Sunday, February 10, 2013

Good rainy Sunday.  I sympathize with those in the east digging their way out of the snow drifts that walloped them over the last couple of days.  I remember all too well doing the same after the Blizzard of 2011.  You remember--the one that turned Lake Shore Drive in Chicago into a snow packed parking lot.  We didn't move for three days except to shovel out our patio or rather a path through the patio to the gate.  A short sound bite on one of the stories opened a frequent discussion we have here--what would we do if (fill in your favorite disaster.)  The woman in the clip was filling a gas can for her generator and remarked that they were prepared for something that kept them in for three days but not one (like Hurricane Sandy) which would last one, two, or three weeks.  We probably go a week (maybe two) without serious hardship.  Our biggest concern--loss of electricity.  That would seriously affect our ability to heat or cool this place.  Since we rent putting in a generator isn't on the agenda.

Over the last ten years that kind of conversation has come up more frequently.  We can't remember a period during which so many weather related events have occurred.  I don't know if we simply don't remember such events or if the weather did dump on us it simply didn't have the same impact.  Tina at Another Old Woman expresses some of the same thoughts and notes the downside of deregulation.  I saw a number of bloggers who pooh-poohed the severity of the drought of 2012.  It wasn't, they said, nearly as bad as the drought of the mid-50s nor was it as severe as the Dust Bowl drought.  Well, those are outside my experience.  I was about 5 when the 1950s drought hit and not even thought of during the 1930s.  I remember the big snow of 1967 which they say is record setter for this area.  But, between then and 2000, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of such snow storms I have experienced.  And I can't remember serious blackouts before 2000.  Since then hardly a year has passed without a report of at least one (and usually several) widespread blackouts within 50 miles of us.  We consider ourselves lucky that our area has not had more than momentary interruptions in power.  But such incidents started us thinking about what we could and would do in such situations.  And, considering how long it took for real help to reach people in New Orleans after Katrina and the New York/New Jersey area after Sandy, what we would or could do if we were on our own for more than the 72 hour minimum for which FEMA recommends that we have supplies.

And this kind of story has resurfaced with greater frequency than I remember in the pre-2000 period.  Food recalls for bacterial contamination, for undeclared allergens, for foreign substances, or for some kind of adulteration have become common place.  I have read several stories from Europe covering meat or meat products labeled 'beef' that contained significant amounts of pork or horse meat.  That tells me that the problem is somehow inherent in the factory food production system.  All these stories have led us to a few basic rules.  First, buy products with the shortest 'supply lines.'  Local if possible.  My ideal would be a supply line that reaches a few feet to my gardens.  Not possible--too small a space.  Second, buy the least processed products possible.  The recall in the link above wouldn't have affected us at all.  Any 'chicken fried steak' we would have prepared from scratch.  Given the nature of our food supply system we allow ourselves some wiggle room.

I noted yesterday that we have too many 'one size fits all' systems in our culture.  This Undernews piece presents another: education, or rather, the Common Core policy which replaces to an extent another 'one size fits all' policy (No Child Left Behind.)

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