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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.

Why You Need to Drink Wet-Hopped Beer Right Now

Wet-hopped beer is the ultimate in seasonal and local brews. It is made from fresh hops picked right off the bine in order to capture the aromatic hop flavor when it is most potent. The tricky part is fresh hops have virtually no shelf life, so brewers must spring into action as soon as the hops […] Read More..

A Simple Way to Grow Fresh Greens Indoors This Winter

Just because the temperatures have started to drop doesn’t mean you have to live without fresh greens until next Spring. With author and gardener Peter Burke’s innovative method of growing soil sprouts indoors, you can grow nutrient-dense greens all year long at a fraction of the cost of buying at market. Burke’s new book, Year-Round Indoor Salad […] Read More..

A Day in the Life of a Homesteader

As Homesteading Month comes to a close, we take a look at what it means to live the homesteading life every day. Read through the question and answer below and be sure to check out any of the previous articles you might have missed:Why Acquiring Land Presents a Challenge for New Homesteaders Homesteading Q&A: Solutions […] Read More..

Go Lean: How To Eliminate Waste and Increase Efficiency on the Farm

Using the words “factory” and “farm” in the same sentence may seem sacrilegious, but today’s young farmers like author Ben Hartman are discovering that the same sound business practices apply whether you produce cars or carrots.In his new book The Lean Farm, Hartman demonstrates how applying lean principles—originally developed by the Japanese automotive industry—to farming practices […] Read More..

Why Acquiring Land Presents a Challenge for New Homesteaders

More and more often, young people are turning away from cities and urban life in order to live off the land and even start farms of their own. But while many have the desire to grow food for themselves and/or others, acquiring land, and the financial burden that comes with it, presents a difficult challenge […] Read More..