It’s always exciting when Spring arrives and warmer days are right around the corner. I love it when the days get a little longer and Day-light Savings Time is re-engaged so it’s light longer in the evening. I also like to watch the fruit trees start to blossom and get excited about all the great apples, cherries, apricots and plums we’ll be able to harvest in the coming months. The smell of the blossoms and the buzzing of the bees around them are wonderful to experience.
Then sometimes, it all comes to a screeching halt. All of the dreams and great expectations of a bountiful harvest are dashed. Mother Nature throws us a curve ball and we get hammered with a late frost. The blossoms turn brown and shrivel up and the dreams of bushels of fruit have to be put off till next year.
My dad grew up working in an apple orchard and would tell us of the long nights keeping the smudge pots burning in an attempt to keep the temperatures just high enough to ward off a hard frost. Typically, if the temperature drops to 28 degrees for more than a couple of hours, real damage can be done to the crop. There were years they were successful and the smudge pots saved the crop and others, in spite of their efforts, where they lost most of their fruit.
Orchards farmers today use both water and wind to increase the temperature of their orchards and prevent freezing. Sprinklers using ground water will increase the temperature by 2 to 4 degrees and wind machines help mix the cold air with warmer air and can increase the temperature by 2 to 3 degrees.
Our ancestors were very familiar with these potential cold snaps and would prepare for such events. Many didn’t have the local grocery store to rely on and had to provide from their own orchards and gardens. These wise providers knew the importance of preserving as much of their harvest as they could for later use. We hear the term “canning” which really means putting up food in quart and pint jars to be used at some future date. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers spent countless hours in the kitchen canning fruits, vegetables, meats, butter, nuts and any other food item that would last. They had to preserve not only enough to last till the next harvest but extra in the event something went wrong.
Most have heard the term, “year’s supply of food”. Have you ever wondered why a year? What’s so important about a full year? Why not just three or six months’ worth of food storage? The simple answer is this: It’s a growing cycle. Yep, that’s it. Our ancestors understood that if a crop got wiped out this year, it would be at least another year before they could harvest their next crop. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Yet in today’s world, we’re seldom conscience of the growing season of any given food. The grocery store always seems to have what we need and apparently, somewhere in the world, it’s the right growing season for what we’re looking for and the grocery store has it shipped in from far and wide.
As a result, we have allowed ourselves to become dependent on a significant amount of produce shipped in from Mexico and South and Central America. U.S. farmers grow a lot of produce, but imports are filling most of the rising demand, especially during winter months. In fact, the volume of imports has increased to more than 150 fruits and vegetables.
As the farming, production and distribution of our food supply becomes more and more complex, the potential disruption of this supply becomes more probable. There are just so many moving parts that it’s only a matter of time before something goes sideways and disrupts the flow from the grower to the consumer.
We have all seen the news reports of empty shelves at grocery stores due to a trucker’s strike or an impending hurricane or announced shortage. It doesn’t take long for panicked consumers to rush to their local grocery store in an attempt to beat others to the available food so at least “they and theirs” will have something to eat, not concerning themselves with others who may not have been able to get to the store as quickly.
The bottom line, you and I have no control over the flow of food to our local grocery store. We are totally dependent on all the factors coming together in a timely fashion to provide us with the fresh food and produce we’re accustom to purchasing and consuming. The only way we can protect ourselves against a myriad of potential issues that could disrupt our food supply is to follow the example of our ancestors – set aside enough food for future needs.
We have so much the advantage over what our ancestors had to do to provide the security of food storage. Rather than spending countless hours and days of labor growing, harvesting and preserving the food, we now have access to dehydrated and freeze-dried food. It will last longer, it’s more durable and takes up less space than countless quart jars of bottled food. And all we need to do is purchase the appropriate amount for our families and store it away.
In addition, due to current-day technology, we can also store away our second year’s supply of food in the form of heirloom seeds. These seeds have been properly treated to last over five years on your shelf and provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. They are heirloom seeds (non-hybrid) so that one can take the seeds from the harvested produce to plant a subsequent year’s garden. The cost of this “second year’s supply” is very reasonable and the seeds are easy to store. As long as you have the space to grow a garden, (even if it means tilling up your lawn) and access to water, you’ll be in great shape should the need to grow your own food lasts longer than a year.
Please take the time now to protect your family against the very real possibility of food shortages in the future by not only having the appropriate level on dehydrated and freeze-dried food but also the back-up of heirloom garden seeds. Mother Nature WILL throw us a curve ball. It’s happened so many times in the past and is guaranteed to happen again in the future.