Despite being the world’s “richest” nation, the United States is no stranger to poverty. Between 13-17% of the nation’s population, according to the government, is beneath the official poverty line. This group has trouble making ends meet in many aspects of everyday life.
An extended recession (actually, a depression) means that many more Americans than usual have been suffering from food insecurity. Food insecurity is technically defined as a disruption in eating habits due to financial circumstance; in simpler terms, it means that at some point you worry about where your next meal will come from.
As a member of America’s “middle class”, I have not been a victim of food insecurity. The only question concerning my next meal is what delicious natural food it should be made out of. Because of this, I’m spoiled, and it’s hard for me to imagine what life is like for the millions of Americans who aren’t so lucky.
Rising food insecurity presents an opportunity for change and innovation. Many large cities in this country owe their size to manufacturing prowess; as those jobs dissipate, the same cities shrink and shrink. Entire neighborhoods are abandoned. In their wake has come the urban farm.
An urban farm is exactly what it sounds like. Land formerly occupied by dilapidated houses and parking lots is transformed into fertile soil for crops. Well, maybe not so fertile (initially), but that’s something which can be corrected with sound field management. As urban farms begin producing food, those fruits and vegetables are given to local citizens for free or at a substantially reduced price.
As food insecurity rates continue to rise, pressure will be put on the government to act. Very likely, there will be calls to further the existence of industrial, globalized agriculture. In other articles, I extensively discuss the unsustainability of industrial agriculture (in its present form), so I will not touch on it here.
If the government does act, it needs to do so responsibly. Supporting innovative approaches like urban farms has risks, but also holds the potential to do more for a community than soup kitchens and food pantries ever will.