With all the talk of “preppers” these days it really got me thinking about the old times. Back then I’m not even sure “prepper” was a word. It was an expected way of life if you wanted to survive. Everyone was a prepper and none of them knew it. Nowadays, the word prepper brings a whole new type of person to mind. Everything from the crazy old guy down the street in the tin foil hat–and chances are he’s been abducted by aliens–to the reality tv show with average looking families stocking spam, gas masks and pallets of long term storage food. (Frankly, if a gas mask is involved, is that powdered peanut butter needed for long?) It’s such a hot topic too! Preppers think non-preppers are crazy and non-preppers think preppers are nuts. No one wants to suffer. No one wants to see their children go without. And everyone I know has put aside a little something, however humble their stash of spam and trail mix may be, in case of job loss or sickness or some world calamity. It varies to degrees of obsession. But my thoughts always go back to our grandparents (My grandmother was born in 1929, just months before the bottom fell out) and her parents, who really had to muddle their way through this mess and came out the other end. And better for it, in my humble opinion. The depression era kitchen wasn’t one filled with prepackaged food, (though canned goods were gaining popularity) there were no big box stores and certainly no long-term food storage outlets. There were the basics. Alot of those basics were homegrown. It was a way of life to grow, preserve and tuck away food. Go without today so there’s twice as much tomorrow and make do or do without were accepted principles. Folks have a hard time with that today. While I try to model my kitchen after that of my great grandmother, I’ll admit I do, too.
I recently looked over a website that listed off the “basics” of a good food storage. The list was three pages long! I couldn’t believe what was considered a basic today was a surely a luxury back then. I came up with my own list of ‘basics’ should I need to care for my family sans income for a stint. It wasn’t terribly long. Since I cook mostly from scratch and use old recipes, most of it I already had.
I’ll never forget a news segment I watched about the food banks in our area. It was a year after the crash of 08 and they were running out of food frequently. There was a call for more donations and they featured an irate young woman with a few small kids holding up a five pound bag of flour. “What am I suppose to do with this?” she yelled into the camera. “I can’t feed three babies with this!” I sat back dumbfounded. Um, lady, yes, you can. Of course a few eggs, some powdered milk and baking powder might help, (heaven forbid some yeast) but someone with knowledge of the old ways could make 15 things out of that bag of flour. Food for thought, surely.