There are many different forms of sustainable food supply systems, but the most effective, although usually the least discussed, is for people to grow some of their own food. I could write a lot about this, but for now I thought I would list the three main reasons why my family and I grow our own food.
1. Growing our own food is the best thing we can do for our health. All of that fresh air and exercise, abundant amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, a relaxing and productive way to spend our time as well as a deep sense of pride and connection with the natural systems - all of this has enhanced our mental and physical health. With the possible exception of finances, this is the most obvious reason why many people grow their own food.
2. Growing our own food is one of the best things that we can do for the local and global environment. By gardening in a sensible way, the food that we grow and eat ourselves requires few external inputs, causes no pollution, travels zero food miles, is essentially "carbon free" and all wastes are naturally recycled into next years' food. As I have said before, environmental issues provide the imperative for changing our food supply systems, and growing our own food is the easiest, cheapest and most effective way to make a difference.
3. Given the nature of power in our societies and the extent of control exerted by multinational corporations, growing our own food is one of the most significant acts of civil disobedience that we can participate in. Our diet, our health and well-being, our sense of belonging and our perception of what is important, is manipulated and controlled by powerful interests for the sake of profit and the economy. This is the foundation of our dominant food systems, and provides the greatest obstruction faced by those who seek change, but every time that we eat something that we grew ourselves, we are putting power and control back into our own hands, where it belongs.
My family and I are not 'self-sufficient', but we do produce a substantial amount of our primarily vegetable based diet, while living close to the centre of Dublin, Ireland. I am not suggesting that everyone should be growing most of their own food, but the more food that is eaten by those who grow it, the better the world will be. Even a little bit helps. This fact should be recognised by any environmental, health or social policy and should be a central focus of our urban planning.