Food Resiliency and the Pandemic

Food Resiliency and the Pandemic

Making breakfast this morning I realized that everything on my plate was homegrown or foraged, and that this is not an accident, but rather, the result of nearly 20 years of being “weird” about food, about cooking, and about the coming disaster.

This is the first morel of the season, sauteed up with some butter (oh! KerryGold. Totally not local), some backyard green spring onions, and a backyard egg. Toast from my own sourdough no-knead bread. Even the plate is thrifted, and the silverware was my great-grandmother’s.

The thing is, I’ve been doing this for years. I haven’t really chimed in on the pandemic food stuff too much, because I feel like I have posts on food resiliency, on local food systems, on growing your own and eating locally going back to the beginning of this blog. In 2002.

And now, here we are. In a global crisis which is exacerbated by decades of people believing the marketing, believing that they didn’t need to know how to cook because there is takeout, and restaurants, and frozen meals in the grocery store. People believing that the engines of industrial food and just-in-time supply lines were as inevitable and natural as the air. People who couldn’t understand why I won’t buy lamb from Australia or grapes from Chile.

While I’ve always advocated for living smaller, buying less, spending less, growing and making more … that it’s all caving in so suddenly, that we’re all living through this global catastrophe together (even with the ones who are denying there is any catastrophe at all) is as upsetting for me as it is for everyone else.

Yes, I have skills, and twenty years ago I deliberately moved to a place where there is fresh water, a lot of non-industrial agriculture, and people who still know how to do and make things. But that doesn’t mean I want everyone else to suffer like this. Or that I’m somehow feeling smug about it. I’m heartbroken. This isn’t something I wanted to be right about. I wanted to go on being the kooky aunt with the bolshie opinions.

And yet, here we are. I’ve ordered enough flour and olive oil and coffee to get me through to the end of the year if supply chains take a while to rebuild. If they can’t well, there’s local flour, and probably rapeseed oil. Will we have to learn to live without coffee? Am I going to be scouring the roadsides this summer for chicory roots?

More than that though, is this the fulcrum? And if it is, for what? A better, greener, more equitable society in which we finally break the back of the exploitation beast that is Big Capitalism? Or the other option, where the guns in the hands of all those white supremacists are called to action?

When you’re raised in chaos, you get a pretty good sense for that moment just before it all kicks off. That moment when you need to get the fuck out of there, and on my worst days here in the backyard, starting tomatoes and new baby chickens, this moment feels like that. My instinct is to hide. To hunker down here in my backyard, the one I’ve been cultivating for 18 years now, the one where I might be able to grow enough stuff to keep us alive. If I have to. Which I don’t want to.

This is just to let you all know, that even though I have a beautiful backyard egg, an egg so orange that it takes your breath away; even though I have morels starting to come up, and the Egyptian Walking onions have come up with abandon, even though I have a years supply of flour and a sourdough starter and there’s still gas coming through the pipes so I can make bread, even though I’ve set all these things up deliberately — I’m just as freaked out as all the rest of you.

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