Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Emergency Preparedness: Grow a Little of Your Own Food

An online acquaintance in New Zealand, who runs the Locavore 365 site, wrote to me about the importance of growing a little of your own food as part of your emergency preparedness plan:

I’m not sure if you saw on the news, Christchurch New Zealand, (the city where I live and the birthplace of Locavore365) recently suffered a big earthquake (7.1). My family and I are all well, but it has been very difficult for a lot of other people who lost their homes.

Since the earthquake, we had an interesting experience with our local locavore community and our Locavore365.org website, I though it may be an interesting idea for a blog if you were interested...

The earthquake really changed a lot of peoples attitude to being locavores. We learned how fragile modern food chain systems can be, and how important it is to have a strong local food chain in place. After the quake, many people were without power for up to several days, and clean running water for over a week. Basically people had to live on what food and water they had stored. Supermarkets were initially all closed for a day or two and when they open, they did not take deliveries for some days, so food staples such as bread, milk, bottled water etc were quickly sold out. The day after the quake there were reports of fighting in stores that were selling whatever they had.

Incredibly though, during the week after the quake, we found that visitors to locavore365.org actually increased from the Christchurch area (despite many people being without power even). We believe that people realised that in a disaster you can’t count on complex modern food supply chain systems, the best thing was to find locally produced food.

There were some good stories. We found that some people who had water on at their house added listings to the site for fresh water, this enabled people who didn’t have any to find some. Many people around Christchurch have chickens, chickens kept laying eggs, so many people where adding listings for eggs to swap or sell, eggs are great as you can easily make a fried egg and they don’t require water to cook (even vegetables need washing, and if they water is not clean this is difficult). There were good examples of local food chains springing up that didn’t previously exist; a farmer who had potatoes stacked in large wooden crates ready for delivery to market found that the boxes had fallen down in the quake and were damaged. The farmer advertised their slightly blemished produce (which modern supermarkets would not accept) on Locavore365.org.

Of course it is not much use hoping that when disaster strikes you will luckily find a local food chain system in your own area. Like the day of a power cut everyone realises they should have checked the batteries in the torch beforehand – it’s too late. Developing and strengthening local communities and food produce infrastructure needs to be something that individuals consciously encourage and support in their own areas every day. In this way the local food chain will be in place when you most need it. So get out there support your local farmers, head down to the local farmers market, plant even a few veggies of your own, and get to know your neighbours.

People attitudes have changed from thinking eating locally produced food is “cool/fun/nice” to it being necessary, and the only option during a disaster.

Cheers, Simon.

3 comments:

mangocheeks said...

Thank you so much for sharing this and link to the article. It is amazing how immediate natural disasters impact on our way of thinking.

I grow a little inmy tiny garden plot at home West of Scotland). So foudn this really interesting to read.

Maralyn45 said...

Thanks for sharing your post...i liked it a lot..

valereee said...

Maralyn and Mangocheeks, glad you enjoyed it!