Well, what's a 7 year old to do about such things? I promptly retreated into fantasy by creating my Nuclear Island (after reading Swiss Family Robinson). This was the island that my family and friends would retreat to in the event of a nuclear holocaust, where we would be safe and protected. It would have a handy protective shield around it (think Starship Enterprise) to keep out the nuclear fallout and automatically filter the rain.
I made lists of people who could come to the Island. I usually limited them to 100 people, which was about all the people I knew in the world. To help me fall asleep, I made mental lists of people who would be invited. Much more helpful than counting sheep. Comforting.
I also drew a great map of the Island. I made a neighborhood, with little houses for everyone and a street that only connected the houses. What else was essential for my Island? Well, obviously a library, and maybe a bookstore too. I think I put in a Big Splash water park (Why not? It's my Island). But what makes me laugh now is the fact that I put a GROCERY STORE on the island.
As a 7 year old, I had no concept of how food came into existence. From my perspective, food came from the grocery store. Where did it come from before the grocery store? Well, that wasn't ever a question that occured to me. I mean, my family did have a garden. But that grew tomatoes. Everything else came from the grocery store. Even if I thought about it, I wouldn't know how ice cream or pasta was "grown" and then manufactured.
So folks, this is what we're dealing with. Those of us in the permaculture/peak oil/climate change/foodie mini-subculture sometimes forget about the wider group of people out there. There are literally millions of people in America who don't cook for themselves (beyond packaged or frozen entrees), much less grow any of their food. People who don't know that apples grow on trees and potatoes come from the ground. People who don't know that meat is made from animals. Their knowledge comes from our failing public schools and from television, neither of which discuss much about food except that it's making us all fat.
So when we talk about the People of America growing their own food, or even just their own fruits and vegetables, understand we're talking about people who are going to need A LOT of support. People are going to need to know what soil and seeds are. How to use a shovel and a hoe. What and when and where and how to plant. What types of fruits and vegetables will grow in their climate. How to weed and mulch and water. How to protect from bugs and other critters. How to harvest and preserve and process and cook and bake. Literally everything, starting with the fact that food is grown from plants or taken from animals.
Oops! I almost forgot: How to stretch before gardening so you don't throw out your back on the first day of spring. Very important.
Growing food in a garden, in my experience, is not easy. Maybe some things are easy, depending on your climate. But it takes several years to figure out the basics, build soil, make some mistakes and learn some lessons, and get some understanding of what grows well where you are. And what makes it hard is that everything grows differently! Carrots don't grow like tomatoes, which don't grow like apples, which don't grow like spinach. Surprise, surprise. :) Basically, the average person just can't grow all of their fruits and vegetables, no matter how hard they try, in the first year or two of gardening.
So put that idea in the back of your mind and let it sit there for awhile. I will be, as I try to figure out how we're going to go from a system where about 2% of the people grow all of the food for everybody, using tractors and combines and industrial-sized everything, to a system where a lot more people will have to grow at least some of their own food.
In 1840, 69% of the American population was counted as part of the farm labor force. In 1990, it was 2.6%. That's an enormously huge change, and we're going to need lots of somebodies showing everyone else the way if we're going to reverse course.