It’s inevitable when I post a picture on Facebook of my food canning/hoarding ways: someone always makes a wisecrack about how “they know where to go when the apocalypse is happening”. Not only do I preserve tons of food in the summer, I bulk buy grains and legumes to keep in 5-gallon bins in the basement, and since I got a pressure canner last summer, I’ve been putting by large quantities of chicken and beef stock. I take this joking as a compliment, I really do, because underneath it is the suggestion that I’m organized and resourceful, and that I know how to take care of people when things are stressful or perilous. I hope those things turn out to be true if the shit really does hit the fan — but at the very least, I won’t starve in the first week 🙂
While canning is something I have done for the better part of my adult life (starting with a jam experiment way back in my first marriage circa 1997), my partner and I now churn out several hundred cans of food a summer (probably in the neighbourhood of 300, I really don’t keep track), and about once a year I purchase all our oats, rice, beans, barley and flour in 20 kg bags (there are only two of us plus my step-daughter part time, so this food often lasts us more than a year). And while I used to be motivated by the fear of societal collapse, I have way chilled out on that topic lately.
(Side note: we’re all going to die, and a couple of years ago I came to the realization that “prepping” behaviour is just another immortality project as Earnest Becker would term it, something designed to keep up the fiction that we can create immortality through our actions. Becker would further argue that attempts to immortalize oneself is the root of all social evil – wealth accumulation, war, and so on).
So why keep it up if I don’t feel a fear driven need to keep my basement and larder well stocked?
There are three central reasons for my food hoarding ways (and it’s not really hoarding if you are using it – right?):
It’s a bit of a thing, I know, to change one’s habits and build food prep and storage into your life in this way – and my transition has taken the better part of two decades as I figure out what works and finesse that for my living circumstances and current family/living situation. While I know this isn’t for everyone, I’m just here to say that what looks like hard work from the outside, is the pleasure of industry and the knowledge of food security on the inside – the good feelings that come with self-reliance and a household (or group of friends) working together to put food by for everyday use and in case of challenging times.
Whenever somebody makes a similar crack to me, I look them straight in the eye and give some variation of, If you aren’t bringing anything of value, why would I let you in?