In an unsustainable world it’s good to be able to provide for yourself

Trevor thinks being self-sustainable is a skill everyone should have

(File photo)

(File photo)

I don’t know why more people don’t have their own gardens.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a salad made entirely of greens and veggies you grew yourself. I swear the food tastes better knowing that you watered, fed and nurtured it from seed to plate.

Unfortunately for me, I still need to up my whole homesteading game.

As we see the economic repercussions of both COVID-19 across the world and the CN rail shutdowns internally within Canada, I have found myself thinking more and more about what I would do in the case of a situation where food supplies were scarce due to a partial or total supply chain collapse.

At this point I don’t think we will experience a total supply chain collapse from China’s economic woes, but I am confident it will cause, at the very least, a temporary worldwide shortage of China’s main exports and a minor global recession.

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Every day that China can’t get its factories up to regular capacity (as I’m writing this Bloomberg has reported some 90 per cent of 109 U.S. manufacturers in the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone are back to production, yet 78 per cent are severely understaffed) raises the chance this could have devastating effects for the world economy.

How did we get here? It’s simple, really. We have become so dependent on our “just-in-time” economy — where companies rely on regular shipments from overseas, mostly within Southeast Asia — that even a slight disruption of this chain has the potential to devastate just about every sector of our economy.

Take grocery stores. China ranks first in worldwide farm output. From rice to wheat to potatoes to soybeans (you’d be surprised how much stuff contains soybean oil), if you are buying it in bulk there is a good chance it is coming from China.

Many will point to Canada’s own agricultural production as a natural defense against a food shortage. While it’s true our country is also one of the largest agricultural producers on the planet the suggestion that we could weather the storm by simply just producing our own food fails to consider two main things.

The first is that Canada typically exports some $50-odd billion a year in agriculture, accounting for around 1.6 per cent of our approximate $1.77 trillion GDP. If we were to just turn around and stop exporting all of our food to other countries, that’s a 1.6 per cent instant decrease in our GDP, not to mention all the jobs related to the exports of food which would be made irrelevant until we could ramp up exporting again.

Perhaps the bigger issue is that much of what we grow are genetically modified organism (GMO) crops meant to be big, grow quickly and be resistant to widely-used glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup. Great for yields and our bottom line, right? The only problem is that China accounts for around 60 per cent of the global supply of Roundup. What happens when our GMO crops don’t get their yearly pesticide fix or any other of the fertilizers and other products used in farming? The short answer is we don’t know.

This is all without mentioning the repercussions of CN rail shutdowns across East and Western Canada, as well as the recent announcement that VIA Rail would be cancelling most of its trains across the country in response to numerous blockades in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

It really is the perfect storm: economic crisis meets infrastructure breakdown.

And that’s why I want to learn how to grow my own food, because this whole situation has made me realize being self-sustainable isn’t just easy on the wallet, it gives you the peace of mind of knowing that if something bad happens you can sustain yourself and your loved ones through a hard time. Hope for the best, but expect the worst.

I’m glad many around here seem to take a sustainable approach to living. There are at least two dozen properties I see on my 20-minute drive home which are clearly being used for agricultural purposes. Many have livestock. Some even have some pretty decent looking solar systems.

As for me, I still have a long way to go. About to order a 1.2 kWh solar system for my house and a pressure cooker so I can begin learning about canning. Also have to pick up some corn and seed potatoes to save for the spring. Fingers crossed it’s an early one.

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