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Agriculture This Week: Redefining food security: More than just money

One topic that did pop up was the idea of what exactly food security is?
Having a garden is securing at least some of the family's food. (File Photo)

YORKTON - Recently I spent some time in a garden talking beans and as we wound down the actual interview we ended up sitting on a couple of lawn chairs in the shade of a bin.

As often happens in such cases the conversation soon wandered to other topics, which at least had ancillary connections to beans, beans, even if not exactly material for the article I was doing.

One topic that did pop up was the idea of what exactly food security is?

Most are likely to suggest it comes down to earning enough money to buy the food the family requires, but in the conversation that day in the shade we questioned if that wasn’t missing the point of being food secure.

You can have a wheel barrel full of cash and if you arrive at the grocery store and the shelves are empty, the money won’t feed the family.

Certainly in North America people go hungry because of money shortages, and grocery stores are typically well-stocked, but that is not the case in other countries, and may not always be the case here either.

We have all heard of food shortages in stores in other countries over the years – the former Soviet Union as an example, and the disruptions from COVID-19 certainly hinted we could easily see food distribution impacted here too.

So food security is much more about taking some direct control of food production. That can mean buying from local producers rather than relying on a system getting food to a store shelf from a few thousand miles away.

It also means growing more of our own food.

Sadly, the idea of a backyard garden is disappearing as we seemingly believe it is better to mow grass, and then complain about the cost of groceries.

What is perhaps more concerning is that as gardens become rarer, we lose not just the personal food supply, but the knowledge of growing food – things such as how planting marigolds in the potato patch can control potato beetles.

Hand many today a bucket of cucumbers, would there be the knowledge to make pickles? Yes, there is the tool called Google, but will it be there in the future? Will it be free?

Then when the modern family has potatoes and beans and peas and turnips, where are they stored?

How many homes have cold storage for root veggies?

How have we evolved to the point an apartment may come with a basically a luxury item dishwasher, but do any come with a deep freeze for food?

Then of course comes the question of food preparation. Are we teaching skills such as processing a whole chicken into something tasty on the table? Or, are we creating a future where its delivery, or microwave only?

In the end it’s pretty obvious food security is increasingly a mirage for most.