Thursday, 14 July 2011

trouble in store

I’ve started to store food. I feel slightly embarrassed to admit this, because it’s  not normal behaviour. Last year our family waterproofed our under-street coal hole, turning it into a dry, cool store for both fresh and dry food. In the autumn I stored 12 squashes from the six plants on my allotment. This year I’m growing 15 squash plants for the winter store: Uchiki Kuri, Potimarron, Turk’s Turban, Butternut, Crown Prince. They’re as exotic to eat as they sound, making golden, warming, nutty soups and pies all winter. 

But why, when you can simply feed your family for fifty quid from the supermarket? Because big change is ahead andThe World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Assessment shows that the greatest risks facing us in the coming decade are climate change, ‘extreme energy price volatility’ and fiscal crises. Some say that high food prices are here to stay. I’m not saying that we’re going to go hungry in the south east of England, but I do want to live in a world where responsibility for feeding ourselves doesn’t lie with multinationals; I want to get more food skills under my belt; and  as food prices rise and our income is vulnerable, we might just be happy to have some hearty food to hand.

So, it’s time to get resilient, no matter that the politicians, corporations and popular media would prefer us to be shopping. Over recent months I’ve deliberately created more time for growing food and learning how to preserve it. I’m growing most of our vegetables for about ten months of the year from my allotment (apart from potatoes, onions and carrots, which can be grown in fields and stored in sacks in my basement). Now, as summer brings abundance, I spend some time each day growing, harvesting, drying, pickling, fermenting, freezing and storing.

And I’m about to take another step: next time I put in my bulk order with Infinity Foods, instead of a five kilo bag, I’m going to order a whole sack each of rice (25kg for £28), chick peas (£35) and lentils (£36) – all from Europe - and I’m going to store them in our food store. I know that I’m only as resilient as my neighbours are, and I'm not planning on defending my stash. Maybe I’m mad, or a decade ahead of my time; maybe in ten years our town will have a huge food store under the castle. Who knows. But my gut is telling me to do this and it feels really good.


Olly Davey said...

nice piece. kind of a squirrel instinct :-)

the second of the 7 Japanese 'Wastes' or Muda, is "inventory". That is holding materials, work in progress or finished goods, without adding any value.

one might chose to do this when you could not rely on obtaining the goods later when you wanted them.

any comments?

adrienne campbell said...

Interesting idea Ollie, can you give an example relating to food storing?

Mark Watson said...

Spot on Adrienne and definitely not mad (probably a bit before your time, though). I love those big sacks of grains and pulses. We joined a buying group here in the Waveney Valley recently - our first order of Suma millet and rice flakes has kept us going for several months already and was probably half the shop price. I don't know, those large sacks, they do give a sense of security (dare I use that word?), don't they..?

adrienne campbell said...

lovely to hear from you, Mark. yes, bulk buying is so much cheaper than supermarkets and I do feel secure when there's four months' worth of food in, on and under the cupboards!

ensouled said...

Thanks Adrienne for this piece. when I read it this question immediately arise:

How about those who want to grow but don't have access to land?

but it is an old and well argued problem.

happy growing,


adrienne campbell said...

Hi Pupak. If that's the case, that person (you?) should put the maximum pressure on the local authority to provide them with land, and failing that perhaps link up with a farmer or a group or someone with land to work in exchange for food. Or move to somewhere with land. We've got to learn to follow our instincts in these things and be prepared to be brave. It could become an urgent issue.