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.