Washing, peeling, chopping, and bagging fifty pounds of mangoes gives a girl a lot of time to think.
I was thinking about why, exactly, I would wash, peel, chop, bag, and freeze fifty pounds of mangoes. On top of twenty pounds of blueberries, and as many sweet cherries, plus the peas, and the beans and peaches and other produce that’s still to come. And the canning and dehydrating and cheese making and all the rest. One friend asked if I was getting ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.
It’s not about the zombie apocalypse. Honest. There are a lot of very vocal, very well-armed people on some of the forums I frequent, who are waiting (somewhat impatiently) for the collapse of society and ensuing zombie invasion. I don’t really get that attitude. First, I like modern conveniences like, say, medical care, running water, and sewer systems. Secondly, I’m not that fond of guns. Besides that, society in my particular corner of the world shows no signs of imminent collapse, thank goodness. I like my neighbours. I’d hate to see them shuffling up my driveway with arms suspiciously raised out front, clamoring for brains…
I do happen to like having control over what I eat. When I dehydrate mangoes, I know that no chemicals made their way in. Same with making my own jam: fruit-pectin-sugar is okay; fruit-flavor-color-glucose-fructose-preservatives is not really my cup of tea. I like growing organic peas and carrots and potatoes; these are things that will be made into baby food for our little guy, not to mention nourishing ourselves.
I am also cheap. I like things like blueberry smoothies, and at $2 per pound (what I paid for the ones I froze myself), I have no problem making blueberry smoothies three times a week. At $7+ for 600 grams, blueberry smoothies would be rationed for special occasions. Jam is five bucks for a little jar of the decent stuff, these days; chokecherry and crabapple jelly cost me about fifty cents for the sugar in an eight-pint batch, plus a couple of enjoyable hours of picking and canning.
I like to be ready for various eventualities. I keep a well-stocked pantry, which saves on time and gas for last-minute runs to town for forgotten ingredients, saves us money (by buying in bulk), and gives us a cushion for those times when the paycheque, for whatever reason, doesn’t quite stretch to the end of the month. More than once, I’ve had to rely on the pantry when I was unable to work for periods of time, and I think unemployment is something everybody could potentially face at some point.
We also have things like an epi-pen to treat severe allergic reactions, even though neither of us has a life-threatening allergy. A few of our friends do have serious allergies, though, and we’re a long way from the hospital. We are not, however, armed to the teeth awaiting a zombie invasion. We occasionally get accused of survivalism, which, to be honest, isn’t really our cup of tea. Too much emphasis on guns and zombies, and not enough on gardening, canning, milking goats, and hanging out with the neighbours.
While we are not survivalists, I do buy into the philosophy of preparedness. I think there are plenty of legitimate reasons to have a few extra things on hand. Things like flashlights, candles, a couple of sleeping bags, a jug or three of water. A wind-up radio. Extra food. A camp stove. A first aid kit. You know – basic supplies for run-of-the-mill emergencies.
So far this year, we’ve been through a couple of minor power outages, a medical issue causing my inability to work for a couple of months, being snowed in for a couple days, that big wind and four-day electricity interruption, and a boil water advisory. But no zombies. We’ve got fifty pounds of mango in the freezer, now, and there’s still hope for the garden. For the likely scenarios for emergencies around here, we’re fairly well prepared. For the Zombie Apocalypse, not so much…