In the past I have lamented how we have lost much of our connection to our past.
It’s an issue farmers know all too well.
As a growing percentage of our population are now two or more generations removed from the farm the understanding of what goes into producing food is lost.
It becomes ever easier for the public to latch on to idyllic ideas of what it should be and those visions of farming may have little to do with the reality of driving a tractor, or grazing cattle.
Yet as voters the public holds some sway with policy makers in government and the changes they may successfully lobby for can impact how producers go about their business.
But it goes farther than that too.
Last week I stopped by the Yorkton branch of the Western Development Museum for a couple of afternoons to capture pictures of the annual summer youth program the branch hosts.
Over three days the youth involved were given at least a little taste of what pioneers faced.
They had chances to make rope by winding twine, churning cream to get butter, and making their own candles.
It’s not a program that is going to make the youth suddenly pioneer revivalists, but they are at least given a glimpse at a time when butter did not come out of a tub from the store, or that candles come in scents of lavender and lilac from a dollar store.
That said the time spent watching the youth doing their projects did get me to reflecting on the lost art of self sufficiency.
Again I have talked about this before, but the family garden is increasingly a thing of the past. It’s still amazing to me that the Assiniboine Food Security Alliance actually has to mentor some wanting to partake in their community garden. Planting seeds and watching grandma and mom hoeing weeds are among the earliest of memories in my world.
But if the basic skill of growing a garden is being lost, what of the skills of preparing food to winter storage?
How many women, or men in a world of gender equality, have made dill pickles?
I’m not sure there is anything which reminds more of fall than the smell of pickles being made.
Not a lot tasted better than a jar of those pickles brought up from the cellar in January and added to the supper fare either.
It is of course more than making pickles. Few go out in search of wild fruit these days to bring back and make jars of jams and jellies for the larder.
Less and less people can fruit, or even fill a deepfreeze with their own frozen veggies.
In a world where food security seems to often top the list of consumer concerns one might expect the public to be turning back to in-home food preservation, but in reality as a society we have willing turned our food needs over to grocery stores.
It’s of course not just food preservation that is being lost.
In our consumer-driven world darning a pair of socks has given way to tossing socks with a hole in them to the landfill and a trip to the store to buy new ones.
My grandma spent hour after hour knitting and crocheting and creating things for the home.
They are not skills most look to learn or utilize today.
It says something about how reliable the food chain is. We always have food in grocery stores.
It says something about our incomes where new socks are an option over fixing old ones.
But if fuel ever becomes truly in short supply so that cooler trucks loaded with California producer boost food prices through the roof, what then when the old skills are lost?
It may not become an issue, but it is at least a question to ask and a possible future to ponder.
Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor of Yorkton This Week.