Saturday, April 14, 2012

How To Solve World Hunger

Well, part of the solution at least. Jamie, a Beverly Hills mom behind I Am Not The Babysitter (one of my favorite blogs), recently wrote about the Food Network's special on hunger in America. It brought back a lot of memories for me since I went hungry a lot when I was in junior high and high school. I rarely think about all the summers I would have killed for an over ripe banana just to have something besides ancient Bisquick to eat. But I think those memories have been subconsciously haunting me for my entire adult life and have been a big part of my fear of money. The urge to provide the body sustenance is one of the most basic of all instincts. Deprivation can do strange things to a person's brain.

Anyway, it got me thinking about solutions and I came up with some different ideas. It's not enough to just have food banks and SNAP and the Bishop's Storehouse. People go hungry mostly because they don't have enough money to buy food. Financial planning resources for parents would be helpful, as would career resources for parents and working age teens. But the thing that would make the biggest difference (in my humble opinion) is urban homesteading.

This urban homestead in Pasadena, CA yields 6,000 lbs. of food every year!

Urban homesteading is growing your own food off the land- in the city or suburbs. Some people grow all of their food- grains, meat, eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables all on a 1/4 acre! It sounds unusual, but it's actually the safest and healthiest way to get your food. For example, e. coli contamination is a problem caused by feeding cows corn, keeping them knee deep in their own manure, and the manure washing downstream into spinach farms. (Cows' intestines are meant to handle grass, and when the cows are fed grass, their guts are able to fight off the e. coli bacteria. But when they're fed corn, the e. coli flourishes in their guts and spreads to all the other cattle and then contaminates the water.) If you grow your own spinach, you should be just fine (unless you live downstream from a feedlot, which you wouldn't want to do anyway). It's also a lot cheaper than buying food from the grocery store. Imagine how much financial pressure would be taken off families if they didn't have to buy most of their food!

The beautiful thing about urban homesteading is that it can be done just about anywhere. One of the most prominent books on modern homesteading is called The Four Season Harvest and is written by a homesteader who lives in Maine. He uses cold frames to grow food even in the dead of the harsh Maine winters. One winter Malamute grew a winter greens garden for us and even without well made cold frames and with especially cold temperatures, we had an abundant harvest of cold hardy greens. We would have had more, but we took the advice of Malamute's mom and brought some of the greens in one night. They got too warm and died. Yeah; won't make that mistake again. Even in extreme environments like Alaska, you can grow your own food for a good portion of the year. (And with the loooong days during the summer, Alaskan produce gets HUGE.) Hurricane, Utah isn't exactly known for being a mecca of agriculture, but Ali of Ali's Organics grows 48 fruit trees (3 of them nuts), 17 grape vines, berry patches, a greenhouse of vegetables, and keeps goats, chickens, and honeybees... on a 1/4 acre in a residential neighborhood!!!!! Even in the searing desert heat of Phoenix, Arizona the Valley Permaculture Alliance has resources for helping people to grow their own food. In apartment buildings people are container gardening and using their balconies to grow climbing plants like beans. So many possibilities!

Some good books on urban homesteading:
Food Not Lawns- H.C. Flores
The Four Season Harvest- Eliot Coleman
The Winter Harvest Handbook- Eliot Coleman
Mini-Farming: Self Sufficiency on a 1/4 Acre- Brett L. Markham
and many more...


  1. Love this!! I am not much of a gardener so I will have to check out these books :)

  2. You should also check out Edible Forest Gardens by David Jacke and Eric Toensmeier. I forgot to include that one. It's really good. =)

  3. Thanks for this post!!! We got a large lot for the purpose of having a garden, but I never thought about gardening in the to keep the deer away!:)

  4. A lot of the books talk about this. Coldframing makes it harder for them to get at the plants already, so that's one help right out of the gate. =)