It seems like when people start becoming aware of the problems with our current food systems, one of the first things they do is start panicking about zombies. When I lived in DC, I had a zombie disaster plan. I know I’m not the only one. I had a significant amount of food stored up, and my East Coast friends and I discussed how long we would wait for each other and where we would eventually try to meet up in the event of a zombie attack.
Of course, we weren’t really preparing for zombies (but if they came, we’d be ready!). It was just that living in Manhattan and DC, we were acutely aware of how vulnerable we would be in the event of a crisis – a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, or even a trucking strike. For me, our zombie plan was an acknowledgement that our system was broken and that we needed to understand it more deeply.
It’s commonly accepted that in the event of a catastrophe, supermarkets would run out of food within three days. City-dwellers might be without power, water, and other vital services for at least that long. If the only thing you know about your food is which aisle you bought it in or where the nearest restaurant is, that figure is pretty important. More and more, people are beginning to realize this.
The Future of Cities
There’s a rift between those who believe that a sustainable future lies in bright green urban development, those who focus on relocalization at a community level, and true homesteading self-sufficiency advocates. I don’t think those futures are mutually exclusive. In fact, I think they complement each other beautifully. Those of us with similar beliefs spend too much time fighting among ourselves about the details. It’s the floaty brigade arguing about which type of life raft to use, like we have to pick one, like there is only so much energy, effort and ingenuity to go around.
Photo: CC || http://www.flickr.com/photos/m500/
No matter what side you are on in the cities, land use, urban agriculture debate, I think we all could agree that our public spaces could be used more wisely. So much space is wasted, neither furthering community nor producing anything of value. The spaces that are valuable to us need to be protected with passion, but also with laws. The future of urban agriculture should not belong to guerilla gardeners, but even more traditional urban gardening groups must confront issues including land rights, zoning and access to water.
It’s going to come down to a question of priorities. What are we going to be willing to fight for? Which values will be reflected in our laws, our cities, our homes and our lives?
Just some things to think about as the voting season approaches.