As some of you may know (or not), I made a Brexit closet which is basically a mini version of the preppers guide to a disaster, but with less intensity because it was really about filling possible supply chain gaps, which I expected to last no more than 2 weeks to 1 month. Due to its nature, it was really a bourgeois prep food closet as there was a lot of German wine and Italian coffee in it. It is also no longer a closet because I turned my under the stairs panty into my husband’s office, but that is a story for another day. You can’t hold the bourgeois food in my prep closet against me because I honestly thought that I was leaving the EU not preparing for a pandemic.
Fast forward to #CoronavirusPandemic and my Brexit closet has had a little revamp. It was after reading this excellent article on the pandemic that I decided to give my Brexit closet a little pandemic prep TLC. This was the quote that got me really thinking:
Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus, now dubbed COVID-19, is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind.
So what do you really need (besides my German wine supply)? There are (1) food supplies and there are (2) household cleaning supplies. I’ve listed some guidelines below from the Canadian government, because the Canadian government seems to be dealing with the crisis more sensibly than either the U.S. or the U.K. government (imho).
In addition to food, there are also Money and Health related issues. I’m going to list some ideas that have come up for me in my “research”. I am not an epidemiologist so I will not discuss the virus but I am a statistician and understand words like “exponential” and “logistic”. Think of this as a collection of some advice that I screened for seeming credible. In general the key idea of social distancing is about reducing the number of people (and their germs) that you are exposed to. Do that and you can assist in “flattening the curve,” which keeps our health-services running for the people that really need them (vulnerable people).
Here is the site from the Government of Canada. I am sure that you have heard that the Prime Minister is in isolation after his wife tested positive? If he can do social isolation (he is really busy), you can do it too. Here we go: On Food, Money, and Mental Health
Food and Cleaning:
You basically need to have grains (rice, pasta, noodles), beans and canned or frozen fruit and veg, and stuff for stocks and soups. In terms of other personal hygiene stuff, you need soap, bleach for disinfecting, garbage bags, tissue, and some basic medicine like paracetamol and ibuprofen. Real preppers also suggest that that you store water. Someone on my twitter posted a place for pantry recipes. It seemed like a good start for ideas, though it is not vegan nor vegetarian. I recently bought a mini-cooker. It has the function of making rice, slow cooking, cake, and yogurt. It’s also small enough for 2 people (I think there is a larger size if you are feeding a larger family) and you mostly press play and wait for your delicious food to arrive and can therefore have the grocery store and Deliveroo able to deliver food to grandma instead.
I bought stuff to make Doukhobor Bortsch. if you have no idea who Doukhobors are and what kind of Bortsch they eat, you are probably not alone. According to the USCC website, “The Doukhobor movement emerged in the 18th century as a Russian Christian peasant reaction to the excessive opulence, elaborate rituals and authoritative practices of the Orthodox Church […] Some 7500 Doukhobors, nearly a third of the total existing population, settled on the Canadian prairies in the early 1900s, establishing dozens of communal village settlements on government granted homesteads in what is now the province of Saskatchewan […] About 6000 emigrated to British Columbia in 1908 to settle on large parcels of privately purchased land. Nearly 80 communal villages were constructed throughout the Kootenay-Boundary region of B.C. with elaborate supportive agro-industrial complexes in Grand Forks and Brilliant, under the corporate ownership of the CCUB (Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood).”
It takes a very long time to make and requires (as you can see) three pans (I saw one recipe online that said 2 pans and this is incorrect) and one giant pot. It is vegetarian (Doukhobors don’t eat meat) but it is not vegan. Indeed, its main selling point is the enormous amount of butter and whipped cream which gives it this orange colour. It can sit in the fridge for about 5 days. You can also freeze it (but do not freeze in the glass jars!). You cannot pressure can dairy (that is a no no) so either fridge and eat or freezer. My grandmother used to put it under the stairs and in a dark place in the basement, but she ate it all the time so I don’t know how long that really will preserve it for. It is traditionally served with homemade bread, butter, and cheddar cheese.
The recipe that I used is from this book.
My already mostly in place Brexit closet made it very easy to prepare for this without it being too expensive. But it is really expensive to drop a whole bunch of money on additional food items, especially if you work for yourself and are having clients cut back on you. Try to add things each time you shop rather than going out and getting everything.
I also have a veg-trug and a pressure canner. These are way too expensive things that are crucial to my doomsday plan. They are also likely unnecessary but if you find yourself liking homestead living in the city/suburbs, maybe these are things you want in the future not because of a virus but because you like them? You can also grow easy to grow things like lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and herbs on your windowsill. See here for an excellent post on permaculture.
I am currently waiting to hear about what my employer is going to say about working from home / online. My husband’s company is also planning on working with a skeleton staff and remote work. Lots of people do not have this working from home luxury. As entrepreneurs, both my cleaner and my personal trainer are really sensitive to fluctuations in their income. With people canceling because they are sick, or they are scared, they are seeing dramatic reductions to their cash. I mentioned awhile back that there was a Federal Reserve Bank report showing that poorer people don’t have emergency cash. It means that there are a lot of people out there right now insecure and with little savings. Being pro-social means paying these people irrespective of if they come and work for you or if you go to them. This also means trying to pay your staff (if you have one) and you are an employer and trying split shifts (like they did in Japan) to make sure not all your employees are exposed at once.
I’ve read a couple of places that mental health issues increase with social distancing. I was just sent an invitation for a meditation retreat (online) so that people can meet virtually and still sit to a structure. I’ve seen a similar thing where someone suggested an online running group. Checking in with people on video (Zoom, Skype) and trying to stay working to a structure is really important. Also, people who are caring for the elderly or children can also go crazy in cramped quarters. Think ahead about things you can do besides playing Cards Against Humanity and watching netflix documentaries about pandemics. One of the nicest things I have seen so far is a report that Italians are beating social isolation by singing and playing music from balconies. Remember that social distancing means keeping a meter apart physically, not spiritually, mentally, or emotionally.