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Coming Food Crisis?

I’ve been growing my own for over 50 years. Yes, it’s a fascinating hobby I enjoy but I’ve always had the same thing in the back of my mind. If things go wrong, at least we can eat. A bit like insurance, not something you hope to claim on but reassuring to have just in case.

Is it time to worry about food shortages?

Well it looks like things are going wrong. The pandemic was concerning, the disruption to supply lines and so on. Happily my concerns were not really happening. Some minor and temporary shortages along with modest price increases but nothing too terrible.

Then Russia started it’s war with the Ukraine, the breadbasket of Europe. In WW2 the Germans attempted to strangle Britain by cutting off our food supplies from overseas. The Russians are strangling the world by cutting off food supplies at source.

US Drought

This is in a world where climate conditions are causing huge problems already. The USA has been suffering severe drought and the problems are far from over. More than a third of US domestically produced vegetables and two thirds of fruit and nuts are at risk in California. Over 160,000 hectares have been taken out of production for lack of water.

Indian Heat Wave

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) post in New Delhi as reported by Reuters:

Heat stress resulting from an unprecedented spike in temperatures beginning in the mid-March 2022 has had a marked impact on India’s wheat crop. Yields are 10-15 percent down…. On May 13, 2022, the Indian government announced a ban on wheat exports, citing the sudden spike in global wheat prices and the resulting food security risks to India. …

Russia Blackmailing the World

Commentators on Russian TV have stated that they will starve the world so that the free world removes the sanctions imposed on them after the invasion. Remember, not only have they stopped exports from Ukraine, the war has reduced production by Ukraine’s farmers and finally, Russia is busy stealing stored grain and produce from Ukraine.

G7 Food Security Concerns

What is really ringing the alarm bell for me is this statement coming out of the G7 summit under the heading Food Security

We commit to an additional $4.5 billion to protect the most vulnerable from hunger and malnutrition, amounting to a total of over $14 billion as our joint commitment to global food security this year.

That’s a huge amount of money and is a measure of the level of their concern.

We stand by our commitment to keep our food and agricultural markets open and call on all partners to avoid unjustified restrictive trade measures that increase market volatility and thus the risk of food insecurity.

Basically, that’s a call to countries to not horde and stockpile foodstuffs. I expect it will be as effective as the calls not to panic buy we had during the pandemic.

We also commit to scaling up essential nutrition services in countries with the highest burden of malnutrition.

I’m afraid that’s just putting a plaster on the problem for the worst affected. The take-away message for me is that  if they’re worried then we all should worry.

There’s a long way to go before we start issuing ration books in Britain and the government exhorting us to Dig for Victory again. But, and it’s a big ‘but’, we’re already seeing large price increases on foodstuffs. Given that prices never seem to go down, the only questions are how far they’re going to rise and how quickly.

People are already cutting back, buying cheaper brands and so forth. In my opinion, those who can should be looking to grow as much as they can for themselves. I hope I’m worrying too much but it doesn’t look good.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
33 comments on “Coming Food Crisis?
  1. Trevor says:

    It would be good to leave politics out of our passion and just stick to gardening problems. Some so-called news items are very misleading.

    • John Harrison says:

      Totally agree with you Trevor that some news items are misleading, however, the Ukraine war is hardly ‘fake news’ and the statements from the G7 were published by the G7 governments so very provable source materials.
      As for politics – well it’s hardly politics to discuss situations that will have an effect on our passion. In a shortage home grown food will assume a higher profile and value – I’m already hearing of produce being stolen from allotments. Seed & fertiliser shortage directly affect gardeners. And we haven’t even touched on climate change.

    • chris Forrest says:

      I don’t think drought, war, lack of labour, lack of fertiliser are misleading sadly!

  2. Tim Coombe says:

    Unfortunately, I think your worries are justified. Just in time supply chains are built for efficiency rather than resilience. This makes them fragile and sensitive to shocks, whether climate or war. The war in Ukraine has really brought this into sharp focus, but the situation in India and US shows that Climate Change was already waiting in the wings. Remember we are only at 1.2˚C above pre-industrial global temperatures so far. Hold on to your hats, it’s going to be a rocky ride.

  3. Karrin Zeeto says:

    I totally agree with your concerns. It is the new world order agenda to take control, of our food, our money and our freedoms.
    This is sadly only the start, so like you I urge people to grow their own food, (parliament have pushed a bill through to permit GMO food to be exempt from labelling it as such)
    Start questioning why this is happening, dig deeper and see the real agenda. It is out there in clear view.
    Grow your own food where you can, live a life without fear, love everyone and everything.

    • Liz Brynin says:

      Karrin – you are so right!
      Most people are blissfully unaware of what is brewing.
      And food shortages are being exacerbated on purpose in order to change our eating habits – they want us to start eating fake meat (grown in a lab!) and insects.
      Thank goodness for our allotments and gardens!

  4. Jeremy Pymer says:

    I agree we ought to be worried. I got an allotment first because of Brexit, then along came all the other crises, only underlining that decision. Haven’t been able to do as much growing as I wanted, partly because of health reasons, and also made the usual beginners’ mistakes. What concerns me ultimately is the availability of seed, as if those supplies get disrupted, then what do we do?
    Some advice on creating our own seedbanks and the storage requirements etc would be a good topic to go into (if you haven’t done so already John, in your usual thorough way. And glad to hear you’re doing so well. I know all about the tiredness after my own treatments. Thank you for all you do to help us.

  5. Margaret Abbey says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with your comments and altho’ I’m knocking on the door of 80, I’ve started growing as much veg as I can in pots on the patio to use the space productively. The reason being the staggeringly high cost of food and shortages of imported food. Food miles etc. Etc. As a single pensioner I was throwing away food because, since Covid, supermarkets were packaging food in larger quantities than I could eat and freezing wasn’t an option at that time. My wish is that every one try to grow something edible….even if it’s only a pepper on the windowsill. It might just encourage more people to be less reliant on food from abroad. More help for our UK farmers and growers would help too.

  6. chris Forrest says:

    totally with you John, we will have enough veg to keep us going all winter, plus we preserve a lot, own apple juice and cider, own eggs.

    my wife moans not more veg but the farm shop equivalent, organic (we are ) is very expensive, and I love the idea of self sufficiency. with labour short, fertiliser expensive if farmers can get it, and high temperatures in many food producing countries I don’t think we have seen the start!

  7. Roger Haigh-Jones says:

    Hello,

    Earlier this year, arising from concerns about future food stocks, my wife and I bought all the veg seeds we needed for 2022/3 and a bit beyond by spending a total of £31.50 at the various outlets eg Nurseries; Wilco etc. This doesn’t relate to potatoes/onion sets but caters for everything else we grow at our allotment.

    Those interested in keeping their own seed might benefit from visiting https://www.realseeds.co.uk/ based in West Wales?

  8. Jean Butler says:

    I agree with your concerns.

    In addition to the problems already mentioned, today, I read a report that north Italy, which produces a lot of rice, has a drought such that salt from the sea is seeping down the River Po, polluting the soil.

  9. Tony Stone says:

    I think John in no way exaggerates. Also, we have a government that is unsympathetic to farmers – more interested in bending to the vegan-fad lobby, rewilding(sic) and growing grain to burn in power plants. As a nation, we are using more water than rain falling from the sky, whilst in the US, even without drought, the prairies have probably reached or passed peak production because they have had no compost or other bulk matter added for decades, leading to soil erosion and the increased use of phosphates to maintain production

    • Ann Isik says:

      As a vegan and erstwhile vegetarian for over 30 years, I take (friendly) exception to your statement that it’s a ‘fad’. A large part of the food problem is that instead of eating the grains we grow, we feed them to animals, which are then killed and eaten in their turn. Meat is the most expensive way to produce food. Then there are all the problems due to weed killers, which have created resistance problems among the crops and kill bees and I’ve read that 5 years after the last bee dies so does the human race. I’m very concerned with the current situation, like many here and have been maintaining stores of dried and tinned foods for some years – since Brexit in fact. This year my veggie plot is crammed. We put up a second greenhouse only last week. At last count I had about 15 tomato plants. I’ve lost count of my marrow plants, many of which I’ve grown from seeds collected from last year’s marrows. We’re still eating food stored frozen from last year’s crops. I’m thankful to be vegan in the current climate and that no animals are killed for our (my husband’s and my) food. I had three younger brothers, all of whom died young: Motor Neurone Disease, Epilepsy, Chrone’s Disease, heart attack, as did my parents (stroke and heart disease). I’m 71, not overweight and take no medications. Must be doing something right. Kind regards!

  10. John Thorne says:

    I am fully in agreement with the above.

    We are some of the “fortunate few” who have access to our own growing areas. With the continuing problems of fuel prices (with the knock on for fertilisers), a major war in Europe and the growing effects of Climate change, I suspect the worst is yet to come.

    Let’s all try and do a little bit to support food production locally and (as they used to say) “Dig for Victory”

  11. John Boulton says:

    I couldn’t agree more. For so many years governments of all flavours have ignored home food production. I spent 4 years at Ag. Col. and gained OND (cereals). At that time every inch of farmland was needed to grow crops – 20 years after WWII we were still struggling from food poverty. Since then Gov have allowed the supermarkets to control the food production and distribution in this country and we will see the downside of this in the next few years.
    We should be looking at resilience now for all we are worth and the supermarkets have to understand they are not God in the food world and start treating farmers and food production with the respect they deserve. We only produce around 60% of the food we eat in this country we need to produce more if we are to survive what is just around the corner. And food prices have to rise and artificial depression of prices must be halted; it seems more important these days to own the latest iPhone than to afford food.

  12. Samantha Smith says:

    Thank you John for sharing these concerns. Greed seems to be the core of why there is so much suffering (with a generous sprinkling of stupidity).

    I don’t follow conspiratorial thinking or media. Read history. It pretty much sums up how humans have fulfilled the definition of insanity throughout time. They repeat the same behaviour over and over, but expect different results.

    An important thing we can do is help others and teach them how to grow their food and set up community plots for those without garden space at home. Helping disabled gardeners and seniors in need are another way we can make a difference.

    Regardless of man-made or natural disasters, good times or bad, I practice emergency preparedness as a way of life. It is a way to create one’s own insurance policy and help others.

    Accordingly, I experiment a lot in my garden.

    Please support bees. In 2021 I attempted manual pollination as part of my gardening preparedness. It was labour intensive and I can’t imagine manual pollination for all our crops, including agriculture.

    In Spring of 2022, beekeepers lost 45% of their bees in 3 provinces in Canada.

    My garden is expanded again and I now grow a smaller selection of nutrient dense vegetables in greater volume. A wildflower garden, herbs and flowers that support beneficial insects.

    I use three sisters planting for corn and pole beans. This year I am experimenting with crop density and outcomes.

    My days of pouring over seed catalogues and imagining a huge variety of crops is long gone. I garden now for nutrition, yield, beneficial insect support and climate.

    I live in a Zone 2/3a climate so the growing season here can be a challenge.

    A good gardening season to all!

  13. David bowen says:

    I’m worried that all my hard work in the allotment will be stolen when it’s ready for harvest but I can’t do anything about it short of living in the shed ( the wife wouldn’t like that so that’s out ) fingers crossed it doesn’t happen.

  14. Trevor Chambers says:

    I agree 100% with John Boulton. A few years ago there was much talk about “ regaining National Sovereignty” . I do not believe a nation is Sovereign unless it can feed its people with relying upon others. Farming should be the bed rock of our industrial strategy.

  15. Jeremy Pymer says:

    Thank you for that reference, John. Kindest regards, Jeremy

  16. Julie says:

    I totally agree with all the above, I think a lot of people are in denial about food shortages. I am not sure we could ever grow enough variety in our own garden to keep us going completely but I grow and can/freeze/dehydrate what I can. It’s hard work but there’s always something in the canning cupboard or the freezer that we can pull out and make a meal from when there’s little in the shops. It just makes sense to me.

  17. Sally says:

    Please don’t create panic buying with these comments.
    Worry is pointless in life. Let’s try to live more in the moment and do less catastrophising.
    What good can it do to worry.
    Us gardeners and plot holders are wise beasts. We grow and I personally share a lot of what I grow.
    Each small step helps if we all have more compassion

    • Jayne B says:

      Your message, Sally, was a lone voice, shining star but I’m endorsing it. The only thing each of us can control is our own actions and thoughts. We cannot control the actions of others either on the other side of the world or on our own doorsteps. We can, however, control our reactions to things. So if we want to see abundance, be abundant and the more people that do this the more abundance there will be. The Earth is in the condition she is in because too many people started concerning themselves with events elsewhere in the world and forgot to look after their own communities and land. We are witnessing the effects of a global, finance-focused, greedy, disempowering economy and need to move to a fresh approach of a heart-centred, sharing, local, empowering economy.

  18. robert stenton says:

    My worries lie with a shortage of water. We are so dependent on clean drinking water , any break down in the system will kill many . Probably worth looking in to rain water storage and its cleaning for consumption. Good to hear your feeling your old self again John .

  19. Derek Bull says:

    I’ve said months ago that us allotmenteers are going to have to protect our crops.
    I’ve installed multiple trail cameras to see what’s going on in the few hours that I am not there. Yes I love my plot, and I grow just about everything (can’t get globe fennel right though and the last time I grew it it killed my celeriac stone dead!) The list of veggies that I have growing is too long to state here and it’s so long because I grow enough for us two and have a huge variety available right through until mid spring either by clamping, leaving in the ground, freezing, drying or vacuuming, there’s always some variation of nourishment. the wildlife pests (you know the ones) don’t get a look in! I grow stuff that they don’t like or it is micro-meshed tight!
    What does grieve me is the never there allotment holders that just pay the dues but don’t work the plots or plant twenty pumpkins! there should be a law against it. also the food banks won’t touch fresh produce!
    I’m glad they found out the deficiency John, Happy days eh?

  20. S K says:

    I agree with your concerns but the ‘news’ is sadly heavily sponsored and contaminated by government propaganda. The pandemic, rising inflation and food shortages are all part of the plan to ‘reset the world’ and ‘build back better’ by the world elitists. Its all out there for anyone who will care to take a look. Just read this book and find out for yourselves: COVID19 The Great Reset by Klaus Schwab.
    And here: https://www.weforum.org/focus/the-great-reset
    They want to control and depopulate us ‘useless eaters’.

    There will be mass chaos before there will be mass awakening.

  21. Michael Fosbrooke says:

    Totally agree; Farmers in California have drained underground aquifers, these reservoirs of water took millennia to fill… The success of industrial farming is dependent on resources that are finite (fresh water and natural gas) – output will wain as these resources become scarce. The impact to global food security will be more immediate than global warming. Make compost, store water, use any available space to grow!

  22. Alison Hayyes says:

    I think your concerns are justified John. We are in for a rough ride ahead. I have never grown as many vegetables as I am at the moment and I would mlike to grow more. My garden isn’t that big so I am limited but I have a small greenhouse and we brought a wooden trug which I am making good use of. Perhaps the old tradition of bartering should be considered. I am going to buy some seeds before they disappear! Enjoy your emails, they inspire me!

  23. Julie says:

    I would agree with you John that there is a concern for food shortages. However I wouldn’t trust anyone in the governments or G7 or Davos. I’m afraid they have a plan for their own good. It is up to us the people to look after ourselves. It is a case of going back to growing your own food and getting your local nursery to grow for the local people and farmers selling locally too. When you see governments wanting to reduce beef and sheep without increasing other forms of food that should ring alarm bells.
    What I find difficult is knowing how much to grow as in quantities and learning how to store the food, so I would be interested in your ebook John.

  24. Mariama says:

    Hi everyone, I have also been worried about the world situation…wouldn’t it be wonderful if farmers gave an acre or two of land for local like minded gardeners to grow for their families and their elders.
    I saw a TV program with a chef who encouraged this and it was a great success… My sister and I are growing but there is only so much you can grow, parsnips and beetroot’s, leeks, red and white onions, garlic, spring onions, peas, beans of several kinds, fennel,
    courgettes and every kind of herb you can, mixed with different lettuces and leaves really is refreshing. I drink Rosemary in hot water, it’s increased my energy ‍♀️and I’m a pensioner!!! Can anyone please tell me what is the best late potato seed variety or am l to late? Thank you M

  25. Mariama says:

    Thank you so much John, l will look into this later today.
    M

  26. Jane says:

    I have been concerned about this issue for some time. One of my worries is we have a generation of people who were not taught to cook.
    When my children were at high school they had food technology, where they had a list of ingredients but no instructions on how to make anything.
    There is a lovely lady who does a blog “feed your family for £20 a week” this is well worth reading.

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