More and more, people are becoming aware of the fragility of the global food supply. Production, processing, and transportation of food is all highly dependent on cheap fossil fuels — even fertilizers and pesticides are made from petrochemicals. As the supply of fossil fuels continues to decline, the price of these chemicals will continue to go up, making it harder and harder to sustain a global food system which depends on being able to move food around the planet at low cost.

Over time, and starting now, we need to move towards a more localized food economy. The 50-mile diet has been a very effective way of opening people’s eyes to the importance of a local food supply, and also to the difficulties in eating locally, even during the summertime. But we need to do whatever we can to increase local food production, particularly in the cases where we can easily produce certain crops here. Why are we buying apples from Chile and Peru when we live in a perfect apple-growing region?

One critical part of a robust local food economy is a local supply of high-quality, non-genetically-engineered seed for local use. Seeds from plants grown locally will tend to produce plants which are better adapted to local growing conditions. Also, we cannot rely on the large and increasingly multinational seed companies. There have been reports that seed coming from even some of the smaller seed producers is slipping in quality, possibly as these smaller producers scramble to source more seed as demand increases.

We need to become more self-reliant in all areas of food production. Having a corps of trained and engaged local seed-savers is an important part of self-reliance.

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