A Journey to Grow a Little Food Close to Home

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rising Food Costs...and what to do about it

I don't think that I've ever done a propaganda post before. I don't think that this is the place for things like this, this, this, this, or many more. This is a gardening blog, after all. Why, then, am I about to talk about some of the propaganda that is floating around?

Because I think that this time, it's real.

A personal interest of mine is the history of societal evolution (I know...I'm weird). By that, I mean that I find the expansion and collapse of societies throughout history fascinating. Specifically, I am interested in the patterns that show why these expansions and collapses happen as well as the patterns of what happens to people living in those societies as the society moves through its lifecycle.

One of the first known societies of humans was Sumeria. Founded in about 5300 bc (or about 7300 years ago) in the modern day Middle East, it grew to encompass vast lands, amassed large amounts of knowledge, and offered its citizens a pretty good life. Then, it collapsed.

Following the Sumerians were (in approximate order) the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Hittites and Akkadians, the Phonecians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Chineese Han and Tang Dynasties, the Myans, the Spaniards, the Dutch, the French, and the English.

This list, remember, includes the largest civilizations on the planet at the particular time in history and spans approximately 7000 years. Numerous smaller societies existed during this time all over the world and, interesting, also followed the same patterns of expansion and collapse and all had the same milestones.

What are those patterns, you might ask? Think of the expansion as a 10-step program...

First, the society is founded because people want something different than what they are used to. Morale is good.

Second, the society is threatened by those who surround it. Those can be the people whom were broken away from, the people on whose territory the group settled, or both. Morale is low.

Third, the emerging society battles against the threat. If the society wins, the first step has been taken toward being 'the big dog on the block.' Morale is high.

Fourth, the society, in its newfound glory, sees much learning, innovation, economic growth, and standard of living increase. (The negative side of this is a decreased concern for the area's resource inputs (natural resources as well as human capital) which are necessary for growth.) Morale is high.

Fifth, the learning and innovation cause rifts to form within the group as some view themselves as better than others. Morale is low.

Sixth, an internal battle occurs between the different groups. If the differences are settled, the society basically guarantees itself 'the big dog on the block' status. Morale soars.

Seventh, the society, in its newfound comraderie, sees much learning, innovation, economic growth, and standard of living increase. (The negative side of this is a decreased concern for the area's resource inputs (natural resources as well as human capital) which are necessary for growth.) Morale skyrockets.

Eighth, other groups begin to look to the successful society for leadership, protection, economic gain, etc. (Decreased concern for the area's resource inputs (natural resources as well as human capital) remain.) Morale is to the moon!

Ninth, the society begins to help those who ask for it under the guise that economic and peace-keeping advantages are to be had. (Decreased concern for the area's resource inputs (natural resources as well as human capital)grow) Morale is astronomical!

Tenth, the society stretches itself thin in order to maintain that it began in step nine. (Concern for the area's resource inputs (natural resources as well as human capital)grow) is essentially non-existent) Morale begins to decrease slightly.

It is really at step three that that the problems begin. Basically, winning goes to the heads of all of the members in the society and they begin to think, without realizing it, that they are essentially invincible.

The problem is that no one can see that the problems are festering until step ten. At that point, it's too late.

What happens?

First, the cycle begins again for the nations that 'the big dog on the block' has partnered with/is protecting. Basically, others want a piece of 'the good life.' Morale drops more.

Second, this unrest causes hardship for the citizens of 'the big dog on the block' as government tries (understandably) to maintain the status quo. This is marked by rising costs and decreased supply within the economy, a notable separation of the 'haves' and have-nots,' and the feeling that technological and educational advances are reversing. Morale is fades quickly.

Third, 'the big dog on the block' society breaks down. This breakdown causes extreme hardship for the citizens. Life reverts back to a much earlier and lower standard unless other societies offer assistance. If assistance is offered, life still reverts and the standard is lowered but life does not 'crash and burn.' Morale is basically non-existant.

Now...if you track these steps for any of the previously mentioned societies, you would be able to see them quite clearly.

If you track them for the United States, you'd be scared.

1st Plymouth Rock Settlers
2nd Revolutionary War
3rd Revolutionary War
4th Period between Revolutionary and Civil wars
5th Period between Revolutionary and Civil wars
6th Civil War
7th Industrial Revolution, Women's Rights, Civil Rights, etc
8th WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Panama Conflict
9th WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Panama Conflict
10th 1st Gulf War, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, etc

1st China's Expansion, India's Expansion, Tunisia, Lybia, etc

2nd Current US economy - Housing costs up, Fuel costs up, Food Costs up, value of college education in question, widespread political protesting, shrinking middle class/expanding lower class, etc

3rd ??? When Rome fell, the Dark Ages lasted 1000 years! When Spain fell, its
crash-and-burn lasted 200. Brittain was nice enough to be bailed out by the
U.S...but only because we wanted to park a few ships off its coast during WWII.

Countries don't usually receive aid after they collapse. Why?? The new 'big dog on the block' has its own issues to deal with!

See why I'm a little worried!

So...what does this all have to do with a gardening blog?

Growing a little of our own food can help all of us to weather this storm!!

In a time when we hear things like this:

The food supply in the average city in the United States, if it’s not daily renewed, would run out in about 3 days — Lester Brown “The Planet’s Scarcest Resource is Time,” March 22, 2011.

and this:

Cheap food may be a thing of the past in U.S.
Americans spend only about 10% of their annual incomes on food, compared with as much as 70% in other countries, but with prices climbing, some economists wonder whether the nation's abundance of affordable food is history.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that wholesale food prices jumped 3.9% in February over January, the highest monthly increase in 37 years.

Some ingredients [are] up 40%, 50%, 60% over last year," said Ephraim Leibtag, a U.S. Department of Agriculture economist. "When you see wheat prices close to 80% up, that's going to ripple out to the public."

What can you do?

Plant a garden.

Maybe you won't go as far as the Dervaes Family in California, but at least you'll take a step in the right direction and start to help yourself, your family, and the situation at hand.

Speaking of the Dervaes Family, here's their latest progress:

March Harvest Tally252 lbs Produce

Eggs Chicken 91 Duck 160

2011 Tally to Date663 lbs Produce

Eggs Chicken 117 Duck 345

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