Archive for the 'agriculture' Category

Nobel Prize Winning Economist Gary Becker Says We’ll Fix the Food Crisis with Gardens

Sharon April 25th, 2008

That’s not quite the way he phrased it, but I thought it rated a seperate post on this blog to note that Nobel Prize winning Chicago economist Gary Becker thinks that among other reasons food prices can be stabilized by putting into production the vast quantities of arable land converted to suburbia and cities worldwide.  “Persistent high and climbing prices of grains and other foods will induce conversion of some of this land back to farming.”

Well, things are shifting, aren’t they?


The Lowly Potato and the Power of Vegeculture

Sharon April 18th, 2008

Passover begins tomorrow evening, and training it down to NYC for a family seder.  Expect the blog to be quiet for a bit.  But I didn’t want to leave you all on the methane note ;-) - we all need a happy thought now and again.

 My happy thought is…potatoes.  Does that sound strange?  If so, take a look at this article about the growing hope that potatoes represent in the world food crisis.  We have relied so heavily on seed crops that we’ve missed many of the possibilities of roots.

 I’ve written about this more extensively in an article about Vegeculture - that is, the use of root crops as staple foods.  I believe that more and more of us, who do not feel we can produce our own wheat, will transition our diets towards small scale production of root crops - potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, cassava, manioc, taro, beets….  In a world where food grains are increasingly scarce, our ability to rely on our own local, staple vegetable crops may be essential. 

It is also worth noting that a transition to root crops represents a deeper shift - because potatoes are higher yielding than grains, we are making our first shift to an agriculture that emphasizes productivity of land, rather than productivity of people - that is, the realization is coming that we have no choice but to make the best possible use of the land we have.  It is a slow process, but I see new awareness of root agriculture as an early step.

 At Passover, we are prohibited from owning or profiting from grains - certainly wheat, and many Jews also forego rice, corn and other crops.  That leaves matzah (made from wheat in a particular way), but also potatoes.  Many of the traditional foods of the Passover Table derive from potatoes, or potato starch.  For 8 days, potatoes mostly substitute for an American diet that otherwise relies far more heavily on wheat, corn and rice. 

Which raises the question of how we regard this shift.  Historically, while Passover has its pleasures, everyone is waiting anxiously for bread at the end.  It is traditional to complain a bit about the foods of Passover.  I wonder what it would be like if, instead of dreaming of bread, we could delight in the season of potatoes and other roots.  That is our goal this year - to enjoy this time of vegeculture.

A few years ago, I dumped about half an inch of compost on a chunk of my gravel driveway, laid potato pieces down, and covered them with old hay that had been rained on.  I produced a fairly solid yield of healthy, beautiful potatoes - on my driveway.  Potatoes are indeed a happy thought.


Seven Fat Cows, Seven Thin Cows: Hoarding and Storing the Seeds of Deliverance

Sharon April 6th, 2008

Most of us raised in a Biblical religion have some vague memory of the story of Joseph and his brothers, if only from the Donny Osmond musical.   Genesis 39-47 will refresh your memory if you are interested in the details.  In the story, Joseph who was sold into Egypt becomes the powerful advisor of Pharoah, who is having bad dreams.  In one of the dreams, Pharoah dreams of seven fat cows, devoured by seven starving cows.  In the second, seven ripe, healthy sheaves of wheat are devoured by seven shrivelled, dry ones.  Joseph correctly predicts that this means,

“Immediately ahead are seven years of great abundance in all the land of Egypt.  After them will come seven years of famine and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten.  As the land is ravaged by famine, no trace of the abundance will be left in the land…And let Pharoah take steps to appoint overseers over the land, and organize by taking a fifth part of the land’s produce in the seven years of plenty.  Let all the food of those good years that are coming be gathered and let the grian be collected under Pharoah’s authority as food to be stored in cities.  Let that food be a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will come upon the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.”

Joseph’s understanding and forethought enable Egyptians, and ultimately his own family to survive the famine, in which “…there was no bread in all the world.“ 

One of the fascinating things about the way that this story is told is the linguistic linking of land and people here - that is, we are told that we should store food so that “the land may not perish.”  Of course, this means the people of the land, but it also is a reminder that famine is enormously destructive to the land itself - in the face of famine, land that should not be cultivated is brought into cultivation (we are seeing this already in the US as Crop Protection Land is brought into production and elsewhere as the world’s poor are pressed onto increasingly marginal land), and desperately hungry people will eat whatever they can, including protected animals and plants.  Famine isn’t just destructive to the hungry, but to the earth they devastate in the quest for food.  In a real sense, the preservation of the people can be the preservation of the land itself.

Whatever anyone can say about Pharoahs ;-), this one seems to have a laudible sense of obligation to his own populace - a sense of obligation that wildly exceeds the leaders of many nations, who have allowed stockpiles to collapse in times of comparative prosperity.  Right now world grain reserves are well below what is considered to be a “safe” level to keep populations fed in a time of shortage - and this can be seen by the concern that nations are showing about expanding and safeguarding what reserves they do have in the present crisis.  For example, Thailand recently announced it will not consider selling grain from its stockpiles, and the Philippines negotiated a deal with the US and Vietnam to buy a large reserve.

I bring this up not to make you feel like you are back in Sunday school, but because of a Washington Post article I just read, which struck me because while it is perfectly possible that this is an accident, what purports to be a news story about fears of unrest caused by high grain prices, particularly rice, turns out to have what looks like a strong propaganda component, warning people about the danger of stockpiling grain. 

Cambodian Finance Minister Keat Chhon last week called for people to be calm. He urged them “not to stock up on foods, which could make the situation even harder.”

Some experts say that building reserves to protect against future shortages only makes the problem worse.

‘Of course, if every country, or individual consumer, acts the same way, the hoarding causes a panic and extreme shortage in markets, leading to rapidly rising prices,” said Peter Timmer, a visiting professor at Stanford University’s program on food security and the environment.

For example, he said, “the newly elected populist government in Thailand did not want consumer prices for rice to go up, so they started talking about export restrictions from Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter. . . . So last Friday, rice prices in Thailand jumped $75 per metric ton. This is the stuff of panics.” “

Now there is some real truth here - if billions of people attempt to build up a food reserve in a time of short supplies, they will make the situation worse, driving up prices and increasing shortages.  It is also true, however, that the root cause of these shortages is not people trying to buy now so that they can be sure that they will have rice to eat if the price continues to jump (it went up by 10% on Friday alone).  The problem is a combination of climate change, aquifer depletion (especially in China) and biofuels growth - with a heavy emphasis on that last one.  

Now the difference between hoarding and stockpiling is this - once you are already in a crisis AND there is a meaningful and rational system for ensuring people have access to food, building up stores can disrupt the existing system and its fairness.  This is hoarding, and it is problematic.  That is, if there’s just enough rice to around, *and it is going around in a fairly just way*  those who are wealthy enough to build up private stocks can disrupt the system, and shouldn’t.  That, however is not the case now.  First of all, there’s more than enough food to go around, and second of all, justice has not been the major concern.

How do we know this?  Well, in 2007, the world produced enough calories to feed everyone in the world half again more calories in grain than they need.  With 6.6 billion people, we could feed 1/3 more people, raising the world’s population up to 10 million on present agricultural yields of grain alone - this excludes all vegetables, fruits, grass fed meats and forageable plants.   That is, right now we are not experiencing shortages of food in any absolute sense.

This, I think is a deeply important point.  When I observe things like this, people usually not that there is no such thing as perfectly fair food distribution, and that is, of course true. It is also true that we are so far away from even a remotely just system of distribution that if we could even approximate a level of concern for the world’s populace that exeeded our concern for our cars, I’d be happy.  The reality is that rich people eat three times - they eat some grain.  Then they eat meat, fed on enough grain to feed an ordinary person many times over, and then they feed their cars, their pets, the birds and occasionally burn some grain and legumes in their stoves.  We entirely lack a system that simply says “humans get the first products of agricultural labor” - that is, that people outrank the cars, dogs, and desire for steak of the average rich world denizen. 

Building up supplies in times of comparative prosperity and surplus is not hoarding - it is simply a wise idea, and has been since Pharoah and Joseph were doing it.  Keeping a solid reserve of food means that you are not as vulnerable to disruptions and crises.  But national stockpiles have been falling steadily for the last decade, with world reserves presently at their lowest since records have been kept.  Just as we’re not saving money any more, we are not presently reserving our staple foods for hard times.   

Not only is building supplies in times of comparative prosperity morally ok, it is not ethically speaking hoarding if there is no system of equitable distribution.  That is, hoarding is the retention of food stores *when things are being distributed fairly* that disrupts an already fair system.  Hoarding is not an accurate way to describe the attempt of desperately poor and hungry people to make sure that they are a little less desperately poor and hungry next week, nor is stockpiling an unreasonable response to a crisis in which there is no just system of making sure that the hungry are fed.  In that case, when governments and larger institutions are not ensuring fair distribution, it is more than reasonable for people to try and make sure they and theirs are fed.  Can this cause problems?  Absolutely.  Is this root cause of present problems, and should those who inadvertantly exacerbate problems with deeper root causes be held up as responsible?  Hell no. 

There are some food sources, notably rice, that are experiencing absolute food shortages.  But food in general is plentiful - so what’s the problem?  Well, Lester Brown announced yesterday that the total amount of US biofuels production could have fed *250 million* people every bite of grain they needed for a year.  Think hard about that fact next time you are in the market for some E10.   Note, however, that the UN and World Bank, both primary enthusiasts of the world biofuels boom, are arguing that we should give more money to the World Food Program (and we should - they are already desperate and things are only going to get worse), but not that we should stop biofuel production.   The one bright spot in what is otherwise a humanitarian and ecological disaster is that Germany seems finally ready to slow the madness - it announced earlier this week that it would remove its own ethanol mandate.  Here’s hoping that that’s the first in a trend!

This is, I think, an important point because articles like the one I cited above suggest that a great deal more of the responsibility rests on poor rice consumers than is just.  Years of being taught to read closely makes me think that the Washington Post article is more than just a piece of reporting - that is, its level of balance on the subject of stockpiling is low - there is no discussion about, for example, how those who bought rice before the price jump are doing in comparison to others, or why government and world reserves are as low as they are - and whether consumers have the right to compensate for absent state stockpiles of staples.  Other than one brief mention of biofuels there is no discussion of rich world hoarding in the form of meat consumption or reduced exports because of biofuels.

The extended discussion of individual hoarding, which takes up nearly half the article, implies that political unrest is primarily caused by governments acknowledging their is a problem, and by people who want to eat trying to continue doing so.  Moreover, while I hate to get all conspiracy-theoryish, I cannot help thinking that such an extended discussion of stockpiling in an article that is supposed to be primarily about political unrest due to food prices (and it isn’t like there isn’t anything to write about on that subject) is also beginning to create an American anti-stockpiling narrative. 

I’ve had several people email me recently about the ethics of building stockpiles during a time of famine.  And I agree, were we really seeing extremely tight supplies of grains, and a system for just distribution, it would be perfectly reasonable to expect to work with it, and limit reserve building right now.  But that is not the case - we are presently seeing a vast excess of grain production - mostly going straight into gas tanks and CAFO meat.  As economist Amartya Sen has observed, famines are usually about access to food, not absolute supply.  Well, for billions of people in the poor world and millions in America can walk into stores filled to overflowing with food - and cannot touch any of it, because they cannot afford it.  It is that experience of hunger in a world of plenty that millions of people are experiencing for the first time now. 

Moreover, the kind of stockpiling most of the people I’m talking about are doing is not only ok, it is great for the development of local food systems.  People are searching out local grain and legume growers, and buying direct, or at worst, buying direct when possible from small scale producers in someone else’s locality.  There are, of course, people who can’t do that - but generally speaking, most of my readers with extra money are essentially investing it in local staple food systems, and that is an extremely good use of money.

Even if you are not able to buy local and organic, you should remember that your use of food is the real purpose of the food - you aren’t buying your grains to feed to feedlot cows, or to burn in your car.  You are buying food to *EAT* it.  Eaters should always have first rights to food. Moreover, those of us who are concerned about the failure of our nations or regions to stockpile food during our fat years have a reason and a responsibility to take on that role for themselves.

The thing is, organizing and keeping grain reserves is one of those “comparatively good uses for government” things.  Thus, moves by nations to stabilize or increase their reserves, while a day late or a dollar short, again, are not the root problem - yes, they are driving short term price rises. But they are also responding, not to an imaginary problem, but to the real danger that people will starve to death and die.  Market analysts who talk about the problem of people holding back food and creating subsidies are ignoring the fact that nations are responding because a substantial portion of their populace is in danger of death from hunger and hunger related disease.

“To calm increasingly concerned Chinese consumers — for whom prices rose 8.7 percent in February from a year earlier, the biggest increase in 12 years — the government froze the prices of some grains, meat and eggs. Premier Wen Jiabao announced this week that China is largely self-sufficient in rice production and has stockpiled 40 to 50 million tons of rice.

The Chinese government also has run picture after picture in local newspapers of its “strategic reserves” of frozen meat, sacks of grain and barrels of cooking oil.”

Today a San Francisco Chronicle editorial argued that “hoarding” only makes things worse for everyone.   In The Times of India, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria argues that “national hoarding” or curbing exports is itself a major problem, and that governments should not try to mitigate hunger by restraining exports.

“The lesson is clear. Curbing exports is a form of national hoarding. If every country tries to hoard food, food prices will naturally rise. Governments would like to believe that hoarding by traders is terrible, whereas hoarding by governments promotes the public interest. But the impact on prices is exactly the same in both cases. Indeed, when governments start to hoard food out of panic, the panic itself stokes further inflationary fears.

That is why I am not optimistic about the Indian government’s anti-inflation package. The government thinks it is improving domestic supplies and hence bringing down prices. In fact the government is adding to the global hoarding problem, and stoking panic too. So, expect food inflation to keep rising in coming months.

When and how will it end? The roots of today’s food inflation are global, and cannot be tackled by the Indian government in isolation. Inflation will come down only when world food production rises, and world prices fall. That cannot happen immediately. “

But implicit in this assumption is the belief that it would be better to let some people starve than to start the cycle of driving up prices, or having governments stabilize them.  This is a form of free market orthodoxy that doesn’t tolerate any dissent - people dropping dead of starvation?  Well, the solution is to let the market handle it, which, of course, it will - in due course.  Pay no attention to the corpses on the side of the road.  Wanting people to eat and worrying they won’t, well, that’s a form of panic!  Crazy, crazy panic.

This orthodoxy  also does not distinguish between forms of national hoarding - storing the food your country produces to feed its population is described as national hoarding - but no such description is given to the production of biofuels, almost always used within nations, to feed the cars of people who are already well fed.  If there is a form of hoarding going on, it can be best seen in ethanol and other grain production - we are hoarding our food for our cars.  We could make the same about meat production - heavy meat consumption results in the removal of potential exports from markets that, in this case, desperately need them.

Worldwide, the costs are already rising in human terms.  The UK Guardian reports:

Cameroon At least 24 people killed and 1,600 people arrested in February. Taxes slashed on food imports and public sector wages increased by 15%.

Indonesia 10,000 demonstrated outside the presidential palace in Jakarta after soya bean prices rose more than 50% in a month and more than 125% over the past year.

Egypt Seven people have died in fights or of exhaustion queuing for subsidised bread. Dairy products are up 20%, oil 40%.

Burkina Faso Riots in three towns after the government promised to control the price of food but failed.

Guinea Five anti-government riots over cost of living in past 18 months.

Pakistan Thousands of troops have been deployed to guard trucks carrying wheat and flour.”

Earlier this week, the World Food Program head reported in Ethiopia that the problem is not absolute shortages, but growing urban hunger, as urban dwellers, pushed off the land by globalized practices of food dumping and now dependent on imported food, can no longer buy it.  African nations that were once nearly food self-sufficient now depend on cheap imports for 40% or more of their food - and there are no more cheap imports.

So should you stop buying food to store?  No.  What you should stop doing, if you haven’t already is this.  Stop eating CAFO meat - period.  Don’t buy any meat that isn’t grassfed and local, and sustainably raised.  Go vegetarian if you can’t get good local meat.  And everyone who has more than they need needs to both redouble their charitable giving and their advocacy against biofuel growth.  But don’t be ashamed of feeding your family, or planning ahead for tight supplies - instead, donate what you can so that someone in Asia or Africa can buy a little extra for their families.  Let the cars worry about whether there will be enough grain in reserve.  If you want to help stop biofuels growth, consider signing this petition and supporting the work of Food First and other groups trying to stop the conversion of human food to car food.

There is a Mishnah (a Rabbinical expansion of a Biblical Story) that says that after Joseph and his brothers were reunited, Jacob and his sons made their way to Egypt where there was food in the famine.  On the way to Egypt, one day, Jacob awakens and tells his sons to get up and plant cedars in the desert.  They ask him why?  And Jacob answers that someday they will come out of Egypt again at the end of some terrible times, and when they do, their descendents will need those cedars.  “So rise up now and plant seeds.  For you are planting on this day the seeds of your own deliverance”

If you want to help in the world food crisis, give what you can, protest biofuels,  and eat lower on the food chain.  And at the same time,  turn your efforts, the work of your hands and heart and time and energy to doing as Jacob and his sons did - planting seeds, the seeds of our own deliverance.  The time is not so far that we will need them.


The Chicken Pax

Sharon April 3rd, 2008

The first livestock we got, a few months after we moved out here, were chickens.  That was 6 1/2 years ago.  Most of my family thought it was weird.  Little did they know that poultry carry a dangerous disease…the chicken pax.  Its major symptom - the sudden desire to have your own chickens.  Symptoms include praising egg quality, paging through the Murray McMurray catalog and craning your neck to see if that thing in your neighbor’s backyard is a coop or a shed.  No one, no matter where you live, is immune.

 It started with my mother and step-mother.  My mother was at first grossed out by the idea of us eating eggs that came out of the chicken’s butt (I’m not clear on where she thought the supermarket eggs came from - I think the part that she liked about them was that they didn’t make her think about it at all), but eventually had to admit that my chickens were kind cute.  But Susie, my step-Mom, well, she really liked them.  So much so that she started working on my Mom to let her get chickens.  Eventually, Mom caved.

 Well, last spring, when I ordered chicks, we got some for Susie.  She built a coop that my mother grumbles cost more than their house (she exaggerates, but it is one heck of a nice coop ;-)), and reared her four “girls” (one of them had a little gender issue, and had to be replaced, but I’ll save that story for Susie) and now my mother likes their backyard chickens just fine, happily eat the eggs - and Susie loves them.  She says they changed everything - got the neighbors engaged, gave her a new passion, was a source of just endless pleasure.   Last week my Mom was on her way out, when a little girl she’d never seen before rang the bell, and said, “I saw the chickens before - can I go show them to my Mom?”  My Mom went out, the little girl and her Mom went back into the yard, and the beginnings of a new relationship were formed! 

After the chickens came, a neighbor girl started visiting regularly to help with the hens.  She even came down to the garden with my step-Mom, ate strawberries and began to learn about gardening - all because of the chickens.  The girls have made such a difference that Susie has now taken on the project of helping other people become backyard chicken raisers.  She’s got a blog - she’s new to it, and there’s only one post yet, but I thought a few comments might encourage her to write more ;-).  Now she has a mission - changing people’s lives, one hen at a time!

But it doesn’t end there.  Due to that little bit of chicken gender trouble, one of the babies came to live at my farm (once called “Cora” now “Cory” rules our flock with an iron hand), and had to be replaced.  So Susie and my Mom went off to a poultry auction last fall, and brought my brother in law, Billy along.  Now my sister Vicky (married to Billy) doesn’t like birds.  Billy does.  I’d offered them some chicks, mostly in the spirit of affectionate driving one’s sister crazy, but they’d never quite taken me up on it.  But off to the poultry auction Billy went, and home he came with 9 chicks and two ducks.  A coop was constructed, and my sister has almost forgiven my brother in law for the incident where the poor ducks got cold and Billy put them in the bathtub.  Unfortunately, 7 of the 9 chicks turned out to be roosters, and thus my farm becomes the home for unwelcome roosters, but that’s what pesky big sisters with farms are for.  And there’s talk of their raising more chicks this spring…

Now my other sister, Rachael doesn’t have chickens…yet.  She wants the Polish kind, the ones that look like they are wearing hats.  Not this year - they have to build a coop, and she and her husband aren’t the haphazard sort.  They are going to do things in the right order.   But they are coming.  In the meantime, my mother tells me that Rachael is going on a “Coop Loop”-  a walk to visit all the chickens in a suburban neighborhood near her. 

It doesn’t end there.  One of my best friends from college called me up last week saying they are going to get their chickens, and asking what kind to get!  Guess who’ll be ordering them and taking back any roosters ;-)?  And then there’s the friend in a neighborhood of Boston who is checking with his zoning committee, and the grad school girlfriend who is building a coop in a mid-sized city in Indiana. 

All of which suggests to me the simple truth that chickens are contagious.  And it is one heck of a good disease to get - because the answer to factory farming is not just to buy sustainable eggs.  Oh, that’s good, and some of us can’t keep chickens.   But the reality is that if small organic chicken farms get too big, they’ll stop being able to give the chickens what they really need - enough air, pasture, light and nature - and those compromises are bad for chickens and bad for the environment.  Some more farms will be created by demand, but one way to balance supply and demand with ecological concerns is to bring chickens into our yards.  We don’t want monocultured chicken farms that raise only poultry - monoculture is never a good thing.  We want diversity - of crops, of livestock, of chicken breeds. 

Which means that the best way to stop factory egg farming is this - for people to raise a few chickens in their backyards whenever possible.  3 chickens create less mess and trouble than a dog, eat your pests, create manure for your garden, keep wastes out of the garbage stream, provide you with rich, healthy eggs and enormous pleasure.  3 million chickens in an egg farm are an ecological disaster, a health hazard, a risk for avian flu and an animal lover’s nightmare.  3 million of the same kind of chickens together means the potential extinction of valuable genes designed for backyard flocks. 

The chicken pax is the answer to a host of horrors - if you can keep chickens, and you like them and eat eggs, you probably should.  After all, they change everything.

 BTW, in July we’re planning to add Nigerian Dwarf milk goats, courtesy of our wonderful friends Jamey and Carol.  Among the reasons we picked this breed is that they are the perfect sized milk goat for suburban lots - and we plan to help get them there.  Don’t tell my Mom, but I’m pretty sure that cute little milk goats may be highly contagious too ;-)!


The Food Crisis Getting Worse - Fast!

Sharon April 1st, 2008

Well, the last week has had some disturbing news about food supplies.  First, rice prices jumped by 30% in a single day, putting many of the 3 billion people who depend on rice as their food staple at risk of hunger.  The Guardian tells that people are stripping rice fields before the farmers can harvest them.  Most rice eating nations are self-sufficient in rice, but there some disturbing exceptions, including the Philippines. 

The next news to arrive was the projected US corn production, which was released yesterday, and now some analysts are warning us to expect corn rationing this year! Mexicans are already struggling with high corn prices, and much of Africa which relies on maize is endangered by rising corn prices.  Understandably, tensions are rising with hunger. (Note that the article calls the decision, say, to reserve rice supplies for one’s own hungry people rather than sell them on open markets “counterproductive.”  As usual, growth capitalism revels in the “creative destruction” of anyone but large corporations    ;-P.  Also note the charming shift of the problem onto the developing world’s large population and desire to eat meat occasionally, rather on to the rich world where every person consumes 15 times the resources.)

Add in wheat and soybeans, both at record highs for a host of reasons, and virtually all of the basic staple foods of most of the world’s population are skyrocketing in price - and increasingly out of reach not just of the world’s poor (already starving)  but of ordinary Americans.  News that more Americans than ever will need food stamps next year is hardly surprising, as are accounts that food pantries are really struggling to meet demand.  I think it will surprise many analysts exactly how big and deep the hunger problem gets in the US, as we are squeezed between rocks and hard places in a host of ways.

What should we do about this?  Well, rationing isn’t a bad thought.  I know a lot of people instinctively react badly to the idea of rationing, but the truth is that we ration food today - we simply ration by price.  Too poor to buy rice?  Ok, you go hungry, so that the richer folks can have it.  We *ARE* rationing.  What formal rationing systems do is give even poor people a right to eat.  I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating - people *LIKE* rationing in times of scarcity, because it ensures they get a fair share.

Now the logical place to start the rationing would be at the biodiesel and ethanol plants - rationing them out of existence in many cases would be an excellent choice.  Certainly, limiting access to feedlot meat producers wouldn’t be a bad idea either.  But given the fact that we are probably stuck, we should all dig in and prepare for a long, terrible, hungry year - and probably more. 

Meanwhile, those gardens matter.  Grow an extra row for the food pantry.  Eat a little more of your own homegrown, and donate what you save to world relief agencies. If you eat grains, grow some - Gene Logsdon just announced that he’s re-releasing his wonderful book _Small Scale Grain Raising_.  Write your congressperson.  Get involved with those who are fighting hunger and biofuel production.  And grow.  And grow.


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