Three Day Food Supply or Just In Time Marketing

Consider this statement:

 It’s the public’s trust that’s been broken “and since almost all food safety at retail is faith-based, the faith has been violated.” – USA Today

It’s true, isn’t it?  At least for many people.  There are many products I won’t buy in a “regular” grocery store.  Lettuce is one of them.  Actually, quite a bit of fresh produce.  Sometimes I worry about the meats, and with good reason.  Have you ever seen what passes inspection by the U.S.D.A.?  And the fact that the meat industry asked for an increase in the allowed level of nasties in the meats doesn’t help.   For those of us who live in areas where we can produce our own food, that’s what we do.

Then consider this statement about fear:

 The enemy here is fear, not the food system. In my book, anyone shouting “Run to the stores and buy as much food as you can!” deserves a special place in hell. – Toby Hemenway

Hemenway goes on to talk about how people are basically too stupid to understand the “just-in-time” method of business.  Ok, he didn’t say that.  He said:

 To accept this forecast uncritically, though, means ignoring how complex systems work. We can scare ourselves by selectively focusing on a small piece of a larger picture and behaving as if that tiny bit were the whole story. It’s a natural tendency: Any organism interested in surviving needs to focus on what’s going wrong much more than what’s going right. But in this case, believing the tale of empty shelves may distract us from more urgent problems.

Once you get through the insults of his article, you get to the history part.  He writes about famines that happened prior to 1800.  Seriously?  Doesn’t he know that droughts caused famines and that prior to the “green revolution” all people struggled to produce enough food?  While we still have droughts, we have learned many methods of farming that provide a more reliable source of food to our society and the world.  Sure, droughts can cause prices to rise, but the supply of food did not disappear in the 2012 drought.

Hemenway does recognize the human characteristic of doing what ever is required to survive and says what the prepper choir has been saying all along.

And, more urgently, during a food panic, how many pounds of grain being handed to you by the state would make you calm down? Five? Ten? That’s only a couple of day’s supply for a small family.

Most people would submit that if you have a year or two of foods stored you wouldn’t be worried about the complex system crashing for a couple of weeks or even a few months.  Unlike the those people who thumbed their noses at us and called us crazy.  Those people will be among those panicking and holding out their hands for the government family allotment of food.

In one respect he is right.  Most people might not understand how the complex system of supplies is delivered to the local grocery store.   He says if people understood this system, they would calm and trust the system to deliver food to our stores.  Then he goes on to talk about how to prepare if you still don’t trust the complex system of our food suppliers.  Hemenway wrote:

If you are worried about food shortages, get your own stash and store as much as makes you comfortable. In designing a solution to a problem, it’s critical to intervene at the proper level, and here, the household is a far more effective level than the state.

It seems he is saying not to be afraid, that we can trust the food delivery system.  But on the other hand, he says if you don’t trust it then be prepared for it.  Preparing at home is your best chance of survival if something goes wrong because the government stored goods will quickly run out.

Through out the article he discusses the problems and indeed he says they are real.  Still, in the end, he says people are wrong to worry about the day we wake up and the grocery stores are bare.  Even so, the article is worth the read because it does impart some important information.


Hemenway, the author of the article, and the book Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, surprised me with his thoughts on the food supply given the nature of the book.  The book is great!  Take a peak.

Reference:  “Fear and the Three-Day Food Supply.” Pattern Literacy by Toby Hemenway. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.