The First Post: Horsemeat: No Thankyou

This blog is an idea that I have had for quite a long time. I know that skills that were once held by everyone, are being lost, and I know that they are still as relevant as they ever were. So it is a simple decision to hand on these skills and tips so that lots more people can follow them and hand them down to the generations to come. But the impetus came this last week; when I found myself horrified at this report in the newspaper; following a warning of heavy snow to come:

‘There were frantic scenes at a Tesco store in Aberdare, South Wales, where hundreds of people turned up after the Met Office issued a rare red warning for the area, meaning travel should be attempted only if absolutely necessary.

Rhiannon Griffiths, 38, said: ‘It was a real scrum. People were grabbing loaves and milk and dashing to the tills. I managed to get two small loaves and some pitta breads – but that was all that was left.’

A member of staff at another supermarket in Newbury, Berkshire, described scenes that were ‘busier than just before Christmas’. ‘It’s almost a sort of mass hysteria,’ she said. ‘People are rushing in and blindly grabbing what they can see, frightened there will be nothing left.

‘The shelves are emptying as fast as we can fill them – they’re after bread, milk, dairy produce, fruit, vegetables and lots of people seem to be stocking up on the tinned stuff, like soup.’

One small snow warning and panic sets in. Supermarket shelves clear within a couple of hours leaving the vulnerable even more at risk of going without. This amazes me on several counts. One, it is unthinkable that so many people have to do this because they are not prepared for such things to happen. It is so easy to have stocks of food within the house that should cover such events. A few years ago the lorry drivers were considering striking here in the UK. It took Lord Sanisbury to approach the government and ask the Prime Minister if he was aware of how much food we stock in this country. No said the PM. Lord Sainsbury then informed him. We hold 3 days food in this country. Apart from that we are reliant on food coming in, and our transport systems working properly to get it both from the ports and farms to the distribution centres and on to the supermarkets and shelves for the customers to access.

Then came the news of horsemeat being put in burgers for sale here in the UK from those big supermarket names. You need to know what you are eating folks, and there is only one way to know that…take control of what goes in by doing it yourself.

Natural disasters can strike at anytime. A massive solar flare can knock out power supplies and electrical grids. ATM’s are reliant on those grids as are the tills in the shops and the reordering systems in the shops. No power means no sale of goods. Severe weather events happen, and they have happened throughout history. How will you feed yourselves and your family and keep them warm, if an event happens? Whilst we cannot prepare for the truly unexpected, we can and should take steps to ensure that we are at least prepared for at least a three week period, this being about the timeframe that it takes for governments to be able to assess and step in to start putting things right. For those who have freezers, that is a start, but dont forget that if your power goes down for more than 48 hours, the food you have in there is unuseable and will have to be thrown out. In the winter of 86 I was living at the farm in Norfolk with 5 small children aged under 9. We were without electricity for 3 weeks, and had no heating as the oil fired heating required electricity to run it. We had electrical cooker, fridge, and the hot water was run by the oil-so no hot water either. The snow was to deep for vechiles to run and we were cut off by snow for 3 weeks. If we had not been prepared for such events, how would we have fed and kept our young children warm with temperatures dropping to minus 10 and more? Now people may say, well we live in the city, we can always get to a shop…yes but the shop may not be able to be stocked, and if there is no electricity…and you cannot get your money out of an ATM and your debit/credit cards are not working…So to be prepared is a simple common sense precaution. To know that you can feed, and keep your family warm for 2/3/4 weeks independently of whatever else is happening surely makes sense. And those sorts of things are what we will be posting on. These things can be done gradually throughout the year; until you have built up into a rhythm whereby it becomese second nature. What you make and or preserve will taste better than anything you can buy, and you will know what has gone into them. It will also save you money. You have the choice nowadays, we didn’t, when we were growing up it was this way or you didn’t have it! Organic food was the norm, it came out of our garden with slugs attached and dirt all over it! No sprays…that would have been “a waste of money” to our parents. I never saw a cabbage without holes in the leaves until supermarkets opened! And apples came in all shapes and sizes…no European dictates then [that led to tons of perfectly good fruit being wasted].

Nowadays we are also being asked to take notice of the carbon footprint of our food, and to try and eat from more locally sourced produce. When we were kids, the trek of our fruit and veg was from the back garden to the kitchen. What you didn’t grow you did not eat in 90% of fruit and veg produce. Oranges and tangerines only appeared at Christmas. We did have a huge variety of food but it was always seasonal, and when eaten in season it tastes so good! Peas straight out of the pod, strawberries straight off the plant, somehow made each season special becasue of what it produced; and knowing that you could not have at any other time of year made each crop you loved special and each that you did not like bearable! Either way…it would not last long!

I will also just include various other odd things which I hope will interest people, so I really hope the people that visit this blog will enjoy it and contribute their own tips and skills in the comments as well.

Lets start taking back our skills and be less dependent on the big corporates to provide our needs for us shall we?

 

Veg Garden

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