Give a little thought to the “what ifs”.

I write once in a while about being prepared for emergencies.  You never know when something is going to happen and you will need to scramble to protect your family and friends.  We all have an obligation to be prepared to a reasonable extent.

What will happen if some disaster brings down the economy and we are plunged into a deep depression?  What will you be eating?

I saw an interesting post at The Survival Mom which lists some things that people in these USA ate during the “Great Depression”.  What struck me as I read through the list is that I know some of these things from when I was young.  My grandparents, in particular, introduced me to some of these … recipes.  To be honest, I still eat a few of them.  Check out the whole list.

There are a couple book recommendations as well.  Such as…

I haven’t read those, but they are intriguing.  I’ll probably check to see if I can get them through the local public library.

As I read some fiction of the dystopian, or apocalyptic, or prepper genres (which often intertwine) I ponder the fact that, in our comfortable modern ages of conveniences and plenty, we have collectively lost track of how to do some things.  For example, growing and canning or preserving your own food.  Sure, some of you do this now, I know.  But, I think we can all agree that not all that long ago, many more people did these things.

In any event, I suggest that you give a little thought to the “what ifs” which can happen not only to anyone of us, but everyone of us.  Individual poverty is one thing.  Economic collapse is another.   If you love your families and have charity for your friends, think about the “what ifs”.

And then there is the ultimate “what if”, which really isn’t a “what if” at all.  It is a “when”.  So, as part of your thoughtful preparation, examine your consciences and then…

[You know the rest.]

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31 Responses to Give a little thought to the “what ifs”.

  1. aDisturbedMary says:

    I’ve got to laugh. Your constant reminder to go to Confession. I find myself saying that at the end of so many conversations these days — up to a few times a week — it is my parting for the bad news du jour. Most people don’t know it is a Fr Z-ism. I don’t explain. I just say it. Thank you for making it part of my vocabulary.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. eulogos says:

    I am one of those who does do canning. More than I need since it is just my husband and myself at home. We would need it if there were no more supermarkets. But not if nothing happens to make everything fall apart. I wonder about things like the giant zucchinis. I have more than I need for zucchini bread. I can can it in chunks, but I think we will never eat it unless food becomes scarce; then it would go in soup or pureed to thicken a soup. However, I imagine my children inheriting this stuff and tossing it. They might use all the tomatoes I have canned, and surprisingly, my husband loves the pickles I did this year. But squash? And home canned beans taste just like store canned beans. Food, but not gourmet. I do can pumpkin, which can then make pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread etc. I canned apples for pie. I made apple jelly from peels and cores which is amazingly good. But again, more than we need. I have also saved up some flour, rice, beans, powdered milk, and lots of coffee and tea.
    The other thing is, if the SHTF, I have no way of defending this food. [It might be good to network with others. You can offer in trade for what they can supply (such as security).] To get a legal handgun in NY is almost impossible. I could buy a hunting rifle. For either I would have to take lessons and go practice. My husband is not interested. To be honest, while I theoretically support the right of individuals to have personal defense and hunting weapons, I have never had anything to do with guns in my life and am scared of them. I don’t really know how to get started.
    Also I wonder whether I just shouldn’t share what I have saved up with my neighbors,rather than trying to keep it for ourselves. All the survival stories show that the main characters have to ignore piteous suffering in others in order to preserve the lives of themselves and their families. Sometimes they are even contemptuous of those who have made no preparations. Is this what Christians ought to do in a survival situation?
    Those are some of my thoughts about the what ifs. [Network with others. When you have greater numbers you have more options, even to help others.]

  3. Nicholas says:

    I’ll go in a half hour or so.

    Also, “GO TO CONFESSION” will be my yearbook quote.

  4. Kerry says:

    Some of the food eaten by Americans held by the Japanese, snakes, wasp larvae, grasshoppers; you get the idea. ‘Pappy’ Boyington forced himself to eat lard when he got kitchen duty. We once got lots of free day old bread and rolls from week to week. I cut it into small chunks, dried it at 250 degrees on baking sheets and stored it in the sacks my rabbit feed came in. I’ve told my wife, when we’re eating this, things have gotten really bad. We think things are going to get really really badly badder. I think about having no electric, which means no gas heat, and no hot water or cold water. Interesting times indeed.

  5. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    As I read some fiction of the dystopian some of the best descriptions of Utopia this side of the grave, or apocalyptic writings detailing things that are more fun than a barrel of monkeys!!

    Fix that for you, Padre!

    Yeah, I’m weird, I admit that. For me it’s no longer a matter of “What if…” it’s more a matter of “Hurry up and get here already!!”

    Step 1. Get my local parish priest to learn the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (I am working on it! The ball is big and hard to move, but I’m pushing it!) [Do NOT give up. And pray and fast for him. Ask his Guardian Angel for help.]

    Step 2. Find a nice Catholic Girl who likes the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, prepping, and guns as much as I do, then convince her to marry me in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass [Maybe some nice, faithful Catholic girl will see this and get curious. You wouldn’t be the first couple to meet through my internet work and get married.]

    Step 3. Zombies. [and… democrats?]

    Step 4. Repopulate the Earth with Catholics who know nothing but the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. [You may have competition, so I’d get married and get to work on that.]

  6. majuscule says:

    I can grow vegetables and preserve them. We heat with wood and have lots of trees (though hand sawing wood will be work). I have two types of solar cookers. Our water comes from a spring. I know how to slaughter lambs. I know where to find guns and ammo.

    A parishioner was saying the other day, “I want Fr. _____ nearby when things get very very bad.” I agree. Fr. _____ offers Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Unfortunately, the church is 20 miles away.

    Guess I can’t have it all…

    [In Networking with others, include a priest! Figure out a scenario in which you can help him a) stay alive and b) provide the sacraments. I once had an entry here touching on that topic. It might not be a bad idea to stockpile some cases of altar wine and hosts. Otherwise, long-term cans of wheat flour and even raisins, for valid wine can be made from raisins if one knows how. Have everything necessary for Mass, so he doesn’t have to bring it. Contact him to make a complete list. It might not be a bad idea in your network were one of you – or all of you! – to have even a “tiny house” available for Father, who may have to make rounds to different areas, like the voyageur priests of old. There is a cool blog about “tiny houses”. HERE Supplying security for Father as he travels could be a good idea too. Things might get sporty out there, not only from people who have flipped out, but also other critters.]

  7. Joseph says:

    Fr., one of those books mentioned has a YouTube channel, “depression cooking with Clara.” The videos are interesting, she cooks and tells stories. She passed away recently.

    Here is one example, but all the videos in general are little gems.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4IjNV3lZkQ

  8. Amateur Scholastic says:

    A small bag of gold coins wouldn’t go amiss (or a large bag, if you’re rich). Real money could be helpful in an economic collapse, instead of the paper junk that our rulers magic out of thin air.

    Imagine you had a bag of gold coins from a hundred years ago. Now imagine you had a bundle of banknotes. Which would probably be more useful now?

    And, you Americans just don’t know how lucky you are with the easy access to weapons you enjoy.

  9. mamajen says:

    Oh, yes. I had “Beans ‘n’ Dogs” too many times to count when I was growing up — one of the things (along with tuna noodle casserole) that I have not made since leaving home. It must have been passed down through the generations. Another thing we had frequently was something my dad named “Boom Boom”: bread topped with leftover spaghetti sauce.

    I grew up in a large(ish) family on one income, and dad was rather frequently out of work. I remember my parents eating fried potatoes and onions for a meal at times. During one job loss, just after baby #5 was born, we had a garden but few groceries in the house. I remember picking some fresh green beans and making myself a sandwich with them.

    My 90-year-old grandfather still eats popcorn with milk!

  10. Stephen Matthew says:

    My personal favorites (in the “I hope this remains only a historical curiosity” file) for depression era cooking is a book of gelatin recipes that featured the use of gelatin flavored with bullion and molded and dyed to look something like ham as the main entree for a dinner party. It was a color illustrated book, this recipe showed a table surrounded by men and women in what today would be Sunday best dress, eating with what appeared to be fine china and silver, being served a giant, terrible jello mold, while smiling like it was the greatest thing ever.

    Maybe someday I will invite the local clergy over and serve a meat flavored/shaped/dyed gelatin as a main coarse and see what reaction it gets.

  11. Stephen Matthew says:

    On a more serious note, don’t the Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka LDS) take a serious institutional interest in being prepared for various forms of temporal adversity? I seem to recall that they advise all members to keep a year of emergency food on hand and in Mormon heavy areas even operate special stores for buying bulk food and containers to package it.

    I suspect they have all sorts of interesting literature on the subject (though something would have to be done about editing out references to the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, etc…).

    I have a feeling the LDS will offer very strong competition in the survival contest if the worst happens here in the USA. Those tightly knit little communities of heretics will probably hold together better than a large suburban parish of moderately engaged, questionably evangelized, poorly catechized, yet theoretically orthodox Catholics.

    As far as apostate cults go, I really do admire a lot about LDS practice. It seems they do a pretty good job of supporting the role of the family, helping their young people to get married to others of their own, the whole “mission” experience, being prepared to take care of their own (and help others, too), and a bunch of other things. On the other hand they also have some of the weirdest practices imaginable, too, so really a mixed bag at best, even as apostate cults go.

  12. ChesterFrank says:

    When I went through my great depression and food was limited, I always reminded myself that Catholics do not starve, they fast.

  13. majuscule says:

    Father, excellent ideas (above) for helping our priests!

    I am possession of a sick call altar! I will look into stocking up!

    Thanks in advance.

    Is everyone offering a daily rosary for our priests?

  14. Find a nice Catholic Girl who likes the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, prepping, and guns as much as I do, then convince her to marry me in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass

    My dear, I would do all of that, but I’m also 45, and you didn’t specify ‘YOUNG nice Catholic girl’. (Gosh, it’s as bad as AveMariaSingles, sometimes …)

    Given that Noah’s wife got to go on the Ark – despite being almost certainly old, and not capable of producing any more little Hams – I am sure God has a role planned for us withered crones in the forthcoming apocalypse.

    Me, I plan to continue living life each day as it comes, and also considering my personal sabotage kit:

    a) potato, for military vehicle exhaust pipe
    b) sugar, for petrol tank, ditto
    c) Rosary beads for extra-special graces.

  15. jflare says:

    Hmm..
    Well, Philippa, interesting that you’d mention that. I find I’m relatively cautious about the age element on AveMaria. Where I’m 40, I don’t typically write to someone below 32 or 30. I’m simply not keen on dealing with all the pop cultural differences! ..I was somewhat amused a few weeks ago to learn that a gal in Alaska has reached 30 and seems interesting. You never know…..

  16. Imrahil says:

    Btw. there is an interesting literature classic which treats, amongst other things, difficulties of the availability of altar wine.

    The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene.

    Very moving scene when… but I recalls our reverend host does not wish any spoilers posted.

  17. Kerry says:

    eulogos, good morning, Viva Christo Rey. One hopes you are not in The City, there in the Empire State. Firearms are just tools. Many of the slogans one hears, (I will not quote any), are distortions and outright lies. What you need is someone to ‘splain them’ to you. Try several firearms dealers, and ask them to tell you “What questions should I ask?”. The reason I suggest more than one place is when you start hearing the same answers you will know you are getting good info. (You are not there to buy a gun, not at first. This is a reconnaissance patrol. You can do this. There are very likely people in the world who do not can, having heard about pressure canners blasting tomatoes and chickens over all the kitchen walls. They are just another tool also, right?

  18. TopSully says:

    Amateur Scholastic – We do know how lucky we are. And those of us who have lived in some of the states where accessibility is artificially restricted know that well. Thankfully to now be living in a state where access to firearms is easy and legal, and in our rural county strongly encouraged by the County Sheriff.
    When the storm comes our neighborhood will be well off with food and shelter and is a strong community. I hope we’ll be able to help our parish priest.

  19. TopSully says:

    Amateur Scholastic – We do know how lucky we are. And those of us who have lived in some of the states where accessibility is artificially restricted know that well. Thankfully to now be living in a state where access to firearms is easy and legal, and in our rural county strongly encouraged by the County Sheriff.
    When the storm comes our neighborhood will be well off with food and shelter and is a strong community. I hope we’ll be able to help our parish priest.

  20. Kathleen10 says:

    @Phillipa Martyr, LOL. You also need a wool hat, because when it is snowing and you are lying on the ground under the enemy’s military vehicle to put that potato in the exhaust, you don’t want to get dirt and snow in your hair, with the water rationing and all.

    A thought on gold coins. I have never seen a gold coin and I bet most people of modest means have not seen a gold coin used as currency. I would probably not know a gold coin from a Chuckie Cheese token and I’d question it’s actual value in many situations, at the street level I mean.
    I wonder if people might rely on gold coins in emergencies only to find many others don’t recognize them and don’t trust them. Or, they might wonder about someone who has access to gold coins and want to know where the motherlode is. Or they might wonder if the gold is phony. I would. We Americans have been raised on paper money and I think even if the whole system collapsed it’s going to psychologically be preferred and valuable until absolutely proven otherwise, and how long would that take. I suppose diversifying means a bit of gold coin, lots of ones, and other forms of currency.
    I also wonder what states are consider the real “gun friendly states” in the US?

  21. RJD says:

    I visited the Survival Mom site and was surprised at just how many of those things I’ve had, usually ones that I grew up eating from my mom, who was born just post-Depression. One thing I grew up eating from the Depression was “pan-hash” (think: scrapple, but slightly different), designed to use up every last part of the hog. My mother-in-law grew up eating similar things in her family of shepherds.

  22. slainewe says:

    “Also I wonder whether I just shouldn’t share what I have saved up with my neighbors,rather than trying to keep it for ourselves. “

    If we call ourselves Christians, how can we NOT feed everyone who knocks on our door? Especially in a situation where we may face the Just Judge at any minute yelling, “I was hungry and you sent Me away!” After all, it is an easy thing for the Lord to multiply bread if He needs us to live longer.

    I remember a plant expert I knew once. I lived downtown and he would say, “Why, there’s a full course meal between here and the post office (an 1/8 mile away).” Seems to me that the most useful book would be one that identifies all edible plants and insects. Perhaps storing lots of honey to help the “locusts” go down would be a prudent plan.

  23. bookworm says:

    “I have a feeling the LDS will offer very strong competition in the survival contest if the worst happens here in the USA.”

    That’s because they’ve “been there, done that” when it comes to persecution, the SHTF and surviving hostile conditions. A brief review of the first 50 years or so of Mormon history will demonstrate that. I do think Catholics and other Christians could learn from them with regard to practical strategies for surviving hard times and maintaining family cohesion, even if their theology is wacky, to say the least.

  24. HeatherPA says:

    Speaking of guns… (A little off topic, but interesting)
    My husband is a retired Marine. Three days ago in the mail from the VA, he received an oh-so-generous offer from our dear government to provide “up to four free gunlocks” for any “possible” firearms we “may have”. Just list ’em all down as how many locks we need. All in the interest of safety, of course.
    The VA (i.e our government) wouldn’t possibly be trying to get a rough estimate of how many guns our vets have lying about their homes.
    My husband put the letter in the burn barrel.

  25. bookworm says:

    As for which states are most “gun friendly,” this map ranks them from best (orange) to worst (dark blue/black):

    http://freedominthe50states.org/gun-control

  26. Maximilia says:

    YoungLatinMassGuy said:

    Find a nice Catholic Girl who likes the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, prepping, and guns as much as I do, then convince her to marry me in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass

    Father Z said:

    Maybe some nice, faithful Catholic girl will see this and get curious. You wouldn’t be the first couple to meet through my internet work and get married.

    I make no promises, but hey, nice, faithful, Catholic girl here! *waves* I have no firearms skills, but I do give a mean frying pan slam.

  27. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Actually, savory gelatin/aspic dishes were great favorites among the Victorians, and Western culture spent most of the Middle Ages making subtleties and other dishes that look like what they’re not: making chicken pieces look like eggs, making bread look like fish and fish look like bread, etc. Today’s decorative cakemaking is one of the last vestiges of this great, fun tradition.

  28. The Masked Chicken says:

    I will play the music or maybe cluck in the choir for the wedding of YMG and Maximilia. Can I adopt them? They can be my grandchickens. I can be a great grand fowl.

    Alas, I found a spelling mistake on your blog front, Maximilia. Browcoat should be Browncoat, yes? Don’t hate me.

    The Chicken

  29. BLB Oregon says:

    The Church has been through more economic and societal collapses than can be counted. The best reason to be prepared for emergencies is that by your foresight you will make yourself and those you can help into that many fewer people for the authorities to have to worry about. The total societal collapse may or may not happen, but the acute local disaster that keeps food and other help from getting in for a period of time most probably will, sooner or later.

    Some people are having enough trouble to get enough food and shelter for today. Let the wise virgins be our guides. If we do what we can to take care of the needs of the poor today and also put aside enough so that we will not be taking any of the limited resources that they will need in the event of an emergency, but instead will be either able to help in relief efforts or else stay at home and out of the hair of those doing that work, reducing the number of people they have to rescue from food and water shortages, we will have done well.

  30. Maximilia says:

    @The Masked Chicken – I would be honored to be your grandchicken! :D And you know what, besides raising me, my mom has six chickens. We could already be related.

    Oh heavens, you’re right, Grandfowl! Thank you. Why did I write “Browcoat”? I am not worthy of the English language sometimes.

  31. Liz says:

    I bought all three books…not very depression era of me! However, this subject has always fascinated me. I love reading about how people got through such times and I love frugality. (I figured I could re-sell the books! I will lose shipping costs, but oh well, and if the recipes are good I can keep them.) I’m kicking myself because I forgot use the Amazon link here. I promise that if I buy my spatulas on Amazon, I will use it.