Every time society encounters an economic crisis, interest in self-sufficient living rises. This recent crisis is no different. When things go well, we humans tend toward all things convenient—the glitzy and glamorous. But when times get uncertain and scary, we quickly realize how impractical and expensive convenience and luxuries are. With that being said, let’s look at the sustainable–and unsustainable–consequences of today.
Covid has brought on circumstances that cannot be sustained long term;
- Fear and hysteria. These are negative emotions in any setting, and have a compounding effect when the majority of society is infected with them. Fear is a defensive response used by the human body to preserve itself. It instigates adrenaline and promotes passionate response to a situation—and sometimes not-very-sane decisions. Prolonged fear and anxiety taxes the adrenal system, and wear down the immune system, making way for opportunistic illness.
- Isolation. We humans—regardless of intro or extravert natures—are social beings that prosper on interaction with others. Physical touch such as shaking hands adds dimension to the quality of that interaction. While I understand the necessity of short term abstinence of these practices, we’ll lose the relational value—and the stability personal relationships bring to the human psychic—if they are neglected long term. With electronic communication increasingly supplanting face-to-face conversation, interpersonal relationships have suffered enough, without the long term abandonment of physical interaction (especially when induced by paranoia). Honestly, I don’t see it as a negative thing that people are tiring of the enforced shutdown, and protesting publicly.
- Relentless publicity/updates of Covid-19. This will run out. Obviously certain individuals/agendas feel the need to prop up the story to ensure continuity. For example, as of last week the published Covid numbers are no longer based on confirmed cases, but all persons who show symptoms are now included, with or without an actual test. That’s not good, and creates the aura of the pandemic being far more than it is. It appears as if certain political and/or news factions feel the need to maximize the crisis. I can’t find words for the audacity of such.
- The defensive position taken against the virus. Waiting for a vaccine. Staying indoors all the time. Covering our faces and wearing gloves. The blanket shutdown that throws all of society—regardless of vulnerability—under the same rules. At some point we must take more of an offensive position that recognizes differing risk classes or we’ll be back in the same defensive position as soon as the next “novel” virus comes along. In his Zoom call a few weeks ago, Dr David Price, ICU doctor from NYC, made the statement that no matter where in the US you are, the virus is in your community. And then he offered practical advice on how to protect yourself based on your risk factor. Why can’t that type of sanity and practicality be mainstream?
And then there’s exciting results of Covid that I see as positive and sustainable;
- Backyard egg layer flocks. That folks are moved enough to want to have their own backyard source is wonderful! In a conversation with our hatchery last week the response to my question of whether chick sales are up was, “That’s an understatement!” I encourage folks who have even a tiny backyard to do this. It’s simple, practical, fun, and is a project that keeps on giving.
- Seed sales are through the roof. That means we’ll see an influx of home gardens. During WWII, patriotic Americans grew Victory gardens to feed themselves (40 percent of all produce consumed nationwide came from Victory gardens). Over 20 million victory gardens produced 10 million tons of food. We can do that again! As of 2004, there were 25 million acres of private lawn in the United States, and I’m sure the number is considerably higher now. Meanwhile, as of 2009, the United States imported 51 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables. I realize a garden can be daunting for those who have no experience, but start small, keep it simple, and learn as you go.
- Home cooking. As people stay at home more, and restaurants close—at least temporarily—home cooking is on the rise. I see this as very positive. We Americans have more kitchen gadgets than ever before in history and less knowledge of how to use them. Let’s change that. I realize most of my audience are accomplished cooks, but if you’re not and feel the need to learn the skill, keep it simple, don’t be discouraged by the glitz of pro chefs and their cooking shows, start with easy recipes, and progress as you gain experience. As an aside, we’ll be launching a recipes page on our website in the near future and will share our faves.
- Stockpiling of food and other essentials. The sway of food fads and convenience has increased dramatically in the last 20-25 years. This, of course, has enhanced thoughtless eating and diminished planned, contemplative food purchasing and in-home stockpiling. The Covid outbreak and the consequential food shortage created more of a reversal to food purchasing habits in 4 weeks than any other influence in the last 3 decades. Bulk purchasing is in, non-perishables like wheat flour, cornmeal, and frozen meats are the new hot sellers. Home-scale grain mills and chest freezers are now considered essential purchases to folks who gave them nary a thought prior to Covid. A return to a practical food economy was necessary, and suddenly food larders out-rank cash reserves.
- Interestingly, on this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the positive effects brought on by Covid are far more earth friendly than the alternatives modern industrialization offers. All the more reason to endorse them.
I’ll be the first to admit that striving for values such as sustainability—which may require skills you’re not familiar with—pushes us out of our comfort zone. It requires that we think outside the conventional box, and seek counsel from others who do so.
At this point none of us knows how the Covid situation will turn out, or how we will be affected by the outcome, or to what degree our survival and current skills will be challenged. I suggest it will serve all of us well to spend some time preparing for a different world—one in which you can be as independent and resilient as possible. And it’s… The View from the Country.