- Dec 11, 2016
- Reaction score
- East-central Wisconsin
Growing up, my grandparents gardened, hunted, fished, and were at least partially self-sufficient. While they lived in the city when I knew them, they grew up rural, off the grid. I was privileged as a child to spend a lot of weekends on their 280 acre property, with wood for heat & cooking, kerosene lanterns for light, a hand pump in the kitchen for water, and their only link to modern civilization was a propane-powered refrigerator. Living that way meant preserving during times of plenty, to tide them over lean times - with no freezer.I think if it comes to the point where folks have to eat the majority of their intake from a garden, they are going to be WAY less picky about how they preserve the food, the taste and texture of said food, etc. Food for survival is just that....preserved any way possible for the optimum storage time.
I remember rows & rows of jars in the cellar, sealed on top with paraffin. Paraffin is no longer used, and is not recommended for food safety... but if the hard times ever come & supply chains crumble, it is worth remembering that paraffin was reusable year after year, and canning lids are not.
It would be difficult for many to return to self-sufficient practices, because our culture has changed so much. We've become specialists rather than generalists, too dependent upon the efforts of others. My grandparents on both sides had root cellars; not many homes have one now, preferring finished basements. My dear departed uncle had a cistern in his basement for holding well water (which I think is still there), I doubt there are many of those left. And over time, the average size of a family's property has diminished. Few people now have access to the amount of land necessary for even partial self-sufficiency, and that situation appears to be irreversible (I think we can thank rising property taxes for that).
In my youthful exuberance & self-absorption, I didn't pay much attention to the knowledge my grandparents could have passed on - which has become, unfortunately, a common theme in our modern culture. My grandparents all passed away while I was gone in the Service, and the long chain of passed-down knowledge was broken. We have lost - or surrendered - so many of the fundamental skills needed for self-sufficiency. Yes, many of those can still be found online, in you-tube videos... but in time of need, that network would likely collapse.
There are signs that this outbreak, and the disruptions caused by it, are a wake-up call. If we make it out of this without irreparable damage to our society, that could turn out to be the silver lining in this dark cloud. For myself, I try to take just one step closer to self-sufficiency each year; pickling last year, tofu & small grains this year. I have no illusions of becoming as self-reliant as my grandparents were, DW & I are running out of time... but I hope I will at least be more successful in passing on what I have learned to my children & grandchildren.