Food Security and Sovereignty

PIP-Cover-issue-1LR-e1395804611513 “It’s been ten years since Australia had its own permaculture magazine and since then we have had to rely on overseas publications to learn about permaculture and hear what other like-minded people are doing ” laments the founding editor of a new permaculture magazine, called Pip magazine. Nothing wrong with permaculture periodicals overseas, but when we consider that permaculture ‘originated’ in Australia and being tauted as one of the biggest exports of ideas from this country, it is a poor state of affairs nonetheless.

Despair no more Australians as Pip magazine will hit the market very soon. Pip is a brainchild of journalist, editor and photographer Robyn Rosenfeldt, a Melbourne native now a resident of far south east NSW. She and the team no doubt have exerted not an insignificant amount of passion, but as she notes, publishing was made possible by the generosity of the community through crowd-funding.

Pip magazine is not just another gardening magazine, just like permaculture is not just about gardening. Permaculture is a design system that can be applied to all aspects of life to enable us to live more sustainably. It starts in the home and garden and is about creating systems that are self-reliant. But it extends right out to broad acre farming, to community development and beyond.

The first issue has stories on how to grow your own shiitake mushrooms, create a food forest, herbal first aid, natural dyes and creating a clothes swap in your own community, as well as a piece on food security and sovereignty contributed by David Holmgren.

Below we publish a short excerpt from his piece. Please get hold of the magazine, available at good newsagents and retail outlets, to get the whole story, and better still, subscribe to it here. The Pip mag is also available digitally across all devices. The second issue is due out in September.

The inaugural issue is available for purchase at our online shop.

Food insecurity also shows up in affluent countries. In Australia, declining backyard food growing and home cooking since the 1960s  has increased dependence on 24/7 food outlets which are car transport dependent and increasingly monopolised.  The loss of community has reduced the ‘social insurance’ from non-monetary exchange of surpluses.  Interruptions to supply chains from natural or economic disasters set up instant dependence of large populations on emergency relief on unprecedented scale. Even without Peak Oil and Climate Change, the prospects of large numbers of people being food insecure in Australia increases inexorably due to the dysfunction of multi-generational affluence. I wonder why people feel so comfortable relying on the supermarket as their personal food cupboard.

Gunther Food Energy

Graphics from the “Relocalising Our Food using Permaculture Theory and Practice at Sustainable and Fair Food” presentation (Feb 2014), based on Folke Günter, 2001.

Applying permaculture principles to food production changes the way we produce food and how much we store, preserve, transport, distribute, prepare and consume.  Beyond the dinner table, permaculture design reorganises the supply chain to ensure all wastes including human waste are recycled to food producing land. These closed loop cycles are easier and more energy efficient when organised at the household and local scale.  Growing at home increases food security in many overlapping and self-reinforcing ways.

Firstly it is relatively easy to produce perishable vegetables, fruit and small livestock products using organic methods that recycle household and local wastes. These foods might not be staples but they reduce the food bill, diversify the diet and improve everyone’s health, both in the production and the consumption.

Secondly, home-grown food gives a sense of pride and sufficiency, builds skills and confidence to scale up if necessary, generates surplus for preserving that increase household food storages while gifting and barter further increase your credit with others.  All these processes help reboot the household and community economies that were once the background to the monetary economy. History shows us that whenever the monetary economy takes a dive, the household and community economics grow rapidly.

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