We have been talking about the issues surrounding food security this month, so it makes sense that people are now asking how much food we need to be food secure.
Considered by many to be leaders in food storage and emergency preparedness, the Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church) teaches parishioners to store and maintain at least one full year of food stockpiles at all times. Through a friend I was able to get a copy of a book that is quite detailed in offering preparedness information and while not an officially sanctioned LDS document, it does offer quite a bit of insight that is helpful in knowing how to prepare food for long term storage as well as how much is necessary.
It may frighten you to realize that in order to maintain a diet of just 2,300 calories per day, you would need to consume approximately 24.65 ounces of food per day. That comes out to roughly 695 pounds of food per person! Rather than put down all of the calculations about various food types, let’s just take a look at 3 common produce items today and how much you might need to grow per adult.
On average, a tomato plant will produce about 12 pounds of produce in its lifetime. Considering both the high cost of tomatoes and the vast number of things tomatoes can be used for from tomato sauce, pasta sauce, chili, soups, stews and more, it is a wise idea to grow as many tomatoes as you have room for and preserving them through canning or freezing for future use. This chart from About.com Gardening suggests 5 tomato plants for a family of 4 but if food security is your goal, I would suggest no less than 2 plants per adult. Depending on the type and variety you are growing, you can expect to take up about 1 1/2 square feet per plant.
Onions store incredibly well and are easy to grow. Even better, they don’t take up a lot of space in the garden. If you use the square food gardening method we refer to often in the Growing Guide, you can plant 9 onions in a single square foot of space. Growing 10 bulb onions per adult is a good starting point.
Carrots are packed with nutrition, including the all-important Vitamin A and Beta Carotene. They store exceptionally well in a cool, dry place and will last through an entire winter right in your garden. All you have to do is pull them up as you need them! In a single square foot, you can grow 16 carrots! Two square feet per adult is recommended.
Don’t let these numbers overwhelm you. Food security is a big issue and we can’t ignore it, but we also can afford to let it paralyze us into complete inaction either. Do what you can do, grow what you can grow and find local sources for everything else that you can. When you find a good deal on a produce item at a local market, stock up and learn to preserve it so that you can enjoy it all year long.
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