Our power was out for about 29 hours; from 10 a.m. Thursday morning to 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. It was really awful. I mean, aside from the lack of our usual entertainments (netflix, internet, x-box, or smartphone games (didn’t want to unnecessarily drain the batteries)), which wasn’t actually that bad — we could still crochet and read and paint and whatnot — it was the cold, and also the lack of cooked food.
I mean, when we talk about this modern era and our modern conveniences, a lot of people do tend to focus on the pervasiveness of video games and internet dependency. A lot of people do tend to be all mocking of dependence on electricity for amusement (“When I was your age, we read books!”) — but we’re dependent on it for so much more than just amusement.
How many of us know how to cook on a wood stove? How many of us have a wood stove? How many of us have fireplaces, or know how to properly start a fire? And even if you have a wood stove and a fireplace and know how to use them, what about your freezer or fridge? We packed our coolers full of snow and ice, but I found myself thinking about what would happen if a summer storm took out the electric grid, or some massive terrorist event. How do you keep stuff cool and fresh without electricity? I know about root cellars and ice boxes, but is it one or the other or both? And do root cellars work in any climate, or any specific ones?
And most of us don’t even know how to produce our own fresh food anymore, how on earth would we manage without grocery stores? Do you know how to milk a cow or goat? Churn butter? Hell, do you even know how to build a butter churn, because I’m 99% sure the average American citizen doesn’t own a butter churn or know where to buy one, let alone how to use it. Do you know how to make cheese? Soap? I know making soap involves boiling water and lye. I think. How do you salt meat to preserve it for the winter?
This isn’t even a matter of just raising a garden, I’m talking about protein, meats. How many average Americans know how to raise and maintain goats, cows, or chickens? How many middle-class suburbanites could survive off the electric grid?