Soil. Gardening and Food Production

I hope the above link does work, I am not going to copy and paste parts of it here, its copyrighted but ideally go read it before reading mine.. however if you choose not to, here is the part I want to talk about.

Soil and Calorie crops.. Now I do want to admit that the first post that crossed over my feed was a much more negative write up in regards to his metal sea can’s and their growing systems in the cities and they were talking about the fact that given that they are growing micro-greens and so forth that they are quoted as selling at 2.5 oz at 7 dollars per bag with the cities putting in a million towards this..

I about choked.. if the cities put a million towards community gardens and school gardens at the same rate the amount of food that can and could be produced in across the board is crazy high..  then was the second choke point.. the clear split in the fact that only the upper class could afford to buy these little bags of greens at those prices. Yes it might help teach the how and why’s on the micro green growing and it might be good at teaching how to sell them..  and even give the younger adults in this some basic income..

Then I did more digging, I went digging into other stories on this, I went looking for the positive spin, I wanted to more info and I think the story I have chosen shows a more fair look then most that went all positive or all negative.. it gives the facts but is willing to show the split at the same time.

Then there was the third Choke point that sent me into rant mode at my hubby.. nothing being grown is a calorie dense crop.

I know that many calorie Dense Crops have bad names these days in so many diets But Potato’s, Carrots, turnips, Beets, Cabbage, Corn, Grains, sweet Potato’s, pumpkins and select squashes are point in fact what kept us alive for many generations.  Be it as the extra’s that were used as much as possible for extra food-winter calories or in some cases were what kept the small farm livestock alive that provided the meat, milk or eggs etc.

Its all well and good to grow sprouts, micro greens, herbs an flowers, its well and good to talk about scaling up and finding ways to provide a plate at 5 dollars from locally grown food. Now tell me how many calories are on that plate and where they are coming from.

Its really is good to have systems in school in regards to gardens and teaching food processing in kitchens.. but they are a bit out of touch in some cases, I had a 12 year old tell me that if you did not eat your veggies and fruit fresh, that if you had it dried, canned or in any way processed that it had no value. It was as startling to me to hear as it is when I hear about inner city kids that don’t know what different fresh food looks like as they only eat the processed foods.

BUT I want to see how you plan to grow calorie dense crops without soil.. (or some form of soil, be it compost, sand with extra’s added, peat moss or so forth)

What do you think? What are you seeing your community? Do you see it as a split between the haves and have not’s? Do you see it as a choice between those with land and those without?

I started writing this yesterday (and then the ice storm and power line down went up first today on the blog) and I mulled it over the night.. do I feel this way because I do have land.

Then I got thinking about the things we did in Iqaluit for years where I did not have land or soil per say.. Where we could not compost outside but had house worm compost bins, where I could not grow outside due to the climate and how we grew inside.. how soil was so limited and how we worked around it. How important those fresh greens were to us at that time, when the rest of the time we were eating dried or canned food most of the year when you could not get fresh country food from the local hunters store.

Its a multi layers subject to be sure but I always come back to the same thought.. bottom line.. you need this many Calories each day to live..


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10 Responses to Soil. Gardening and Food Production

  1. Widdershins says:

    I agree with you … I think the whole ‘micro-greens’ thing is a result of the ‘healthy eating’ fad, which of itself isn’t a bad thing, but like most things that start out as good ideas it got taken over by greed and marketing to a niche market of people who can afford to be seen to be eating healthily and being environmentally responsible at the same time. I’m not saying their hearts aren’t in the right place, but it’s another example of short-term thinking, (and short term financial gain) versus long-term planning for food scarcity.

  2. Becca could not get these comments on the blog to work and as she is a facebook friend as well now.. here are her comments.

    I’m of so many mixed minds about this one. Like, in the time it took to get facebook to show me the actual full link to reply (I can’t comment on your blog – no idea why but it’s ugly) I seriously though about sending you a guest blog post addressing some of them. – – – – – – #1, anytime I see “food independence” I pretty well automatically assume they’re not looking at cal staples, oil/fat, or main fillers. Makes me crazy, but, see #3 and #4 on that front. – – – #2, there’s the cost of living considerations that play out, based on location (NYC, San Fran vs. B’More vs. Birmingham). – – – #3, there’s the fact that a lot of the U.S. and some of the other Western culture nations are getting their calories and fats; it’s the health foods we’re missing these days. – – – – #4, there’s a perishability consideration (which also goes to cost of product) – your staples can be shipped and stored easily for the most part (sugars, dry grains, and beans are shelf stable; veg and meat oils, dry milk, and butters are generally stable and with long shelf lives; certain meat treatments add to shelf life). It’s the veg that are most perishable, with the most field and handling loss and consumer loss, so it makes sense on a number of levels to move that closer to consumers. – – – – #5, upside, it’s the urban environments with the dense populations of low-income and high-land-cost that are financially viable for hi-rotation, dense-stacking veg production (backyard, parking lot, schools, rooftops) with some of the same applicable to the way-out small communities in isolated areas (providing they can power systems) and water-based soil or soilless media have a HUGE advantage in those areas, especially, due to composting space or time (field turn). – – – – – #6 there’s an issue of seed, in several veins of capital cost, for microgreens/green sprouts (one cut) vs. baby greens and leaf lettuce (cut and come again) grown either shallow tray, SU substrate, or reusable substrate (sponge and filter mesh most common for the last). – – – – – – (And that’s the short list and truncated points. 😀 ) – — – – So, it totally makes me crazy that “local food independence” movements so commonly look at tomato greenhouses and greens in various methodology, ignoring the “independent of outside inputs” aspect in other categories, but I also see a strong point in focusing on the food categories that are both most-needed and most widely fit the broadest ranges of need and localities. – Sadly, community plots tend to not do so hot anywhere I’ve ever been. A few take care of them, most go to crap and somebody else has to whack them down. I’d love to see more growing in schools and a reconnect to what we eat, but at the rate that art, music, recess/PE/sports are disappearing for lack of both funds and time, I see that going about as well as hoping they’ll teach yoga and Pilates for self-centering and anger management. We’ll see.

    • To me, what’s needed is mentoring for inexperienced gardeners to help prevent those local plots that usually don’t make it. Sadly, gardening is not something that everyone has experience with… (How lucky are those of us who were able to learn at a relative’s knee!) and – unlike what Some People seem to think ): it’s certainly not as straightforward as just throwing seeds on the ground and expecting magic to happen. No matter who you are, or how long you’ve been at it; there is always more to learn; )

  3. Second reply from Becca

    Having given it some thought off and on, I also want to say: I totally understand that my kneejerk “that’s not food independence” reaction (despite the defenses of the trend, if not the name) is very much akin to the people who go “uhh, ew, bah, ‘sustainable’ isn’t actually a good thing, stop saying sustainable, if it’s not ‘regenerative’ it’s not actually eco-freak friendly”. Which I hate. While it’s overused (see also: out of the box) and sometimes/regularly akin to throwing the words “tactical” or ‘GMO free” (on heirloom and OP crops-jeez), I also don’t like the main names doing it, because it’s also regularly just slapping at people who are trying to do/be responsible and good stewards. – – – So, while I will have my little grumble, I will try to have my grumble internally, and grant that ANY move toward making better foods more available to more people and localities is a step towards an independence that we’ve lost, and I will try to acknowledge that before I rip apart people who want to put greens and tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash on every shelf without it costing $9/# or $15/fruit or bag.

  4. As we Humans need a variety of foods that cover the nutritional spectrum, Variety is not only “the spice of life” but a necessity for life.
    I found this comment truly disturbing:
    “a new generation excited about cellular proteins, Soylent and app-based delivery services that are driven more by innovation than by pleasure. ”
    I can’t be the only one who remembers what “Soylent Green” really was, can I?
    While there is a lot of interesting information presented here, perhaps Mr. Musk would be better able to understand the complexities of food production if he acquired some actual hands-on experience?
    And here’s the actual link in its mobile version:

    • The truth is I think in a number of ways, living in Canada, and living on land as we do, we are out of touch with that generation in the states that are living in mega cities. I know that sounds a bit strange as a answer but we do live a very different life from them.. it is possible that we will need to come to grips with the fact that there are going to be people that are excited about this kind of food.

  5. J & D > Agree! Agree! Agree! About everything – and especially the bottom line!

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