Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 53. 37 to go. The test is actually just beginning.

In case you've just joined me and you're wondering about the posting title, I decided to have a go at living off my own wits and eat only the food that I have stored against hard economic times or natural disaster etc. I haven't been to a grocery store or any other store for 53 days. Gasoline has been the only regular purchase. I have purchased some supplies for DJ equipment repairs and upgrades (I still have to run my business). I've also been also out to lunch with clients or colleagues about once every other week (owing to the social nature of eating together). I've made some unexpected observations about the way we acquire and consume food. If you are interested, scroll down to Day 14 and read up. For reference, I have far more than 90 days stored so if there were a crisis inside of this experiment, requiring another 90 or 180 or 270 days of living without a grocery store, I'd be fine.

A few menu items this week: Pancakes and fried Spam, the last steaks out of the freezer with some frozen corn on the cob, cherry Jell-o with canned peaches and fruit cocktail, cornbread and chili beans, crescent rolls, soup made from the tomatoes picked on the Santa Fe trip- it was DEEeeeeee LISH! Also, fruit leather with the apples from Santa Fe (see previous postings for explanation on that), Blew out some of the gifted cheese for some grilled cheese sandwiches to dip in the tomato soup (see previous postings for explanation on that). Chocolate chip cookies and No-bake oatmeal cookies.

In my travels and other adventures last week, someone approached me who had heard that I was doing this and was teasing me about how nice it would be to have a big plate of Mexican food or something (I have stored all of the supplies to have Mexican food). This person was even poking my shoulder repeatedly as if to provoke me. This person was someone that I know peripherally and who is a bit lacking in social skills anyway and so I discounted the gesture owing to that. This person hadn't read this on-line journal and was in no position to gauge whether I was starving or having some hardship or if I was making some kind of a statement or just being magnanimous. It is none of those things. For the most part, it has been completely comfortable and even a spiritual experience. I almost got angry for just a second because it was disrespecting the spiritual and peaceful experience I am having but I let that anger go quickly and was rather sad that this person was probably massively in debt, maybe hanging on to a job by a thread, otherwise unprepared and maybe even fearful at what they would do for their hungry children in a crisis.

I once taught an Old Testament class for two years as part of a seminary program for high school students. A story about Elijah has been on my mind this week. There was a famine in the land and the streams had just about dried up, the crops had died and there was a widow who had a cup of meal (probably corn meal or something) and a bit of oil in a cruse and she was gathering firewood to make a fire and cook up some flat bread for dinner and then she and her son were going to die- that was all the food there was. Elijah promised her in the name of the Lord that if she would feed him first and then she and her son, that the barrel of meal would not "waste" (diminish) and that the oil would not "fail" (it would always stay topped off and not spoil) until the Lord sent rain again. She trusted, and she fed Elijah first and she ate many days and the meal and oil somehow lasted. There is more to the story but it gets rather heavy for an otherwise lighthearted blog about the adventures of a lunatic professional DJ. Read it for yourself in I Kings 17.

I've felt like the widow this last 7 weeks. Whether you believe in the Bible literally or figuratively, there is a reason that these kinds of stories resonate with so many of the peoples of the world and have resonated for so many centuries. It's about coming in to the protection of God. He says, "Let me save you from the flood, let me save you from the famine, let me save your soul... Follow me!"

I was feeling anxious last week upon doing a food inventory- I counted that I was down to 4 lbs of butter. I can do without drinking milk- notice that I've just let it go- it's not that big of a deal. Most of the bread recipes have been fine with dried milk and egg solids... but butter?!??! What would I spread on my pancakes? What would I spread on my crescent rolls or on a slice of bread? Strawberry jam is fine, but a bit of melting butter just pushes it off a cliff! I love that!

I feel like the test is actually just beginning. I think that most refrigerators/pantries should have basic supplies to sustain life for 30 to 40 days in a crisis. So far, it has been just fine, hardly any appreciable difference in menu/diet. Even though the butter shortage made me nervous, it seems like the widow's barrel- I still have 3 and 1/4 lbs of butter as of today. I may run out at the end of this month but will only have to go until Dec 11th to purchase more. A batch of cookies once a week uses 1/4lb, biscuits for dinner every other night uses about 1/4lb per week, toast/pancakes etc for breakfast uses about 1/4lb per week. It's not just the butter mind you- lots of stuff has lasted far longer than I anticipated. I'm well aware that in a real crisis, the lack of electricity would have changed the experiment DRAMATICALLY! The frozen meat and vegetables have been great but if I lost the freezer, I think it's been proven that there is other stored stuff to live on.

I'm always saddened by the aftermath of various natural disasters in the world. Let there be no mistake at whether I have compassion for those who lose lives and property and such. I'm just saddened that people think that it falls to the government to save them and feed them. YES, that's what compassionate people do and AS a people, our government organizes our resources to help at such times. Do I want to wait for this government to save me? No. Wise counsel says prepare yourselves. There are some who say that stored food may be destroyed in a flood/fire or crushed in an earthquake etc. That's not a reason to not be prepared- that it MIGHT be destroyed. Deal with that when you get there. What if it is preserved? Wouldn't it be great to have it? If nothing else, it puts one in a position to render Christian-type service to friends and neighbors.

The garden is doing fine. I may have a salad with some butterhead lettuce as early as next week. The second variety of spinach that I planted also didn't sprout. There is about a 2 foot gap in an otherwise healthy row of peas. I replanted that section and it didn't sprout either. I'm going to plant yet another something or other in the spinach row- maybe some radishes or turnips.

I have a waffle iron that got put away a few weeks ago with a waffle still in it. I know... Anyways, a few days later it began to smell, which led to the discovery of the mistake. When I got it out this week for some waffles, they were ripped to shreds attempting to get them out. In the course of cleaning out the forgotten waffle, the non-stick surface was damaged, rendering it useless for waffles and I had to toss it in the trash. I repaired my biscuit cutter a few weeks ago, but I can't repair a waffle iron like that. Back to the wise adage reported previously; if you have two (of a tool), you have one. If you have only one, you might have none. I can live without waffles just fine, but I sure do like them. I'll probably buy two waffle irons before Christmas.

Stay tuned.


Cynthia said...

Amazing. I don't think we've starve and die, but I think we would have very bland, boring food after about 30 days. Way to go.

Lauri said...

Glad you're willing to do the experiment. You can tell me all the things I need to know and have so I won't have to do without.