Monday, April 16, 2012

importing food


Throughout history, importing food has been normal.  It might not be the smartest move strategically, but it has a place economically and demographically.  The ancient Greeks had to import most of their grain, probably as a result of over farming marginal land, and most of their wars until empire collapse had a strong component of protecting their food imports.  Egypt has its share of problems food wise, but even that might not be as big a deal as when a country upstream decides to divert the Nile ( Egypt has long ago declared that action a cause to declare war, not to say she can win ).  The Russian Communists had to import grain many times to offset its poor central planning disasters, although now she is doing well with a energy surplus in a oil starved globe.  Britain long ago gave up on food security, foolishly choosing her colonies as her bread basket.  Naturally, she no longer has them.  The US has focused on nothing but population growth as a cure for her economic ills, but that soon will backfire as a single swath of land growing corn on ruined soil feeds most of the masses.  Already, up to thirty percent of food is imported ( right now it might only be produce, replacing a drought plagued California’s product, but it puts to shame the myth of cornucopia to the planet ).

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The point is, that food self sufficiency is desirable but rarely practiced forever.  And so with a nation, perhaps with a prepper.  You might believe that your six months food supply and a garden are sufficient to weather a coming storm of biblical proportions ( be it whatever disaster you wish, the coming Perfect Storm Meets Black Swan should be a record breaker ).  I do not.  I believe you need to be realistic.  I understand that in your fantasy world, neighbors hold hands, pledge eternal allegiance, and respect each others property.  OMMFG!!!!  Oh My Mother Flipping God!!!!  Naïve, much?  You all fear the unprepared, the jerk with a hunting rifle and forty rounds, no deer to be had but plenty of stewpot meat handy at your address.  Or, the city mayor that commands the cops, reserves, deputies and left over National Guardsmen, and they go house to house killing and impounding.  Yet, you must also fear your fellow preppers.  I don’t care how well you got along at first, or how prepared you both are, in the future alliances shift with need.  The future will NOT be small land holders self sufficient in food production.  It will merely be a reshuffling of borders by the new war lords.  You might keep your land, but only after you pay the Kings Fifth.  And with this new feudal map redrawing, there will once again be a lot of places that don’t grow enough food for themselves.  Because marginal land is a buffer, or must not fall into others hands.  Or is strategically important ( Afghanistan can’t feed itself, even after thirty years of depopulation through war- they trade opium for wheat- but it is valuable real estate strategically ). 
You might consider that shortly after the cards are reshuffled, trade once again is encouraged and protected because it has to be.  Food must be imported.  And, you can benefit somehow from this.  You might not be able to totally feed yourself, perhaps because you chose an area unable to be farmed but ideal because of lack of population and cheap land, but you can trade skills or that areas unique product for imported food.  No guarantees of course.  You can’t know how the future unfolds ( we might actual go global with a decentralized government totally isolated from each other with no trade ).  But all futures DON’T have to be self sufficient farms.  There are historically based options.

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  1. Jim;

    Of course its a foregone conclusion that no-one not even TPTB can be completely self-sufficient. With security being paramount, no one would ever have the scale of production to be self-sufficient at a level even approaching the 1870's let alone a early 21st Century level of production. Therefore will the story end with everybody but the hardest woodpecker-lip in the stewpot? Or will stabilization eventually return human affairs to a level of equilibrium where people can grow food, without having half the community out pulling armed over-watch, a ratio of one food producer to 1 security means famine in short order using non-industrial methods of agriculture? Either way, the future will be challenging but the challenge will be there regardless of individual desire. Food importation or trade will be most important in the development of reconstitution efforts to return existence to equilibrium. So I applaud your advertisement to trade skills for food when living on semi-marginal real estate. And again your right until the moment of equilibrium, the biggest competition will be fellow preppers and others who thought ahead to the day that convenience stores would be burned-out hulks on the side of the interstate from coast to coast, here's hoping that the woodpecker-lip doesn't drill me into the oak post!

  2. your full of it dankin. you want evrybody to starv or what? now is the time to lern gardening b4 its to late. have not you noticed that food is expensive? WTF!!?? i thought you were into frugalism? save money with a garden and buy more preps with saved money.DUH!

    this post is tripe

    just cuz you picked a shitty hell hole in desert and can't garden doesn't mean smart folks should starve. idiot.

    you deserve to be triple penetrated analie by the gorillas,you're next door nehbors..the gorilla family. IN AFRICA!!!

    really this was pure crap.

  3. It might be useful to learn more about how subsistence farming has worked more recently (e.g., the norm in many "developing" countries until recently I believe it has become less prevalent) and how much trade was/is a part of that structure. It strikes me that even subsistence farming is often done in a village-type structure, not so much as a solo farm in isolation.

    By the way, Jim, why do people waste time reading your blog if they just want to shit all over you? Why not just click with that mouse-thing to another web site?