The next post will be after the election–thank God. I’m not sure I can deal with any more of it. The sheer amount of hyperbole, misinformation, bad thinking, and other similar dreck is all but overwhelming.
Everybody remember to get out there and vote, if you haven’t already. (If you have, good on you!) I don’t know that we’ve ever been quite this close to electing a “strongman” or quasi-fascist, and I’d like to get this behind us as quickly as possible. (The better to move on to dealing with the aftermath, whichever way it goes.)
I’ve been thinking lately on food. Local food, specifically, and particularly as it pertains to long-term emergency food supplies and survival.
I don’t think many people–even (especially?) the die-hard survivalists out there–really consider just how much food is brought from just how far away. And it seems like most of that sort of thinking shows up as “I’ll just get a ‘big bucket-o-survival-seeds’ and grow a garden.”
Now, I’m all about the garden. We’ve got one, and are always looking for ways to improve it (this year, we weed-blocked most of it, raised the beds for the part we left open, and added some soil). We’ve got more garden square footage than some of my acquaintances have in their apartments. And yet, we couldn’t support ourselves for a year on just our garden and orchard harvest. Heck, even if “allowed” to buy (and/or hunt) our meat, I don’t think we could do it–it would be a spare living, at best. Some of the basics take up lots of room.
Take wheat, for instance. I know that a lot of survivalists go the “55-gallon drum of wheat berries” route, figuring they’ll mill their own flour with a hand-cranked grinder. That’s all well and good, but: 1) it takes a lot of work, and more than a little bit of wheat, to make enough flour for one loaf of bread; 2) it’ll be whole-wheat flour, and probably relatively coarsely ground, which will drastically change its properties in dough; and 3) when it’s gone, it’s gone. And sure, you can take some and plant it, to grow more wheat–but that takes quite a bit of time, and space, and effort. (Ask me how I know…)
Even if we assume (as I like to do) a “long collapse,” you’ll probably stop getting imports pretty quickly, followed very shortly by anything that has to travel any great distance at all. Call it a couple hundred miles, at first–let’s say 300, just to give it a round number. What grows within 300 miles of you? Could you live on just that? Could you grow whatever else you’d need, to supplement?
These are some troubling things to contemplate–or they should be, at any rate. But it’s a situation not too far removed from us. At the turn of the last century, it would have been closer to “normal” than not. But then, things have changed drastically since then…
During the Civil War, the breadbasket of the Union–literally, where their wheat (whence flour, whence bread) came from was Maine. That ended not too long afterwards, as wheat growing moved further and further west. But even as recently as the early 1900’s, for most of the country, if you didn’t grow your own wheat, you knew–or at least could name–the person who grew it for you. And many many many towns had their own mills. Ditto this situation across a wide variety of foodstuffs: vegetables, fruit, eggs. Dairy. Heck, even beer. We’ve moved away from this, and it’s not necessarily a good thing. Perhaps we should think about how to get back…
(Yes, for the curious, I was put on this particular mental track by a book: The New Bread Basket, by Amy Halloran. It’s an entertaining read, if a bit “fluffy” at times–but, reading between the lines, very thought-provoking.)
What are you doing, if anything, to make your food local again? What do you suppose we as a society should do, to help bring that about? (Or, contrariwise, do you think we shouldn’t bother?)