Sunday, March 02, 2008


I am often asked by the few people I spend any time with, mostly coworkers, why I bake my own bread, plant a garden, preserve my own food, use sourdough starter to bake with, and in general be as self sufficient as I can be. The simple answer is "It is in my blood". I grew up on five acres where we grew a large garden, raised chickens and ducks for eggs and food, had milk cows for part of the time, and spent every fall preserving what we grew and what we foraged. My father hunted and fished year round and we ate wild game if we had to.

In truth the answer is a little more complicated than that. Yes, being self sufficient is a trait I was raised to have but I see the need for self sufficiency more today than ever before. I see signs of economic distress all around me. Companies are closing up shop and moving to countries where they can pay their employees less money and where environmental restrictions are less strict. More and more people are using the Food Bank to supplement their grocery shopping every month. Most people are in debt far and above their income.

So many people do not know where their food comes from and those who do, know it as a dim memory of talk of farms and happy animals in animated cartoons from Disney. If the economy takes a complete downturn, and food becomes scarce, I fear the majority of the population will be starving within a matter of weeks if not days.

During the Depression people were without work, food, and shelter. Even people who seemed to be stable soon found themselves cinching their belts a little tighter and loosing hope. During the last world war rationing was put into place to feed the troops but still keep the population fed. Being able to grow a garden sometimes meant the difference between lean meals and starvation in both of these cases.

My knowledge of gardening, preserving food, and cooking using staples that were commonly available during those lean times, will allow me to feed my family and maybe even a few of my neighbours if they are not capable of feeding themselves. It may be a boring diet, eating the same things every day, but we won't go hungry.

But preparation doesn't end in the kitchen. Both PeterC and myself are trying to learn as many skills as possible so that if the need arises we can take care of ourselves, be it field first aide, emergency shelter, or saving ourselves if the calvary is busy somewhere else. Think about everything you buy at a store and see if you can figure out how to produce it yourself or, better yet, if it is something you can live without. You don't have to live like the Amish or be a Luddite but you can try to learn now, before you are forced to learn later.

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