Thursday, July 18, 2013

Where Do You Hide Your Food?

I'm finding it increasingly interesting to think that my city's major source of food is the grocery store chains or the warehouse chains. I recently spent some time looking around my neighborhood on Google Earth looking for gardens in people's homes. I found a couple but they were hard to find. I found lots and lots of swimming pools, lots of grass, and lots more concrete but hard to find a garden. I have to come to the conclusion that most folks in my neck of the woods don't grow food. I may be wrong, but you would have to provide proof to the contrary.
Our city is in the desert in the Southwest. Everything comes in by truck from somewhere else. We don't even have rail service anymore for non-industrial materials, and that's rare, too. Everything comes to us from one of three directions over the highways by truck. The bulk comes from California north up I-15. Some comes from Utah and points north via the same road in the other direction. And some comes up from Pheonix from the southeast. We might get some from the northeast, but I haven't seen much in the way of truck transportation from that direction. I would estimate that 75% comes from California.
I remember a bunch of years ago when there was a trucker's strike. Truck transporation all but stopped into town. Those that did arrive, didn't go to the grocery stores, they went to the hotels and casinos and their distributiors and suppliers. They knew how their bread was buttered. I lived at that time across the street from a Safeway store that has since closed and has been torn down. When the strike was announced, there was a run on the store and within 24 hours you couldn't even buy a bag of water softener salt. The shelves were completely bare. It was scary.
Be sure! What a great insurance policy against
just about anything: empty shelves, strikes, disasters,
or any other disruption of the fragile and delicate
system we have. It's a good hedge against rising
fuel costs, too. As diesel prices increase, food
prices increase. There is a direct link between the two.
We didn't suffer too much because my folks have always been prepared for things like that. That came from growing up in the Depression and was reinforced by the teachings of preparedness that my church does. They were ready long before it happened. But my friends weren't. I was in high school and when I took my lunch of huge sandwich on homemade bread and some veggies, my friends offered what was for us a huge sum of money for my lunch. After the first week, I had people waiting in the parking lot to be the first to bid on my lunch. I was actually afraid to sell it to anyone for fear that I would upset the wrong people so I ate my lunch in silence. There was food, just not as much as normal and not the variety that we were used to.
Some folks actually organized caravans of cars to drive to Southern California to buy food in bulk and bring it back to town. You could go to Utah and buy all the fruit you wanted from the farmer's markets, too. It was there, it was for sale, they just couldn't ship it to Las Vegas because of the strike.
I wonder if something like that could happen again? We certainly haven't changed our way of doing things in this town. We still don't produce food in any quantity. There aren't any farms or food processing plants of significance here. But there are a lot more people.
A garden will make your rations gor further, or
your paycheck last longer, or you health improve,
or....well, you get the idea.
Oh, we have grocery stores in abundance and Costco's and Sam's Clubs and other food warehouses. But it makes me nervous that the bulk of the food in town is not in people's homes or pantries or gardens, it's in these stores. I've seen how fast they can empty out. I spent 5 years working for one and I know how much food they shipped out daily. We had trucks replenish every night and Costco gets several trucks daily. So the system is working, for now.
We've come a long way from the days of the Victory Gardens. We've come a long way from a time where people accepted at least a part of the responsibility for providing for themselves. We have worked ourselves into a situation of "I work at my job to be able to buy stuff from your job." And although this is a workable situation, the more complex the system becomes, the more opportunities it has to break down. The farther away from the earth we become, the more dependent we are on others to provide the basics to us.
That doesn't make me feel comfortable. That doesn't make me sleep well at night. What does allow me to sleep is the knowledge that I am doing everything I can to produce as much as I can for my family. It may not be much right now, and we wouldn't be able to live too comfortably on what I can grow yet, but I'm getting better, my soil is getting better, I'm learning more and more and I'm trying.
A phrase I learned a long time ago fits this. "All you can do is all you can do but all you can do is enough." All I have to do is all I can do. But, I have to do all I can do. I can't slack off. I can't do less than all I can do, but I'm finding that the more I do, the more I find I can do, and the better I'm able to do it.
That makes me feel good.
It's nice to see our Super Heros are on board
with this. Truth, Justice and the Victory Garden!

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