Gardening · Homesteading · Urban Homesteading

Food Security: It Is Everything

Between inflation and supply chain issues that seem to have no end, eating well these past 3 years has become harder. Even if you can afford the food, simply finding what you want has become so much harder. When we look at prices, sigh, and keep moving, that isn’t a good thing. Especially if it is fresh food you are looking at. Passing up produce, fruit and berries and buying starches instead.

I shop at many stores and take photos nearly every trip to show just how expensive food is these days in Western Washington.

Fresh salad kits? Not at this price. Sure, it serves 2. But a year ago these were 3 for $10.

$7.99 for 5 pounds of red potatoes. Potatoes are poverty food. This isn’t poverty pricing anymore. (The potatoes sold by the pound next to it were $2.29 a pound!)

When $5.99 at the discount grocery store is a “sale price” it’s an issue. For strawberries that taste like plastic, and are barely ripe. They will mold fast as well. Buying fresh produce out of season is expensive and it often travels 1000’s of miles to get to you. It isn’t fresh at all.

Yes, eggs are this expensive here. There is NO difference between these eggs and white ones. It is just different breeds.

The real issue in all of this is we are too reliant on the Top 10 multinational food companies and going to grocery stores:

  • Nestle
  • Coco-Cola
  • Unilever
  • General Mills
  • Kellog’s
  • Mars
  • Associated British Foods
  • Danone
  • PepsiCo
  • Mondelez (Formerly Kraft Foods)

Or how this flow chart explains it only too well:

Check out Behind The Brands for more insight.

And when you buy what you think is still a “small company” and don’t remember it was bought out nearly a decade ago – it’s General Mills hiding behind a beloved classic of one’s youth. And is so very expensive.

But their regular lines are nothing more than cesspools of crap ingredients (bioengineered is the term you want to avoid). High in sugar, sodium, artificial coloring and flavorings and preservatives, this isn’t food anymore. It is just calories to shovel in. And the organic/natural lines? They can’t be trusted either. At the end of the day, profit is king. Not how well you might eat.

That being said you can even find things in the stores these days (notice that empty shelf – in this store that hasn’t had stock in 9 months).

I often think worse than none is the semi-rotting produce sold these days in stores. Prior to 2020, this would not have been even been put out! (It is hard to see, but the entire display was was full of yellow and orange, and the smell was awful). It was $5 a pound.

When I shop, it is often a cycle. I go in hopeful. Then I see how few choices I have. Then I see how low quality the produce is now. Then I look at the prices. I cannot justify $8 for a head of cabbage. Or $6 for a head of cauliflower. Or $1.49 a pound for bananas that everywhere I go, they are sickly green and never taste good now.

I come out of the store angry and sad. A weird mix of emotions. I feel like how do I feed my family and not go broke? How do I feed them food that is good for them? A feeling that I have never known in my life. Even as a child and teen raised in poverty – food was still affordable, with what we had. I knew we could still GET food. I watch people shopping and I wonder, how long can they keep this going?

And I often wonder…how do people not see this? How is it they go through their days, and the rising prices become nearly unbearable? Do they just ignore it, willing it to be a bump, before good times come back?

So What Can YOU Do?

  • Start growing food.

It’s what we talk about here quite often. Nearly all of us can grow something. You might not be able to grow acres of food, and be self-sufficient, but every time you don’t have to buy produce, you have beat the system again.

  • Save Seeds.

I cannot express that enough. Save back yearly from your heirloom/open pollinated plants so that you don’t have to buy seeds (or well, at least not as many seeds…hahaha. If you are like me and love finding new plants yearly, we still buy.) If you save back, then in years of lean, you will still be able to plant.

  • Preserve the food you grow.

Be it you create a cellar for garlic, onions and potatoes. Or you dehydrate produce. Or you can. Or you freeze-dry.  When you can “shop” out of your pantry you are winning. You are saving money, gas and time. What you need is in front of you.

  • Build a community of people who have similar goals.

Being a lone wolf is exhausting. You have to do everything. Find people who have similar goals, who are trust worthy. Learn and share with them, to gain new skills. Learn to garden and preserve food with them.

  • Bartering.

Let’s say you grow cucumbers well, but want tomatoes? Find someone in your community who wants to pickle, but is drowning in tomatoes.

  • Supporting Small Companies.

This one connects back to growing actually. You might be thinking food, but even when you buy seeds and plants, buy from companies with an actual face. Use seed companies that grow in your region, and use small farms who grow the seed, versus a company owned by a multinational fertilizer company that has many tentacles. Your seeds will be for where you live, producing better crops, but you also help them earn a living and a shaking fist at “the man”.

But it also applies to food. Buy regionally produced grains instead of supporting General Mills. Buy food that is companies who are truly independent. Look for employee owned. For the small family run, who ignore buyout offers often daily. They need you!

And maybe the most important after growing food?

  • Knowing How To Cook.

It’s winter. You have time. Learn to make basic food to get off the system. Learn to bake bread. How to make jam. Learning to cook means you are less reliant on the system. Less bioengineered ingredients. Eat a lot of soup. Live like you are a peasant who can afford a few nice things such as honey and vegetables, rather than boxes of sugary cereal brought to you by Coke. And when you are gardening, you will have fresh produce to cook with. Learn how to use spinach, tomatoes, bok choy, swiss chard, and so much more.