For this article we are going to take an exert from the book “Life in a Medieval City” by Frances and Joseph Gies. We are looking at chapter 3, a Medieval Housewife, pages 47 and 48. Last paragraph of page 47 talks about how the housewife shops for food on a daily basis. She would go to the market, divided into different groups, then shop for a variety of food.
There are several lessons to learn from this example.
Since there was no way to preserve food for a period of time, gathering food was done on a daily basis, and was seasonal. Food was grown locally, harvested, then brought to the market almost daily. How else do we think the housewife shopped for food daily?
Someone had to organize transportation for the food to go from the farm to the market. Today we call those people “middlemen.” The middleman organizes and communicates between the merchants and the farmers.
After a SHTF event we could probably expect this same type of organization to become reestablished. Chances are people who have horses and wagons will divide up rural farms into routes, very much like what the United States Post Office does. Rather than numerous middlemen going to the same farm, middlemen would divide up the farms and have established routes. This would allow the middlemen to develop relationships with the farmers.
- Harvest would probably begin very early in the morning, and the crops would be ready for pick up shortly after sunrise.
- Middleman would go by the rural farms, pick up the crops, eggs, milk, chickens, ducks… etc.
- Everyone would arrive at a predetermined location by a certain time.
- This location may be a country store, or an intersection of rural county roads.
- Middlemen would divide up their shipments to merchants, who would sell or trade to the consumer.
- People looking to purchase or barter for food would arrive around a certain time, say by late morning or noon.
- After the goods were sold, or traded, everyone would take a share of the profits, very much like what we have today.
Changes To The Food System After SHTF
One thing that would change is the distance the goods are transported. Modern day canning facilities, trucks, and ships allow food items to be transported thousands of miles. We have become spoiled to being able to have access to fruits that would otherwise be out of season.
While people would can their food with pressure canners, who is going to transport jars hundreds of miles by horse and wagon?
A wide range of foods would be “out of season”, which is something we rarely hear today.
Local farmers would be at the mercy of pests, wildlife, drought, and floods.
Then there is the issue of fertilizer, field and crop rotation. Small farmers may not have the room to let fields set fallow for a season.
Our modern food network is heavily dependent upon commercial fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, irrigation.. etc. Irrigation allows people to grow crops in deserts where just 100 years ago would have been barren. In a collapse of society people who live in arid would have to leave. Chances are there would not be enough water to support people and crops without electricity, fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides.
Collective Farming After SHTF
We could dive deeper into the topic and talk about how the middlemen and farmers could discuss what each farmer should grow. Rather than farmers growing crops at random, there would probably need to be some type of collective farming after SHTF.
- John Brown – Corn, squash, beans.
- John Smith – Okra, zucchini, peas.
- Kendell Miller – Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers.
- Sue Smith – Melons, spinach, winter garden crops.
- Billy John – Cotton, peas, beans, peppers, cucumbers.
The goal would be to provide as many nutrients and a wide variety of food to the community. This could be achieved through collective and organized farming after SHTF.
By using historical references such as “Life in a Medieval City” by Frances and Joseph Gies, hopefully we could base our long term Doomsday survival plans on lessons from the past.
In this example we know food was delivered to the market everyday, or every couple of days. How else was the housewife able to shop for the food?
For the food to get to the market there had to be some kind of network that made it easy for the farmer to get their produce to the market. Chances are a middleman took care of a lot of the business. All the farmer had to do was grow and harvest the crops, then send them off to market.
This is very much like what we do today.