Posted: Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Imagine living in some of the drought places of the world where they have not grown a decent crop in the past 40 years. Imagine the number one cause of death in your community being starvation. Imagine your number one concern each day of your life — if you even wake up to be wondering — is if you’re even going to have anything to eat at all that day. Imagine wondering just how long your children will survive before more food arrives.

Think about how lucky we really are to live in a place like Alaska where food is abundant and members of our families and our communities are not starving. Yes there is an abundance of food here if one has enough energy and ability to go after it. Besides an abundance of fish we also have clams, berries, raise excellent gardens, big game animals to hunt and birds and waterfowl of all kinds to harvest.

Many years ago I found myself in a situation as a young man while living in North Dakota with nothing to eat. My car was broke down and my job ended when my drilling rig stacked out. So there I was, no job, no transportation and nothing to eat! I was too proud to beg and too honest to steal and my nearest relative was some 750 miles away. I made it four days with absolutely nothing to eat! Not a cracker, candy bar, cookie, or anything at all, nothing for four straight days!

We have all heard about those people who lived through the terrible depression of the 1930’s and how that affected them the rest of their lives. Some of these people including my Grandfather thought because of that they needed to save everything they had from that point on. Burlap bags despite being full of holes, old tires no matter how weather checked they were, and many other useless items just because of how rough things were during that depression.

I too was greatly affected by my ordeal or as some would put it, “Down on my luck.” I have never been in a situation like that before and was determined to never be there again if I could do anything to prevent it from ever happening to my family or me again. I decided that putting up food was always going to be a top priority of mine forever and through the years I have learned on my own how to can fish, moose, caribou, deer, geese, potatoes, clams, chicken, turkey, rabbit, chili, tomatoes, green beans, and even make jelly.

Just imagine if war broke out like it has in places all over the world? If the grocery stores were closed tomorrow how long could you and your family last? Do you raise any of your own food? Do you have food tucked away for emergencies? Do you feel comfortable with the amount of food in your home right now?

No my wife and children don’t look at things quite like I do and yes getting my family to pull weeds isn’t any easier then it is to get your family out in the garden. Yes they would all much rather watch something on TV than to go pull weeds. No they have never endured going hungry for four days like I have. But yet the lesson I learned has pushed me every year into planting as much as I can in the family garden and trying to harvest all the food we can.

Fireweed honey is a favorite that many of you harvest every year as well as raspberry and rhubarb jelly. Cranberries, blueberries and other berries here are free for the picking and are very popular in most any home. Imagine the health benefits and exercise you get by getting off the couch and going out picking berries besides the nutritional value once you get them put away. There is just something special about things you do yourself instead of the Alaska Wild sticker it should say something like “I did it myself!”

Take pride in every jar of food you put away and be thankful that you live in such a place where storing up food is possible. Doesn’t that food pantry full of food give you great joy just knowing that no matter what happens you could survive in almost any situation?

I just returned home from working on the North Slope and was not very pleased with the family’s production that I saw from the garden, raspberry patch or the rhubarb plants. So for those of you who know me, you also know I growled about it. Yes I was like an old grizzly with a bad tooth for a few days as production was greatly increased and jars of jelly and other products began showing up all over the kitchen. I hate the thought of any food of any kind going to waste and hate even worse the thought of a home raised crop simply falling to ground and rotting.

Yes my four days of going hungry many years ago helped shape and mold me into the type of person I am today. And even though the members of my family might not appreciate my constant pushing at harvesting and putting away food they have never went hungry either. I have always thought that if something ever happened to me my family could survive real easy simply because they all know how to butcher & cut up fish and meat besides being able to grow all kinds of vegetables. Today I’m not so sure they would use all that we have learned as a family through the years.

Maybe going to the store for all their groceries is the way they too will eventually become but if we ever see the days our stores are closed I think they know of a house off Muirwood that will always have food stored even if dad ends up doing it all by himself! See you next week! And no I don’t need any tooth medicine either!

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