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Chelsea Green Blog

Food Prices: A better way…

If my life were a country-western song, “There’s just gotta be a better way….” would be the refrain. It goes something like this:

Gas prices growin’, the economy is slowin’.
Can’t find a buck to help me through the daaaaay.
I drive to the food mart, pay a mortgage for my food cart.
I wish my kids could just eat my horses’ haaaaay.

Oh, I can’t pay for food today.
No, I can’t pay for food too-oodaaaay.
Food prices growin’, paychecks are slowin’.
Oh, there’s just gotta be a better waaaay.

Insert a steel guitar, a slow harmonica, plenty of twang, and well…you get the point. The truth is that, for a number of reasons, food prices are skyrocketing. The Guardian posted a great summary of five major contributing factors, which include:

  1. surging energy prices,
  2. increased demand due to population growth,
  3. droughts devastating grain-producing countries,
  4. biofuel crops competing for land, and
  5. speculative trading of food commodities

Analysts will debate how to weight the influence of each of these factors, and then policy-wonks will debate the best methods for reversing the effects, and then politicians will debate the cheapest ways to get everything done by some random date way off in the future. I get so frustrated watching the powers-that-be move in circles that I can’t help but thinking … Oh, there’s just gotta be a better waaaay….

Eliot Coleman has a better way: Avoid food prices all together. Eliot has been growing his own organic vegetables (for consumption and for sale) year-round for over 30 years. He’s designed a system of greenhouses and high tunnels that allow him to keep fertile gardens for all four seasons…even through the brutal winters in his hometown of Harborside, Maine. Coupled with his cattle, sheep, and range poultry, Eliot has fresh food all year round without ever making a trip to the grocery store.

Eliot’s book, Four-Season Harvest, explains how he does it all. You can download Eliot’s chapter called The Covered Garden: Greenhouses and High Tunnels here. In it you will find Eliot’s greenhouse designs, high tunnel construction plans, a mobile greenhouse, maintenance tips, plotting maps, winter gardening techniques, and advice on deterring pests.

Download The Covered Garden: Greenhouses and High Tunnels from Four-Season Harvest.


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