Are you one who goes to the grocery store on a weekly basis? Do you know they will always have meat and fruit and veggies and bread? Do you know where that grocery store gets your food and how long it takes to arrive? Have you ever considered how precarious our food supply chain is?
Let’s see if we can open your eyes…
The first modern grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in 1916 in Memphis. Many more popped up through the 1920s and 30s, allowing shoppers to pick up everything they wanted self-serve at one place instead of going to the butchers, the bakers, and the greengrocer (produce vendor), asking the counter clerk to wrap up items for them. When WWII started, those small butchers, bakers, and greengrocers generally closed as men went off to war, but the large stores didn’t need to close due to losing an employee or two. They continued growing in popularity after the war, to the point where in 1957, President Eisenhower took Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on a tour of a Maryland grocery store so they could see what all the fuss was about.
This all sounds like a wonderful phenomenon.
Before the industrial revolution and the invention of grocery stores, people used to either grow their own food or purchase items from those small vendors. As workers started migrating to towns and cities to make “real” wages, as those wages were touted as the new “standard of living,” people didn’t have the space or the time to grow food, so they purchased solely from vendors. There was no refrigeration back then and if you purchased a chicken, you took a big chance on it being old or rotten. Many condiments, including ketchup, were used at this time to cover the taste of putrid food. Stomach ailments were a common and daily occurrence. Eventually, standards for food safety were issued and you became less likely of falling ill due to bad food.
This all seems like great stuff, but what happened to those food-safety standards? Why do we see multiple recalls ever month? The USDA issued 17 recalls in 2020. Recalls were due to Salmonella, E. coli, foreign matter, mislabeling, lack of inspection, undeclared allergens. It seems the food issues weren’t remedied as much as they’re just now reported and recorded. Nothing like government paperwork.
Speaking of allergens, why is it everyone you know has allergies, gluten intolerance, takes probiotics and now postbiotics, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, soy allergies, weight issues, diabetes, celiac disease, cancer, and so on and so forth?
The answer to the above is largely – FOOD! Eating processed food out of a box has little nutritional value and is filled with chemical colors and preservatives that are KNOWN carcinogens. Eating produce that has been washed in bleach will kill all those little bugs in your gut that digest your food. Eating meat filled with growth hormones will make you grow, too. We’re talking fat. Eating meat filled with antibiotics make you more susceptible to disease as your body builds resistance to the medicines your doctor prescribes. Eating produce covered in pesticides only destroy your body. Those pesticides are created to kill living things. You are a living thing.
So, now that I have your attention about food quality, what about quantity? What’s the probability of empty store shelves? Here’s how it works. Major chains have distribution centers. All items are ordered as needed (thanks to the computer age), and the suppliers deliver those orders to the distribution centers as needed. The distribution centers deliver to the individual stores multiple times per day. The days of having the stock boy check the back room to see if they have such-and-such are long gone. There is no back room. What you see on the shelves is all they have. Typically, there is a three-day supply in the store. As you saw with toilet paper in early 2020, if people lose their minds for a moment, all the toilet paper is bought up and there is no more, and the supply chain has been interrupted. At the minimum, it would take three days to get back on schedule. But as word gets out that there’s a run on toilet paper, the mass buying causes further interruption in the chain. Toilet paper was sort of a joke, but what happens when it’s eggs and milk and cheese? What happens when it’s meat and fruit?
Our grandparents moved to the cities for that government-promoted “standard of living” and our parents lost the art of self-sufficiency. It’s time we stop relying on the precarious nature of the mass-market chains and re-learn life skills. Before it’s too late! I don’t want to sound like an alarmist here, but there are numerous computer models showing mass food shortages over the next 20 years, leading to food riots and eventual societal collapse. Why even gamble those dice?
So, where does one start?
That’s the easy part. What do you use? What do you eat? Find a way to create that for yourself. Don’t be a consumer, be a producer. What do you actually NEED from the store that you can’t produce yourself? Make a list. In my world, that’s aluminum foil, salt, tropical fruits, chocolate, and tennis shoes. Of course, in a pinch, I can go without tropical fruits, chocolate, and new tennis shoes, and pretty much everything else in the world, I can make myself. Start with one thing. Do you love carrots? Figure out how to grow them, and figure out how to grow and store as much as you need until you can grow more next year. Do you love pesto? Grow basil and garlic. How about spaghetti? Grow tomatoes and onions, and learn how to make and store your own pasta. (That requires eggs, so maybe get a couple chickens.) That’s perfect for the learning part. The self-sufficient part comes with calculations to have enough for the year until you get your next harvest. There was a run on canning jars and lids in early 2020 also. You might want to go ahead and buy those now.
Take one step at a time to become self-sufficient. Some may need to learn to cook from scratch. Pull out that cook book. Some may need to research how to make their own cleaning products. Hint: there’s nothing that can’t be cleaned with vinegar or baking soda. Some may need to plant veggies in containers or add some raised garden beds to the yard. We’re all on our own journey, and all journeys begin with one step. What steps will you take in 2021? Keeping in mind, you really don’t have a choice.