How Should We then Live–If Predicted Food Shortages Are Real?

I happened to be at the grocery store the same Friday afternoon in 2020 when our governor announced he was closing our schools because of COVID. The joyous mood in the large number of people (lots of kids) who crowded into this public place astonished me.

Bare shelves in the canned vegetable aisle also astonished me.

What was supposed to be two weeks turned into months and showed us a new way of living. Life has returned to normal for most of us. We hope that’s for good, but maybe not.

This summer has brought drought and failed crops to many locations. Inflation rages worldwide. At least one ministry that supports children overseas is asking donors to up their contributions to meet increasing food costs.

While a visit to a local food pantry assures me that excess food is plentiful in our community, it would take only a few weeks, maybe less, of widespread crisis to clear those shelves too.

We are on the edge of a crisis that may disappear in the next season or may worsen if rain doesn’t come in the right amount over the next year.

What should we do? We can do what people did in the past.

Conserve.

When I was young, my parents assured me that “a starving child in China” would love to eat the food I didn’t want. Of course, their logic didn’t resonate with me. They had grown up during the Great Depression and remembered the rationing during World War II.

I couldn’t imagine not having enough to eat.

Estimates show that Americans waste the equivalent of 30-40 percent of our own food supply every year. That waste produces CO2 at significant levels.

After Jesus fed the 5,000, he instructed his followers not to waste the leftovers: “And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’” John 6:12~

If we can’t eat it all, let’s consider other options.

Preserve.

We can preserve what we buy or grow but can’t consume as fresh. It’s time-consuming and old-fashioned to boil jars of fruit jam or tomatoes or use a pressure cooker to put home-canned vegetables on a pantry shelf. It’s also gratifying to take ripe produce and make it last on a shelf. Home-preserved foods make great gifts as well.

In a pinch, there’s always the freezer, which runs more efficiently if you keep it full. Consider a generator if your area is prone to power outages.

Give extra food away.

Sharing with a neighbor gives us an opportunity for fellowship. You can help someone in need save face by asking them to do you the favor of accepting your excess.

Sharing with a local pantry also helps our neighbors in need. (Remember, food provision ministries cannot accept food past the stated date on the product).

“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49~

Responsibly increase your supply.

It isn’t time to clear the shelves of all canned veggies in the supermarket. Buying an extra few cans every week leaves some for others.

Rotate your own stock.

In More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity, Jeff Shinabarger recounts a time he and his wife spent too much on Christmas. To make up their financial shortfall, they decided to avoid going to the grocery store for four weeks and eat out of their supplies.

As they ate their way through their pantry and freezer, they realized how much food they actually had on hand. Four weeks turned into seven as they (two adults, no kids at the time) wanted to see how long they could last without going to the store.

In the end, they endured an entire day of pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and topped the project off by ingesting some freezer-burned dinners that had sunk to the bottom of their appliance.

They consumed the no longer perfect food rather than throwing it away.

Finally, be thankful.

Whether it’s food that isn’t our favorite or something that’s seen better days but is still edible and nutritious, we can be grateful to have it.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. I Timothy 4:4-5~

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Between Two Ways

“We can simplify our society–that is, make ourselves free–only by undertaking tasks of great mental and cultural complexity.” (Wendell Berry 49)

It’s a paradox, of course–a truth that seems counter-intuitive, even contradictory. But it’s neither. It’s just true. We are free when our lives are complex. And when we live lives of complexity, we obtain simple freedom.

Berry points out that, during simpler times (when most of us inhabited rural communities), our work was complex. We built our own houses, grew our own food, and made our own clothes. We navigated the world using a variety of skills.

A farmer–if you’ll forgive the cliche–seldom put his eggs in one basket. He had chickens for eggs and meat, cows for milk, and pigs for meat. He grew corn to feed the animals and himself. But he also grew alfalfa and cotton and wheat. He had a series of enterprises requiring various ways of working. He was not a specialist.

He rotated the crops to take care of the land. He knew that, without the land, there was no way to sustain life. His complex way of living brought simplicity that was freeing. He produced all or most of what he needed. He lived in community but independently.

When we moved to the city, we became specialists.

Our list of skills shrank. Our dependence on others grew. We stopped being producers and became consumers of goods others produced.

In the city, the essence of freedom changed and became something less responsible, more self-focused.

The change is something we attribute to advanced technology, to modernity. But it’s more than that. In our consumption, we lost meaning in our lives.

Loss of meaning changes our core beliefs as a people, a nation. The nature of our beliefs relies largely on where we come from. Two sets of beliefs spring from our different worlds, the countryside and the cityscape, and will not reconcile into a single way of thinking.

We can trace the differences in our core beliefs back to people moving from farmland to city.

In the nineteenth century, moving from the country to the city marked a huge shift in how we saw children.

On the farm, children had been blessings from heaven. Once they reached a certain age, they became helpful hands on the farm. One day they would become heirs of the land. Life in that place would go on as it had before.

In the complex life on a farm, everyone who was able worked. Children jumped in to help with chores as soon as they were old enough. And they somehow became older sooner out in the country.

At the dawn of the urban explosion in the city, men worked. Women stayed home with children whose contributions to sustaining the family were non-existent or small. If the man’s work provided a good living, the woman and children did not need employment. If the reward of his work was meager, his wife and children made their way into sweat-shops.

It was difficult to carry one’s own weight. Yet many found meaning even in such a place. They worked to make sure their own children would not bear a similar burden.

As a child, my father rose early and stood on a street corner selling newspapers every day. He never kept the reward of his work. He contributed his earnings to the household.

He made a better life for his children.

Now, we’ve reached a point where it’s hard to imagine a better life for our children. Is there a better place than the comfortable one we’ve made for ourselves?

Seeking more comfort–or for those in a world of pain because of abuse or neglect, some comfort–has brought us the drug crisis and school shootings.

Young people lack responsibility and self-control largely because they are more concerned about comfort than meaning. Yet they seek meaning. And they can never quite find enough comfort.

The long-yearned-for-prize of comfort revealed itself to be a plastic trinket.

In the countryside, fathers taught (and still teach) youngsters how to shoot a rifle and/or shotgun. Pre-teens hunted and fished (some still do), supplementing the family’s store of food. And these children were also prepared to defend the homestead and the livestock against wild animals or someone with evil intentions. Many still are so prepared without danger to their peers.

In the city, guns could have only two purposes–threat or protection. Today in cities where specialization reigns, only the police are supposed to protect. There is no place for private gun ownership in the minds of many city dwellers.

Such issues define our differences. There seems to be no solution in sight.

But perhaps a solution comes in making our lives more complex.

We are a long way from building our own houses, growing our own food, and making our own clothes.

But learning how to do some of the things that make us more independent can make us more responsible, more independent people. We can produce again rather than simply consume.

And by learning production ourselves, we pass along production, and with it responsibility, self-sufficiency, and meaning to the young.

Doing so can help us understand each other. Doing so can help us help each other. Doing so may make all the difference for someone disenchanted with a plastic trinket of meaningless comfort.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”