A Tale of Two Addictions

Way back in March – yes, I struggle to remember that long ago – our country was beset by serious supply chain disruptions due to a host of interacting factors.

This is not a political blog, but I am very concerned that whatever happens on November 3rd, we will again experience challenges procuring items we consider basic necessities. 

Hoarding is a fear-driven reaction to events. Often with no rationality, or only the most basic “Hey there isn’t very much of X so I must any and all of it I can!” Hence the toilet paper shortages that baffled so many observers.

Preparing is about understanding how your supplies actually get from where they are made/grown to the store and then to your home. And what happens when something goes wrong along the way. Imported foods. Processed items. Energy intensive products. Things which depend on humans being able to travel from point A to point B.

Preparing involves deciding what the risk is if that distribution system gets interrupted and what those consequences will be, and creating a buffer if it will be problematic. 

Take my fair trade cocoa powder for instance. It’s a great example of a food I dearly love with a very long, complicated supply chain. The cocoa beans are grown very far away and have to be processed before they can be sent to my local co-op. Same for the two cups of coffee I still drink each day. Can I live without these things? Sure, of course. But I’d rather not have to.

Cocoa and coffee... just two of many necessities in my life
Cocoa and coffee… just two of many necessities in my life

Preparing requires thinking about how much I consume on a regular basis, and how much of a buffer makes sense if leaving the house became exceedingly dangerous.

Or if tractor trailers couldn’t get from the factories to the warehouses or from the warehouses to the grocery store.

Or a freak snowstorm hits the mid-Atlantic.

Or a hurricane that wipes out shipping docks.

Or if the entire country has to be shut down again thanks to a COVID resurgence.

Do I buy every single bag of coffee and tin of cocoa powder? No. That’s hoarding. (Or profiteering, if I then sell it to my neighbors when they grow desperate for chocolate and caffeine.) But I make sure I buy enough to buffer against… you know. Whatever might happen.\

Take a look around as you go through your day. Where does your food come from? Your beverages? Medicines, personal care products, addictions… how long can you survive without them? Can you learn to make some processed things yourself? Are there local sources or lower energy substitutions you could make? What about your loved ones or any pets you may have? Almost everyone experienced some kind of shortage last spring. Now is the time to make sure you are prepared when – not if – it happens again. 

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