Its being the dark and chilly month of November, and with the results of a recent election still weighing on my mind, I’ve been thinking, again, about what I would do if the world were to suddenly change. I wouldn’t call myself a “prepper,” that is, I haven’t stocked my basement with dry goods, barrels of water, and medical supplies to last a decade or more, though I can understand that impulse in hard times.
We may never be mentally prepared for the unexpected, but I do think it’s wise to consider a few things that previous generations would have likely taken as givens when it came to their food:
1. Know your food source.
Not always an easy task these days with the industrialization of our food supply, but necessary in the event of supply disruption from crop failure due to climate change, disease outbreak, or economic fluctuation (many of those trade deals you’ve been hearing about involve our food). If there were a crisis, Nova Scotia, like most places, has only a few days’ worth of food stored up to feed its citizens since we rely on food imports. As much as possible, strive to buy local food: support our growers and the local economy while reducing food’s carbon footprint.
2. Faraway food could soon get really expensive.
Sure, gas is cheap right now, but it won’t always be. Last year’s uproar over ten-dollar cauliflower was the first time many of us were confronted with the true cost of imported food, a luxury that in future years many of us will not be able to afford. Add in concerns over the environmental cost of transporting food thousands of miles to our grocery stores, and you can see why buying local should be the rule rather than the exception. A recent study on food miles done by Marla MacLeod and Jen Greenberg of the Ecology Action Centre asks us to consider our eating habits: a breakfast of oatmeal topped with blueberries, honey or maple syrup, and apple juice uses a fraction of the food miles of the same meal consisting of commercial breakfast cereal made of corn, rice or exotic grain, with orange juice.
3. What if the grocery store were empty when you got there?
This is an extreme scenario, but not beyond the range of possibility. Our grandparents endured food shortages and rationing during the Great Depression and World War 2, and there’s nothing to say we won’t, too.
Consider changing your shopping habits: instead of several weekly trips to the stores, plan to have the ingredients for many meals already in the house. Buy in bulk and in season where possible from farmers’ markets, and join a bulk buyers’ group for staples like flour, dried beans, grains, and pasta. Borrow a pressure canner from a wise friend, and learn to put down some veggies, meats, soups, and stocks for a rainy day.
Do you know how to bake bread, make meals from non-processed ingredients, or grow vegetables from seed? Self-sufficiency is more than a useful life skill; it saves us money, doesn’t benefit big corporations, and makes us accountable for what we put in our and our kids’ bodies.
Now’s the time to learn these skills (stay tuned…!)