COVID-19 has shaken us up. More than once since the pandemic began, we’ve seen news headlines suggesting that our food supply is uncertain. Local food hubs would be a great option – but there simply isn’t enough supply of locally grown food for most American cities today. Nature Towns include resident-owned food hubs in every residential real estate project, along with a 240-acre (or bigger) regenerative agriculture farm!
A small-scale example of a food hub is your local CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. Most CSAs deliver boxes of fresh local produce to members every week or two. According to this Civil Eats article, people around the country are signing up in record numbers, such that new would-be members are on waitlists now.
We have a great innovation for local agriculture, so sign up for more info here.
The coronavirus has wrought havoc in our lives. I am hoping for the best, but the reality is that we need to prepared for an uncertain future. What is striking is that I am no longer thinking about just immediate concerns, but more about the long term, and especially food hubs.
There are a lot of big new words out there to describe what is happening in the world, but suffice to say, we all need to become more self-reliant. We need to prepare for the time when the global supply chains that support our front line food systems will start to fail (see link to our blog article Scrambled Food Systems).
Instead of a fragile global economy that depends on so many different people and activities all over the world, we need local economies that depend mostly on the people in the local region. Those are the people you can help, and who can help you.
A prime example is our food system – that which fulfills our most basic need. Currently, most protein (meat) is processed in mammoth plants with workers packed in tightly side-by-side, and highly productive, fast line speeds. When coronavirus has infected some of these employees, the plant’s output has dropped dramatically. This means less food available for purchase in the grocery stores.
It is ironic and unjust that meat processing plant employees are highly specialized, doing dangerous jobs, yet are poorly paid. Big food corporations have been known to actively recruit undocumented workers so they can avoid paying higher wages and providing health insurance benefits – something most Americans would demand, especially given the risk of severe injury on the job.
When I was a conventional farmer within the industrial economy, the only way I could have financial success was to produce continually lower quality food. We converted soil health (tilth) into cash flow. We mined the soil, just as the energy industry mined the earth. You could have just as easily called it part of the extractive economy.
We expect to see more problems in the industrial farming model. Large meat processing plants cannot work with physical distancing. Small local farms are already seeing huge demand for livestock.
Local Economy = Regenerative Food
The local economy means investing in your community. Nature Towns is developing a pilot community that features its own food hub. We have identified the scale at which this project works for the residents of the community. What’s best is how it is financed: The food hub is financed similarly to a school district, using tax-free municipal bonds. That means you have local control without spending your direct money.
An important revelation here is that there is more than enough money in our current food prices to pay for this food hub, the land to produce the food, and the savings to pay for the bonds.
Local food hubs make sense if done the right way. To learn more, sign up for our email newsletter and get more of this particular ‘big picture’.
The Future of Living
- As a farmer, I am proud to produce food.
- As a regenerative agriculture farmer, I am proud to provide you with the best nutrition available.
- As a steward, I am proud to steward the health of the soil, plants, and people in a community.
- As a master steward, I am proud to shepherd the health of not just the people but all of the environment owned by the community.
The world is changing, and we are just at the start. The questions we are ask now must relate to where all this is heading. We need big picture thinking, and we need to get it right fast. We need Regenerative Lifestyles that are supported by Regenerative Places.