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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Food Shortages

For anyone wondering why food prices are on the rise:

  • bad harvest in Australia due to a bad drought
  • more third world (or former third world) residents are eating meat - 500 calories of grain needed to produce 100 calories of meat
  • agriculture is dependent on oil (fertilizer, machinery, transportation, etc), and the price of oil is on the rise
  • biofuels are eating up our corn and sugar supplies worldwide
Corn and rice are the worst problems in the US thus far. Corn because of biofuels and animal feed, and rice because... well, I'm not quite sure, but it's probably a trickle-down effect due to the fact that many of the nations that are facing the most severe crunches rely on rice as a primary food source.

So. Be glad we're not in a country that relies on food imports, seriously consider growing your own food (especially crops that will store, like beans and grains), and try to find more room in that food budget!

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10 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Ginny

    This year I am planting field corn (Blue Hopi), amaranth, millet, quinoa, and sorghum. I have tried wheat in the past and it just didn't work out for me. And now we have chickens. The thing to do now is to learn to eat what is produced on our land and be happy with it.
    ;-)

  • Birdie

    Our container garden is small but flourishing (at least so far).

  • JunkMale

    Ginny,

    I must confess that at this minute, I wouldn't have a clue what to do with amaranth, quinoa, and sorghum...without doing a bit of research. We are going to plant rye as a cover crop and green mulch this winter. I suppose it would be a waste not to harvest the grains. Hopefully the rye does what it was intended to do (keep weed growth down, nourish our concrete-like soil).

    Birdie,

    Huzzah for your container garden! Now where are the garden update pictures?? ;)

  • Veiled Glory

    Rice Shortage - We saw an expose story on PBS last week about rice farmers in Texas (which used to be in the top five producers of rice in the world!) Apparently 1/3 or so of the acreage once devoted to rice farming is now not being farmed at all or is growing corn for ethanol. The acreage not being farmed is declared a federal "disaster area" due to loopholes in the loopy farm subsidy program, though the farm may be just fine. Or the farmers are selling a postage stamp of land in the middle of fields to rich townies to build McMansions on and farming around the postage stamp (or not farming) and getting a tax write-off and accompanying subsidy.

    Craziness abounds!

    ~Anna

  • Ginny

    Junkmale,

    I would do some research then, and quickly. It is awfully yummy and I would hurry and get some.
    :-D

  • Ewokgirl

    Quinoa is yummy stuff!

    I have a black thumb, but I've been thinking about trying my hand at growing a few vegetables this summer. We'll see. I don't really enjoy being outdoors once the heat hits. Honestly, I'd rather pay higher prices for my food than get a migraine from the heat.

    It's appalling to watch the news and see how this food crisis is hitting poorer countries.

  • JunkMale

    Ewokgirl,

    Maybe you should also consider a winter garden, since you don't like being outside in hot weather.. ;) You might also want to consider container gardening; that way you can do all your work under shade, then move the containers into the sun as necessary.

    In light of your black thumb, perhaps Ginny, Harmony, or Harmony's mom could suggest some extremely resilient, easy-to-grow (i.e. black-thumb-proof) warm weather vegetables.

    Although it's a winter vegetable, garlic has been the easiest thing for us to grow. We pretty much just left it alone throughout the winter. Barely ever had any bug problems either. Not sure how well it does in containers though.

  • Ginny

    I'm sorry I didn't address the cover crop issue. Rye is a good over-wintering cover crop, it adds organic matter, helps cut down on weeds, and acts as a mulch over the winter. However, my absolute favorite for getting rid of weeds is buckwheat. I love that stuff. I scatter it fairly thickly and then when it is just blooming I till it in. It is easy to dig in with a spade, also. Japanese buckwheat is the one you want.

    I use rye, buckwheat, peas, and clover as cover crops. That reminds me, I need to go to the feed store and get some seed...

    Oh, the best rye to use is annual rye grass, which doesn't have any grain to harvest, just grass seed. The grain rye is good, too, but it can become a pest and you sort of defeat the purpose of a "green" manure, if you want to harvest the grain. ;-)

  • Harmony's Mom

    Ewokgirl-My advice for an easy, cool, garden is to plant radishes and beets together in one container, carrots in another, and lettuces and/or spinach in another. If you like turnips, they are very easy to grow also. Pull them into the shade to work with them and/or even keep them there during the heat of summer with only access to morning sun. Water frequently. (You can use shower water-the water that runs before you take a shower, before the water heats up). These plants don't like the summer heat. I would also suggest tomatoes. If you plant them now (hothouse started plants)after all threat of frost, close to your house (I have had great success planting them alongside the house in full sun) and water and fertilize them now with a time release fertilizer for vegetables like osmacote, and mulch them heavily, they should give you MANY tomatoes this summer. They should be low maintenance if you mulch them heavily when you plant them. You will still have to water when first planted and if the skies don't cooperate. Harmony and Junkmale use newspaper mulch but I prefer pine bark. Hope this helps.

  • Ewokgirl

    Harmony's Mom, thank you for the advice. I checked out a couple of books at the library yesterday on growing vegetables. One is specifically for Texas, so hopefully that will help me in terms of the heat here.

    I did attempt tomatoes a few years ago. They grew just fine, but the bugs got to them before I had a chance.