Cultivating Resilience In Hard Times 101: Supplies

I'm writing to you in September, the 50th month of 2020, in the year of our Despotic Overlord COVID-19. By now, we've all faced the juggernaut that is running errands, working, and just trying to live. Our world has changed and our pantries have the scars to prove it.

What's the problem?

Just in time supply chains, fly-by-night suppliers, and the mother of all public health emergencies have fallen down on top of paycheck-to-paycheck societies with a resounding thud. Consumers tend to think of things like peanut butter, jam, or graham crackers as finished items, but they're not. Each of these staples is the end result of multiple crops and ingredients moved through the global supply chain, which is a nerdy way to describe the invisible ballet that (sort of) sustains life as we know it. Anything we didn't make entirely ourselves has danced with farmers, workers, buyers, shippers, manufacturers, more shippers, and more workers. Any interruption or broken toe shoes along the way means delays and disruptions.

This is scary, but it's no reason to abandon basic ethical behavior

There's no one right way to supply our households, but it matters that other people are also trying to live. I'm not suggesting that you should go without essentials, only that we have chances to help or hurt each other, and that we should practice as much harm reduction as possible.

My tips

Here are some disciplines that help me to center the common good as often as possible.

  • Avoid buying out items designated WIC as recipients are limited in which versions of that item are eligible for the benefit.
  • Don't buy up disability accessible food items if you don't need them.
  • Avoid taking the last of what's on the shelf, if possible.
  • Don't complain about scarce selections or hound retail workers about when something will be replenished. They don't know or they're not allowed to say.
  • Don't hoard meds. Hoarding OTC medications disproportionately harms uninsured or poor patients. Hoarding prescription meds isn't much better. Do you remember when patients when mugged of their hydroxychloroquine?
  • Separate your long term supplies from your regular food.
  • A big shopping haul can feel endless, but it's not. It's important to carefully manage these resources.
  • Obtain or upcycle some containers to help manage bulk purchases or batch cooked items. Yes, carefully cleaned and dried food containers in good shape and ziplock bags count!
  • Keep topping up to avoid running out of essentials like cooking oil, soaps, and other cleaners. I do this by ordering a portion of my supplies online and picking up one item from these categories on shopping trips if there's plenty on the shelf.
  • Maintain a comprehensive master supply list.

What groceries and supplies do you absolutely need to keep your household running? Review it once or twice a month. Take note of what works best and what's underwhelming. If you're struggling with grocery lists try brainstorming meals and then reverse engineer your shopping list from that. Are there any workable alternatives? Write them down.

You can do this!

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