Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures

Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures - learning about gardening up north.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How Much Food Do You Grow ?

We can all grow some of our own food at home - or buy local grown. The sad fact is that it is still cheaper to grow tomatoes in Mexico in January and ship them 4,000 miles to Anchorage, Alaska - instead of the cost for heating and lighting the space necessary to grow them here commercially, or in Fairbanks, Nome, or Barrow... We have become accustomed to having fresh tomatoes, strawberries, bananas, and avocados all year long. We Alaskans are used to smoking, canning, and freezing salmon for eating after the fishing season - Whatever happened to preserving what we grow for eating after the garden season? There is a small group of dedicated gardeners who do - but it is not the normal practice - not even for most of the hobby gardeners that you meet on sites like this. What would it take for you to put up 100 or more pints of tomato sauce, or pickles, grow 100 lbs of onions, or potatoes, freeze 50 quart bags each of broccoli, peas, green beans ...etc. 


Yet anybody can grow 3 tomato plants and 12 lettuce, or kale plants in pots or containers in their kitchen or a corner of the living room - all winter long ...what is your excuse?


Our dependence on a small portion of the earth to grow most of our consumable food depends on a large transportation industry to deliver market fresh produce, meat, and dairy products on a just-in-time schedule - where almost 40% ends up being wasted due to spoilage. Disruption of this system could have disastrous consequences. Just look at the California drought as a warning that will expand as climate change impacts global agriculture. I recently saw a post online that brings this point home. 

Steven Johnson of Medium.com wrote"
"California has plenty of water to support its lifestyle. It just won’t have enough to support its crops, without significant changes to make those farms more water-efficient. It seems bizarre that a region like the Central Valley with just six million people — barely more than 10% of the state’s population — should use so much of the water. But then you realize that the vast majority of people benefiting from that water don’t live in California at all. The Central Valley takes up only 1% of the landmass of the United States, but it produces 25% of the food we eat, and almost half of the fruits or nuts we consume. California is running through its water supply because, for complicated historical and climatological reasons, it has taken on the burden of feeding the rest of the country. The average Times reader sneering at those desert lawns from the Upper West Side might want to think about the canned tomatoes, avocados, and almonds in his or her kitchen before denouncing the irresponsible lifestyles of the California emigres. Because the truth is California doesn’t have a water problem. We all do."  
 ...read his complete article here titled Apocalyptic Schadenfreude.