Saturday, 26 November 2016

Homeland security planning: what victory gardens and Fidel Castro can teach us in preparing for food crises in the United States.


Author information

  • 1University of Illinois, USA.


Two historical examples provide important insight into how federal government policies can integrate regional and local food systems to achieve food security during a time of acute crisis. During World War II, American home gardeners, through the federal government's Victory Garden program, supplied 40 percent of the nation's fresh produce, while simultaneously maintaining pre-war commodity production policies favoring large agricultural interests. The recent food crisis in Cuba, precipitated by the collapse of Soviet-bloc trade in the early 1990s, is another historical example that could inform U.S. policymakers on how to achieve food self-sufficiency through reemphasis on small farmers using sustainable practices supplemented with urban gardening. This article aims to ignite government action to strengthen and integrate regional and local food systems into federal food security planning so that citizens can be best prepared for a food emergency. The article first examines laws, regulations and policies put in place during World War II that employed regional and local food networks to satisfy a significant amount of civilian food supply needs. The article also looks at more recent Cuban efforts to achieve forced food self-reliance when, after the end of the Cold War, Soviet subsidies and preferential trading of energy and food supplies ceased almost overnight.