The events of one terrible day cleaved 2001 into two distinct eras. Prior to 9/11, “community” and “support” were rather ethereal terms in our private and very complicated lives. Since 9/11, communities have been coming together and there has been solidarity in shared grief, mutual support, and patriotism. Yet, current events now lend to privacy violations, useless airport security checks, and infringements on many of our civil liberties all in the name of “Homeland Security”.
In the months prior to September 11, few people outside of governmental agencies and private “think tanks” pondered many of the issues we now address as “Homeland Security” priorities. If terrorists could execute their aerial attacks so easily, then the possibility of a devastating bio-terrorism attack on our national livestock herd or the lethal contamination of billions of tons of perishable fruits and vegetables becomes abhorrently clear. The national and international extension of our food system makes it tremendously vulnerable in the field, in storage, or in transit. As a result, people have a heightened concern about where their food is produce and by whom. Real homeland security for our food system must be based on thriving local and regional food systems.
The new Food Security Act passed by Congress last addresses mostly food safety issues, it does little to secure distribution routes or enhance locally grown food supplies. Locally grown food sources will expand in direct proportion to consumer demand to know where the food was grown and by whom.
The good news is that many of the seeds of this new food system are already present. Farmers markets, Community supported and subscription farm shares, and the “Buy Local” campaigns are providing everyone the opportunity to make their communities a more secure place to live, work, and thrive. Check your local papers for listing of local markets, farm stands, and other local businesses. Check the country of origin on your food, your other home purchases, and consider planting your dollars as close to home as possible. It’s not always the easiest or fastest way to shop, but it’s the action we can all take to strengthen a secure homeland.
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