, Purple Top White Globe turnip, and many other varieties, passing them on to future generations.
In recent years, many Indigenous groups have also used seed saving as a way to preserve their cultures—as well as important crops like Cherokee White Eagle Corn, the Trail of Tears Bean, and Candy Roaster Squash for future generations.
Perhaps most important in this moment, saving (and sharing) seeds also makes sense economically. “People are having a hard time right now financially,” says Philip Kauth, director of preservation for Seed Savers Exchange. But saving seeds is free and many seed libraries, seed exchanges, and other groups offer packets of seeds at prices that are lower than those offered by retail seed companies. “There are so many economical aspects to it. You don’t have to buy seeds every year and you don’t have to buy produce, depending on the time of the year.”
Panic Buying Comes for the Seeds
This eye-opening and informative story from the New York Times, Panic Buying Comes for the Seeds, is a must-read! Hear from our local Victory Seed Company on what they're experiencing during these challenging times and why it's so important to protect our seeds.
Panic Buying Comes for the Seeds
I knew firsthand how calming gardening can be, especially when you’re not dependent on the food for your immediate survival. Time slows down a little, thoughts meander, and a feeling of flow can arrive, even when the land you’re cultivating is a tiny patch in earshot of a bus stop.
But as I searched for seeds to grow beautifully swirled red and white Chioggia beets, fiery peppers and enough basil to start my own pesto company, website after website warned that my vegetative dreams may be delayed.
"It feels like we are selling toilet paper," Mike Dunton, the founder of The Victory Seed Company, a small seed company focused on horticultural biodiversity told me via email. (He was too busy filling orders to come to the phone.)
I’d been searching his company’s website for glass gem corn, a popping corn that originated with Carl Barnes, who was a part-Cherokee farmer in Oklahoma. In recent years, the corn has become internet famous because of its kaleidoscopic jewel-like appearance. My pandemic prep included buying four pounds of standard yellow popping corn; glass gem corn felt like a way of stepping up my game.
But the website cautioned that all buyers were agreeing to abide by “pandemic ordering terms,” and warned that the current shipping backlog was 18 to 24 days.
Clearly, I was not the only person who felt that the best path through the pandemic was to panic-buy a bunch of seeds."
Noah Schlager, the conservation program manager of a nonprofit seed seller called Native Seeds/SEARCH, said: “I was talking with a colleague who was saying that a lot of elders lived through the Great Depression, and they remember times like this."
“They’ve been saying, ‘This is the time to be saving these seeds and making sure that we can feed ourselves,’” he added.
The mission of Native Seed Search, a nonprofit, is to promote and conserve the crop biodiversity of the arid American southwest. (Native Seed Search is responsible for bringing attention to glass gem corn.) The company sells seeds to the public, “but our priority is seeds for Indigenous communities,” Mr. Schlager said, pointing out that the Navajo Nation is already suffering because of the new coronavirus.
“They’re oftentimes the last place where real aid, or FEMA support, or anything really gets handed out to people,” he said."
REPORT: Climate change threatens food security globally
On Thursday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—a global group of scientists convened by the United Nations to study our shifting climate—released a much-anticipated special report on climate change and land. In it, the panel concluded that cutting emissions from major polluters like factories and power plants won’t be enough to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. Land use and food systems have to change, too. And our current land use practices are making problems worse.
The report found that food production (including post-harvest activities like transportation) accounts for between 21 and 37 percent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans.
The scientists emphasize the need to manage land better if we want it to stay productive under increasingly harsh conditions. That means dramatically shifting the way we think about soil health, managing fertilizer inputs, water usage, and handling manure from livestock. They also recommend diversifying cropland, reducing food waste and transitioning to vegetarian or vegan diets.
Photo by Dietmar Reichle on Unsplash