Food Security is Homeland Security


11 September, 2002(updated, 2 November, 2015)

Let me share a few thoughts on the topic of Homeland Security.

Years ago I left New York City, promising to never live there again. At that time, I was feeling claustrophobic, theftophobic, pigeonophobic and generally cityophobic. I remain all of these now, so many years later. Still I feel for all the folks who live in cities. They have issues that I will never have to deal with. They suffered terribly on 9/11.

I have lived in Singapore, Honolulu, Copenhagen and Tokyo. All are perfectly ‘nice’ cities. For other folks, thank you very much indeed. Where I live, I can see stars at night, hear the sheep grazing in the moonlight. I am willing to drive 20 minutes to the nearest feed store. I sincerely believe that my family is safer here because there are no concentrated targets nearby. That is not to say we are blissfully safe, only to say that rural is the right choice for us.

9/11 brought a few things into very sharp focus. First, that we need to be aware, vigilant and educated about the need and methods of maintaining our security. Secondly, that security is an individual responsibility first, and then a group responsibility. This is as true with regard to the food we eat as it is with regard to the safety of our homes and community. Just as the police might be on the other side of the county when somebody breaks in, the cabbage you want to eat might just not be available unless you take pains to make sure that it will be.

Please explain how importing vegetables from California to New Hampshire, pork from Iowa to Maryland, lamb from New Zealand to California contributes to our food security. I do not see it.

Of course Webster Ridge wants to sell you food. It is how we make part of our living. But the reality is that I sell within a rather small geographical area. My friend-customers are increasing their own food security by decreasing the distance that they have to go in order to get food that will sustain them. When we have a customer from far away, we think of how they can shop closer to their home – it is better for them and us.

We produce about 14 dozen eggs per week. If everybody who eats eggs and lives within walking distance wanted my eggs, I would need several dozen more hens. Chickens are pretty easy to keep. The folks beyond our neighborhood might be better served to find another local egg producer, closer to them.

My neighbor raised a pig for me. When the pig was ready to be harvested, we took over and fed ourselves and local customers.

I hope you see where this is going – together, we small farmers can build a food supply network that is not as vulnerable to attack as the trucks, ships, planes and trains that are required to supply most of your food.

Think about it – food security is something we can work on. We do not need to be soldiers or politicians, computer experts or business-people. All we need to do is care about where our food comes from. This will lead us to decisions that help protect our personal and community supply chains.

A word about our ‘secure open farm’. A secure open farm is a place where you can visit and see everything that is going on – that is the open part. Secure means that that we take precautions to assure that you do not become a part of the disease machine. This has very little to do with terrorism and lots to do with bacteria, virus and other nastiness that is part of the agricultural system, though hopefully as a matter of prevention.

Where does your food come from? Did the person who made it care about and for it as much as you? Are there issues? What are you going to do about it?