Epiode 240 S7-2
Overcoming Food Shortgages
Hope on the Horizon Ch 2
Global food supply is a recent concept in the history of man. The theory also carries the possibility of a worldwide food shortage. As the characters in Hope on the Horizon face food supply challenges, Chin and I take a look at the realities of overcoming global food shortages and strategies you can use to help safeguard yourself.
Mass food shortages could be coming to the global food supply. That is a reality that the human beings occupying earth will have to face, but the concept of "global food supply" is relatively new. Getting to the point the world's citizens are at now took a long evolution of food production and distribution methods. Throughout history, fewer natural disasters have killed more people than famine. However, this will be the first time the food supply of the entire planet is put to the test.
Dying of starvation is a slow, painful process. Once a food supply is gone, communities die, and mass human migrations happen. Like most severe natural disasters, the effects of the event can be felt in the local area for years into the future.
The ten top famines on our globe killed over one hundred and eighteen million people! Ireland is first on the list at number ten. The Potato Famine killed one point five million people when a potato blight destroyed their crops. At number nine is the Vietnamese famine of 1945. Two million people died when the Japanese exploited their farms for their soldiers during WWII.
The North Korean Famine comes in at number eight, leaving three million people dead. The political isolation of the country sealed the fates of its citizens when mass flooding occurred in the country. Five million people died during the Russian Famine of 1921. After WWI feuding factions participating in civil wars exploited the farms for the needs of the fighters.
In 1943 the Bengal Famine killed seven million people, placing it at number six. A firm reliance on imports left the Bengal people stranded when the Japanese cut the supply lines during WWII. That same year they were hit by a cyclone and three tidal waves. As their crops died, the population increased as Japanese refugees flooded into the country. Then in 1770, another famine in Bengal left ten million people dead. It was a whopping one-third of the entire population! Severe droughts caused crop shortages, and when taxes increased, farmers planted crops like opium that they could sell for more money than rice.
The Soviets come in at number four with the famine that occurred there between 1932 and 1933. Stalin's policy of collectivism (socialism) left ten million people dead. The farms were all turned into public land, and private farms were destroyed. Unfortunately, the seed stock was demolished as well, causing starvation and death across the country.
The weather patterns of the earth cause many famines, and the droughts in Chalisa left eleven million people dead, placing this event at number three. The crop and livestock loss decimated the region.
China holds the record for most people killed in the top two famines. The first occurred in 1907 when twenty-five million people died because of massive flooding and a series of miserable harvest years. Empirical force combatted the riots. The idea of communal farms run by the government caused the number one famine in history. In 1958 General Mao decided to confiscate the private land and turn it into public farms. Farmer labor was cut as steel, and iron production took top priority. The government instituted new farming methods that involved overcrowding the land. The harvests were pitiful, and the government redistributed the results in small numbers to its people.
These top ten famines can teach modern civilization a lot about the cause of famines. Famines are caused by shifting weather patterns. Too much rain or too little rain can make a big difference. Another common reason is war. Food supplies are often redirected at this time, leaving the average person hungry. The last cause of famine that echoes throughout history is centralized control. When the individual farmers are forced to operate as a collective, it usually spells disaster for the population.
What do the famines of the past mean for the future of the world? We now exist on a planet that has a global production and intricate supply lines to ensure everyone is fed, right? Wrong! In 2009 the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization reported that the number of hungry people on the planet reached one billion as wheat prices in 2008 spiked to a nineteen-year high. There were worldwide food riots.
Besides the number of hungry people on the planet today, other extremes exist. Globally women produce seventy percent of the food supply, but they also comprise seventy percent of the world's hungry and own less than one percent of the world's land.
One point six billion people on the planet are the opposite of hungry as they struggle with obesity. It is not just an American problem. People in Western Europe, East Asia, Central, and South America and Africa all struggle with the tendency to be overweight.
Why do these extremes exist when modern humans have worked so hard to create a global food supply? Chris Otter writes in his article, Feast and Famine Global Food Crisis, that a worldwide shift to western cultured food habits has caused a global increase in meat consumption. He goes to explain that the culture of the west's nutritional habits is a "high status" inefficient way to eat, and the lack of corn products to feed the world is only exacerbated by the use of the product in biofuels.
I can't entirely agree with most of his assumptions that Chris states as fact during the beginning of his article. Currently, the use of unsustainable farming practices needs to evolve with the new, environmentally partnered science. As a society, we can grow a larger quantity of more nutritious products. Chris never once points to the fact of a rapidly expanding population or the fact that as food production increases, so do birth rates.
Instead, Chris points the blame at meat consumption. A UC Berkley anthropologist shared his findings in his article: Meat-Eating was Essential for Human Evolution. Every country in the world has a population of meat-eaters with the smallest numbers found in India. Eating animal meat is what allowed the human brain to evolve and become the thinking machine it is today.
There is no way humans could have secured enough energy and nutrition to evolve into active, sociable, intelligent creatures that they became. When humans don't eat meat and rely mostly upon one grain, malnutrition can be the result. People that depend upon rice too much develop beriberi, and individuals who rely upon cornmeal too much develop pellagra. Meat in a diet allows for humans to sustain themselves off of lower nutrient plants, and without meat, infants couldn't have gotten enough growth and energy from non-nutritious plants.
The food systems have been evolving as our brains grew. Before the 1500s, food supply was localized and supplied with regional hunting and farming practices. From 1500 -1750, the "mercantile system" was deployed. Local regions in Europe produced the basics, and foreign countries supplied exotic items. During the nineteenth-century, things began to change for Europe. America provided most of the basics and traded for European produced goods.
In 1945, after WWII, the "productivism" food regime was created. Chemical factories that used to make chemicals for warfare discovered that they could produce pesticides and fertilizers instead. Food industries grew and were protected by governments. The world powers created The United Nations and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the idea of "global food supply" and thus a "global famine" was created. The "green revolution" employed genetically modified high yield crops, fertilizers, and pesticides to overcome agricultural underproduction.
Underproduction in 1970 encouraged the need for crowing more grains. Corporations filled the void by becoming multinational corporations partnered with institutional powers to create a "global diet" around the 1980s. This global diet often overlooks the geographic diversity of a region and concentrates the foods of humans on too few items.
Recently there has been an increase in biotechnology and an "organic" backlash against the use of chemicals and pesticides. Currently, the world is experiencing the first truly integrated system. A small number of companies are controlling the staple products. For example, five primary sellers supply all wheat sales in the world. The effects of this dominance can be devastating. For example, a one-cent fluctuation in market price can cause 50,000 fewer acres of wheat to be planted in Argentina.
The creator of fertilizer, Fritz Herber, had a vision of his product giving each country the ability to produce enough food to feed its citizens, eliminating import and export. Instead, the world has turned into a delicate balance of imports and commodities traded on a global market with price fluctuations that can cause instant famines in countries with a heavy reliance upon imports.
Researchers saw the global food shortages coming to 2020 in 2016 when there was a 365% increase in food prices. There was even a game created by CAN Corporation's Institute for Public Research that compiled date from 65 officials worldwide. The game, titled "Food Chain Reaction: A Global Food Security Game," tried to build an understanding of how governments, institutions, and private sector interests might interact to address crises. Basing the scenario for this exercise five years in the future, the game gave high-level decision-makers, nations, international institutions the power to make decisions and calculate the chain reactions and consequences of their actions.
In the past, societies that can produce food and are left to trade that food in a free market system have the least amount of food shortages.
So, are global food shortages headed our way? The signs are all around us right now! Food prices are skyrocketing. Each time an increase happens, people on the edge of starvation fall off the cliff. Globally, changing weather patterns and unsustainable farming practices have caused extreme topsoil loss. As fuel runs out, more of our food supply is being diverted to supply fuel. One hundred-year drought, floods, and storms are occurring year after year throughout the world. With more and more crops being devastated, the prices increase even more.
The use of a single, high yield variety throughout the world leaves the crops of the world vulnerable to one type of blight or plant disease. Water tables are depleting, and even phosphorus that is essential for fertilizer is running out. Civil wars and global unrest are increasing, and there is a trend to employ socialistic methodologies in societies.
The best thing we can do is prepare for the upcoming shortages. Long term food stores are essential. Stocking food that will last twenty years allows you to ensure you always have a fallback plan. Gardens can and will fail; wild foraging has seasonal ebbs and flows.
You should know how to grow and preserve your food. Even if you don't want to go big now, start practicing. You can build smaller raised beds or plant in a bucket. Canning, smoking and salt preserving are essential skills to know. You don't have to grow the food to practice. Go to a farmer's market or Costco and buy bulk. Then start practicing your preservation skills.
Make sure you put unused canning supplies away for future use during an emergency. You can always rotate your stocked jars with new ones as the years pass, but you should have some new product on hand all the time. Also, it is essential to stock a large amount of vinegar and salt away for future use.
It would be best if you were supporting your local farmers. These are the people that will be suppling your community if the global food supply fails. They are probably growing some awesome stuff right now! You can get organic meat and locally raised products from them. Also, the relationship you develop with these individuals now can be priceless later.
Even if you live in an urban area, you can raise rabbits for protein. Their cages are small, and they can fit almost anywhere.
Be economically ready for food prices to increase. If you are already financially struggling, when food prices rise, you will be left wanting. Try to get on top of debt and create a rainy-day fund. Live below your means.
Learn to wild forage so you can have fresh foods to add to long term and canned food supplies. Learn what you can hunt locally. Remember, there will be increased competition for everything when people get hungry. Make sure you are supporting efforts for wilderness preservation by purchasing hunting licenses and fishing permits. These efforts are the lion share of contributions to wildlife preservation efforts.
The Changing Earth Series
Chin Gibson is the mystery prepper. Friend to all and known to none. His real identity hidden from the public, Chin is well known to the online prepper community as the go to resource for finding a community member to solve your problem. He is an awesome people connector and does his best to unite the voices educating the masses about being ready for a unforeseen life challenge. Chin will be joining Sara to co-host The Changing Earth Podcast.