Economy Ellen Brown Original

Ellen Brown: The Food Shortage Solution in Your Own Backyard

While the global food systems we depend on come under increasing strain, there’s a solution to the growing crisis that most Americans can find in their own backyards–or front lawns.
[woodleywonderworks / CC BY 2.0]

By Ellen Brown | Original to ScheerPost

A confluence of crises—lockdowns and business closures, mandates and worker shortages, supply chain disruptions and inflation, sanctions and war—have compounded to trigger food shortages; and we have been warned that they may last longer than the food stored in our pantries. What to do? 

Jim Gale, founder of Food Forest Abundance, pointed out in a recent interview with Del Bigtree that in the United States there are 40 million acres of lawn. Lawns are the most destructive monoculture on the planet, absorbing more resources and pesticides than any other crop, without providing any yield. If we were to turn 30% of that lawn into permaculture-based food gardens, says Gale, we could be food self-sufficient without relying on imports or chemicals. 

Permaculture is a gardening technique that “uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined with the natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supporting system for city and country, using the smallest practical area.”

Russian families have shown the possibilities, using permaculture methods on simple cottage gardens or allotments called dachas. As Dr. Leon Sharashkin, a Russian translator and editor with a PhD in forestry from the University of Missouri, explains:

“Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.”

The Dacha Model

Dachas are small wooden houses on a small plot of land, typically just 600 meters (656 yards) in size. In Soviet Russia, they were allocated free of charge on the theory that the land belonged to the people. They were given to many public servants; and families not given a dacha could get access to a plot of land in an allotment association, where they could grow vegetables, visit regularly to tend their kitchen gardens and gather crops. 

Dachas were originally used mainly as country vacation getaways. But in the 1990s, they evolved from a place of rest into a major means of survival. That was when the Russian economy suffered from what journalist Anne Williamson called in congressional testimony the “rape of Russia.” The economy was destroyed and then plundered by financial oligarchs, who swooped in to buy assets at fire sale prices. 

Stripped of other resources, Russian families turned to their dachas to grow food. Dr. Sharaskin observed that the share of food gardening in national agriculture increased from 32% in 1990 to over 50% by 2000. In 2004, food gardens accounted for 51% of the total agricultural output of the Russian Federation – greater than the contribution of the whole electric power generation industry; greater than all of the forestry, wood-processing and pulp and paper industries; and significantly greater than the coal, natural gas and oil refining industries taken together.  

Dachas are now a codified right of Russian citizens. In 2003, the government signed the Private Garden Plot Act into law, granting citizens free plots of land ranging from 1 to 3 hectares each. (A hectare is about 2.5 acres.) Dr. Sharaskin opined in 2009 that “with 35 million families (70% of Russia’s population) … producing more than 40% of Russia’s agricultural output, this is in all likelihood the most extensive microscale food production practice in any industrially developed nation.” 

In a 2014 article titled “Dacha Gardens—Russia’s Amazing Model for Urban Agriculture”, Sara Pool wrote that Russia obtains “over 50% agricultural products from family garden plots. The backyard gardening model uses around 3% arable land, and accounts for roughly 92% of all Russian potatoes, 87% of all fruit, 77% vegetables, and 59% all Russian meat according to the Russian Federal State Statistic Service.”

Our Beautiful but Toxic and Wasteful Green Lawns

Rather than dachas, we in the West have pristine green lawns, which not only produce no food but involve chemical and mechanical maintenance that is a major contributor to water and air pollution. Lawns are the single largest irrigated crop in the U.S., covering nearly 32 million acres. This is a problem particularly in the western U.S. states, which are currently suffering from reduced food production due to drought. Data compiled by Urban Plantations from the EPA, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the Alliance for Water Efficiency suggests that gardens use 66% less water than lawns. In the U.S., fruits and vegetables are grown  on only about 10 million acres. In theory, then, if the space occupied by American lawns were converted to food gardens, the country could produce four times as many fruits and vegetables as it does now. 

A study from NASA scientists in collaboration with researchers in the Mountain West estimated that American lawns cover an area that is about the size of Texas and is three times larger than that used for any other irrigated crop in the United States.  The study was not, however, about the growth of lawns but about their impact on the environment and water resources. It found that “maintaining a well-manicured lawn uses up to 900 liters of water per person per day and reduces [carbon] sequestration effectiveness by up to 35 percent by adding emissions from fertilization and the operation of mowing equipment.” To combat water and pollution problems, some cities have advocated abandoning the great green lawn in favor of vegetable gardens, local native plants, meadows or just letting the grass die. But well-manicured lawns are an established U.S. cultural tradition; and some municipalities have banned front-yard gardens as not meeting neighborhood standards of aesthetics.  Some homeowners, however, have fought back. Florida ended up passing a law in July 2019 that prohibits towns from banning edible gardens for aesthetic reasons; and in California, a bill was passed in 2014 that allows yard use for “personal agriculture” (defined as “use of land where an individual cultivates edible plant crops for personal use or donation”). As noted in a Los Angeles Times op-ed

“The Legislature recognized that lawn care is resource intensive, with lawns being the largest irrigated crop in the United States offering no nutritional gain. Finding that 30% to 60% of residential water is used for watering lawns, the Legislature believes these resources could be allocated to more productive activities, including growing food, thus increasing access to healthy options for low-income individuals.”

Despite how large they loom in the American imagination, immaculate green lawns maintained by pesticides, herbicides and electric lawnmowers are a relatively recent cultural phenomenon in the United States. In the 1930s, chemicals were not recommended. Weeds were controlled either by pulling them by hand or by keeping chickens. Chemical use became popular only after World War II, and it has grown significantly since. According to the EPA, close to 80 million U.S. households spray 90 million pounds of pesticides and herbicides on their lawns each year. A 1999 study by the United States Geological Survey found that 99% of urban water streams contain pesticides, which pollute our drinking water and create serious health risks for wildlife, pets, and humans. Among other disorders, these chemicals are correlated with an increased risk of cancers, nervous system disorders, and a seven-fold increased risk of childhood leukemia. 

That’s just the pollution in our water supply. Other problems with our lawn fetish are air and noise pollution generated by gas-powered lawn and garden equipment. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that this equipment is responsible for 5% of U.S. air pollution. Americans use about 800 million gallons of gas per year just mowing their lawns.

Yet even people who recognize the downsides of lawnmowers and chemicals continue to use them, under pressure to keep up appearances for the sake of the neighborhood. That cultural bias could change, however, in the face of serious food shortages. And while yards left to dirt and weeds may be unsightly, well-maintained permaculture gardens are aesthetically appealing without the use of chemicals or mowing. Here are a couple of examples, the first of a dacha and the second of a Pennsylvania community garden featured on the Neighborhood Gardens Trust website:

[Stephen Scott / Small Farmers’ Journal]
[Neighborhood Gardens Trust]

Homegrown Food: Organic, Non-GMO, and No Fossil Fuels Required

Local garden farming does not need chemical fertilizers or gas-guzzling machinery to thrive, as the Russian dacha farmers demonstrated.  Dr. Sharashkin wrote in his 2008 doctoral thesis:

“[T]he Soviet government had the policy of allowing dacha gardening only on marginal, unproductive, or overexploited lands that could not be used in state-run agriculture. And it is on exactly these lands that gardeners have consistently been producing large crops of vegetables and fruits ever since private gardens were re-authorized in 1941.… [M]ost of the gardeners grow their produce without chemical fertilizers.

When the practice [of industrial chemical use] subsided in the 1990s as the output of collective farming dwindled and was replaced by household production, significant abatement of environmental pollution with agrochemicals (especially that of watersheds) was observed.” [Emphasis added.]

Most of Russia’s garden produce is grown not only without agrochemicals but without genetically modified seeds, which were banned in Russia in 2016. As Mitchel Cohen reports in Covert Action Magazine, some GMO use has crept back in, but a bill for a full ban on the cultivation of genetically modified crops is currently making its way through the Duma (the ruling Russian assembly).

Growing your own food conserves petroleum resources not only because it requires no tractors or other machinery but because it needn’t be hauled over long distances in trucks, trains or ships. Food travels 1,500 miles on average before it gets to your dinner table, and nutrients are lost in the process. Families who cannot afford the healthy but pricey organic food in the supermarket can grow their own.

Prof. Sharaskin noted that gardens also have psychological benefits. He cited studies showing that personal interaction with plants can reduce stress, fear and fatigue, and can lower blood pressure and muscle tension. Gardening also reconnects us with our neighbors and the earth. Sharaskin quotes Leo Tolstoy:

“One of the first and universally acknowledged preconditions for happiness is living in close contact with nature, i.e., living under the open sky, in the light of the sun, in the fresh air; interacting with the earth, plants, and animals.”

From Crisis to Opportunity

Today, people in the West are undergoing something similar to the “rape of Russia” at the hands of financial oligarchs. Oligarchical giants like BlackRock and Blackstone come to mind, along with “the Davos crowd” – that exclusive cartel of international bankers, big businessmen, media, and politicians meeting annually at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. 

WEF founder Klaus Schwab has declared the current confluence of crises to be “a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.” It is also a rare but narrow opportunity for us, the disenfranchised, to reclaim our plundered assets and the power to issue our own money, upgrading the economy in the service of the people and reimagining food systems and our own patches of land, however small. 

For food sustainability, we can take a lesson from the successful Russian dachas by forming our own family and community food gardens. Russia has also seen the burgeoning growth of eco-villages – subsistence communities made up of multiple family cottages, typically including community areas with a school, clinic, theater, and festival grounds. Forming self-sufficient communities and “going local” is a popular movement in the West today as well. 

A corollary is the independent cryptocurrency movement. We can combine these two movements to fund our local food gardens with food-backed community currencies or cryptocurrencies. Crypto “coins” bought now would act like forward contracts, serving as an advance against future productivity, redeemable at harvest time in agricultural produce. That subject will be explored in a follow-up article, coming shortly on ScheerPost. 

Ellen Brown
Ellen Brown

Ellen Brown is a regular contributor to ScheerPost. She is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of thirteen books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book is Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age and her 400+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

47 comments

  1. Extraordinary how simple this sounds….just throw some seeds on the soil and in a few months you’ll be self sufficient in vegetables!

    My experience in 10 years of having garden beds is not being able to harvest more than a weeks worth of vegetables over the whole decade. It isn’t easy – droughts, weeds, insect pests, diseases, flooding rains, frost, winds (that blow the plants over), sun so hot it scorches the leafy plants. Every season I plant about $50-80 of vegetable seedlings and usually get produce worth around $20.

    So don’t be deceived by this seemingly simplistic solution. Its incredibly challenging to successfully grow enough vegetables to feed one person, let alone a family.

    1. What you need to look at is 21st century Aquaponic and vertical gardening using a PyraPOD in the backyard for abundant all season food harvest.

    2. I’ve had the opposite experience here in the Puget Sound area, as well as in Eastern Washington State, where is quite a big warmer. I can see how a garden might be challenging if you’re somewhere with extreme weather, like Phoenix maybe, but in most parts of the country it should be no problem — even Alaska! I don’t spend much on seeds or plants but have spent some money bringing in pickup truckloads of soil, compost, manure, etc., over the years to turn my former big lawn into a big garden. Of course it takes some effort and patience, but it is great healthful outdoor activity. And of course you have to try to do things right — read books and watch videos on gardening. I’ve had great success with tomatoes, for which I needed a makeshift greenhouse in the coolish spring here, and always have lots of kale and swiss chard, garlic, parsley, cabbage, carrots, etc. Leaf miners plagued my swiss chard and beets for a few years until I figured out how to defeat them (beneficial nematodes, diotomaceous earth). I have Italian plum, pear, and cherry trees. Best of all, I have 2 ten foot rows of raspberries that I get A LOT of delicious organic, fresh fruit from — a couple of quarts a day at the peak of the picking season. So, I agree with the article. I don’t try get all of my food from the garden, but it’s a very worthwhile supplement, well worth the effort.

    3. Thanks Pearl Red Moon, Richard and Steve, obviously quite opposite experiences with home gardening! My real hope in writing this article was just to have some influence on the public perception of lawns vs. gardens, raise awareness that we actually have a LOT of available arable land (more than Russia has in fact), and maybe possibly have some influence on getting those local laws changed that make home gardening a challenge. Plus I wanted to set up my next article, on how we can fund local food coops (and other forms of coops). It was originally part of this article, but it got too long so I had to divide it up!

      1. For law abiding citizens local ordinances forbidding bees, chickens and even front yard or street side gardens seem to be a challenge. For a person steeped in the Civil Disobedience of the 60s, it is also a challenge, but one worth the effort. To start we don’t know how well those ordinances and HOA rules are enforced. “It is better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission” is true. For bees, out of sight out of mind. I have had bees on the roof in a housing development and on a deck behind a screen in the suburbs. There are colonies kept in apartments in NYC with a sealed entrance at a window. For chickens, no roosters. Yappy dogs are tolerated but not roosters. Keep the hens in a movable coop, chicken tractor, that is elegantly designed. There are many on line. For fruit production, trees on the front lawn can be done even in a housing project with vigilant neighbors. Amazing what a few jars of home made marmalade can accomplish not to mention deliciously fresh eggs and honey. Every body knows about endangered bees so are less likely to snitch.
        I had neighbors complain about a rooster, The animal control officer was satisfied when I told him it was quickly destined for the pot. Problem solved with apologies and a small jar of honey and a thank you for a job well done.

    4. To Pearl – I suggest you improve your skills and abilities to grow your own food by learning about permaculture for the area you live in and for your climactic conditions.

      My gardens grow beautiful food, herbs and flowers, everything in balance.

  2. Thank you Ellen. Your articles on public banking and now this one about permaculture are always inspirational, informative and instructive. I live in the south of France and we use permaculture here in our garden and allotment to produce vegetables that we use and share with neighbours. I only wish that your writings had a larger audience. Good luck with all that you do, you are on the right path.

    1. The German Schreber Garten tradition goes back further than the Russian model I think. In any case, these home grown gardens are not unique to Russia. As others here have pointed out, growing food at home is not an easy task. I can also speak from experience when I say that producing enough yields to actually feed someone is a difficult task. Finding enough space, getting proper irrigation, fighting insects and animals among other things is challenging. I think it is fair to ask how practical this idea really is. However, I don’t wish to discourage anyone from planting a garden. By all means try it. You might even find a rewarding hobby.

      1. Good point. Not meaning to slight the Germans! I was just impressed with how the Russians pulled through the “rape of Russia” by returning to the land and growing their own food.

  3. A first step to solving food shortages is the repeal of the farm bill with its subsidy of concentrated animal feeding operations and crop monocultures,
    Farming the land and the lawns is to be preferred to faming the government.

  4. Kind of a shock, isn’t it; to move from a cyberspace orientation to hands on survival activity? This year at Davos the premier recommendation was to move mass minds into the digital realm and thereby modulate the coming dispossession, famine and drought. Sma-a-art! Horticulture and Georgism go together like peanut butter and fruit preserves on Paddington Bear’s sandwich. It is good for people to labor on the land if they can own the products of their labor. After all, Queen Liz has Balmoral and Sandringham.
    Imagine William and Kate stripping the sod for permaculture. And it’s gonna be bad news for the zero-turn pachas and their muscle trucks dragging rattling trailers full of financed equipment. I can’t see them digging potatoes or hilling up around corn stalks, too hard work, lazy. Maybe it’ll be a quieter week in Brevard Station (NC), my hometown. (where all the people resemble characters in a J.D. Vance novel)

  5. In the 17th Century, the English countryside enclosures created vast estates where the aristocrat’s sheep grazed the grass down to lawn-like status. This condition was a sign of prosperity as much ‘profit’ was derived from wool and mutton. I believe that the American middle class adopted their lawns in a kind of emulation of the English upperclass lifestyle, but without sheep, they had to resort to mowing machines. Who knows how strong this cultural tradition really is? Will the American petit bourgeoisie maintain this relic at the expense of his life?
    It is now vital to restore balance to our lives, and as Ms Brown proposes, changing out lawns for gardens would be a good start.
    I recently saw a film, The Biggest Little Farm, that showed a commercial transformation of the cultural agricultural norm to a balanced, organic and diverse farm. Change is not only possible, but necessary.

  6. A superb idea.

    If you’ve ever seen emerald green lawns in Las Vegas or the Jersey Shore, you’ve seen a ridiculous, harmful, toxic practice in particularly inappropriate places.

    But small-scale, personal farming makes sense in suburbia and even cities’ rooftops and balconies.

    This ties in with a way to evade and start to diminish the globally destructive animal agribusiness racket — anyone with access should watch the documentary “Eating Our Way To Extinction,” for a comprehensive overview.

    Consuming animals is THE major threat to the environment, even worse than energy production and transport.

    Plus, a vegetable-based diet avoids many of the substances that cause cancer, heart disease and accelerate aging.

    As long as uncontrolled capitalism is a major force on the planet, however, the struggle will be in vain.

    We need to overthrow and eliminate capitalist-owned governments and neoliberal capitalism — if we want humanity to survive.

  7. This is a good idea, but I don’t have the time and effort to do this, I’m too busy “hacking out” under the present system to maintain “stasis” fulfilling overhead intrinsic useless functions to keep from being “put to the curb, “but necessary under the present system. Holding three jobs doesn’t give much time to doing long term goals, such as the garden imperative, along with doing requisite administrative ministerial tasks, for example, preparing my tax filings, federal, state, and local, among many other requirements. I’m already worn out and I don’t have the luxury to “to the right” thing. Do I do required mandates or grow produce for myself in the back yard or get prosecuted for “breaking the law,” by illegally growing produce or failing to file time consuming tax documents on time?

  8. I am a lazy gardener. I like to eat delicious food but, like Maynard G. Krebs, I am allergic to work. To kill my lawn and start a garden, I gathered leaves that my neighbors so kindly bagged up for me and laid 12-18″ over the lawn. Killed the lawn and prevented weeds. Over Winter the leaves compost down. I plant starts right through the leaves. That keeps moisture in the soil. My yard in Orinda, CA was mainly adobe from the excavation of a neighbors pool before I arrived. Not the best soil to garden. The first year the roots were very shallow. They stayed where the nutrients were. I repeated that process every year. A few years after I began the soil was so rich, deep and full of worms (build it and they will come) that my son-in-law trained in ag at Rutgers exclaimed that I could sell the soil.
    I also planted many dwarf fruit trees, kept bees and chickens. The garden was mainly downhill from the house. I ran the washing machine and shower water to the trees and garden. Soil bacteria will detoxify common laundry detergents for deep rooted plants and convert it to fertilizer. I had the best persimmons in the county. Typically my neighbors gardens required watering from April when they planted to Fall when they harvested. My water usage in a 7 person household with lawn went from 1,200 gals. /day in the summer to 250 gals./day with a lush productive yard without a lawn. For Californians, water is more valuable than gold or oil.
    From that suburban neighborhood yard enough eggs, fruit, vegetables, honey, pollen, propolis, wax and chickens were produced to mostly feed that 7 person household and provide gifts for the rest of the family.
    The lazy part is that it took less time and energy to produce that food than it did to travel to the store and shop for it and to earn money to pay for it. And it was much more fun and nutritious. My neighbors loved the honey and eggs enough not to complain to the city that had ordinances against such activity. A useful and amusing thing I learned is that urine will keep the deer out of strawberries and enhance their flavor.
    Enough food is grown inside Havana to provide 60% of the food consumed in the city.

    1. Thanks for this experience. “The lazy part is that it took less time and energy to produce that food than it did to travel to the store and shop for it and to earn money to pay for it.” Very cool! 🙂

      1. I read somewhere that gardeners live 14 years longer than non gardeners. That seems a bit over stated but there is no doubt that getting your hands in good soil provides you with beneficial bacteria that can prevent all kinds of illnesses.

      2. It is very hard for people to produce enough protein and fat in a yard to live on. That said, the decrease in stress and the exercise alone will likely extend your life….

      3. Two or three eggs a day, the occasional chicken in the pot and pollen from bees can supply all the protein and fat the average person needs. Plus all the minerals and vitamins. An egg turns into a complete animal with nerves, bones, muscles, necessary organs and even a brain. A well nourished chicken egg is a near perfect food, right up there with the milk of a well nourished mother.

      4. Again, here’s a responsible author who doesn’t stand above and pontificate. She knows loving labor is the magic ingredient of domestic food cultivation. I doubt she would have written about homegrown garden successes around the planet without hands on horticultural research.
        Heirloom tomatoes, eggplant and colorful peppers (both sweet and hot) are probably part of her experience. At least it seems that way to me. Seed banking could be a productive topic. It’s all related because victory gardening is a method of healing the metabolic rift.

  9. Thank you so very much – been trying to get this across for years – will print out for county commissioners (right-wing mostly) and try to convince them that bringing in large industries is not the way to help regular. local people, that subsidizing home gardens and/or community gardens will help stave our already-serious food shortage problems…..keep up good work! …..

  10. It is extremely difficult to get good soil for a garden. I had to replace my soil 3 times to have half decent growing soil.
    And there are too many pine trees that make soil too acidic.
    Then are are bugs and insects that eat and damage the veggies.
    My apple tree has Constant feeding for squirrels.
    It is not easy or cheap for urban gardens.

  11. Have you ever tried to grow food? It’s not easy. The soil, the pests, the weather, the cost of seeds, fertilizer etc…. Don’t get me wrong any ability to make yourself more self reliant is a good thing and I encourage it. You might even be able to successfully grow some food, but in a small space it won’t be much and likely all said and done the cost in time and effort likely twice as much or more then simply buying it at the store.

    If times really do get hard and food hard to acquire, I guarantee you that the tens of millions who don’t grow food, will likely come and take yours. Especially in a country as big a moral black hole as America which is also armed to the teeth.

    Once again I point out the obvious which nobody wants to acknowledge. It is the system itself that is the problem. No real and effective solutions to our economic, social, political, and environmental problems is possible within the system. It hasn’t been possible for a long long time and it still fascinates and horrifies me how many people still don’t recognize this obvious truth.

    Your survival, your welfare and of those whom you love is dependent on bringing down the current system and replacing it with something better. Any long term effort to fix any of these innumerable symptomatic problems that stem from our corrupted system is doomed to failure, unless you address the main underlying problem that creates them all.

    How simple. How obvious. A moron should be able to see it. Yet most don’t, it doesn’t even occur to them and if you point it out, the eyes glaze over and after an uncomfortable moment of silence you will get the denial or the diversion to another topic.

    Everybody ignores, denies, avoids the main underlying source of all our evils, the system itself. Again I find that both fascinating and horrifying.

    1. i see what you mean and agree to a great extent. however, you overlook an extremely important part of the story, namely the gulo mutation.

      the gulo mutation works in the background, and almost invisible. you will have to observe carefully and do some very essential research. then you will find, that all power is based on hiding this tiny part of science, killing at least a billion people prematurely during the past eighty years.

      the gulo mutation basically does two things. first it causes all people to always be ill, because it switches off the immune system. and because it in fact represents a genetic disease, all diseases are thus only symptoms of one and the same genetic disease.
      yes indeed, the gulo mutation is the only true disease! but mind you, you are not supposed to know this!

      so the first effect of gulo is that it causes all so called “diseases”.

      the second thing is fear. humans are exceptionally prone to fear resulting in stress. stress is an animal reaction to fear. we humans are animals too, but contrary to other animals, we are subjected to the gulo mutation. this has extreme political relevance.

      when stressed, animals start producing extra ascorbate, about ten times the unstressed production. this ascorbate is needed to produce all the stress hormones to turn them into brave and strong warriors or give them wings to fly away.

      for example, take a goat. it is said to have a basic unstressed daily production of 10 grams of ascorbate and a 100 grams when stressed. the relatively high base production obviously serves the immediate hormone production, quickly needed the moment the animal perceives danger and enters a stress condition. unstressed, this 10 grams are mostly excreted with the urine.

      humans would have the same stress response, if it were not for the gulo mutation. this has totally turned off human ascorbate production. as a result, humans have to collect their ascorbate from their food. this food generally contains only milligrams of ascorbate, and this is why human stress response is doomed to fail when compared to a goat’s.

      of course, we are no goats, we have a lot of brain cells that could save us, which particularly counts for the “morons” you mention.

      by the way, your description of talking to ‘morons’ is very typical and exactly conform my own experience. but these ‘morons’ are not stupid, as people in general are not stupid. they seem to act stupid, because they are excluded from their own brains.

      within what’s left of their consciousness, they do the proper thing. unfortunately, they regress to an earlier phase of their consciousness, the one from their toddler days. so you must realize, you are effectively discussing perverted politics with a toddler. and that’s not so easy…

      the point is that the brain needs a lot of ascorbate to function, especially the rational part of it. so the moment fear strikes and stress takes over, your ascorbate level will drop to zero very quickly and mentally you return to a much earlier state of your development.

      to give you a complete nutshell, there is one more thing. the fear humans experience only seldomly originates from their five senses, as is the case with animals. so why all this stress?

      the point is, that humans may live in the real world, like animals, but just because of all these conglutinated neurons in their head actually live in a virtual world, that they build themselves over the years, based on all of their experiences with reality. usually, they even automatically perceive this virtual world as reality.

      this creates enormous possibilities to simulate the development of situations in their head and so escape possible trouble before it takes place.

      this “possible trouble” however, may create fear, which is virtual fear from something that may happen in the future, something that for the time being only exists in your head.

      crazily enough, the human physiological system will react exactly as it would on real fear, animal fear that is, connected to real danger coming in from the senses. and there the whole beautiful brain breaks down through the ascorbate depletion of real stress.

      and that is the great human tragedy, as if evolution made a terrible mistake.

      we have to fix this misery ourselves, by using our brains. the only way to accomplish this is to swallow enough ascorbate and train ourselves into virtual fear tolerance. only then, psychopaths and all their dumb plans will only be laughed at, even by true morons.

  12. Ahh, the code enforcers and planners and NIMBY stalwarts. Thousands of laws in AmeriKKKa prohibiting gardens, hens, accessory dwelling units and of course fines for grass too tall, and, yep no urban bees and permits fines tolls regs tickets fees enforcers and those majority of toy loving AmeriKKKans afraid of organics and raw milk and community supported ag. A society that throws 50 percent of good food away. A carnivore’s dillemma. Indeed.

  13. When I was a child, every neighbor on the block had a backyard garden and multiple fruit trees. Some of my earliest memories are of being in the garden, and having my own child sized garden tools.

    But no one makes a lot of money off that way of doing things, especially if people save their own seeds and make their own compost and soils. And we need to make money and be in business or (everyone’s) life isn’t worth living.

    It isn’t only the transportation that affects the environment. Our way of obtaining food requires layers and layers of environmental destruction between people and their food.

    We need someone else to grow our food, to pick it, to wash and trim and package it, and that is often a different human at each stage on commercial farms. After that, we need more humans and access to transportation infrastructure and transportation itself to a distribution hub. After that, the food is transported again to another distribution hub, and possibly a third to end up at the grocery store, which needs people and paved lots and electric power, and more transportation infrastructure connecting humans and their homes to that distribution hub.

    All that for a couple of carrots and a head of lettuce that until very recently in human existence everyone got for themselves by walking a short, usually quite enjoyable, distance from their huts that they built in a season or two, not paying a mortgage for 30 years. I built my hut in about eight years. It takes longer these days, especially if you put in running water like I did, but it can be done.

    1. Hi Tupe, I saw your comment below about the confiscation of Indian lands, but for some reason there is no “reply”button there so I’ll reply here. Yes agreed our forefathers did things that we would totally disavow today, but when I discuss the “American system,” I’m talking about the money system: issuing our own sovereign money and credit to build infrastructure, generate productivity, and become self-sufficient. That was actually a brilliant idea, and it was original and innovative. The Russians and Japanese credited it in the 19th century, and China and other Southeast Asian countries copied the Japanese.

  14. And, if you are one of the many millions of Americans who can not afford ever-more-expensive ‘home ownership’, then what?

    If you ‘rent’, a) you move more frequently. If you do work on a garden, you are more likely to lose it and have to start over with new ground. b) That assumes your landlord will allow it. And as a renter, you are at the mercy of the landlord. These days, both the landlord and rental management are likely to be big corporations. c) And, the way apartments are pushed together ever denser in more modern environments, there probably isn’t room to put a garden in among the buildings and required parking anyways. There is no space for even one more parking place, as the designer has put in as many as can fit.

    For me, the last banker crisis forced me out of the small hold I had in ‘homeowner-land’, and for the last decade I’ve been relearning what renters have to go through.

    If you can afford to rent a whole standalone house with a yard, you might be able to have a garden for one year or for a few years before your next relocation. If you have to rent an apartment from a landlord, you are probably going to lose weight if you have to rely on that window box for sustenance. You can possibly grow your own herbs though, for what that is worth.

    So when you put that expensive can of tomato sauce that was all you could afford, over those cardboard strips for dinner, you can have some fresh oregano for it.

    1. Like your avatar, Johnny Appleseed, I planted dwarf apples along a chain link fence in a housing complex. I and other renters enjoyed those apples for the two years I lived there. Those trees are still producing 8 years later and treating the renters who live there. The renters in that complex now have a community garden in common area. They had to lobby the managers to get it but they did. I like to think I was part of the inspiration for that. Keep imagining and fighting. Do not let the b***t*rds get you down.

      1. I forgot to mention that I espaliered the trees so they stayed within the fence line. Easy to do. Since I haven’t been there the trees have gone wild, but they have not been removed. The grounds keepers must like them. I repeat “Don’t ask permission. Ask forgiveness.”

      2. Anti, congratulations!
        You guys are far more skillful than me.
        I would starve if I rely on my garden.
        My $$ input is more than my veggies grown, but gardening gives me exercise and keeps some of the fat off. Insects and bugs in my garden, eat more veggies than me.

        They say only an optimist gardens and a pessimist worries of sun burn, sore muscles, bad knees, and nature’s challenges.
        Yay!! Keep digging, growing, hoping, planting!!

  15. The first and last thing to realize about food shortages is that they’ve been manufactured. Call effects of public health lockdowns and supply chain breakdowns from war and sanctions collateral damage (downright genocidal for poor and oppressed people, especially in the global south), but they’re not accidental. They’re continuing crises begun with the covid coup which have been planned by economic warfare of disaster capitalism to create opportunities for global profiteers and powermongers. Like the Davos crime gang which holds its open conspiracy meetings for world rule behind barricades and 5,000 troops and no fly zones overhead routinely patrolled by fighter jets (another sign of how seriously we should take their benevolence and humanitarianism).

    “Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.” (Henry Kissinger) All three of these are in play now. And that’s because capitalist class war has been methodically waged upon people of the world for at least the past half century of neoliberal ‘globalization’ to create the controlled infrastructure (e.g., supply chains) and unaccountable bodies of governance (e.g., WTO) enabling the WEF Great Reset to have gotten underway.

    A central planned effect/strategy of war of this ‘globalization’ and its slow motion coup to transfer wealth and power to unprecedented oligarchic rule over human economies and societies has been more radical dispossession of people’s autonomy, from national sovereignty to local self-determination. Subjected to debt regimes like any ‘third world’ country, we’re in turn besieged by bizzness managers brokering structural adjustments, free trade treaties, and cost/benefit accounting procedures for disciplining us within a technocratic state of tyranny.

    Local independence, as with food production, from this chain upon directly supplying for our own needs, let alone full human development, has long been at stake. It’s been underscored by police state agencies of public health raiding and shutting down ma-and-pa stores and citizen soup kitchens for the homeless. This level of micromanagement shows just how far down into the roots of human survival the system of psychopathy has penetrated.

    And there’s been limited impact of movements back to the land and for greater self-sufficiency as to suggest we need something more than economic alternatives, especially if these amount to nimby/yimby solutions available to relatively privileged sectors of the population whose pursuits will remain marginal and irrelevant to the juggernaut which keeps rolling over us. Indeed, some solutions, like private gardens, might even be training us to adjust to hunger-games austerity most convenient to our masters.

    Not everyone has a house, and a lawn. And not everyone has time or energy within wage slavery and prisons of precarious survival to tend their own gardens. But as they are beset by schemes of UBI linked to CBDCs and social credit scores, aren’t they also being entrapped within the same logic of rule as lays siege to our lives when it comes to sharing any resources among ourselves independent of this chain of command over humanity?

    If we’re to get down to the roots of the problems we variously face, they reveal a basic need for political movements uniting more masses of us across the atomized relations of market economies. We need to regain power to live our own lives, and at this stage of the endgame of civilization based on class rule, that calls for revolutionary alternatives.

    1. Yes agreed with all that, well said Niko. I was just impressed with the resilience the Russians showed after the 1990s “rape of Russia.” We can be resilient too. One of the three pillars of the “American system” of Alexander Hamilton/Henry Clay/Henry Carey/Abraham Lincoln was self-sufficiency — building up our own infrastructure and productivity so we wouldn’t have to be dependent on foreigners. We still have those resources and ingenuity. But agreed that in the end we will have to make some pretty revolutionary changes to come out with a system that serves fairly, securely and sustainably, “with liberty and justice for all.”

      1. “One of the three pillars of the ‘American system’ of Alexander Hamilton/Henry Clay/Henry Carey/Abraham Lincoln was self-sufficiency — building up our own infrastructure and productivity so we wouldn’t have to be dependent on foreigners. ”

        Self sufficiency sort of. Except for all that land that previously belonged to foreigners that they were standing on, and that they continued to steal for more than another century with literal extermination policies toward Native Americans, killing an estimated twelve million or more people before they were done.

        Real self sufficiency means you live within the resources you have. If they’d had anything like self-sufficiency in Hamilton’s time, the US would still be made up of thirteen states.

        All that foreign labor they were importing from Africa wasn’t exactly being self-sufficient, but it didn’t stop them from calling it that.

        All that stuff about the founding money grubbers makes better sentences than it ever did reality. I would never look to that bunch for a way to run a society.

        You always miss that part, Ellen, when you talk about how great those people were. You did it before when you wrote about the post-civil war expansion and its economic growth that was fueled by the single largest land grab in our history. You wrote about the growth, but failed to mention the land theft that made it possible. What part of nonstop slaughter of millions of people and land theft do you need explained to you in order for you grok history more realistically?

  16. Only about 50% of the families in the USA live in a house they own.
    Well over 50% of Americans live in cities and have no yards to speak of.
    As many other commenters pointed out, tenable land is at a premium in the suburbs.
    The truth is that only a fraction of Americans could currently grow enough food for themselves and their families. Growing a garden is difficult on its best day, but combine the costs of planting with Americans who are already overworked, and then factor in the weather and the fact that the planet is warming now at an alarming rate, and you see the problems.

    1. I don’t dispute that. I really wrote this to set up my next article (which was originally part of the first but it got too long), on how to fund local coops by creating our own asset-backed (food-backed) money. Plus to point out that Russians pulled out of the “rape of Russia” by becoming self-sufficient, and we actually have the land resources to do that too, assuming we wind up in the “rape of the US by the WEF” as many are predicting.

  17. So wonderful to hear positive things about Russia for a change, and all true! Thanks Ellen for putting this all together so beautifully. Note that the key to the success of the dacha and small gardens movement was free access to land. Land reform is the undiscovered revolution in America, said Theodore Roszak years ago in Person/Planet. And one way to land reform for organic agriculture and affordable housing for all is to remove taxes on labor and production and to shift the public finance base to the “commons rent” of land and natural resources. For more: https://www.theiu.org

  18. @Tupe
    According to Michael Hudson, the Americans managed to develop their economy by establishing tariffs to protect their nascent industry from British industrialists. They were successful in doing so.
    Ironically, the modern financial order with institutions like the IMF and World Bank and WTO literally prohibit all developing economies from doing the same thing.

  19. Right now if you say to Americans they should be more like Russia and plant gardens, they will scream for laws banning all edible plants from residential areas.

  20. We grow enough food in our 4 houses/acre zone to skip trips to market. Our neighbor is our obstacle excessively and vainly feeding wild animals that dig up seedlings, chew bark, peck fruits, and deposit excrement all over the place. Our only hope is enforcement of the ‘must clean excrement’ laws, and that hope is small. Clearly this is supremacist behavior against us, as the neighbor claims we are at fault for having trees in our yard, refuses to examine excrement deposits, and often lets the excrement accumulate to the point of stench. We clean excrement 3 or 4 times a week. As if 24 hours a day, 365 days a year multiple feeders 3 feet from the property line have nothing to do with it, as if the animal food is magical and does not wind up as excrement and does not increase the populations of predatory rodents and birds (species such as are commonly observed around trash cans in parks). There is community support for our predicament, but not from the public sector. Green New Deal jobs would include adjacent land use mediation along with professional help for serious backyard food gardeners

  21. I quit the corporate rat race 30 years ago to pursue a sustainable life style on my own plot of land in a remote part of the country. We have been self-sufficient in vegetables, fruits, marmalade, herbal teas, eggs, etc., for many years. I decided early on that I wouldn’t get into animal husbandry, so we have to buy meat, cheese, etc. I tried growing wheat, but it’s just too much trouble on a small scale, so we keep on buying rice, bread, flour, etc. We also have our own stones and clay for earth buildings and more than enough wood for heating. I do some freelance work to keep on paying the bills, but we need a lot less money than we did living in the city.

    There are all kinds of permaculture models, and the like; however, in the end you have to find your own way of cultivation that’s suitable to your plot of land. It has taken a lot of trial and error, but horses couldn’t drag me back to the city. Living on your own land is just so much better than city life. Freedom takes on a whole new meaning. There is also the freedom to live with less.

    What worries me is climate change. We have had 3 very dry years in a row. Today, we only have about 20% of the water we had when I started 30 years ago.

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