Ditch the Food Insecurity
Food insecurity. What does it mean? To most of here in Newfoundland and Labrador, it means being more than 80% dependent on imported foods. It means that grocery store stocks could last about 3-4 days if the ferries couldn’t come to deliver more. It means that people are building unsustainable homes: larger in size, with electric heat sources for the most part, and a lawn instead of a vegetable garden. It means that more and more families are depending on soup kitchens because they can’t afford groceries.
Groceries are expensive, and the way the island’s transportation is designed, practically everything is driving distance. Buses that travel across the island are crazy expensive. I can’t help but think about those who don’t drive, including seniors, who can become isolated.
But food insecurity doesn’t have to continue here, and I would suggest that we do not need animal agriculture to make us more independent. In fact, I would suggest that if people were to adopt a 90% whole foods, plant-based diet, we could easily adopt a government program of supplying every house with a year-round greenhouse, and every neighborhood with year-round greenhouses and community gardens.
Many people think that when there is no meat or dairy in the diet, the diet is insufficient. However, when one opens up to eating only plant foods, the variety is amazing! And plant foods are excellent sources of nutrients, being the most densely packed, with the least amount of calories.
We could easily support ourselves on wild edibles and grown produce, and perhaps encourage more rye and whole grain production. We know that quinoa has a high potential of growing well in the province. And potatoes can grow quite well in most parts of the island. They can even be grown in buckets!
Canada is the largest producer of lentils, which provides us with a great source of legumes.
Just imagine, if we chose to become self-sufficient, we would have plenty of renewable jobs for everyone. We could easily have our own mills for making freshly stone-ground flour, and package the flour in reusable sacks. We could have so many local gardeners and small farmers, producing food responsibly, looking after the environment, that we’d have plenty of year-round, local, organic produce. We could have our own producers of fermented vegetables, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, like we have now with kombucha. And our own bakers making sourdough bread with local grain. We already have people picking berries every year, as well as damsons and apples. We could easily get people selling our own teas, such as Labrador tea, wild chamomile, mint, oregano, Usnea (moose moss), apple tea (a Turkish tea made from dried apples), spruce tip tea, dandelion leaf, raspberry leaf, dandelion root, plantain leaf, nettle, etc.
We could have year-round sites to grow various tomatoes, lettuces, and sprouts. Everyone could know how to grow their own sprouts to keep fresh greens on hand at home.
Our restaurants and cafes would source locally and produce healthful meals, and compost production waste. This would also minimize our impact due to less transit for our produce, and less packaging. We could easily have producers of reusable and compostable packaging, and since the transit would only be within the province, the packaging could be as simple as cardboard boxes or wooden boxes.
Green leafy vegetables are some of the most beneficial vegetables, and we already get plenty of turnip greens and cabbage every year. We could definitely add to that. Lettuce varieties are easy to grow indoors or outdoors. We can also grow carrots, parnsips, snap peas, bean varieties, pea varieties, green lentils, Swiss chard, kale varieties and more.
One of the best ways to go about it is to encourage permaculture growing. It is in our nature to help, and we can be stewards of nature. Allow nature to do its work. What I have found most fascinating is how some of the most beneficial wild edibles, what we often call weeds, follow people wherever they are! We have our own food as medicine right at our feet, without any effort at all.
If every household had a year-round greenhouse, and there was a neighborhood greenhouse and community garden close enough for people to walk to, wouldn’t you feel more secure? If you had the knowledge of what wild edibles you can eat and how to grow your own sprouts year-round, wouldn't you worry a bit less about bad weather or money matters?
I believe that nourishing food is a human right, not a commodity, and we have the technology nowadays to support ourselves sufficiently with food we grow. Based on the research of experts in nutrition and medical science, we do our bodies harm when we eat animal food sources and processed foods. We do our bodies a world of good when we eat minimally processed, whole plant foods with a starch base (such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, wheat, barley, rice, etc.). According to environmental scientists, continuing to eat seafood will leave our oceans depleted (already 90% of ocean life is gone); continuing to eat meat and dairy will further promote the destruction of the environment; continuing to eat animal foods will continue to lead to the extinction of many species on Earth. The single greatest thing an individual can do to combat climate change is to change to a diet of whole, plant-based foods. And that diet is inexpensive, accessible for all, and easy to implement and retain.
Newfoundland is beautiful, but if we aren’t sustainable, we won’t have much to offer. Money is not reliable. Money fluctuates, and tourism fluctuates. Why not invest in making the island sustainable? People could comfortably live year-round. There is food at the ready. Jobs aplenty that stay close to home and directly contribute to the community. Visitors could stay and see a model for honest living, where we respect the environment while still being able to have a quality of life.
Animal agriculture is not the answer, and would be detrimental to our environment, and to our own health. However, having plenty of fresh, local produce can be beneficial to our health and our environment. Animal agriculture has been shown to pollute waterways, lead to zoonotic infections, clear-cutting of forests, and increasing climate change. I think we can do better than that. Why not go green, all the way?
For information about how the food we eat affects our health, and the environment, please visit some of the videos in my Whole Food Nutrition section. Also, there are talks on www.drmcdougall.com regarding the depletion of animal populations which is affecting entire ecosystems, nutrition and the human body, and the important of starch in the diet. For an impactful documentary, please watch HOPE-What We Eat Matters, in the my video section.
To read about the state of Food Insecurity in NL, check out Chad Pelley’s article in The Overcast.