The phrase “food security” is becoming common, and it can be interpreted in several different ways.
Whether it is a lack of food due to environmental conditions, the inability to access nutritious food because of financial restraints, or the lack of food due to remote location — these are all are considered examples of “food insecurity”.
In the North we experience food insecurity every time we see empty grocery shelves when a truck doesn’t arrive. In fact, it was because of a trip to the grocery store that we started farming .
We had gone to pick up some basic groceries during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. But the shelves that normally held milk, eggs , and butter were completely bare.
Being new to the Yukon , this was not something I was used to, so I asked an employee why there was no food; the truck wasn’t due to arrive until the following Monday.
That spring we started raising chickens for eggs.
As Yukoners, we learn to deal with this and accept it as normal; this is an example of how fragile our current food system is. If the road were cut off for a substantial amount of time, for any reason, there would be a lot of hungry folks around here.
The solution isn’t bigger farms down south or bigger farms up here. The solution is to take it into our own hands .
This might mean starting small , by growing tomatoes on the deck .
From there, it could increase to a small garden with chickens to provide eggs or rabbits for meat. But if someone doesn’t have the inclination to grow her own food, but still wants more food security , there are options.
This summer, the Fireweed Community Market ran two days a week , drawing different people to the Saturday market than the usual Thursday crowd. The number of farmers at the markets also increased.
For the past couple of years, schools have raised money with “From the Ground Up”. This program sources vegetables from a local farm and sells them to raise funds. This year they added an organic farm to give people that option.
The Potluck Food Co – op has had an online grocery store for almost a year; they have also almost outgrown the building they’re using.
They focus on food grown or made as locally as possible, preferring Yukon produce to anything else.
Thus they enable Yukon farmers to have a constant market. Not only are they benefitting themselves with increased food security, they are also helping the local economy by supporting local farmers.
As the demand for local food grows, hopefully there will be more producers to meet that demand; this will strengthen the food security we are starting to build.