In conversation with a new acquaintance yesterday she mentioned that she had a stockpile of food, enough to last her family for an entire year. (It had something to do with her religious beliefs, but whether it was required or encouraged, or just her own interpretation I don’t know.)
Anyway, it got me to thinking. On the one hand, it’s probably a great idea for the security of your family to not have to worry about food… This is the Northeast, we have had blizzards that disrupt transportation and shipping some times, and hurricanes and other disasters do happen now and then. But the worst of those disruptions in the past 50 or so years has lasted barely a week. So a year’s worth seems way past what’s needed.
OTOH, what would you do if there really was a disaster that stretched out for weeks and weeks? And you couldn’t reasonably predict how long it might continue? Can you just sit there, feeding your family on canned soups and vegetables and whatall, while you know that your neighbors have nothing to eat? (Ignore the possibility of bands of ravaging starving looters, I’m just talking about how you’d feel in your own mind.)
Say it is now one month into the disaster. You still have enough food to feed your family of five for another 11 months – call it 1650 “food/days.” If the food supply problem were to last for another 60 days and then end, you would still have 1350 food/days left of food in your pantry – and you’d be surrounded by houses full of the skeletons of your former neighbors. (I’m assuming that 90 days would be long enough for the ‘average’ household to exhaust their food supply and then starve to death.)
So if you’d shared it out, there would have been enough to keep 22 people alive. Or more, if everyone had eaten just enough to starve slowly enough.
Which you would no doubt have done, if you’d known for sure when it would be over. But you don’t.
So, what do you do? Share a little, with the neighbors you like best? Share at first, then stop when your supplies drop too far?
I’m not at all sure it should be called ‘hoarding’ anyway. It’s not like you ran out and bought all that food after the problem developed, depriving others of the chance to buy it. You just gradually picked up some extra cans of food every week until your reached your goal, and all it meant was that the local grocery ordered a bit more (and made a bit more money) than they otherwise would have during the time you were building up your stockpile.
And, of course, it represents an ‘investment’ of a sort. Say you devoted an extra $25 a week to the project. That’s $25 you didn’t put into your retirement account, or 5 days you brown-bagged your lunch, or that movie/popcorn night you skipped. You gave something up in order to have the food supply. Why shouldn’t you enjoy the fruits of your earlier sacrifice? Your neighbors could have done the same, instead they enjoyed the extra pair of shoes or round of golf or have a fatter stock portfolio.