Growing a Food-Based Economy
Cultivating True Wealth on a Local Level to Feed Mind, Body, and Soul
Having worked in lawn care and landscaping as a young person, I was amazed at the level of time, money, and energy people were willing to invest in the aesthetic quality of the grass around their homes.
It is interesting to note that a lawn of itself does not provide any tangible return on investment besides the enjoyment we get out of it and perhaps taking pride in having greener grass than some of our neighbors.
Contrast this to the joy of a beautiful garden that provides fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs to your household. The abundance of your produce can also be sold or traded in the local community as well.
Many people are growing increasingly aware of rising prices of food as well as a lowering of overall quality and freshness. Those of us who frequent farmers' markets know why we are willing to pay a bit more for the fresh local produce and hand-crafted products made with love and care in our local communities.
I have worked with and seen many people who put a lot of effort into maintaining lawns and decorative plants and perhaps have a small vegetable patch as well.
I believe we are at a time now where more people are waking up to the reality of our human freedom and sovereignty and ability to influence political and economic change through grassroots movements.
Ironically, this "grassroots" movement involves emphasizing the roots of edible plants over the monoculture of the lawn that is often laden with herbicides in order to keep out unwanted weeds.
A few generations ago a large part of the population was involved in farming and agriculture. Today we often find ourselves removed from the Earth and the food we consume and yearning to rekindle the connection.
If more home owners devoted even a relatively small part of their lawn to food production, we would see a massive positive change happen in the community on many levels.
Firstly, individuals would rediscover the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of gardening and working with the Earth. The family would benefit from fresh produce much higher in nutrients than the average counterparts found in grocery stores.
Neighbors could find a common ground and connect in terms of who would grow what plants, trading among themselves and perhaps enjoying neighborhood meals together.
After the initial investment to get the food project started, the community at large will begin to notice prices begin to drop. The more people become producers of their own food rather than just consumers the more the market is able to open up and become more competitive.
If I am growing cucumbers and can sell them freshly picked at the farmers' market, I become a local alternative to the chain grocery stores, at least for that product. If someone else in my town is specializing in tomatoes they can have a similar positive impact, at least while their crop is in season.
As big grocery stores start to notice the tendency of people to frequent the farmers' markets more and more they are forced to adapt to the changing consumer habits in the area.
Perhaps they reach and and make deals with local food producers and begin carrying local/organic produce as well. As more and more food gets produced in a relatively small area all the costs associated with "middle men" also go down. The food travels less distance from farm to table and is less subject to markups because it goes through less hands.
In the conventional economic model money is always seen as the bottom line, the self-referential reality that seems to dominate our lives. And yet, at the end of the day, the basic human needs themselves are what truly matter and what ought to be emphasized in our economic policies.
Food sovereignty and sustainability at the local level makes sense as a means of security in the event of any unforeseen events that delay or prevent the transport of food to the area. The more self-sufficient we are in our communities, the more empowered we will be to create the kind of world we will be proud to leave to our children and grandchildren.