****The following post will be the first in a series of easy long-term preparedness strategies.****
If you've been a reader of my blog for any length of time, you know that:
1. I consider the area where I live to be a suburb.
2. Against the advice of some, I intend to stay in my suburban home.
It is a choice, but more, I just don't think there's anywhere that will be significantly BETTER than where I am, and really, I believe that moving is no longer an option for me ... and millions of other Americans and suburbanites worldwide (did you know that Egypt has suburbs? Yeah. Me, neither).
While I agree that the suburbs are unsustainable in their current incarnation, as I've said (about a million times) before, we can't simply abandon them. They need to be remodeled, because there are billions of dollars worth of resources in these homes ... and I don't mean televisions and DVD players. I mean the time, energy, and resources - lumber from Germany for the framing, precious metals from Africa for the wiring and plumbing, quarried stone from Asia for the countertops, old rainforest wood from Brazil for the flooring ... not to mention the oil from the Middle East and South America for half the other building materials and furnishings.
To simply abandon the mess we've made and create something that better suits our vision of the future would be worse than a misallocation of resources*. It would be the greatest sin man could commit against the Earth that sustains us. Further, most of the build-out that we've witnessed over the past half century was made possible by cheap oil and imports, neither of which is necessarily going to be available in the future. In fact, it's more likely that "stuff" will be much harder to come by.
Over the past couple of years, a lot has been said about "preparing" for this future where "stuff" isn't so readily available. Food, in particular, has been a concern for many people, and I hear stories about storing food and other consumable, perishable items.
While I do have some things stored up, at some point I came to the realization that there is no way I can "store" everything my family will need ... forever. Even using this list as a guide, the reality is that at some point, I will have to replenish my supplies, but if supply lines are completely broken (as depicted in Kunstler's World Made By Hand), then what will I do? If I can't buy flour or sugar or boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese, how will we eat?
I do grow some of what my family eats right here on our quarter acre. We also raise a portion of our meat and have chickens for eggs. A good deal of the food we eat comes from local vendors, which means our food supply won't necessarily be interrupted, but we'd need money, which may be an issue (and is a topic for a separate post :).
As is often the case, it was something that Deus Ex Machina said to me that I completely discounted (at first). He kept telling me that *we* don't have to grow everything we need. I ignored him, and kept making my grandiose plans for our tiny space. For his birthday, I signed us up for a wild plant walk on the marsh, because it would be fun.
I started researching animals we could raise on a quarter acre and brought home three baby chicks that would provide us with eggs, and kept insisting that we *needed* goats. Deus Ex Machina took up bow hunting, and my neighbor told me a story about his days living on the island and eating gull eggs (which he says taste "salty").
Then, I started buying perennial plants for our yard and planning where we'd put them all, and Deus Ex Machina took us all out in the woods for a walk, where I gathered wild blueberries and blackberries.
Somewhere in there that proverbial lightbulb went off, and I (finally) understood what he had been saying ... for a long time.
*We* don't have to grow or produce EVERYTHING *we* need. Nature will and does provide a veritable plethora of wild food that's pretty much free for the taking.
The only requirement is that *we* know what's available and be able to distinguish the edible from the non-edible and from the poisonous (just FYI, most plants fall into the first two categories of edible or non-edible, but harmless, to humans - like most grasses, which won't kill us, but will also not provide any nutritional value ... kind of like Twinkies and anything on the McDonald's menu ;).
And so we bought a book ... several, in fact.
In all of the preparedness advice the focus is on what one can produce and/or store, and short-term, I completely agree. We should have food that is both comforting and familiar in our short-term survival plan.
But longer term, if the crisis ends up being a full-blown TEOTWAWKI, it won't be enough, and we'll have to find an alternative.
What's the harm in starting now?
And just so you understand that it doesn't have to be completely weird and unfamiliar, where I live, we have the above mentioned wild blueberries and blackberries, but we also have *wild* maple trees (for syrup making) and *wild* oak trees (for acorn flour). Wild foods don't have to be completely weird and unfamiliar.
My first challenge to you is to pick-up a copy of a book (most libraries will have them or have access to them, but this book might be one you would want to own - longer term) that shows *local to you*, edible, wild plants, and learn to identify a couple of them ... and incorporate them into your diet ... *now* ;).
*term used heavily by James Kunstler in reference to the suburban sprawl.