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Our Irrational Fears

We have a complete and total irrational fear of being without food. There. I said it. Whew. I’m glad that’s out in the open.

While I scoured the internet looking for the name for such a phobia, I came up empty-handed. This struck me as quite odd. After all, Josh and I watched our grandparents compulsively stockpile food because they were still haunted by memories of the Great Depression. They planted a garden year after year, filled an industrial size freezer (well, not quite “industrial” but obviously too big for two people) to overflow, and packed their cupboards with mountains of canned foods. They remembered being hungry as children. No doubt that they also absorbed their parents’ anguish at not being able to provide for them because children are emotional sponges and have far more situational awareness than adults realize. But what about the residual effects?

While Josh and I weren’t around for the Depression, we certainly seem to have absorbed our grandparents’ fears. Oddly, the phobia appears to have skipped a generation. My own utterly worthless parents (thank goodness I found nonbiological replacements) appear to have many fears but none involving food shortage. My mother is terrified of being alone and without things (objects, junk, etc.). My father fears that his own needs will not be met because he is the center of his own universe (the rest of us are simply annoying satellites that botch up his view). I apologize for being blunt but I am attempting to keep it real.

So why the fear? Where did it come from? Did we really absorb it from our grandparents? Yes. I believe so. Because we didn’t bond with our parents, we connected with our grandparents and modeled our own lives after theirs. Good thing, too. I sincerely hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t! Can I get an “amen”?

Are we alone in this fear? Do the rest of you hit the panic button when your food supplies appear to be even slightly depleted? Are you suddenly like, “Back this spaceship up, folks!” and must race for the nearest bulk grocer, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s to feel complete again? Truthfully, between our garden, the chickens, and my ability to produce a meal with virtually nothing in the cabinets, we are certainly not running any risk of starving. Were all of that to disappear, we could live on the food I have canned or frozen and with Josh’s superhuman Ranger survival skills… we’d make it. And while we’re on the subject, he’d look mighty fine in survival mode. I’m picturing a Rambo-Crocodile Dundee-Tarzan-Bear Grylls thing going on.

Sorry (especially to all the men reading this post). Where was I? Yes… survival.

We would survive and the ultimate goal is to be set up so that we could survive comfortably. After all, isn’t that what sustainability is all about? So the absorbed fears and the parenting (or lack thereof) combined to produce our attraction to this life. A life which we would not trade for the world. A life in which we can teach our children the values that our grandparents instilled in us, form a bond with our land, and live so that our ideals and our actions mirror each other.


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  • CrossView - The photos are gorgeous!

    I don’t have that fear. And we’ve discussed it at home, oddly enough. LOL! I think it’s because my Dad ws military and we had so much (great prices at the commissary) that I just took it for granted. When our cupboards are low I just feel irritation that I have to do something about it….

    And I hope this doesn’t sound rude, it’s not intended that way. But it sounds like you’ve got some interesting stories from your past. And I’d love to hear more… Sounds like some bad stuff that has led to you being such a sweet person with a lot of love to give!ReplyCancel

  • Leah - I have the same fear, though for somewhat different reasons. When I was a kid my family was going through a particularly bad time financially. We moved in with my Pap to try to ease the strain of the situation. But even after the move there was a very long period of not having much at all, to the point we almost ran out altogether – Pap wasn’t doing so hot either so even the combined incomes weren’t adding up to much of anything. For our birthdays we couldn’t afford to have cake, so we were allowed to have one doughnut instead (which had to be split 3 ways for all the kids to share, the adults opted out so we could have more to enjoy) and at one point the only food we had in the house for 6 people was one box of cereal and half a gallon of milk. And we had to stretch that out to make it last a week. It wasn’t a good time, and you’d think at barely 3 years old I wouldn’t remember that or remember feeling the despair of my parents and my Pap over the situation, but I do. And I always worry that I’m going to be put in that same situation again at some point in my life, that I will have to go through the same thing with my own kids when I have them.

    I’ve been feeling that fear more strongly lately, perhaps because of Gary and I talking about our future more and more, and how many kids we want and everything. I’ve become determined to learn how to can food (thank you for your post on that by the way) and start gardening more efficiently etc.ReplyCancel

  • Valarie Lea - First things first… Your canned peaches look great!

    My MIL does this, so since I don’t get to can like I want (not at all), and since we live next door to her, she cans enough for us and her daughter who lives on the other side of her. She couldn’t get rid of us. 😉ReplyCancel

  • chocolatechic - Oh…wow! Do I ever have this fear.

    It all started when I was about 13. We all moved to Houston, so that my dad could get a college education in Pastoral Ministry. He was already an ordained pastor, but felt he needed the education to back it up….aaaaaaaany way.

    Mom worked 1 full time job, and 2 part time jobs. She left the house at 4am, came home at 7, changed her clothes, left to be at work at 9, dad picked her up at 5, and took her to JC Pennys to work till 9pm.

    With all of that, we had almost nothing to eat. I remember being sent a half of a peanutbutter and honey sandwich to school for lunch, and being sooooooo hungry.

    Once my sister and I were so hungry that we climbed to see into the very top cabinets…thinking that there might be something in there. There was….. about 7 moldy marshmallows. We chopped off as much mold as we could and roasted them over the gas stove.

    I remember every time there was a pot luck at church I would gorge myself because I never knew when I’d be full again.

    Things did get better after my dad completed his education, but by that time, I was in college myself and was about to get married.

    Those thoughts of being hungry were boxed up and put on a shelf….till Superman had neck surgery. He was off work for 3 months, and had I not stocked up for Y2K, we would have starved. You just can’t live on $600 a month that his company gave us.

    We all were hungry during that time, and ever since then, I stock up. I don’t have much……maybe enough canned goods to last about a month-month and a half, but I am slowly working on trying to at least have enough to last 3 months.

    It is such an insanely irrational fear, but it is there nonetheless. The economy being as it is, isn’t helping either. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Judy - I actually think it’s a pretty realistic fear. Like Cross View, we shopped at the commissary bringing home 2 to 3 carts full once a month. I ate so much steak I got tired of it. I was never hungry, but my parents were born in the 20’s and Daddy was hungry in Texas during the depression. He told of being given 1 or 2 .22 shells and if he didn’t shoot true supper was biscuits or cornbread and water gravy. Mama on an immigrant farm in Nebraska, on the other hand, didn’t realize that there even was a depression until the government brought fruit to the children at school and Grandpa Duffek told her not to take any because “We don’t take charity.” My favorite Aunt Ada was born in Indian Territory in the 1890’s. She’s a story in and of herself, but she was a great influence on me as well. She raised cattle, chickens and a wondrous garden. She was a wonderful cook, as was my Grandma Duffek. Add that to some genetic quirk that made me want to take a knife and survive in the woods from the time of my first memories and the books “We Were Tired Of Living In A House” and “My Side Of The Mountain” and that’s how I got involved in this lifestyle and obsessed with food – the growing of it, the cooking of it, the storing of it and the eating of it. 🙂

    Lacy, I’m glad for you and Josh both that you have sense enough to learn how to provide for yourselves. If I were your mother, I would be proud and thankful You’re not irrational (any more than I am LOL.). You’re wise.


  • Tipper - I wouldn’t say I have a fear about it-but I do think about it sometimes. And with the rising gas prices and other things that are occuring in our world, I’ve been thinking more about it this summer than ever before.ReplyCancel

  • Jana - Hey doll!
    I am so with you on this one! I am always stockpiling food! I don’t feel comfortable unless we have plenty of food. You never know, if someone lost a job, got sick, SOMETHING…I want to be ready. I also stockpile Toilet paper, toiletries, etc.

    AND I love your bluntness…. 🙂

    and being your friend. JUST wish we were closer!ReplyCancel

  • Marlene - AMEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so with you on certain issues.

    I stock pile food and always have and that is a few years now. My Aunt used to stockpile most things and I think that was just a security blanket so to speak. Years ago jobs were more secure.You could work at one place and always be assured that in 20-40 years you would still be there. Now -a – days you count your blessings that you have a job and count your blessings that you were/are still there in 3 years. The Government came up with ideas to save themselves but not for the people and as a result people ARE feeling insecure. Because of the instability in the work force it causes more instability in the home place. More divorce rates, more physical abuse, more mental abuse, more child abuse, etc. Food seems to be the bargaining tool in which people feel they may have some control if they stockpile. If people stockpile then that is one less thing to worry about temporarily. Outside you may not have the control and security but in your home you are the King and Queen so to speak, thus you can feed your family without begging or doing things outside your home (stealing, prostitution, and drugs) to provide for and your family can look up to you and the children can say they had the food when times were tough. It is sad indeed when families are forced to do things they may or may not have done otherwise. If one has stockpiled abundantly and when they see someone who is suffering food wise and one does (NOT) share what has been stockpiled then I would say that is (irrational fears). On the whole I think most people are very realistic about their food and job situations and yes they can and do stockpile. All the more power to them because on the whole when crunch comes to crunch they will share. Praise God for that.

    Lacy it is people like you who share so much of yourself that enables those who may not have the knowledge on what to do about food do things to prepare themselves for the crunches. By this statement I mean that women who have lived in the cities most of their lives really have no clue. You show lovingly, teach graciously, and teach mentally without taking away anyones pride and integrity. You make it exciting and inspire those who are less fortunate to take the steps that are necessary to survive with out being controled by the outside forces (conglomerate food chains).PLEASE continue to do the good work that you do!!!!! THANKYOU for being who you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Barb - I didn’t think of it as “fear”…until I just read this. I remember my childhood being ‘respectful’ so to speak, thankful for the food we had. There was NO wasting. EVER! I, of us 4 kids, am the only one to carry on as I learned. I faithfully watched (helped when possbile) my Mom & Grandmother prepare delicious meals from what was available. No running to the store. I am the same way. My pantry is filled to the brim with home canned goods, a freezer full of mostly homegrown meats & hand prepared other foods. Maybe now, I will look in fear…if a shelf becomes ‘less full’……but even then, Iwill be thankful for what the Earth has provided. We too, Lacy, treat the Earth with dignity and give back to it to the best of our abilities.
    You are doing a G-R-E-A-T job!!! Be proud of yourselves!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Hi Lacy,

    I hear you on the parent situation, believe me :-).

    That was really interesting what you said about modelling yourself after your grandparents, I wonder if those fears skipped a generation because baby boomers of our parents generation lived in such a time of growth and freedom (technology, women’s lib etc.)?

    I don’t know if I would call it a fear, the thought of running out of food, I stock up because I just really hate shopping! But I do sleep better knowing that we could live for a reasonable period of time without having to go to a shop.

    I think a big factor for me in learning old skills is the thought of what if? What if the unspeakable happened and we had to rely on ourselves for our own survival. I just don’t feel comfortable relying on a 100% cash society. I like to feel that I have sufficient skills that I could barter, trade or make do if the need arose.


    P.S. Those peaches in the bowl look so scrumptious!ReplyCancel

  • Ann - Amen on the utterly worthless parent club – been there, grew up with that!

    It’s funny, I don’t like to run out of stuff – that’s for sure; so, I keep a bit of stock for the stuff I use all the time. But, I don’t like a lot of back stock – it kind of makes me feel crowded – and that I can’t see what I have – or what’s behind what. I can’t have too many layers of stuff or I feel claustrophobic, lol!ReplyCancel

  • marky - Lacy those peaches look delicious..and will taste so good in the middle of winter!
    I have a few of being without toilet paper.. silly I know..but I keep at least 8 rolls in each bathroom.ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - Oh, I do agree. In our family it didn’t skip a generation, but maybe because I am older than you. My parents were around during the war (as youngsters) and their parents had been through both. My mom’s mom divorced her dad for hitting her and sent him to jail so they suffered ridicule in their small town for having a dad as a jailbird. Their house burnt down too and there were 7 kids under 8 at one point (before the divorce) and her mom had to work. My family is very much into sustainability and if there was a disaster, we would be okay with our wood stove, our 5 foot diameter 25 foot bored well we could dip from and our stockpile of food because when something is on sale and in bulk, I get extra.

    I think there are just a lot of people out there who think that if something happens, the government will come in and save everyone (yep, I have heard that). They hide their head in the sand and don’t look at scathing examples like Katrina. That and if it were a pandemic, the fact that the government is comprised of people who have families and will be worrying about their own skin and not that of the nations people.

    I am not a fanatic on world doom, gloom and disaster, and the sky is falling, but it is a good idea to be prepared and keep our lights burning. Oh yeah, and that oil lantern works great for the outhouse and I will be getting a couple more just to be prepared;-).ReplyCancel

  • shelli - I’m in the club, sort of. How this fear manifests in me is that I eat more when the cabinets are emptier. I know I do it, but have a terrible time stopping.

    I grew up with not enough to eat. After I was about 10 or so, my dad got out of the Army. After that both of my parents spent more time at the bar than at home and it just never occurred to them to buy food unless they were cooking for themselves.

    So, yep I have the fear. I don’t stockpile yet, but it’s on my list of someday things to do. It makes me feel secure to have the cabinets full.ReplyCancel

  • Kath - I grew up on a dairy farm so we lways had plenty of milk if we were still hungy.

    I can to have food on hand but also cuz it tastes o good. and I love to watch a garden grow and well you have to do something with it!

    We live in a very small town without a grocery store so I stock up at Aldi and Sam’s cuz you dont want to have to run 15 miles to grab one small thing that will cost an arm and a leg. I really dislike grocery shopping too,especially when the 6 kids were smaller, so this way I only have to run in and buy the perishables. My kind of grocery shopping.ReplyCancel

  • The Cotton Wife - I do – sort of. My father in law died when the sweet corn was ready…. so while we let neibors pick all they wanted, acres went to waste and we didn’t put up any of it. I hated that.ReplyCancel

  • Serenity Now : Razor Family Farms - […] with the unemployed, displaced, and now-homeless.  At this point in our nation’s history, my grandmother (a small child at the time) was selling what little food they had to the men in the railroad […]ReplyCancel

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