So lets say that you have made the decision to increase your resilience. Maybe you have just seen one too many of your friends struggle to make ends meet , or maybe you are starting to feel like there is a glaring, unsustainable problem with the way that we live in the modern world. Regardless of how you came to the conviction that you ought to try and protect yourself, your community, etc from "system shocks" - the question becomes what to do about it. Lets back up to the basics for a moment to figure out what we really need to just survive.
Admittedly, there are many things that could be added to this list especially if we want to have any semblance of mental health. But lets focus on just number two right now. Most of us (in our privileged first world society) have access to water through public water fountains, etc. Ill bet that if you go in to a Walmart to use their sink or water fountain no one will care much. If you decide to help yourself to their food on the other hand you may have an issue. Shelter is something that is definitely important - and it consumes huge amounts of resources for most of us to ensure shelter through rent or a mortgage. However, this is a topic for another time.
Food is something that all of us need, and most of us care about the quality of what we put in our body. Our health is intimately tied to what we eat, and thus our resilience is dependent on what we eat. But good "quality" food is often expensive - especially if you prefer organic, local, humanely raised food (for either health, environmental, or social reasons). Not only is it expensive, but it is often highly perishable. Have you ever "forgotten" about that bunch of kale in the fridge for a week or two? Its too bad that the food that is best for us is the most perishable while the unhealthy stuff seems to last forever. I rarely hear about twinkies, dried pasta, or other highly processed foods spoiling even after years on the shelf. So how can we make ourselves more resilient by increasing our access to food that is both healthy AND long lasting?
If you read the title you probably can see where this is going... yep fermentation. According to Sandor Ellix Katz in his book "The Art of Fermentation" human beings have been consuming naturally fermented foods (and alcohol) longer that recorded history goes back. These fermented foods not only keep for very long times, are easily transported, and taste great - they are also very healthy and promote a good gut biome. Mark Sisson does a great job of summing up many of the things that the microbiome in your digestive track does for you:
But wait! that's not all! Making fermented foods is so simple even a caveman could do it (and probably did). Just keep lightly washed organic vegetables submerged in water for a few weeks. Adding salt is probably a good idea to better select for lactic acid bacteria (which tolerate high salinity better than competing anaerobic bacteria) and for taste. These ferments last months, taste great, and are very cheap to make. This is especially true if you buy vegetables in season and in bulk - or better yet, grow your own! It is not hard to have a garden that produces more vegetables than you could possibly eat before they would normally spoil. Using permaculture principles, we can make highly productive gardens and food forests that give us considerable amounts of food year round. Anything excess at harvest time can be fermented and enjoyed in the "lean" season. By pairing fermentation with home-grown food we can save huge amounts of money (increasing our financial resilience), eat healthy food (increasing our physical resilience), and possibly even develop local markets (increasing community resilience. Plus, it is pretty darn satisfying to grow something from seed, turn it into a great fermented recipe, then share with friends!
If you are interested in learning more about fermentation, permaculture garden design, or resilience contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org !