December 29, 2013
A few people outside the mid-Michigan area may have some vague awareness that we had a little incident about a week ago. I woke up last Sunday, drank some coffee and looked outside to a crystal wonderland. All the trees, every surface, had about a quarter of an inch of ice wrapped around, producing a twinkly glow. Diane decided that discretion was the better part of valor and decided not to try and drive to church. I had a cup of coffee and drifted upstairs to write last week’s Thornapple blog (which did elicit one response from a reader who was excited to know whether the Gailey’s I was referring to might be in Springfield Missouri). [It was.]
So, deep parenthetical references and all, I blithely posted the blog. We heard a few cracks. I’m not talking wisecracks now. We hear those every Sunday. I’m talking tree limbs breaking in half, sometimes tree trunks breaking in half. Readers from mid-Michigan do not need to be told. The ice was taking down limbs and the occasional tree left and right. Creative destruction is what Paul Samuelson might have called it. And then of course the power lines started to come down with it. So to make an already meandering story a wee bit more direct, out power went out at about 3 pm last Sunday, not long after I posted the blog.
So at this point, both of my regular readers are wondering what the food connection is here. Well, we did immediately cook up a bunch of bacon that was sure to go bad if the power stayed off. Which it did. About three days later, the refrigerator was the warmest spot in the house. When the power finally came on again last Friday, a fair amount of stuff was, as they say, ruint. Some of the frozen goods remained frized for all that time, but there was a big bag of frozen raspberries from last summer that was down on the bottom shelf, and they looked kind of like a recently severed head.
So I guess there’s a connection here to vulnerability. Not so much that severed head thing. People like to eat something pretty much everyday, but events like this remind us of how fragile our web of dependency actually is. Not that we have anything really worthy of complaint, mind you. Pretty soon people started pitching in to help each other out. We wound up eating our Christmas dinner courtesy of the chefs at Grand Haven Manor. There are hundreds of millions of people, and hundreds to thousands in mid-Michigan alone, who have it a lot worse every day of the week. It’s that sharing spirit that hooks this story up to food ethics, and it just harks back to the perrenial theme we hit every so often here in the Thornapple blog.Wonderful how the warmth comes through when a big storm throws everyone into a tizzy.
But I have to say, it was mainly a royal pain in the butt!
Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University