Food insecurity is a major issue worldwide. 3.1 billion people around the world do not have enough food to eat, according to United Nations Environment Programme. There are many factors that contribute to food insecurity such as soil depletion in unsustainable farming practices, lack of areas to grow and increased cost in food.
This topic has especially been on my mind since observing the importance of getting good nutrition so we can function at our optimal selves.
This year’s theme for World Food Day is “Leave No One Behind”. It’s designed to bring awareness and address food insecurity worldwide. Here are a few methods that we can implement to help ensure everyone has access to enough healthy meals.
In a previous article here, I briefly mentioned the issues with reduced nutrients present in the soil according to research, which has been negatively affecting our nutritional intake. Ideally, proper farming practices can include crop rotation, compatible crop growing as well as implementing calculated, ecofriendly improvements in the microbiome of soil such as what Dr. Elaine’s™ Soil Food Web program does.
There has also been some controversy in regard to farmers in the U.S. getting funding to support their farms. This is a video interview with John Boyd, a well-known African American farmer, who came from a family line of farmers, leading the fight to receive fair funding to keep his and others farms sustainable and prosperous.
Watering crops in areas where water is scarce such as in desert/arid environments can be a challenge. This is where a method called “drip irrigation”, can be helpful. It significantly reduces water waste, by slowly giving plants water through lines that run through the farm, while helping crops to grow. According to this study, it has been highly successful in helping to increase the amount of food grown for over 40 families alone in Zimbabwe. Know what it can do for other areas.
Growing Food At Home
There are multiple ways you can grow food at home whether you have a decent plot of land or a small apartment.
Differing a little from drip irrigation, hydroponics involves growing plants with their roots sitting directly in water. A variety of common vegetables we eat daily can grow in this method such as lettuce, celery and more. For these foods, take the root/stem portion, trim it and let it sit in a cup of water. Within a short time, you will see the roots begin to sprout. For other crops, definitely research how you can regrow them and the necessary nutrients needed to add to the water.
Similar to hydroponics, aquaponics makes use of a balanced ecosystem by putting fish in the water so their waste can help provide nutrients for the plants whose roots are sitting in water. This may be suitable for bigger gardens and farmers. To learn exactly how it works and the necessary materials to create this, check out this video here.
Growing herbs that you can use for your healing and cooking can be a great rewarding experience. Herbs like basil, cilantro, and thyme can be a great way to get some good tasting complements to your healthy dishes. Local stores and even heirloom seed collectors may have the type of seeds you are looking for to get started. If growing inside, grow by a window or invest in a small UV light garden.
Being able to grow food almost anywhere you want is a major plus. Greenhouses allow increased flexibility in the time of year and areas you can grow food. They are typically covered tents with controlled venting that allow for temperature regulation for the plants. Greenhouses can also help protect your crops from unwanted animals. You can also utilize any of the previous methods in a greenhouse garden because a major difference with this form of farming is that it is covered.
Prepared & Local Food Resources
If you do not have the resources to grow your own food, there are other places to get food for little to no cost, including warm meals.
Food that is readily available to local residents not only provides a good resource of food, but it also gives a true sense of community. A lot of times these gardens are maintained by people who actually live in the area and know what crops are needed and what can grow. It requires a combined effort for upkeep and usually the volunteers can take home some of the fruits and vegetables grown. ABC (Agriculture, Bees and Composting) Mobile is one such organization dedicated to addressing food insecurities in local, minority and low-income communities through supporting local community gardens and education. Look for a community garden in your area here.
Community Groceries & Refrigerators
Some communities have organizations who have groceries where you can get what you need and/or choose to pay a small fee. These places typically take food donations from local businesses who may donate food. The refrigerators may be found in “food deserts” where access to big grocery stores is scarce. Check to find a local free food refrigerator near you here.
Support local farmers and farmers markets if you can. Local is better for your immune and gut health than foreign grown food. This is especially true if you have allergies or sensitivities to food from other places. Also, if you get nutrition assistance, you may qualify for farmer’s market coupons/benefits as well so you can have access to fresh food. Ask your social worker or call your program to find out if they participate. Find a local farmer’s market in your area here.
Food Donations for Low Income Housing
Local charities and churches take donations from local stores who are getting new shipments of food, local families who have extra to give, food subscription boxes and more. These foods are then either cooked and offered at their location or the ingredients are sent by the truckloads to low-income housing. This is truly helpful for those whose cash food assistance is simply not enough. Sometimes major food delivery programs will donate to these charities. If you are a social worker who works for low-income housing, it would be wise to connect with these food banks to have free food delivered to your residents.
Warm and Refrigerated Food Deliveries
Some programs offer a paid weekly subscription, or you may qualify for free meal deliveries depending on your health insurance or income need.
(Check For more ways on Improving Our Health Connection To Earth)
There are many ways we can get healthy food when we utilize sustainable farming and growth processes. Whether you are a current farmer, aspiring farmer, home-grower, beginner or just looking for local food resources, there exist a variety of avenues to choose from. There are also many food delivery programs from no to varying costs. If you want to make a difference in your area to keep food accessible, then this list provides many resources to get you started.
Remember to stay active in your self-care!