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Food Supply Threats

The Birds and the Bees and Food Storage

by Gary D. Palmer

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"What next?" one might wonder.  Now experts are claiming that a lack of bees and other insect pollinators is beginning to become a threat to our food supplies.  Studies in Europe and North America have shown that the decline in bee populations is not only noticeable, but accelerating.  Bees pollinate crops, and crops feed people.  Without the bees, crops don't produce, and people don't eat.  It's as simple as that.

So what's happening?  "Threats to pollinators," claims Charles Caccia, senior fellow at the Ottawa University Institute of the Environment, "include pesticides, climate change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and human indifference."  According to these experts, unless action is taken we may begin to see food shortages due to the la

ck of pollinators of all kinds; including domesticated and wild bees, certain bird species, bats, flies, and even some beetles.

It seems, too, that these missing bees are not the only things about which we need worry.  Some are concerned about California vineyards.  Summers may be becoming too hot and dry for them. If global warming does exist and if these summertime extremes do continue, a major industry could suffer irreparable harm.  On the other hand, freakish winter weather can be equally damaging.  The winter of 2006/2007 has seen Oregon and B.C. orchards damaged by ice storms and horrendous winds.  In California 75% of the citrus crop has been said to have been destroyed by unseasonably low, freezing temperatures.

Avian flu is another menace.  News reports out of Asia have been filled with stories of millions of domesticated birds having to have been destroyed to stave off this dread disease.  Such flocks do not recover overnight.  The destruction has been massive enough already.  Should the need to cull flocks spread worldwide, food shortages and significant price jumps would be the inevitable result.

The list is by no means exhausted.  BSE has threatened the cattle industry.  The food distribution network, like most other major industries, is heavily dependant upon the computer.  What might a dedicated and effective hacker attack do - or a particularly nasty virus?  Security experts worry about terrorists and our water supplies.  Plant diseases are always a threat.  Will genetically modified crops prove to be a blessing or a curse?  The court is still out on that one.  The list goes on and on.

Now, none of this is being said in an attempt to encourage people to lock themselves away in their homes in order to pull a blanket over their heads as they wait for the end to arrive.  Many of these worries may prove to be entirely groundless, or prompt action by appropriate authorities may provide us with adequate safeguards.  Still, it might help to show the wisdom of being prepared.

Particular reference, of course, is being made to food storage.  Traditionally, food storage seems to have been thought of as a money saving endeavour that allows you to "put up" food in times of plenty so that you do not have to pay premium prices in off season times.  That certainly is true, but food storage can also be a preventative measure.  That is why food storage is so often an important part of emergency preparedness planning, even though we might not quite know what the emergency will be for which we are planning.  The fact is, it should be obvious that food storage and emergency preparedness go hand in hand.

"Just in case" food distribution is disrupted, it would be good to have extra on hand.  "Just in case" storm or drought or flooding or whatever causes scarcity, it would be good to have extra on hand.  "Just in case" we are unemployed or underemployed or suffer some other sort of financial reverses, it would be good to have extra on hand.

And if none of these dire scenarios come to pass?  Well, you still have the food, it can still be eaten, you have still saved money, and you most definitely have had control over its nutritional value. 

Yes, food storage is worth considering.

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