As determined men and women of yesteryear made their way west to make for a better life, pioneer women often kept journals of their life on the great prairies or sent letters home to their sisters back East. In those letters they described the silence as the most unwelcome guest. These brave women wrote about being left for weeks on end alone, lost in an endless sea of grass with only the wind for company while the men hunted or went for supplies. In some cases the quiet was so severe that it became unbearable and the women developed mental problems. One young mother in 1853 wrote, “Silence is an evil creature, it stalks you by day, watching, waiting, ever vigilant. By the dark of the moon it strangles your thoughts and slips away with your sanity.”
Imagine now, that we are about six weeks into a societal collapse. You are sure you have prepared yourself fairly well. You’ve made all the plans and stocked all that needs to be stocked and you feel pretty confident that you and yours can weather whatever comes, right? After all, you have given lots of time and energy to making sure that you have everything that you need. You have provided for your physical well being, but have you taken the time to consider what happens to the family’s emotional stability when life as we know it suddenly takes a turn south?
In all the preparedness information out there, there seems to be an expectation that ones emotional response to real world stressors are somehow less important than the physical. Or maybe people are not wanting to deal with that which is yet unknown and frankly, just too scary for most of us to comprehend. What happens to the emotional intellect when forced to shoot another human being for the first time or watch helplessly while a loved one dies of an illness or a massive wound. How about dealing with feral pigs, dogs and any other typically domesticated animals? Can you let your children out of your sight to play in the yard or do you live with constant fear they may become a meal for a once beloved family pet or the zoo animal that hasn’t eaten in a week? These are real life situations that need to be discussed along with beans, bullets and band aids. Even Tom Brown, “The Tracker“, writes of feral dogs of his youth while living in New Jersey.
Now that the stores are not being stocked you have used up all that was in the cupboard and freezer and have broken into your stored rice and beans. Everyone in your household has been about four weeks without McDonald’s, potato chips, Spaghetti-Os, wine, beer and cigarettes. The family complains of being gassy and bloated and by now the cravings are so bad that even the neighbors lawn ornament is beginning to look good. Tempers are just one spark away from ignition within the family unit. Depression sets in as Sissy hysterically cries, “I’m never ever going to use a flush toilet ever again!” It becomes apparent that holding this unit together is going to be a real challenge. Isn’t it is amazing how a change in diet can trash the family dynamics?
My field of study for the past 25 years has been in Holistic Nutritional Sciences. This field is centered around the whole body and everything that goes into it, air, water, plants, the soil plants are grown in and the health of animals that are used for food. Current research indicates there are definite changes in body chemistry when one gets off the processed and junk food hamster wheel. As chemicals, heavy metals and other toxic particles leave the body there is what has been described as a healing crisis and it can be all too real for the ones that suffer through it. Think for a moment, you have suddenly been forced to do without coffee or cigarettes, a real nightmare for some. What will you feel like in a few days? Your children have been forced to do without their favorite French fries or soft drinks. What will be their mood in a week or so? If you have ever been witness to a loved ones kicking of the habit you will appreciate that it is not always a pleasant happening. These are a few of the more obvious, lets take a look at some lesser known problems with our modern situation.
Currently there are about 3,000 substances added to food that are on the FDA’s generally regarded as safe (GRAS) list but the GRAS can not guarantee that an additive is 100% safe for every human because not every human has the same biochemistry. Food colors seem to be most problematic for young children in that they can be toxic to the nervous system, kidneys or liver. And don’t get me started on genetically modified foodstuffs, it makes me screaming mad. I can’t say anything good about altering the perfection of the natural world. The fact that this brand new life form was not studied long term and released into the unsuspecting publics food supply makes me nuts. Were humans really meant to eat a corn plant with say, a petunia’s DNA? Of course, that’s a much simplified version but I believe there are some things that we just weren’t meant to ingest. Genetically modified ingredients in infant formula being number one on my list to scream about. My list to scream about on the subject of GMOs just scratches the surface here ,but that rant is for another day. ( hint: get as many open pollinated seeds as you can ASAP. That means yesterday. If you don’t have a garden get open pollinated vegetable seeds anyway, they will make great barter in the near future. Most seeds are viable between 2 and 5 years.)
An application of malefic hydrazide is routinely sprayed on potatoes and onions to keep them from sprouting but did you know that this potentially toxic chemical is sprayed on tobacco products in the U.S., and some chemicals such as propylene glycol, glycerin, or sorbitol are not always listed on a label. Aspartame as in Nutrasweet and Equal has been shown to be a precursor to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. What happens to the body when it doesn’t get it’s daily dose of acrylamide (a carcinogenic chemical created when potatoes and corn chips are baked or fried at high temperatures) or when the body is deprived of high fructose corn syrup from soft drinks? For some people they can have the same painful withdrawal symptoms as from coffee, cigarettes or drugs. I have seen people become depressed, angry, foggy in the head, sluggish and almost manic when taken off processed foods. Raw foods do an excellent job of cleaning out lots of toxins that accumulate in our fat. (See Power Foods by Stephanie Beling, M.D. and Rawsome by Brigitte Mars)
More and more young people are becoming diabetic, something very rare at the turn of the century. My neighbors eight year old child has to be monitored for high cholesterol, it’s just shocking! Students are under much more stress these days than ever before which can result in emotional eating and behavioral problems. More cravings with less food available could be overwhelming to children who aren‘t understanding why they can‘t have a second helping. Even my own grandchildren are such fussy eaters, what happens when they no longer have access to their junk foods and are forced to eat “real food”? And by the way, their idea of what real food ( pull it out of the freezer and pop it into the microwave) is and my knowledge of whole real food doesn’t line up. Where as there lies the problem. When at Grams house you need to adapt or go without. (wink, wink, I have been know to bend just a little, sometimes.) Also, eating a constant diet of freeze dried storable foods and garden produce can have an undesirable set of problems all it’s own. Much more water needs to be taken in or the system seems to get painfully backed up.
What about those pioneer women? They didn’t have GMOs or cell phones. They certainly didn’t need a good detox diet but many did keep journals to help insure some sanity. Writing stuff down is almost like talking to a friend. If our world does the “Patriots”  thing, we all will be pioneers in our own right. Picture a world of teens without their cell phones, blackberries, computers, music or anything else that makes them tick. The withdrawal symptoms from the “NEED” to communicate alone surely should scare even the hardiest amongst us. Taking care of the emotional person is very personal and challenging. Learn what you can about the food you have been eating and the world around your retreat and take charge now. The mental health you save may be your own!
A note to Grandparents: You are hereby requested to help keep our history alive. Talk to your Grandchildren about your history, our country’s history and how we got to this point in the world. Write it down if needed. Teach them all the skills that they will need in their future. Plant the seed early, grandchildren seen to respond to grandparents easily. Their world will be inherently different than the one we lived in. Teaching them how to garden, fix a roof, sew a shirt, harvest and save seeds, cook a stew, etc., everything that you know. What you don’t already know how it do, learn it together. They are going to need all the advantages that we can give them.
Favorites from my library:
Cookin’ with Home Storage  by Vicki Tate (Excellent) [JWR Adds: Tate’s book is also one of our favorites.]
Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M. Haas, M.D. There is a section in this book about detoxification and fasting. (Excellent) This one is my all time favorite, it is so worn. 1,141 pages
Never Be Sick Again by Raymond Francis, M.Sc. He tells why disease happens and how to avoid it.
Nutrition and Mental Illness by Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D. Written in layman language, very interesting, surprising causes of some symptoms.
The Ultimate Nutrition Guide for Women by Leslie Beck, R.D. (Very Good) She tells women why they have health problems and how to deal with them.
Superpigs and Wondercorn by Dr. Michael W. Fox (About GMOs.)