Back in the year 2000, a fuel protest bought London, the capital of the United Kingdom, to within three days of running out of food. The then Blair government commissioned Lord Cameron of the Countryside Agency to investigate, who came back with a chilling report: “The nation is just nine meals from anarchy.”
Lets just think about that for a few minutes. Only 9 meals between order and chaos. What did Lord Cameron mean by this? Will there be zombies knocking on our doors?
Well, once again readers, it is all about the supply and demand of crude oil and that Oil = Food. Let me explain. The majority of our food distribution is what is known as “just in time” distribution. Your local supermarket only has small stock out the back, and most of the stock on the shelves. It is transported from large distribution centres by trucks to each supermarket, each day. These transportation systems use oil which is a finite resource.
So when the transportation flow stops, or in other words, the oil supply gets disrupted, so does our food security. A recent example were the recent floods in Far North Queensland. Within a few days all of the supermarket shelves were bare, partly because of stockpiling by townsfolk, but mainly because there were no food deliveries via rail or truck for over a week. What if there were no food deliveries for two, three or even four weeks?
Sounds a bit apocalyptic doesn’t it. I am not trying to scare people, just attempting to make people think about where their next meal or few will come from.
So what can we do about this? Well, of course the scouts motto comes to mind, “Be prepared”. Here are a few tips that have kept us going in troubled times.
Grow your own fruit & vegetables.
By growing your own, you possess the skills to be able to overcome food shortages. If you can convince your neighbours to grow their own food, then you can swap excess produce.
Get a few chickens.
Chickens are easy to keep, with most councils allowing you to keep a few birds in your back yard. If you have a large enough backyard, you will also be able to grow feed crops for the hens. Not only are the eggs a great source of protein, but the manure is just gold for your fruit and vegetables.
We stockpile essentials, mainly because Kim and I dislike frequent shopping, and feel more secure having a cupboard full of food and personal needs. Don’t forget to practice good stock management, older stuff to the front and newer stuff to the back. We have had to draw upon the stockpile once so far, when I was laid up for a month in August last year. We still count our blessings to this day that we thought ahead. The other good thing about stockpiling is that it gives you room to prepare a backup plan in the event of a prolonged food shortage. We have about three months of supplies on hand, which would give us ample time to increase our vegetable production. Don’t forget about water either!
Preserve excess produce.
If you have more than you need and loath feeding it to the worm farm, learn how to preserve your own food. I love eating plums in the winter that I have preserved in February. You can even buy bulk fruit or vegetables from markets and preserve that if you can’t grow it yourself.
Menu plan your meals.
During a crisis you are going to have to plan your meals, because the last thing you need is wasted food. This way you can feel secure in the knowledge that you have the ingredients that you require for the next few weeks.
Share your skills with others.
As I mentioned above, share your food growing skills with others around you now! Not only do you help your fellow man, make good friends, but you build resilience into the community around you. What is the point of securing your own food supply, when the zombies are knocking at your door trying to get the neighbourhoods only food source? Share your knowledge in the good times, and you will reap the rewards in the difficult times. No zombies will visit your neighbourhood because everyone knows how to grow their own!
Read a few good books about all these subjects.
Who knows if the Internet will be available during the crisis you may face, or electricity for that matter. A good book always beats any other source of information (besides experience) hands down when it comes to crunch time. Learn now, but keep the information so that you can share with others if the need arises.
As I have said above, this post is not meant to shock you into a stupor of inaction, but just give you food for thought (pardon the pun), and give you some ideas how you can provide your own food security. I hope I never have to use these skills that I have learned over the last few years, but it is best to be prepared.
To finish off today, I give you two relevant quotes:
By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail. ~ Ben Franklin
People only see what they are prepared to see. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Food for thought indeed!
Little Terraced House says
I read the full report on the above title when is was published Gavin, and it certainly does make for quite serious thought. We (the general public) really could be at the hands of fate if and when things go pear shaped, one way or another, ie floods, fire, terrorists, bankers, unemployment, peak oil ect and being as prepared as possible makes sense right now.
I’m not sure how many weeks or months of food we have stashed away. I’m not *that* organized. But it’s substantial without having been specifically planned out. And of course, I’ve got seedlings started already…
We’re working on increasing our food sovereignty in several ways this year: fruit trees, cold frames for season extension, and possibly meat rabbits and a root cellar too.
Margaret's Ramblings says
It always amazes me when I read something like this and I say to myself,”well I know that”, that I then realise that if I know it why don’t I act on it. Continue to bring this up now and again Gavin just to remind those like me who has a bit of trouble remembering the basics these day,
I blame memory problems on the weather, not my age, LOL
Thank you for this great article Gavin, Sometimes we need to be shocked a little to get moving. This is not an unimaginable scenario- we have already had a few tastes of this type of crisis. It makes perfect sense to try all of your suggestions. Food-growing sometimes easier said than done though, my first season has been so disappointing! By crisis time my practice will have helped though 😉
bayside gardener says
Great post Gavin,
As you know I cook for my living. Last week, when we had the blackouts, the cafe was absolutely full. People didn’t know what to do without electricity at the touch of a switch. You couldn’t believe that people were incapable of feeding themselves after a meer 2 to 3 hours with power.
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