Fueled by a perceived necessity for some, due to past starvation history, while for others a compulsion prompted by present day pandemic shortages, food preparedness has become a modern day trend allowing for sustainable living.
After planting an extensive organic food garden this year at a new property, after years without space for a garden, the appeal for food preservation re-surged for me. In the past, with a young family and a garden, food harvesting, foraging and canning were a common fall ritual. Presently, canning supply shortages are common in many parts of the country, the result of the resurgence of food preparedness through preservation. This has come after a renewed interest in backyard gardening, prompted by the lockdowns.
My food preparedness ‘fury’ is the result of a combination of a family ‘food deprivation’ history and a need to ‘be prepared’ in terms of having enough healthy food supply available to last till next year’s harvest, just in case, as forecasted, there will be food shortages due to the pandemic. It also gives me a chance to rekindle my ‘hippie ways’ of reaping natures bounty of food and herbs. Practices that I attribute to my health recovery and which I shared with clients as a nutritional consultant over the years to help them with their health challenges.
My ancestors suffered from food deprivation, during, and post WW11. The Dutch famine of 1944-45, known as the ‘Hongerwinter’, in the Netherlands, took place in the German occupied western provinces. Blockades cut off food and fuel shipments from farm towns. An estimated 22,000 people died of starvation, numbers that would have been higher if it had not been for the soup kitchens in urban communities.
As food stores became depleted in the Netherlands, adult food rations, dropped to below 1000 calories a day by the end of November 1944 and to 580 calories in the west by the end of February 1945.
Food grown by my Opa (grandfather) and his family was confiscated by the Nazis. My Oma (grandmother) shared stories of people coming to the door and asking for food during WW11, when she and Opa, and their nine children (including my mother) had barely enough to feed themselves. And yet, my grandmother said, ‘come in’ to those that knocked at the door, and the family shared what sustenance they had. My father spent three years as a forced labourer in a German work camp in Germany during WW11, and told stories of subsisting on boiled cabbage soup. He came back from the war after the liberation by the Americans, a very thin, malnourished man, and would never eat cabbage again.
Operation Manna and Operation Chowhound were humanitarian food drops carried out by Allied bomber crews during WW11 in 1945 to relieve the famine in the German-occupied Netherlands.
According to the New York Times article, The Famine Ended 70 Years Ago, but Dutch Genes Still Bear Scars, published in January 2018;
‘the Dutch Hunger Winter served as an unplanned experiment in human health. Pregnant women, it turns out, were uniquely vulnerable, and the children they gave birth to have been influenced by famine throughout their lives. When they became adults, they ended up a few pounds heavier than average. In middle age, they had higher levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. They also experienced higher rates of such conditions as obesity, diabetes and schizophrenia.’
You can read more about the research study carried out by Dr. L.H. Lumey, an epidemiologist at Columbia University and his colleagues by following the link in the sources of my blog post. Their study suggests that the Dutch Hunger Winter silenced certain genes in unborn children, and that they have stayed quiet ever since, possibly affecting later generations.
Do I feel a need to be prepared and food wise in the midst of the present pandemic, and due to my ancestors food deprivation history? Definitely! My escape to ‘my farmacy’ organic backyard garden, and local farm markets for quality produce, have provided me with an abundant food preparedness resource. The first pictures you see are of my modest storage spaces for canned and dehydrated produce, is a nod to my ancestors efforts to sustain their families through the days, weeks and months of WW11 and after.
Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/
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