In a free and wealthy country, there should be no pockets of hunger.
In an age of enlightenment, food should provide nourishment, not just taste and calories.
And if we want to survive as modern humans, we should be prepared for whatever the natural world and international politics throws at us.
We shouldn’t be dependent on corporations for our daily bread, and we should be prepared if a climate catastrophe occurs. Local food is essential to homeland security.
During World War II, folks at home aided the war effort by raising chickens and growing gardens. This let food manufacturers concentrate on feeding our troops around the world.
There was a reservoir of knowledge about food production and preparation. Cooks may not have had their choice of a dozen cooking shows, but they had mothers, social clubs, and neighbors who taught them what they needed to know.
Every food had a season. Homemakers put away strawberries in spring and dug potatoes in early summer. They canned peaches, tomatoes, and green beans when they came ripe. Fall was for applesauce and cider, for sweet potatoes and winter squashes that would last the winter.
A core of citizens interested in the local economy and whole foods are bringing back some of these skills. Families are gardening with their children. Cooks are filling family pantries. But we need to do more to be sure that everyone is included in this food revolution.
Weather is unpredictable, but climate has patterns. The average date for the last spring freeze in my area is mid-April. Two of the last three years have seen no freeze past mid-March. These two warm springs and mild summers were separated by a May snow and early fall frost.
As a long-time gardener, I see the swings of unpredictably getting wilder.
Now, past the average date for the first frost in my zone, I’m keeping an eye on tomato plants loaded with fruit and think that, in these unpredictable times, when commercial agriculture depends on patterns and abundant resources, we need to make sure we have safeguards in place. Every person needs to know how to feed himself.
If schools are to really address the needs of learners, gardening, hunter safety, conservation, and nutrition should be part of the school curriculum.
As the climate changes, education may save our country as surely as the victory gardens, backyard chickens, and common knowledge helped save the world in the 1940s.
We have to start now.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer.