Thursday, 1 December 2011

well-fed neigbours

I don’t want to scare you but I think it’s time we started to store food. It looks as though we could be in for quite big changes in the coming decade. We might be looking at the Long Emergency and we might be facing some sudden changes. These could come from one or several areas: economic, energy and climate. Most pressing is the recent news that British government is planning for the possibility of economic collapse following the now-almost-inevitable collapse of the Euro.

When change happens, we’re all better off if we see it coming. There’s nothing more conducive to panic and bad behaviour than being badly prepared. You only need to visualise the Christmas rush at Tesco or the empty shelves in the fuel strikes in 2000 to get my drift. Or, as the article above describes, banks being unable to give out money and destroying companies dependent on bank credit.

But you don’t need a national crisis to justify storing food. Friends of mine who are going through financial troubles say that they feel so much better knowing they have a few sacks of rice and pulses in their store cupboard. And such things were totally normally in our grandparents’ day before the just-in-time brittle corporate food chains were established.

As I see it, there are three main ways to build food resilience. The easiest is to simply build up your own stores. Aim for a couple of months’ of your usual staples at any one time, then just get used to rotating the food as you eat it.
For a decade now we’ve been ordering our bulk food from Infinity Foods, a co-op that’s cheaper and more convenient than supermarkets. They deliver free to Lewes on a Tuesday if you buy over £250-worth. We order every four months, storing the 5kg bags of rice, oatmeal and pulses, tins, oils and jars on top of our cupboards and in our basement. There’s always a bit of space somewhere to store food. I know people who group together to share orders and others who buy Infinity food from Just Trade, a brilliant Lewes-based non-profit co-op that runs a drop-off  at Lewes New School (next delivery 9 December).

Some people feel afraid at the mention of food storage, projecting out that it’s about being selfish or fear-mongering. And though it’s true that denial is a first cousin of fear, it’s best to get over that fear and be practical. The more of us who are storing food, the better. As they say, our best defence is a well-fed neighbour.


Anonymous said...

Hi Adrienne,

I'm totally with you on this. On the matter of being considered selfish, I would suggest that everybody has something to offer, it needn't be stores of food but skills like mending something or teaching something. Those of us with food stores (however small to start with) are a position to barter for other things which we do not have.

It can be very expensive of course, I tend to use the local cash and carry because I'm unaware of any co-op schemes like yours, but it sounds like a terrific idea to club together, again, a community-spirited act.

Eco x

adrienne campbell said...

Thanks for your comment. Indeed, I am encouraging my children to develop 'post carbon skills' ie practical things that people actually needs such as cooking, mending, plumbing as well as communications skills such as facilitation.

Storing food needn't be expensive if you build stores up gradually, just adding one new thing at every shop.

All the best x