There’s been a lot of talk over the past several years about the incredible volatility in the commodity food market, especially with staple crops like corn , rice, and wheat. Prognosticators, researchers, and talking-heads go on and on about what to do to control a market that, like most commodities, proves to be beyond control.
I have an idea that would help eliminate such volatility in its entirety: get out of the market altogether.
“But,” you might say, “where will all our food come from? We can’t possibly grow enough to feed ourselves without the market, right?”
Well, yes, we can, and it can happen once we start growing food ourselves and buying what we can’t or won’t grow ourselves from people we know.
The problem with the modern commodity food market is not that there is not enough food, it’s that there are not enough people involved in raising it. The commodity food market exists because such a small number of people produce food that it has to be grown using industrial techniques that involve turning food into a raw material for manufacturing.
Contrary to what you may have learned in your history and sociology classes, the history of the world is not the history of people almost starving to death every year until the last half of the 20th century. In fact, people fed themselves quite well for the most part, usually on plots many people would think of as large gardens rather than farms. If they had not been able to do so, how do you think the world could have reached 6 billion people? They had to come from someone, somewhere, and where they came from they were well fed.
We can return to the same idea now, if we choose. It is possible for more people to return to tending gardens, growing small plots of staple foods, caring for small herds of food animals, and all without giving up the parts of modern life most of us enjoy. And, for those who want to go even further, the possibilities are endless.
But we all have to take a first step, and for most people that means passing up the grocery store in favor of the farmer’s market or the stores many local producers have set up to make their produce available to the wider public. If we all take that step, such markets and the producers who populate them will increase in numbers, prices will go down, and food markets will stabilize at the local level. It’s really rather simple, but you have to do it first.
End note: links to local food resources: