Coming Food Crises

Below is a summary of just part of the excellent article by Gary Nabhan in the New York Times called “Our Coming Food Crisis“, which you ought to read in full if you have time. Long stretches of triple-digit days out West are getting more common and that will threaten our food supply.  2012 was the hottest year in American history. Half of all counties in the United States were declared national drought disaster areas. 90% of these counties were doubly devastated by heat waves as well.

The 17 Western states account for nearly 40% of farm income, and current and future heat waves will reduce the amount of food produced. On cause is that overheated crops need a lot more water.  After several years of drought both surface and groundwater supplies have diminished and the energy costs have gone way up because water needs to be pumped up from much deeper levels.

This means food costs are going to go up at a time when 1 in 6 people are already on food stamps and having a hard time making ends meet.

Strategies to cope have been blocked from being added to the current farm bill, such as promoting locally produced compost to hold moisture in the soil of row crops and orchards.  This also adds carbon and increases yields. Increasing organic matter from 1 to 5% can increase water storage in rot zones from 33 pounds to 195 pounds per cubic meter.  Cities could provide enormous amounts of compost, but most green waste ends up in landfill and generates the greenhouse gas methane.

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