Monday, July 8, 2019

The Imagination Challenges

These challenges that I posted were written several years ago and prices have changed quite a bit since then. At the time, you could buy a pound of beans, a pound of rice, two cans of tuna and a loaf of bread for five dollars. You might be able to do that today if you find a good salvage store or double coupons or work at it pretty hard otherwise, but not on a regular basis.

The point I was trying to get across is that we can learn by imagining how we would survive in extreme situations. As you imagine the situtation you will come up with solutions you might not think of otherwise. Remember those solutions and apply them whenever possible to your daily life.

Think "out of the box" when it comes to getting the food in the first place. Foraging, bartering and growing your own are only three ways of doing it. In some places, you can glean fields after the harvest. Some farmers and grain elevators will sell way below price if you buy in bulk. A 50 pound bag of beans can cost as low as half the price of that in the store. If you devide it with friends or family, your cost can be as low as 50 cents a pound, a far cry from the $1.30 I saw recently.

Foraging is a viable alternative to grocery store buying if you have a safe place to forage. For some, that can be your own back yard. Leave a small area for a year or two. Don't mow it, don't fertilize it, don't weed it and don't poison it with weed killer. You will soon have food growing on its own, without cultivation. You might want to throw a little water on it if you have a long period of hot and dry weather, but otherwise, leave it alone except to harvest. If you want to jump start the process, dig up the area and leave it. Some grass will grow back, but there will be more room for wild food.

What will grow there? Different things in different areas, but look for dandelions, lambsquarter, plantain, mallow, wild salsify, wild lettuce, dock and purslane. From these crops you can get greens, seeds and roots. Dandelions are the most versatile and common. You can eat the young leaves as greens or make tea from them. You can fritter the blossoms, cook the buds and eat with butter. You can eat the roots, boiled, or you can roast them for "coffee." The entire plant is edible, but the latex- like white liquid in the stem is bitter. It's best used to treat warts and other skin problems.

If you live in farming country, gleaning can stock your pantry amazingly. Here we have sugar beets, potatoes, carrots, onions and beans, besides feed corn. We once fed out three turkeys pretty much on gleaned corn and watermeion that would otherwise have been wasted. Think of what you can do. I made sugar beet molasses for fun and to eat. Onions can be dehydrated so even the split ones are useable. I have picked up cabbage, both red and green, from a corner where a farm truck made a turn and they rolled off.

If you can't grow, forage or glean, try bartering for some of your food. It won't  hurt to ask and to offer whatever you can do. If you do crafts that people want, if you can bake a special cake, if you can clean house or mow yards or watch someone's kids while Mom  goes shopping - whatever you can do can barter you a few dollars' worth of food.

If you do have a garden, make the most of it. Read up on what you plant to see how to put it up for winter, what parts other than the traditional ones can be used, etc. For instance, you can eat the whole radish plant, from root to seed. Chop radish leaves for salad or cook as greens. The flowers can go in a salad, too. When the seed pods are young and tender, pick them for salads or to eat just out of hand. Some are a little hot, some are very mild. If some seed pods get too mature to eat, let them finish setting seed for next year and/or sprout them for salads and sandwiches.

See how much of the food you need you can get for free or half price. It's probably a lot more than you think.

Image by photoAC from Pixabay

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