away from starvation
For the last two years I have been saying this as part of my regular classes at The Old Smithy, here in Rutland, and whenever I can shoe-horn it into 'away-days' - talks and demonstrations.
With the *German Government advising its population to stock up on food, water and cash just seven days ago, and now the **Czech Government is doing the same it may be too late to publish this blog but better late than never I suppose.
We are isolating ourselves from our European allies just at the point when we may need them the most - it depends on where the threat is coming from. I do not intend to get all political here but I have been repeating and repeating - usually to be met with incredulous dismay at best, and concern over my mental health at worse - that we are nine meals away from starvation in our island idyll. "How so?" you cry?
Well, I hope you are sitting comfortably now, because you probably won't be quite so comfortable by the time I have explained. Since before the last war, we have been at levels of between 50-90% imported food into this country. So, straight away, if we have to close our borders for any reason, our food will reduce quite quickly by that amount. We don't seem to have learned very much from the lessons of the last war it seems. We came very close to a border closure during the ebola crisis and the thing is, I realise we have 24/7 shopping but those shelves would very soon empty during any type of alarm. We would panic buy, we would not care that we should leave enough to go round, we would smugly stockpile and those that could afford to would have the most. It is human nature.
If the shelves could not be re-stocked because the huge hubs in the Midlands were also empty - and now there are no imports to re-stock them, what would we have to fall back on? Nine meals away from starvation?
What do you have in your freezer? Some oven chips, a pizza, fish fingers, beefburgers, ice-cream - maybe a cake, a few ready meals? What else? Perhaps some mince. a chicken? Store cupboard? Baked beans, tinned tomatoes, sweetcorn maybe - anything else? Tinned soup, packet sauces, biscuits, crisps, boil in the bag rice, pasta? Ketchup, beer, fizzy drinks, tea, coffee, sugar, gluten free options, fat free options, vegetarian options . . . is there anything there that could sustain you over a period of time longer than two weeks?
I know I am generalising but this really needs to be thought about - not just for an emergency but for our every day well being. What are we feeding ourselves on? What do we know about our food, what is in it.
When I have classes here people are genuinely astonished at the variety of preserves that are easy to make and keep food almost indefinitely at ambient temperature, no chilling or freezing. If you understand the principles of preserving your own food, food that you buy at markets or supermarkets, or food that you forage - be it urban or rural, then you stand a very much better chance of having control over the food that you choose to put into your and your family's bodies. To nourish them, to support their health, to save you money. It is very easy to do. It does not require special weird ingredients that you have to send away for, it does not rely on special equipment. We can all do it at whatever age - it is never too late to learn.
Just as we are going to be alone in Europe - we stand alone as the only European country who has abandoned any form of food preservation in the home - which is utter madness for an island race. Whatever their own speciality or local delicacy, every other country ensures that knowledge is not lost but is passed on from one generation to the next. We have pushed all of that aside as being old fashioned. We have freezers and 24/7 shopping - that is what smart, sophisticated social urbanites do, we don't waste precious time over food, we have smart restaurants to go to of every possible persuasion. We can take-out, take-in, heat up and open boxes. We watch a lot of food though, and read about it in books and magazines. We sometimes make it for Christmas - its traditional.Granted there are a few wierdos at the edges (me!) who fly the flag but we are mostly treated with benign resignation if not outright in-your-face laughter. Nice to take home a jar of jam or two but don't let her get started on the crap that we are sold as 'food'.
"But I know how to do these things Rosie" I hear you indignantly splutter. Good for you. Now show someone else. And quickly - better still show a group of people. Have jam making days, or chutney-fests, whatever. Just do something. We haven't time to hope that preserving your own food will become 'cool' or be given a 'bake-over'. That would be great but in the meantime the clock is ticking and I haven't even asked if you know how to clean yourself, your family, and your home without all of the toxic sprays and chemicals that we won't be able to buy, come the revolution.
Just give it some thought and make adjustments while you still can.
** channel CT24