Thoughts on community and food security

I’ve been immersing myself in Independence Days: A guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation in preparation for the Urban Harvest book club Tuesday at 7pm, at the library. Partly because it is such a hopeful book  that I find myself returning to it to bolster my sense that I, too, can build myself food security; and partly because it will make a wonderful textbook for my food preservation session at the November Sioux Falls PDC. I am having a hard time reconciling being back at work 8-5 M-F with trying to put healthy food on the table on a regular basis with trying to stay in touch with family and friends. It has me thinking about whether a healthy food regime is even possible without sacrificing all my free time to it; and lamenting the geographical distance of the people I want to spend time with.

Anyone who has tried to incorporate all the principles of Nourishing Traditions into their diet will find that it is almost a full-time job. If you want to grind your own flour, bake your own bread, make your own yogurt, your own soaked-and-slow-dried nuts, your own relishes and chutneys, your own bone stock, your own sprouts, your own kombucha and ginger beer… this is more than the typical beleaguered house husband can handle. One wonders how they did it in the old days. The answer is, They didn’t! For one thing, before the age of the suburbs and the automobile, extended families lived together in the same house, and as often as not, next door from cousins and uncles. Four people cooking for 16 people is a lot easier than one person cooking for four. Moreover, communities were small and close-knit, and there was probably some degree of specialization and sharing among households.

–Charles Eisenstein, quoted on Wild Fermentation

In times of recession, people spend more time at home. But this will be the first steep recession since the revolution in household formation. Nesting amongst an extended family rich in social capital is very different from nesting in a one-person household that is isolated from family and community bonds.

–David Brooks, quoted in Independence Days

There’s a big difference between staying home and eating beans and rice alone in your chilly house and getting together with your neighbors and sharing that meal. The sense of loss and privation is very different. Social scientists have confirmed what historian Timothy Breen observed – “rituals of non-consumption” can replace our rituals of consumption, if we come together. It can be a lot easier to bear tough times if you are working together with other people and feel you are all in the same boat.

Sharon Astyk, Independence Days

These quotes dovetail interestingly with my catching up with Barbara Ehrenreich‘s Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream and Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America. You can’t begin to address the urgent economical and environment issues if you don’t allow yourself to see that serious problems exist!

I believe the best way to reduce my stress associated with the economy is to insulate myself from the effects of its vagaries; I believe this so much that my standard wedding presents will now be Independence Days, Your Money or Your Life, and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Once I have my pantry full, and more importantly my meal routine adapted to use it efficiently, I will feel a lot better.

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