Food Security

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FOOD SECURITY With our growing population, globally and locally, food security becomes a serious issue. Food security and sustainability are at an all-time low in Arizona (Nabhan 2003:1). Our current globalized food system is not sustainable or beneficial to the community. Food security implies access by all people at all times to enough safe and nutritious food for them to lead active, healthy lives (Nabhan 2003:1). Levels of food insecurity are higher in Arizona than the national average, and Arizona’s population is growing by and estimated 150,000 people per year (Nabhan 2003:2). In order for food production to be sustainable it must not significantly deplete the soil, water, energy, biodiversity or human communities. Unfortunately, states have yet to implement sustainable food production policies. Since 1950 the number of farms in Arizona has dropped by 36%, but the number of cattle have increased by 22,000 (Nabhan 2003: 8). The drop in food producing land is do to poor land and water policies that focus more on urban expansion, and means Arizonans are more dependent upon distant sources where the environmental conditions are not well-known by the public. However, an interesting and positive statistic showed that 100% of Arizonans surveyed said they would purchase locally-produced food if it were more accesible (Nabhan 2003: 11). The state needs to implement policies and practices that promote Arizona-grown food products for Arizona residents, increase Arizona’s food security and sustainability through the department of agriculture, shift funds from homeland security to sustainable agriculture and sustainable water use, develope meat processing facilities so that Arizona-produced beef is packaged and distributed near where it is produced, and promote consumer education that makes clear the economic, environmental social and health benefits of eating fresh local food, provide tax incentives to farmers who implement water conservation strategies, target low-income and reservation communities to further food-producing small businesses, and provide farmers and ranchers with incentives to reduce pesticide use while attempting to increase the diversity of desert-adapted crop varieties and livestock breeds (Nabhan 2003: 17).     These policies are especially important to the flagstaff community because of the draw of tourists by the Grand Canyon. In fact, some business establiments have implemented ‘local” as their theme. Diablo burger is on such restaurant who gets its meat from the Diablo Trust. The Diablo Trust is a collaboration of land and resource owners and managers, directors, staff, students and members of non-ownership land resource agencies and institutions and other participants. The Mission Statement of the Diablo trust is to “ensure the long-term economic, social and ecological sustainability of the Diablo Trust land area by providing a forum for active community participation in a collaborative sewardship process.” The Diablo Trust is comprised of ranchers of the Bar T Bar and Flying M ranches, federal and state agency personel, environmentalists, scientists and other environmentally-concious citizens. The land area begins at Diablo Canyon watershed and ranges from eastern desert grasslands at 5,100 ft, through east-central shrub grasslands, central woodland grasslands, forest, riparian canyons up to 7600 ft. The goals of Diablo trust are to sustain open space, sustain biological diversity, sustain multiple-generation stewards, produce high-quality food, protect watersheds, restore historic grasslands and enhance wildlife corridors, and achieve a community of place (www.diablotrust.org). Such a working endeavor is a positive example for the community and others. By using the land with its well-being in mind this type  of agricultures proves that are capable of supporting our needs and livlihoods in a sustainable manner. This must become the standard form of agriculture and economy if we are to leave our future generations a diverse ecological landscape that is still capable of providing sustinence for the people who live with it.







The current challenges human beings face in relation to our changing environment are substantial. In order to keep our world from collapsing in upon itself while solving the conflicts an exponentially growing human population inflicts upon its environment and fellow human beings we must shift our ethical paradigm from its current state to one that is compatible with the needs of the environment and eachother. All people maintain similar ehtical universalities and the environmentally-centered values we need to adopt are present in the world. Sustainable developement is a major factor in the world today and will continue to grow as time goes on. Sustainable development requires a significant change to philosophical and religious attitudes. The Western world needs to shift its awareness from anthropocentrism to one that is ecocentric. A sustainable society cannot be achieved without fundamental changes in our basic thinking, ethical values, morals and religious beliefs. In this paper I will focus on the environmental impacts of human activity here on the Colorado plateau that relate to food security and present some positive actions some communities have become involved with with an ecocentric attitude.     The Colorado plateau is situated in a region that makes it suseptible to unusual climate fluctuations (Schwinning et al. 2008:1). Humans have lived on the Colorado plateau for nearly ten-thousand years, but occupation has never been continuous and it appears that the first farmers of the region were forced to abandon the area due to a prolongued drought. Humans returned to the Colorado plateau in the 1800s as Anglo farmers. They brought sheep and cattle and began dry-farming. Currently we are experiencing a drought, something ranching and farming are extremely vulnerable to. This region has experienced vaying years of wetness and dryness, and it is unfortunate that the estimated water production allocation under the Colorado River Compact was established in the 1920s when the Colorado river volume was at its highest (http://pubs.water.usgs.gov/fs). It was during this time that ranching and farming expanded greatly in the region. Now almost ninety percent of the Colorado Plateau is used by the rranching industry, though the numbers of cattle are much lesser than they were in the early twentieth century (Schwinning et al. 2008:7). The impact of cattle grazing has seriously affected the ecosystems of the Colorado Plateau and left many native plants unable to compete with exotic grass species. It has been the policy of the western untited states to encourage extractive ranching and farming policies beyond ecologically sustaining levels. Currentlt, more people than ever live on the Colorado Plateau, but our livlihoods depend upon our ability to maintain our resources, most importantly water.     Grazing on the Colorado Plateau has been a subject of debate since it began. John Muir was opposed to it, but the Forest Service supported it (Bradford et al. 2002:1). It is not rational to believe than ranching will cease in the region, but it is plausible that ranching strategies and policies can adapt sustainable measures. The Forest Service has established a range management program which emphasizes the management of range vegetation, protection of soil and water resources and ecological diversity as well as contribute to the economic and social well-being of people by providing stability for communities that depend on range resources for their livlihoods (Bradford et al. 2002: 2). Grazing by domesticated livestock should be based on plants’ livlihood needs for the plant to sustain itself. It is inevitable that plants grazed too often will be depleted or wiped out. If ranchers manage their cattle effectively by grazing them for short times in areas where there is an excess amount of vegetation, it is less likely for native plant species to be over-grazed. In effect, livestock grazing is the form of agriculture with the lowest ecological impact if done correctly.     With our growing population, globally and locally, food security becomes a serious issue. Food security and sustainability are at an all-time low in Arizona (Nabhan 2003:1). Our current globalized food system is not sustainable or beneficial to the community. Food security implies access by all people at all times to enough safe and nutritious food for them to lead active, healthy lives (Nabhan 2003:1). Levels of food insecurity are higher in Arizona than the national average, and Arizona’s p0pulation is growing by and estimated 150,000 people per year (Nabhan 2003:2). In order for food production to be sustainable it must not significantly deplete the soil, water, energy, biodiversity or human communities. Unfortunately, states have yet to implement sustainable food production policies. Since 1950 the number of farms in Arizona has dropped by 36%, but the number of cattle have increased by 22,000 (Nabhan 2003: 8). The drop in food producing land is do to poor land and water policies that focus more on urban expansion, and means Arizonans are more dependent upon distant sources where the environmental conditions are not well-known by the public. However, an interesting and positive statistic showed that 100% of Arizonans surveyed said they would purchase locally-produced food if it were more accessible (Nabhan 2003: 11). The state needs to implement policies and practices that promote Arizona-grown food products for Arizona residents, increase Arizona’s food security and sustainability through the department of agriculture, shift funds from homeland security to sustainable agriculture and sustainable water use, develope meat processing facilities so that Arizona-produced beef is packaged and distributed near where it is produced, and promote consumer education that makes clear the economic, environmental social and health benefits of eating fresh local food, provide tax incentives to farmers who implement water conservation strategies, target low-income and reservation communities to further food-producing small businesses, and provide farmers and ranchers with incentives to reduce pesticide use while attempting to increase the diversity of desert-adapted crop varieties and livestock breeds (Nabhan 2003: 17).     These policies are especially important to the flagstaff community because of the draw of tourists by the Grand Canyon. In fact, some business establishments have implemented ‘local” as their theme. Diablo burger is on such restaurant who gets its meat from the Diablo Trust. The Diablo Trust is a collaboration of land and resource owners and managers, directors, staff, students and members of non-ownership land resource agencies and institutions and other participants. The Mission Statement of the Diablo trust is to “ensure the long-term economic, social and ecological sustainability of the Diablo Trust land area by providing a forum for active community participation in a collaborative stewardship process.” The Diablo Trust is comprised of ranchers of the Bar T Bar and Flying M ranches, federal and state agency personnel, environmentalists, scientists and other environmentally-conscious citizens. The land area begins at Diablo Canyon watershed and ranges from eastern desert grasslands at 5,100 ft, through east-central shrub grasslands, central woodland grasslands, forest, riparian canyons up to 7600 ft. The goals of Diablo trust are to sustain open space, sustain biological diversity, sustain multiple-generation stewards, produce high-quality food, protect watersheds, restore historic grasslands and enhance wildlife corridors, and achieve a community of place (www.diablotrust.org). Such a working endeavor is a positive example for the community and others. By using the land with its well-being in mind this type of agriculture proves that are capable of supporting our needs and livelihoods in a sustainable manner. This must become the standard form of agriculture and economy if we are to leave our future generations a diverse ecological landscape that is still capable of providing subsistence for the people who live with it.