The Local Food Shortage

Homepage | Forums | Topics In Depth | Science and Environment | The Local Food Shortage

Viewing 1 reply thread
  • Author
    Posts
    • #492267
      eridani
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 11,969

      https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/06/13/the-food-shortage-in-your-own-backyard/

      In a 2014 article titled “Dacha Gardens—Russia’s Amazing Model for Urban Agriculture”, Sara Pool wrote that Russia obtains “over 50% agricultural products from family garden plots. The backyard gardening model uses around 3% arable land, and accounts for roughly 92% of all Russian potatoes, 87% of all fruit, 77% vegetables, and 59% all Russian meat according to the Russian Federal State Statistic Service.”

      Rather than dachas, we in the West have pristine green lawns, which not only produce no food but involve chemical and mechanical maintenance that is a major contributor to water and air pollution. Lawns are the single largest irrigated crop in the U.S., covering nearly 32 million acres. This is a problem particularly in the western U.S. states, which are currently suffering from reduced food production due to drought. Data compiled by Urban Plantations from the EPA, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the Alliance for Water Efficiency suggests that gardens use 66% less water than lawns. In the U.S., fruits and vegetables are grown on only about 10 million acres. In theory, then, if the space occupied by American lawns were converted to food gardens, the country could produce four times as many fruits and vegetables as it does now.

      A study from NASA scientists in collaboration with researchers in the Mountain West estimated that American lawns cover an area that is about the size of Texas and is three times larger than that used for any other irrigated crop in the United States. The study was not, however, about the growth of lawns but about their impact on the environment and water resources. It found that “maintaining a well-manicured lawn uses up to 900 liters of water per person per day and reduces [carbon] sequestration effectiveness by up to 35 percent by adding emissions from fertilization and the operation of mowing equipment.” To combat water and pollution problems, some cities have advocated abandoning the great green lawn in favor of vegetable gardens, local native plants, meadows or just letting the grass die. But well-manicured lawns are an established U.S. cultural tradition; and some municipalities have banned front-yard gardens as not meeting neighborhood standards of aesthetics. Some homeowners, however, have fought back. Florida ended up passing a law in July 2019 that prohibits towns from banning edible gardens for aesthetic reasons; and in California, a bill was passed in 2014 that allows yard use for “personal agriculture” (defined as “use of land where an individual cultivates edible plant crops for personal use or donation”). As noted in a Los Angeles Times op-ed: “The Legislature recognized that lawn care is resource intensive, with lawns being the largest irrigated crop in the United States offering no nutritional gain. Finding that 30% to 60% of residential water is used for watering lawns, the Legislature believes these resources could be allocated to more productive activities, including growing food, thus increasing access to healthy options for low-income individuals.”

      Despite how large they loom in the American imagination, immaculate green lawns maintained by pesticides, herbicides and electric lawnmowers are a relatively recent cultural phenomenon in the United States. In the 1930s, chemicals were not recommended. Weeds were controlled either by pulling them by hand or by keeping chickens. Chemical use became popular only after World War II, and it has grown significantly since. According to the EPA, close to 80 million U.S. households spray 90 million pounds of pesticides and herbicides on their lawns each year. A 1999 study by the United States Geological Survey found that 99% of urban water streams contain pesticides, which pollute our drinking water and create serious health risks for wildlife, pets, and humans. Among other disorders, these chemicals are correlated with an increased risk of cancers, nervous system disorders, and a seven-fold increased risk of childhood leukemia.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

    • #492285
      GZeusH
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 5,508

      Which you can eat (or make a sweater from) when the growing season is over.

      Hitler 1944: Kiev is to be held to the last man.
      Biden 2022: Kiev is to be held to the last Ukrainian.

      • #492954
        eridani
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 11,969

        https://modernfarmer.com/2014/07/sheep-better-lawn-mowers-goats/

        The company is not the first to choose sheep over goats, though. Last year, eco-friendly Parisians caught on to the trend, and sheep were trimming lawns in Ohio all the way back in 2011. Still, OCI may have found a new, tech-specific benefit to their choice. Namely, their friendly flock has not yet destroyed any solar panels or cables with eager mouths and jumpy hooves, as goats are prone to do. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that other solar companies, like First Solar in Arizona, seem to prefer this fluffier, less mischievous type of landscaper.

        One drawback, however, may come in the efficiency department. According to this highly scientific animal mowers calculator, which we unquestioningly trust, 38 goats could mow 50,000 square feet of grass in one day. It would take 83 sheep to do the same, in part because goats are less scrupulous in the amount and quality of grass that they eat. According to the calculator, however, the most efficient animal is the cow – seven of them could easily demolish that area in a day – while the least efficient is, shockingly, the guinea pig, for which you’ll need 2,000.

        Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

Viewing 1 reply thread
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.