It’s Time to Teach your Grandchild how to Grow his or her own Food
Preparing for Famine in the 21st century
Global demand for food could more than double over the coming half-century, thus the central issue in the human destiny in the coming half century is not climate change: it is whether humanity can achieve and sustain such an enormous harvest.
The Coming Famine, J.Cribb
I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:
Of famine fed upon all entrails—men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devour’d,
Even dogs assail’d their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish’d men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lur’d their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answer’d not with a caress—he died.
From Darkness by LORD BYRON
written during the famine cause by the explosion of the Tambora volcano
Current Trends in Food Production & Consumption
The good news: more food is being grown per square meter every year and global supply per capita is still increasing, as shown below. [4,5]
On the other hand, here are some juicy tidbits to keep you awake at night.
- Population growth is and will remain a driver for food demand in the future, at rates close to 1%. Per capita consumption, especially of meat and dairy, has been growing faster than population in the past two decades.
- Crop yields — the amount of crops harvested per unit of land cultivated — are growing too slowlyto meet the forecasted demand for food.
- Many other factors, from climate change to urbanization to a lack of investment, will also make it challenging to produce enough food. There is strong academic consensusthat climate change–driven water scarcity, rising global temperatures, and extreme weather will have severe long-term effects on crop yields. These are expected to impact many major agricultural regions, especially those close to the Equator. For example, the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, one of the most important agricultural regions worldwide, may face an 18% to 23% reduction in soy and corn output by 2050, due to climate change. The Midwestern U.S. & Eastern Australia — two other globally important regions may also see a substantial decline in agricultural output due to extreme heat.
- investment in agriculture in most developing countries has declined over the last 30 years resulting in low productivity and stagnant production & the banking sectors in developing countries give fewer loans to farmers compared to the share of agriculture in GDP 
Here’s the good news: many famines are caused by bad politics and are thus avoidable.
“At least 100 million people died in great and calamitous famines in the 140 years from 1870 to 2010,” almost all of it caused by war and political choices that made famine a weapon of choice to beat down resistant populations. “Famines strike selectively; it is the poor and politically excluded who are its first and principal victims, commonly its only ones,” writes de Waal. “Starvation relentlessly hunts out outsiders and marginalized minorities — or, to phrase it more accurately, those in power administer famines to target these people.” Alex de Waal’s Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine
Seen in this light it seems that often famine is primarily a political problem. True. It is a by-product of war or social breakdown… sometimes. However, at other times it is caused by drought or flood or soil erosion or epidemics which kill so many farmers that the people in the cities starve. Drought caused by climate change destroyed the world’s first empire, Akkad in 2200 BC , even the city’s earthworms had died out. Eventually, Weiss came to believe that the lifeless soil of Tell Leilan and the end of the Akkadian empire were products of the same phenomenon—a drought so prolonged and so severe that, in his words, it represented an example of “climate change.”
The Curse of Akkad, 2100 BC
For the first time since cities were built and founded,
The great agricultural tracts produced no grain,
The inundated tracts produced no fish,
The irrigated orchards produced neither syrup nor wine,
The gathered clouds did not rain, the masgurum did not grow.
At that time, one shekel’s worth of oil was only one-half quart,
One shekel’s worth of grain was only one-half quart. . . .
These sold at such prices in the markets of all the cities!
He who slept on the roof, died on the roof,
He who slept in the house, had no burial,
People were flailing at themselves from hunger.
Climate change drought, combined with bad politics, also caused the most recent mass death by famine in the 1870s:
“It’s not easy to forget the deaths of 50 million people, but we have managed it. A global drought in the 1870s caused mass starvation in South America, Africa and Asia, but the event doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Now it seems the drought was triggered by a never-before-seen combination of climate events. While rare, the drought was entirely natural so it could easily happen again. Between 1875 and 1878, severe droughts ravaged India, China and parts of Africa and South America. The result was a famine that struck three continents and lasted three years.” 
And let’s not forget the explosion of the volcano Tambora which caused a worldwide “nuclear winter” for 3 years and not only caused famine worldwide but also unleashed a new strain of cholera and even the opium trade. “The enormous cloud of sulfate gases Tambora ejected into the atmosphere slowed the development of the Indian monsoon, the world’s largest weather system, for the following two years. Drought brought on by the eruption devastated crop yields across the Indian subcontinent, but more disastrously gave rise to a new and deadly strain of cholera. Cholera had always been endemic to Bengal, but the bizarre weather of 1816–17 triggered by Tambora’s eruption—first drought, then late, unseasonal flooding—altered the microbial ecology of the Bay of Bengal. The cholera bacterium, which has an unusually adaptive genetic structure highly sensitive to changes in its aquatic environment, mutated into a new strain. This was met with no resistance among the local population, and it spread across Asia and eventually the globe. In the aftermath of this three-year famine, Yunnan farmers turned to a more reliable cash crop—opium—to ensure their families’ survival against future disasters. Within a few decades, opium was being grown all across Yunnan, while opium-processing technology and expertise drifted south into the remote mountains of modern-day Burma and Laos. The “golden triangle” of international opium production was born.” 
Teach your Grandchildren how to grow food – even during the Winter!
Personally, rather than worrying too much about the big picture, when my kids were growing up I taught them the joys of being a little farmer. We had chickens, a few ducks, bees, a greenhouse and 3 gardens where we grew vegetables and a lot of garlic. I had fun. They had fun (I think?). They certainly learned how to work. And get dirty. And not be afraid of shoveling manure. And the misery called weeding. And patience – the most important skill that is still helping them in their lives now that they have left home. I admit there is the minor detail of our long winter – but some enterprising guys have even over come that problem by figuring out how to grow/preserve some crops in a greenhouse through the winter.  The guru of winter growing is Maine farmer Eliot Coleman who has perfected growing food throughout the year in a climate as harsh as Canada’s. His seminal book is “The Winter Harvest Handbook – Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses” – a MUST read if you are serious about growing food all year long.
“How do you produce first-rate food all year-round in northern places? This is the big question facing the local food movement, and Eliot Coleman, one of America’s most innovative farmers, has come up with excellent answers….The Winter Harvest Handbook is an indispensable contribution.” — Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food
So, rather than worry about the future do something about it! Help your grandchildren prepare, in a way that is joyful and not driven by fear, for a world where growing your own food may be a very, very helpful skill. There are many websites & books  that can help you. Good Luck and enjoy!
Scott Nearing, a political activist turned back to the land farmer and vegetarian lived in perfect health till 100. How did he preserve his health so well for all these years? Why were he and his wife so serene and confident and happy? How have they managed to do what so many of us never manage to do? And how have they managed to do it so well? Well, there’s no big mystery to the success enjoyed by the Nearings. As a matter of fact, they wrote a book — Living the Good Life — twenty-three years ago that bared all their secrets to the world Far too few of us, however, seem to have read that book … and those of us who did read it frequently seem to have forgotten just how good and sensible and valuable that manual is. So here — for everyone who never got around to reading Living the Good Life in the first place … and for everyone who did read it but never got around to putting its wealth of bedrock information into practice — is an excerpted cram course in some of the basics of Helen and Scott Nearing’s way of life. Enjoy, enjoy. And then, if you’re one of the more clever among us, you ‘ll want to get a copy of this most important book for your very own. And after that, if you’re one of the very clever among us … you’ll probably begin to pattern your own life after the lives of this amazing couple! 
If you are keen to read up on the latest trends in global food demand and consumption trends read this European report .For up to date data on the state of risks of famine in various parts of the world see the famine early warning system site  If you are a pessimist you may enjoy this review of 2019 
or even better, this humorous self-depreciating video of a small town a small town in Finland that bills itself as the “world capital of pessimism”. 
- Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czr3iJBY4z0
- https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/ten-civilizations-or-nations-that-collapsed-from-drought.html https://www.ozy.com/flashback/the-drought-that-led-to-the-death-of-a-whole-civilization/74696/
- Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM5nUe-uHm4 http://fourseasonfarm.com/
- The Best-Ever Step-by-Step Kid’s First Gardening: Fantastic Gardening Ideas For 5 To 12 Year-Olds, From Growing Fruit And Vegetables by Jenny Hendy https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/gardening-with-children/