Print Story thinking about food security
By misslake (Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 04:08:04 PM EST) (all tags)
i've been thinking a lot about food security lately, attending toronto's food policy council meetings and getting ready for my trip to cuba.

ni and i like to make stuff ourselves, like bread and beer, wine and meals from scratch, and we like to grow our own food. it's fun to have made something all by myself.

last week, there was a crazy sale on milk at the grocery store, 4 liters for 4$! that's super cheap! we bought a couple bags so we could make cheese. cheese is one delicious way for milk to last a long time.

ni was searching cheese storage and cheese aging on the internet, trying to figure out if we could match any conditions in our house. we usually make feta, which is easily stored in brine in the fridge, but thought trying another type of cheese might be nice.

he came across a cyber-community of survivalists (as often happens on the internet) and a huge chain of articles about storing cheese for the apocalypse. because it's immanent and they really didn't want to run out of cheese!

one dedicated woman was developing a system for maximum long term storage of cheese. it involved removing the plastic wrapping, coating the bricks of cheese in wax, and testing the length of time the cheese could be stored in different conditions. the whole community was into it. everyone wanted to know how to keep cheese for years.

these were not your average consumers, they were doing heaps of research, testing out what they found and sharing with each other. on the surface, they really seemed to be engaged in their food, and really wanted to keep control of their food supply, and maintain it come-what-may.


they weren't researching animal husbandry, cheese making, food production or actually achieving any sort of real food security.

to them, and to other people, food only comes from the store.

where were they going to buy cheese after the apocalypse? THEY HAD TO SAVE THE CHEESE NOW!

they idea that anyone could, with a little bit of effort make their own cheese, produce their own milk, and thus have a sustainable, secure food source within their own control had not entered into their calculations.

perhaps they had no room for a goat or two in their fallout shelters, perhaps they were going to stay underground until the magical grocery store shelves replenished themselves with pre-packaged orange blocks of american cheddar.

i think they were so distanced from where food comes from, they couldn't imagine making all the stuff available in the grocery store themselves! we can totally do it everyone, we can make carrots, cheese, crackers, bread, soymilk, potatoes, french fries and canned soup! people make the packages of baby carrots, people make the cheese and the cereal and the cookies. it's not easy to replicate oreos, but you can totally make yummy cookies. out of flour and sugar... YOU CAN EVEN MAKE THE FLOUR AND SUGAR YOURSELF!

i have a certain affection for the survivalists out there, i rely heavily on the wisdom of the amazing website, and i dream of having a pantry like Tammy, with all those jars of sunshine and yummy stacked up on shelves somewhere. ready for dinner deliciousness and able to take advantage of fresh foods on sale or in season.

i hope the survivalists have time before the end of the world to see the error in their hordes of industrial cheese. i want to empower them so they think about how they can be self-reliant and make their own food. maybe we can all make cheese together someday. we'll scamper out of our hideouts and burrows after the rapture once the zombies are gone and all farm together.

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thinking about food security | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 hidden)
homemade cheese by garlic (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 04:39:09 PM EST
My limited understanding was that it's hard to make homemade cheese with store bought milk because the level they pasturize it to does something (?) to the proteins(?) that makes it no longer able to make a good cheese.

How tough is it to make soymilk?

there are changes to the milk by misslake (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:11:16 PM EST
with pasturization, but it can be worked around by adding calcium chloride to the store bought milk. you'll never make the fanciest cheeses with the same taste and texture as with raw milk, but it is very workable. almost all the cheese sold in ontario is pasturized milk cheese. it's still ok.

soy milk is tricky without a good juicer or food mill, but once you have a juicer it's pretty easy.

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timely meditation by lm (4.00 / 2) #2 Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 04:51:12 PM EST
My local homebrew store recently opened up a cheeseroom. I was contemplating checking out what was involved with homemeade cheese. Now I'm doubly motivated.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
you're right by misslake (4.00 / 3) #5 Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:15:47 PM EST
if one was only preparing for a few weeks or a couple months of societal breakdown, then storing cheese would be the way to go.

i read too many sci fi novels and won't settle for anything less than huge geologic levels of destruction wherin i miraculously survive complete with a cute outfit.

i am more interested in in planning for this world where i do things differently myself, like have a goat. and make my own cheese. i'd really like a goat.

our yard by R343L (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 11:01:16 PM EST
... is not quite big enough to reliably feed a goat. But that goat would surely make shorter work of the invasive and obnoxious blackberry bramble than I am!

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
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Prune it into shape by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue May 01, 2012 at 04:14:38 AM EST
And make jam from the blackberries?

It'll probably need some extra pectin to set properly which is merely an excuse to plant a crab-apple nearby.

Which reminds me, I want to get a cheap food dehydrator before my neighbour starts bringing me bags of plums and greengages. I get through a jar of jam roughly every 10 days and I hate just tipping the surplus in the compost. I tried oven drying a couple of years ago, and rigged up something with light-bulbs and a hot water tank thermostat last year, but neither worked particularly well.

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Difficulty level: by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #16 Tue May 01, 2012 at 10:12:38 AM EST
Proper Himalayan berries don't come from the thick cane.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

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doesn't work that way here by R343L (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue May 01, 2012 at 10:12:46 AM EST
The variety we have here will send runners underground for dozens of feet. It's growing up the hill behind our house and that plant sends runners all the way to the front of the yard.

Basically, the typical blackberry plant here (non-native variety) is an invasive. There's a emtpy lot nearby that is so thick with blackberry that you literally can't walk onto the lot.

I still pick and eat them though. :)

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

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Goat!! by littlestar (4.00 / 2) #11 Tue May 01, 2012 at 08:13:06 AM EST
I REALLY want a goat as well. The time for this is not now, but I really look forward to the time in my life when I will be able to get goats and make cheese from their milk. Yum! 

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Oh no. by mrgoat (4.00 / 1) #25 Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:37:11 PM EST
I'm not going that far.

--top hat--
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what, Canada? by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 3) #28 Wed May 02, 2012 at 10:27:39 PM EST
it's not that far.
if de-virgination results in me being able to birth hammerhead sharks, SIGN ME UP!!! --misslake
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I have the poster by garlic (4.00 / 1) #13 Tue May 01, 2012 at 09:03:38 AM EST
of misstrish doing that (surviving the apocalypse in a cute outfit) next to me on my cubicle wall

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Me too! by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #15 Tue May 01, 2012 at 09:58:54 AM EST
I don't have a cubicle, but it's hanging above the bulletin board in my office.
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
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I should say by garlic (4.00 / 3) #22 Tue May 01, 2012 at 07:10:10 PM EST
that I have the poster of misslake getting ready to thumb a ride next to her busted speeder up at home.

I hope spacejack is doing well. 

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I guess.... by mrgoat (2.00 / 0) #26 Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:38:11 PM EST
....Do I .. like, volunteer or what?

--top hat--
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I should learn to make cheese by R343L (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 11:08:33 PM EST
I've read the basics, but haven't actually done it. I'd like to make some good fresh mozzarella. The kind that is usually in a brine / liquid and is white and not chewy like the stuff they put on pizza.

Sadly, I've been considering largely giving up cheese entirely for ethical reasons. Perhaps if I bought the milk directly from a farmer who treats his cows well. Or I visit the pastures for the brand of milk we buy when we do get some. So we'll see.

The survivalists are nuts. I guess that's kind of definitional, but I can't imagine figuring out how to store grocery store cheese rather than just learning to make it. The experiments would presumably result in lots of waste when you let the cheese go too long, so it just seems absurd. Just keep a little extra in the fridge and know where to go obtain a goat when things go crazy!

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

VS2FP by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 11:59:55 PM EST
That is all.
"I honestly pity the stupid motherfucker who tries to talk down to iGrrrl" - mrgoat
I agree by moonvine (2.00 / 0) #31 Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 11:37:40 PM EST

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food by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue May 01, 2012 at 08:00:24 AM EST
I read an article a couple of years ago about "food deserts" in shitty urban areas. Basically grocery stores get tired of being robbed so they just close down and entire neighbourhoods are left with only convenience stores for all their groceries. The relevance to this conversation was at the end of the article they interviewed a lady who after years of eating convenience food was making an effort to travel farther and buy better groceries. She mostly enjoyed the experience but was still freaked out by eating chicken with bones in it. Fuck.

And yeah it seems 99% of people think that food magically shows up at the grocery store wrapped in plastic.

There's a ridiculously easy cheese to make - cottage cheese/paneer. You curdle milk with an acid, i.e. vinegar, lime juice, etc.

The missus didn't like it so I haven't bothered making it again, but quick and easy and I enjoyed it. Not sure how long it keeps, might only be of use to cow/goat owners.

Actually the kids are a little older now, might have to get them to make it this time and see if they'll eat it.

Things are greening up and it's time for my annual gardening guilt trip. Essentially I have tons of space for a garden, in fact there was a vegetable garden here when I bought the house, but I abandoned it after the first couple of years. The mosquitos are so fucking intolerable that I wasn't keeping up on the weeding, and I ragequit. Mowing the lawn is annoying but at least you're on the move, kneeling down in one place will get you covered in bloodsuckers and I just can't fucking stand it. I still feel guilty tho.

I did resurrect a tiny little bed a couple of years ago. I take the kids to the garden center and we pick out seeds and plant a handful of token whatever it is they want this year. I do want them to experience that connection between plants and lunch.

those articles are great fun. by the mariner (4.00 / 0) #12 Tue May 01, 2012 at 08:57:42 AM EST
because of articles about "food deserts" you can go to any liberal blog comment section and claim that food in the united states is cheap and readily available or that modern agriculture (i.e. monsanto-style agriculture)  is the single greatest achievement for social justice in the history of humanity and you will have an instant shit storm. everyone will clamor to make the case that it is impossible for people in urban areas to buy anything but vienna sausages and mcdonald's.

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lol by nathan (4.00 / 0) #14 Tue May 01, 2012 at 09:40:56 AM EST
"single greatest achievement for social justice in the history of humanity"

Triggering language, the troll's best friend.

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Mosquito magnet by iGrrrl (2.00 / 0) #30 Sun May 06, 2012 at 10:45:25 AM EST
I swear by it. It works. It made the difference between being about to go outside at all in the summer, and not. Without it, we had a swarm every year. With it, it's tolerable.
"I honestly pity the stupid motherfucker who tries to talk down to iGrrrl" - mrgoat
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Making flour and sugar yourself. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue May 01, 2012 at 10:53:33 AM EST
How many acres of wheat to make the flour to get you, your family, and workers, through until next harvest, including seed grain? How many acres of sugar beets or other source of sucrose? Etc.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Cheese! by Herring (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue May 01, 2012 at 10:55:49 AM EST
When I was young my parents kept a couple of goats. My mum used to make a passable cheese from the milk. Very nice.

My dream is still to retire to rural France, keep a small vineyard and a herd of goats and live off the CAP. Not sure it will ever come to pass though.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

cool post by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue May 01, 2012 at 02:21:09 PM EST
I've given some thought to the psychology of survivalists since I started looking into peak oil 6 or 7 years ago. It's funny that you mention rapture and zombies, because emotionally I think a lot of survivalists are working from the "cleansing flood" myth. After the collapse, when the sinners who fucked up the world so badly have all died, the survivalists will emerge into a world that magically conforms to their worldview and they will live happily every after. Their cheese storage only needs to last for as long as the ultra-violence needs to kill off all the sinners.

And even for people who aren't working that angle, most of them are stuck in industrial age belief systems like "food comes from the grocery store" and I'll add "gas comes from the gas station." Basically - energy is close to free. If we have a collapse and fall back to a pre-industrial age, not only will people have to make a lot more of their own food, they're going to have to change their social systems back to what allows people to survive in that world, namely, actual communities. Instead most of these people are looking inward and working from the idea of the nuclear family, which only works socially in an industrial era where food comes from the grocery store and gas comes from the gas station.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

another widespread view by lm (4.00 / 1) #21 Tue May 01, 2012 at 04:14:47 PM EST
The only survivalist types I've met in person have been the sort that believe that the cheese only needs to last long enough to find others who know to make cheese but forgot to stockpile guns and ammo.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
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so, they plan on ambushing the amish? by garlic (4.00 / 1) #23 Tue May 01, 2012 at 07:12:09 PM EST

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Not just Amish by lm (4.00 / 1) #24 Tue May 01, 2012 at 07:18:33 PM EST
Amish, old order Mennonites, Hutterites, hippies, family farms. The list can get pretty long.

This probably has something to do with living in the midwest for most of my life. Some self-sufficient community or the other is almost always, at worst, a day's hike away.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
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Dear Wife tonight by johnny (4.00 / 1) #27 Wed May 02, 2012 at 10:20:55 PM EST
At this conference on food insecurity:

She was invited by virtue of her nearly 20 years's work addressing food insecurity on Martha's Vineyard. She'll be on a panel tomorrow about food insecurity in places (such as Martha's Vineyard) that are perceived to be "rich".  (In fact, Martha's Vineyard is the poorest county in Massachusetts, according to the census --- all the millionaires and billionaires who vacation here, with their private jets, etc, don't count in the census.  (And in fact, in my opinion, they add very little to the local economy, since they bring so much of their crap with them. . .)

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

We've made cheese by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #29 Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:11:53 PM EST
...but the most enlightening "you can do it at home" thing we discovered is that with a food processor, you can turn cream into butter in a minute or two with no real labor.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
(Comment Deleted) by watkinsyvonne99 (2.00 / 0) #32 Thu Aug 20, 2020 at 06:34:55 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by watkinsyvonne99

Food Security by watkinsyvonne99 (2.00 / 0) #33 Thu Aug 20, 2020 at 06:42:09 PM EST
The safety of our food supply is an important issue and one that must be addressed. This will help ensure that the world we live in remains healthy. As well as helping the global economy we will also help the planet stay a sustainable environment for future generations. There is much we can do to reduce the risks involved with animal attack and to reduce the risk of starvation. The food we eat should be of a quality that will provide nourishment and security to our lives for years to come. These are all areas that must be addressed and these include all food sources, not just those that are harvested by our local farming communities.

Yvonne Watkins

thinking about food security | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 hidden)