Homeland Security Must Include Food Security: Official Policy Statement of the Community Food Security Coalition

By Mann, Peter | Whole Earth, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

Homeland Security Must Include Food Security: Official Policy Statement of the Community Food Security Coalition


Mann, Peter, Whole Earth


For most of us, "homeland security" means security from terror, improving airline safety, renewed military defense.

I think we now need to make sure that homeland security also includes food security. We must ensure a secure and safe and regional food supply. We have to think in a new way about where our food comes from, and how we can ensure that everyone in a large yet vulnerable city like New York, or in smaller suburban or rural communities, has enough to eat, and access to their own cultural foods.

Americans take for granted a global food system that brings all kinds of food from all over the world to anyone who can afford them. Yet the real threat to US food security is the inability to produce our own food, close to our homes. Military terrorism is in all our minds, but what happens when terrorists are able to corrupt large food and water systems or destroy bridges and transportation systems on which our present globalized and vulnerable food security depends?

We must begin thinking seriously about "food miles." In our present food system, the food we eat travels on average about 1,200 miles. This makes our food system tremendously vulnerable in the field, in storage, or in transit. We get a foretaste of this threat when an area is afflicted by natural disasters such as floods, droughts, or hurricanes. In the changed world after September 11, that kind of threat can touch all of us.

How can we make effective changes? Every community should be able to produce at least a third of the food required by its residents. At present, in many cases, less than five percent is produced. Every community should have a food system that connects producers, processors, distributors and eaters. This would demand a rethinking of agriculture, from industrial farming and large-scale production, to a multiplicity of small-scale farms, with vegetables and animals, and a revitalized marketing system.

The good news is that the seeds of this new food system are already present. Farmers markets where citizens have access to regional food are springing up all over the country. There are now around 1,000 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) initiatives in the US, reaching 100,000 people. …

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