Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Month Without Hannaford

Yeah, yeah...I know. It's been four years since I've posted here but, well, I've been busy. And I'm posting now. Not because I'm less busy but because I'm undergoing a challenge that I feel the need to write about. This blog will provide me with a therapeutic purge every few days this month. Because I'm doing something drastic.
I'm forcing my family of five, with two teens and a pre-teen, to endure a month of "making do" with what we've got in the house for food. I'm going to see if I can really and truly not pay a single visit to a grocery store for one month. My rules are simple. Animal food doesn't count, obviously. I can get that at Tractor Supply, so no need for Hannaford for the doggie kibble. Also, I won't cancel the milk-man. Maybe that's cheating a little bit, but I don't want to risk my relationship with his business and I'm assuming he likes, (maybe even needs?), to keep his customers. So, he stays. Each week we'll get milk delivered. I have one very big order from him which includes cheeses, yogurt, and eggs coming next week but after that I'll stick to just milk.
Years ago, just after 9/11 I guess, when my children were very little, I decided that having a goodly supply of food on hand might not be such a bad idea. Shortly after that national tragedy we had several personal events that reinforced that thinking. The first was that my father-in-law and father died three months apart. The second was that I got the flu which turned into a six week bout of pneumonia, and the last was that my husband was let go from his job of 25 years. These events; national and personal tragedy and illness, made it very clear to me that there actually were times in your life when you might not be able to get to a grocery store.
Thanks to a mom who paved the way, I had been gardening and canning and preserving for years by that time, but hadn't really thought of it in terms of "what if you really NEED this food?" It was always just an exercise that I engaged in without deeply thinking about it. 9/11 and the subsequent chain of events changed that for me. It was as if the world was suddenly brought into ultra-sharp focus and I began to read and think and read and think some more. I mainly studied history, resource use and its relationship to conflict, the reasons for the rise and fall of civilizations, the role of government; both domestic and foreign in resource use and how we respond as societies to catastrophes. This naturally led to my wondering about how we could best weather any bit of nastiness that we might encounter both as a nation and as a family in a community. Whether tragedy is inflicted upon us by nature or man doesn't really matter, does it? What matters is the response.
This exploration took some time and energy, as you can imagine. The conclusions that I have reached are not dire, nor are they Pollyanna-ish. It's easy to get caught up in the doomsday scenarios and join the Chicken Little paradigm, but I think it's not quite like that. And I definitely don't think it's a productive use of our time. I do think, it's true, that resources ARE limited. I do think that the Wall Street Journal is really just selling a fantasy of savvy marketing, when they publish articles like "The Scarcity Fallacy", as they did a week or so ago. They want us to believe that there will always be enough because that MAKES MONEY. And that's their business. Hey, I have no problem with money. I do have a problem with lies, however, and I do have a problem with denial. There needs to be an attitude of stewardship toward all of our resources, and pretending that isn't so by publishing articles to the contrary in such a widely read newspaper (which is owned by whats-his-name, Murdoch, by the way) is irresponsible. But I digress.
In the early to mid 2000s, I realized that I had been engaged in what is now referred to as "prepping", only I didn't call it that. Heck, I didn't call it anything. It was just a part of my regular life. Do two major grocery shopping trips a month and at each of those trips, buy a little extra. Put it in the freezer. The pantry. Always have some extra. It got be a little game with my husband and I where he would say something like, "uh oh, you're slipping. There's only one extra container of baking powder in the pantry." Eventually, I began looking around the web and found that I was absolutely not alone in what I was doing. That, in fact, there was an entire culture of "putting up" and "prepping" that people had been practicing for decades! I was just late to the party! As an aside, one fantastic resource for food storage has been the Mormon church. I know of a wonderful lady who is a pro at this and I encourage you to read Brandy's words of wisdom at her blog;
So, here I am. 2014. With what looks like a ton of food in the house! But is it? Is it really? How long can it really last? And will I panic as the pantry shelves start to get empty? When we've eaten the last can of butter beans? And how will I do this without white or brown rice? I only have sushi rice in the house right now. And what about kid's lunches? And what if the arugula and lettuce don't mature quickly enough to be eaten in the next several weeks? No fresh produce? Argh! And what about those hens who sometimes just stop laying? Well, we're about to find out the answers to all of those questions!
I'll post updates here and if you are interested, post a comment. Either here or on my Facebook page. I'd love to hear what you think and whether you are willing to try this experiment as well.

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