The news yesterday that crops are suffering from the warm, wet winter and that food prices have risen about 7.5% in the last year led, naturally, to today's story about Food banks becoming critical to a lot more people actually being able to eat.
But look at this from yesterday's Herald
The Queensland floods are being blamed for a massive increase in the cost of tomatoes, capsicums and cucumber during June.
Question: what the hell are we doing eating tomatoes, capsicums and cucumbers in June? The only tomatoes I'm eating are preserves from summer and the other two are off the menu except for one jar of semi-gherkins that I experimented with this year. Why is that so hard to deal with?
On the other hand, locally grown winter lettuce and other crops from Franklin and Pukekohe have also been hit by the warmth and the wet; imagine trying to grow brussel sprouts in this weather.
This morning the social fallout of those price rises makes RNZ News.
I didn't start gardening in earnest to save money, I garden because I want to be able to eat as things get tougher. So, for a long time, I have walked through the supermarket, noting that their food has pretty much always been cheaper than I could grow it. But lately that has begun turning around, increasinly I see food that we eat regularly at eye-watering prices. In summer the beans cost $15 a kilo or more while I was picking a kilo a day and freezing 75% of that (we finally ate the last pack this week with a commitment to double production for next season) rhubarb that grows like a weed at my place is $7 a kilo and so forth. The balance is shifting.
So the next question is where is the community gardeing and self sufficiency stream in WINZ and Social Welfare and especially the City Council?
We need a huge investment in community-based food resilience (I've asked to be heard on that in the city planning submissions next month - any support would be good) but we also need leadership from politicians, churches, social support groups to allow people to choose their gardens and their own food supply.
The more time we spend growing food, the less time we spend glued to screens of all kinds, the fitter we get, the more nutritious is the food we consume (straight from the garden beats even the freshest shop food) but we gain as well from the loss of oportuinity to get in the car and burn fossil fuels going to inherently wasteful events such as RWC and other major sporting activities, the sole purpose of which is to extract money by providing low-level violence as spectacle. It also means we waste less fuel mowing lawns because the grass will be gone.
For years its been possible to get general agreement that our way of life has been unsustainable, but it has come with the implicit assumption that the unsustainability wont show up until long after we are gone.
Wrong. Its now and the effects are becoming increasingly obvious.
Our increasingly unpredictable and violent weather is completely consistent with climate change getting into its game so having a more distributed food production system that makes use of every available microclimate is just good sense. That means back, and front, yards everywhere being pressed into service.
Ooooby is a good start on all this, but we need more action locally, really locally. If you haven't had your input to your local board plan yet, do it now.
And if you can afford it, donate to your local food bank and ask if they have a community gardening group you can support. If not, think about starting one.