Food When There is No Food

It couldn’t happen here. That’s all in the past.

Most people alive don’t remember famine, war, or disease in the United States of America wiping out large swaths of US peoples. War, plagues, famines, and food shortages are things that happen across the oceans, or at least across the borders.

You don’t have to live in an exotic location for natural and manmade disasters to strike.

In 1816, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted pushing massive amounts of ash into the air. The global weather turned so cold that crops across the US died due to frost in June. Pennsylvania had river ice in July and August that year. Many people starved to death the next winter. Luckily, that could never happen again in the USA because Indonesia no longer has volcanos.

In 1861, Democrats decided to go to war instead of accept the Republican Congress’s and Republican President’s call for an end to slavery. They started a civil war that maimed and killed 100,000’s of Americans. Armies confiscated citizens’ food for their troops and many Americans died because of starvation. The war Democrats started killed more Americans than any other war in American history, including World War II. This of course could never happen in America again, because extremist Democrats now embrace Republicans as their beloved fellow citizens and have no desire for their political enemies to curl up and die.

In 1918, the Spanish Flu swept the globe. One quarter of all US residents had the disease. On average, every household in the US had a death due to the disease. Restrictions were placed on stores, and other places people interacted publicly. As bodies very literally piled up, towns restricted transportation in and out of their city limits. The scene across the US was reminiscent of the European Black Death of the  Middle Ages.

Can you imagine what would happen in our modern society where most people rely on food shipped from all over the world to make it to the grocery store they buy from in the next town over? Don’t worry. It couldn’t happen again, because no one ever gets the flu or any other disease these days.

In 1934, a five hour dust storm hid the Statue of Liberty. “Black blizzards” swept the plains during one of the worst droughts and environmental disasters America has ever seen. Plagues of grasshoppers and jackrabbits destroyed farms all over the Dust Bowl states. Doctors gave prescriptions for food for malnourished and starving children across the US. Long food lines and hunger were common place everywhere in the country.

Of course this could never happen again, because humankind has learned to live as one with the planet, and droughts don’t happen anymore.

In 2015, … all is well, unless you live in California where water is running out, or along the southern US border where the government posts signs warning they can’t protect you if you get closer than 80 miles from the Mexican border. Most of us don’t live in either of those locations. So we’re fine.

No unexpected disasters are expected to happen any time soon.

However, if you have an understanding of history, and it’s constant repetition, you might want to consider being prepared for times when food is not plentiful. Even in the modern world, grocery stores end up with empty shelves.

The above examples are of big nationwide and global events, but regional disasters happen all the time. A town, or small region, can get cut off from shipping lines during floods or winter storms. Mudslides block roads and highways. Even workers striking can shut down stores.

A disaster doesn’t need to be global in reach to be a big deal for you and your family.

Some areas of the US are prone to hurricanes, earthquakes or other common natural disasters. Having at least a couple of weeks of food and bottled water on hand only seems prudent in those areas.

Unfortunately, not everyone behaves like a model citizen when natural and manmade disasters strike. As seen during the latest hurricane to hit New York City, looting can become common place and food may be stolen.

Learning what plants in your area are edible could prevent suffering for you and your family, if your food is stolen (or confiscated). If you are a land owner, plant some non-obvious edible landscape items. With any luck, you’ll never have to look at them as a food source, but they will be there giving you peace of mind if bad things happen.

Having more than a couple of weeks of food and water on hand, may come in handy at some point. Hopefully, no major global disasters will strike in our lifetimes, but history tends to repeat itself. Knowing even a little about the past tells us that the future is likely to have surprises that involve food shortages lasting longer than a few weeks.

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