DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jan 25 2012

Food for the future

by Dea Anne M

The Epi-log blog on the Epicurious website ran a story about a month ago regarding  potential global food profiles of the future as forecast  by futurist Christopher Barnatt. The not-so-good news is that Barnatt predicts that food will become increasingly scarce, and more expensive to purchase, due to declining oil supplies, global water scarcities, and increasingly unpredictable climate changes. According to Barnatt, these changes will necessitate that we start getting serious about producing and sourcing more of our food close to home. Barnatt sees as the good and hopeful news in all of this the already growing trend of urban based agriculture. Check out, for example, this design (at right) for a skyscraper housing gardens on some of its floors. For home-based food production, the Windowfarms Project offers options for growing hydroponic vegetables in window installed units. Barnatt goes on to say that we will all most certainly be eating less meat in the future and, because of drastic decreases in global shipping, we will not have the same variety in our diets that many, in the developed nations at least, enjoy now and certainly we will have access to fewer non-native fruits and highly processed foods. The trade-off is that locally sourced and fresher foods will insure a better diet for most of us. That might not be such a bad thing…less beef and fewer bananas but better health and fresher food.

I’ve posted here before about the pleasures of gardening on a personal level. I think that more and more, though I come to look at growing food as a potentially important skill to cultivate (as it were!). Barnatt’s predictions, if likely (and I think they are), seem to make it all the more vital to not only extend myself more as a gardener, but to actively encourage others to get involved with locally based food production. The possibilities are exciting when cities like Detroit are encouraging urban farming on a large scale and more and more restaurants are installing roof-top gardens.

Are you interested in exploring the topic yourself and maybe taking on the role as an urban pioneer? If so, check out these resources from DCPL.

Even if you aren’t interested in becoming an urban homesteader,   Your Farm in the City: an urban dwellers guide to growing food and raising livestock by Lisa Taylor will still give you a lot of great advice and information on producing a farm’s worth of vegetable, fruit, and herbs in the city or town setting. Useful information targeted to the urban gardener includes dealing with specifically urban pests, zoning laws, vandalism, and potentially suspicious neighbors.

You don’t need a conventional long-row garden plot to grow a satisfying quantity of vegetables and Vertical Gardening: grow up not out for more vegetables and flowers in much less space by Derek Fell proves it! Targeted more toward the intermediate level gardener, Fell provides great ideas for garden plans that incorporate vertically supported plants flanked by low growing companions thus increasing yields in surprisingly small spaces. The beautiful color photographs of Fell’s own gardens are inspirational bonus. As a gardener with experience growing both heirloom and hybrid varieties of vegetables, I especially appreciate Fell’s discussion of the differences between the two. In the gardening world, there is a bit of swooning over heirlooms at the expense of hybrids and Fell’s well-reasoned argument that one isn’t better than the other, just different, is both timely and welcome.

Might you be ready to leap into the bold frontier of front-yard gardening? If so, don’t fail to consult Ivette Soler’s The Edible Front Yard: the mow-less, grow-more plan for a beautiful, bountiful garden. Don’t worry, no one’s suggesting that you rototill the lawn and replace it with scraggly rows of corn and accompanying scarecrow. True to the title’s promise, Soler lays out everything you need to know to incorporate edibles into your existing front yard garden planning. The gorgeous photographs should go a long way toward encouraging you to turn your front yard garden dream into reality.

Novella Carpenter’s Farm City: the education of an urban farmer  is a fascinating memoir written by a woman who established an actual farm in one of Oakland, California’s worst neighborhoods. Carpenter grows vegetables at Ghost Town Farms but she also raises goats, pigs, turkeys, ducks, and bees. Well-written and funny, Farm City appeared on Oprah’s 2009 list of top summer reads.

Finally, and on a related note, keep in mind that DCPL will be partnering with the City of Decatur and the Oakhurst Community Garden Project to present a year long series of programs focusing on “green living.” First in the series will be Your First Edible Garden. The program will be presented on February 22nd and 25th at Decatur. If you have even an inkling of interest in growing your own food, this program is not to be missed!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jesse M January 26, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Excellent post. For those seeking more information regarding the future of food, take a look at this article from the Guardian. Possible solutions to the coming global food crisis discussed include the use of algae as a source of fuel, animal feed, and fertilizer (thereby freeing up more land for traditional crop production), the introduction of artificial, lab grown meat, and the establishment of insect farms!

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