Food Security is Homeland Security
11 September, 2002
I would like to share a few thoughts with you 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, pigeonophibic and generally cityophobic. I remain all of these now, so many years later. I feel for all the folks who live in cities. They have issues that I will never have to deal with. They suffered terribly one year ago.
I have lived in Singapore, Honolulu, Copenhagen and Tokyo. All are perfectly 'nice' cities, which means 'I don't want to live there anymore'. Where I live, I can see stars at night, hear the sheep grazing in the moonlight and 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.
Since a year ago, I have learned a few things about security. 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, so too,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.
Webster Ridge wants to sell you food. It is how I make part of my 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 I have a customer from far away, I am thinking 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 my neighborhood might be better served to find another local egg producer, closer to them.
My neighbor is raising a pig for me. When the pig is ready to be harvested, we will take care of it and feed 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 businesspeople. 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 spreading system that is part of nature. 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.