Before we began the journey of parenthood together, my partner and I were road trippers. Driven by strong Sagittarius energies, we spent the better part of 6 months on the road together, traveling through the states, experiencing the land by car. There really is nothing like it. The freedom felt while driving the open land. The seemingly endless stretches of blue sky. You get a different perspective of the country driving through it. You see things you'd miss flying in the clouds. These days we discussed all the ways we would raise our soon to be family. We knew we wanted to raise our children to be as in tune with the truth of the land we lived on as possible.
While I enjoyed all parts of the land we explored, my heart felt drawn to the Southwest, most especially the Sonoran desert and the hills surrounding it. This stretch of land from southern Colorado down to southern Arizona have some of the most well preserved archeological sites in the country. We made an effort to visit as many of these ancient world marvels as possible and ended up seeing the majority of the easily accessible architectural creations of the Ancestral Puebloans.
These were (low and high) desert survivors, adapted to the specifics of this land like no other humans that have lived here (except their ancestors). Beyond the truly awesome homes built in the cliffs and on the sides of mountains and the trail of underground kiva huts used for ceremonial practices, at each site there were notable food storage locations built with precision and perfection. I was impressed with every bit of the ways of life of these ancient desert dwellers though these granaries seemed to attract me the most. Viewing the monumental structures built by these souls was awe-inspiring though thinking about how these humans actually lived, thrived and survived in these lands, began to reconnect me with the ways of the ancients, at least in my heart.
Oftentimes archeological sites are so impressive, most attention is given to the hand skills of the builders. Though when we remember that human beings with regular daily needs as us lived in these homes, raised children, cooked multiple times per day, cleaned up from seasonal storms and maintained normal life chores right here, on these lands, the story of time begins to unfold. The folks that inhabited these builds were mostly just like us, albeit self-sustained with their own abilities to survive on Mother Earth. Well, they actually were quite different than us in more ways than I want to even count, though their basic needs of nourishment, shelter, water, love, attention and even exercise, makes us all more similar than not.
The BIG difference is they knew how to live a full lifetime on Earth without the help of a governing entity that provided them with water, energy and food. They knew how to handle their own waste, they knew how to move with the seasons, they knew how to hunt, how and what to forage and they knew how to store their food to feed their entire community all year long, no matter what.
In our modern world, we need help with all of these basic life necessities and this dependency has made us weak in ways we can't even recognize. When all you've known is turning on a faucet for clean water or taking your trash to a trash can to be swept away from some magical people in large trucks or heading to the grocery store to buy your weekly required calories, the level of vulnerability is difficult to perceive because it's the way things are done where you live, it's normal and expected.
Though what happens when just one of these systems breaks down and you are left to deal with securing your own source of food, water or safe/sanitary shelter?
Well, we modern folks got a lot of learning to do. And it doesn't have to be from a fear-based perspective either. We don't have to see the world as dangerous and wait for some disastrous event to take place. We can recognize how dependent city folk are on the global system for food, power, water, entertainment and everything else just about, and make small yet continual adjustments to our lifestyle that moves us towards self-sustainability. Whether we fully reach this point or not, we can strive to live more in control of our daily needs and teach the next generation the ancient ways of our ancestors.
Grocery stores vs granary stores
Have you heard of a granary? It's a storehouse of mostly grains, though other valuable items as well like water and even jewels. Granaries were a mainstay of rural life and are still a primary investment of farmers across the Earth. Granaries keep harvested crops, most especially grains, from spoiling, allowing the gardener/farmer/homesteader to use these crops far beyond the season they grew within. Granaries kept food usable for the off seasons, for years of drought and even for times of war.
Recently my amazing friend and a Zimbabwe native, told me about the granaries in the village homesteads outside her hometown. Every single home in the village had a built in granary. It was a staple of life on the land and not a single family was living without this precious storehouse.
During our travels across the Southwest, we came to find that granaries were equally as significant to the natives of the land as was housing, clothes and harvesting tools. Every site we visited had notable stories of how the food was kept, where it was kept, how it was prepared and how it was found in the surrounding environment.
It seems like this very basic life necessity would have survive the generations and all homes would STILL have attached granaries.
I got to thinking, it seems we do still have massive granaries throughout the cities of the modern world and nowadays we call them grocery stores.
The granary store has become the grocery store.
Instead of each family caring for their own food stores, we have become accustomed to massive corporations storing our food. While this has allowed for less homestead responsibilities and even less care about how much food we have on hand, we have transferred the responsibility of sustenance during times of seasonal changes, drought and even war, to businesses that we have no ownership of or access to after their hours of operation.
During the absolute unprecedented events of 2020, the world has come to see clearly, that businesses are also susceptible to the illness that society always creates. Multiple shutdowns, early closing times and bare shelves, left most in major cities feeling extremely worried about what would happen if the grocery store closed for good (or maybe stopped carrying the necessities we have all become so used to having daily access to). Think back to how crazy it really was to see absolutely bare shelves down the toilet paper aisle. No one could have ever guessed that such a simple yet handy item would have been wiped out of stock from every major retailer in town. Regardless of the how and why, it happened and we were all left struggling to figure out how we would keep our families protected and ... well, clean.
Our ancestors would have laughed at us. They were, I'm sure of it. We were laughing at ourselves. (If you can't laugh at your greatest weakness, it will overcome you.) What type of modern citizen doesn't know how to secure a basic good like toilet paper and maintain normalized personal health standards?
Most of us don't. Most of us living in cities wouldn't know what to do if the local grocery stores shut down because they house all of our essential, daily needs. We have forsaken the skills of true selfcare and have replaced them with spa days, wasteful shopping habits and Netflix N Chill. Our ancestors are not only laughing, they are confused at our utter lack of accountability and ability to take care of ourselves.
While we are living in a world very different than any of our ancestors, we can learn so much about being alive from them all. There were times when a family could maintain every resource needed to sustain life on Earth and our blood lines are calling for more of us to remember these somewhat ancient skills and reconnect with what taking care of oneself really looks like.
Granaries in every home
One way we can all begin to reestablish our lifeline with the natural ways of survival is to build a granary in our own home! If our ancestors ALL had their own granaries, why shouldn't we? Granaries are safe places where the most valuable resources are stored.
In Morocco, a 1000+ year old granary is being called the world's first bank! In this multi-layered Earthen structure, the locals kept water, jewels, food, important documents and many other significant family items for storage and protection. This granary was so important to the peoples of this land, there was a law book created with rules about accessing the granary, rules for the guards and these rules were respected by all in reach. Why did our ancestors give up the most basic rights of being alive and why don't the elders of the world realize that it was their choices that created the world we all live in now? It isn't the youth that are pushing our cities to destruction, it was the choices of generations past that walked us to our current destiny.
There is really only one solution; those of us here now must find new ways to reconnect to the ancient ways of sustainability and bring forward the skills, tools and resources lost in the times of modernization. We must leave the Earth better than we got it and I think those of us called to food, plants and the caring for the land, can make a big impact in this process by bringing back the knowledge and awareness of granaries.
We don't need to store food at home in a fear-based energy and we don't have to store years of food either. We don't need to buy thousands of dollars of emergency meal packs and we don't have to watch every prepper video on YouTube, waiting for the end of the world.
We just need to designate a cool, dark, dry area in our home, somewhere that is out of the way yet accessible and temperature controlled. We need to learn a little about storing grains, dehydrated foods and freeze dried foods for months at a time and we need to slowly start purchasing these items from the city granaries aka the grocery stores and start saving calorie rich, non-perishable foods.
This stash should be something we update periodically, as no ancestor would have had stores of grains forever. Crops were grown yearly and were used in the off seasons. Even if we are not growing our own food, we want to find ways of copying what the ancients did to survive the down times, as they will always come. Foods that are not used after a year or two can be donated, used for camping trips or taken out, eaten and replaced with fresh products. Water kept in plastic bottles can be swapped out and the old ones can be used on garden beds, for pets or for household cleaning projects.
We don't have to look at this new/old direction as the only way we will survive the coming challenges of society. Rather, we can stay excited about relearning how to safely store food, how to use these reserves and how to empower ourselves with the skills of those that came before us. If something were to happen to our city food supply, we will also be ready for it, not only with our own granary though also with the knowledge of how to gather and protect foods that can store and have enough calories to sustain us through times of needs.
Families with young children should take extra care to build their own granary. Adults can live off of very few calories for quite a long time though our children need daily nutrients to grow and develop healthy bodies and brains. It will also be a great project to include your children in, teaching them all about the ancient ways of food storage, granaries and why we want to have access to food on our property and in our homes, no matter the size, shape or location of where we live.
Items you might want to get for your granary
- Canned and dried beans (dried beans only keep for a few years and then must be replaced)
- Rice, quinoa
- Dehydrated fruits
- Canned foods
- Nut butters
- Powdered milk
- Pancake mix
- Spaghetti sauce
- Cooking oils
- Spices and sea salt
- Oxygen absorption bags
- Sealable, air tight food storage containers or heat sealed mylar bags
(For even more preparation, store a flashlight with extra batteries, candles with matches, water filtration system/filters and generator)
This list can be built up over time and bought at a number of stores on almost any budget. The Dollar Store has extremely affordable canned foods, bags of rice and beans. Amazon is a great place to buy bulk dried foods, Winco and Walmart both have some amazing deals in their non-perishable aisles.
Something to take note of, the elements of your granary will effect the quality of your food store. Humidity, light, temperature and oxygen are all factors in length of time food will keep and if bugs will grow. All grains have bug larvae on and in them, all of them. If there is enough oxygen in the bags, the larvae will hatch and begin to feed off the grains. Learning how to store food in oxygen tight containers/bags is important. Oxygen remover packets will absorb the oxygen in the containers as well and keep the bugs from hatching.
Also, start learning more about the ancient ways of our ancestors and how granaries help(ed) maintain life for us all (then and now). There are a ton of "prepper" videos on YouTube that will teach you the basics of food storage though I would be careful with who you tune into as many folks who store food in our modern cities are doing so due to fear of a collapse of the city and might have a message based in extreme perspectives that can cause more stress than empowerment. I recommend looking to the past and tuning in with the ways of those that lived before us. They stored food because they knew it was necessary to be alive on Earth. They knew that seasons changed, that circumstances came up and they didn't live in fear for these changes. They were prepared, they were aware and they enjoyed the life they led until they didn't live it anymore.