Interest Approach: Food Insecurity and Why We Teach Agriculture

September 13, 2017

Interest Approach: Food Insecurity and Why We Teach Agriculture

On the Ag Ed Discussion Group, Kraig Bowers brought up a series of statistics to highlight food insecurity around the world. While quite troubling to realize, the reason why we teach agriculture is to educate students to a level that allows them to be free of poverty and food insecurity. However, the question secure are we when it comes to food?

If the big sister of all hurricanes, we'll call her Irma-zilla, scrapes her way across the continental U.S. flooding a majority of fields, roads, and buildings what would any of us do for food? It is far fetched but the notion shouldn't be completely disregarded. Look at what the boll weevil did to king cotton in the southeastern U.S. and what the potato famine did in Ireland. A wheat blight or corn plague would force us into similar dire straits in very short order and then what? Are we as resilient as our grandparents when it comes to growing our own food?

Your male, teenage students will say, "We'll hunt until things get better." While they are being resourceful they are short sighted. There's over 320 million people in the U.S. who need 3 meals a day, or at least 1 meal a day. We'd hunt game species into extinction long before sustainable food was available once more. What if instead we chose not to loot the big box stores and instead rush the feed and seed stores of the nation to pick up all the garden seeds we can. How many of us could grow a manageable crop? Beyond that, how many of us could preserve the harvest to last until another crop is grown? Enter the homesteaders. Probably the only true food secure citizens in our nation.

We are only 2 generations away from a majority of the U.S. being sustainable farmers. What we call homesteaders today. Most families would grow crops for themselves, their livestock, or stored for some time down the road. Anything extra was sold locally for some cash. Even back then, if their crop was sub-par or just completely trashed then they could scrape up enough cash to buy some food, scavenge the local flora for some life sustaining food, or certainly trade with their neighbors to get by.

That brings us to the question students ask the most..."Why do we need agriculture?". Because when things go sideways, we will have to rely only on our knowledge and skill to survive. That's short-term and long-term. The supply chain is only as good as all the links in that chain. If the transportation link goes out, then you no longer can get crops out of the field, sent to the mill, or even made available to sale. That only requires our fuel supply to stop. The same is true for electricity or our water supply infrastructure.

So as an interest approach, if Irma-zilla struck tomorrow and our food supply was shattered for at least a year how would each of them and their families get by? You can't eat money and tree leaves just aren't that tasty. What would they do?

This is not designed to strike fear in the hearts of students, but simply help them understand that when you break down life to our basic needs, agriculture is what keeps us alive on a daily basis but we currently rely on a lot of things to go right to make that happen. But when you rely on someone else to buy food from and that's no longer an option and how will they get their food?

Food for thought and we'd love to hear any novel approaches or even some naivety from your students. Feel free to email me at or check us out on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Have a great day.


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