Tag Archives: food

Interstellar

Last night I finally saw the movie Interstellar. I had tried to see it when it first came out, but couldn’t seem to fit it in. Now I’m glad I didn’t.

Interstellar begins with a world facing many of the same challenges we find in Parable of the Sower–food shortages, widespread poverty, and a government that has turned its eyes from the stars to the ground, unable to justify money spent on dreams when there are so many problems to be solved in everyday life. And, like Lauren Olamina, Cooper, a former pilot, cannot let it go. His world, he knows is dying, and they are running out of other options. And when coded messages from a “they” no one can seem to identify lead to a covert NASA operation headed by one of Cooper’s former teachers, Cooper leaves everything and everyone he loves–including his 10 year old budding scientist daughter, Murph–behind for the chance to save them.

There are the usual assortment of questions that move the adventure plot forward, including:

  • Can they find a new world that can support life before it’s too late?
  • Will Cooper make it back to his family?

But the one question that the story most pivots around is one of ethics:

Who do we save, the human race as a species or the individual people we know and love?

The adventure is harrowing, as it must be, to keep us rooted to our seats for nearly three hours, and the decisions are difficult heart-rending , as are the emotional impacts on the families back home. And, as expected, the worlds are nothing like they imagined they might be.

Of course, at the end it they find themselves in crisis, and without giving too much away, it devolves into the sort of strange spiritual mumbo-jumbo that we have seen in other epic space movies, like Contact. But perhaps that’s how it is when science started delving into areas so far beyond our comprehension that they begin to resemble God.

And as for that one big question, perhaps if we are either very, very lucky or very, very unlucky, we just might be able to save both.

Learn more about the science of Interstellar.

Giving Thanks

On this day in history, or somewhere near it, a group of Native Americans shared their food and food growing and gathering expertise with a group of European newcomers who were having trouble adjusting to the rigors of their new homes. In the story told in the history books, the Native Americans were generous, the Pilgrims were grateful, and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But of course that isn’t quite what happened.

The first thing to notice is that the Native American side is absent from the story. Which is probably a huge part of the reason why the after-effects of that historic meal are also left out.

For many indigenous Americans, “Thanksgiving [is considered] the beginning of the end of life as the native peoples had known it before the arrival of the pilgrims, who began to lay claim to more and more land.” Displacement, smallpox, and massacres became ever more common as the newcomers plowed westward, clearing existing residents and claiming land as they went.

These days Thanksgiving-based oppression is subtler.

The Thanksgiving Indian costume that all the other children and I made in my elementary classroom trivialized and degraded the descendants of the proud Wampanoags, whose ancestors attended the first Thanksgiving popularized in American culture.

Dennis Zotigh, writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

This year, as we give thanks for our turkeys, cranberry relish, and sweet potatoes, let us pause for a moment, or more than a moment to remember the Native Americans who gave those early Pilgrims so much, and in doing so, lost so much more.

Learn more about the true story of Thanksgiving, the results of centuries of oppression, and the National Day of Mourning.

Fresh Fish and Veggies

A few years back I attended a local community meeting that talked about aquaponics–a method of growing fish and vegetables in tandem so the plants purify the water and the fish waste feeds the plants.

It’s a great idea, but back then most of the systems took up a lot of real estate. Lately, though, people have started to come up with more compact options, taking aquaponics from farm to yard to house to apartment. Which is great, because one of the most important items to prep is food, and for the best quality, fresher is better. Even enough greens for a salad can make a difference when you’re living on canned goods.

Here are some of my favorites:

 

The Meaning of Apocalypse

Today at lunch, a friend asked me to define apocalypse. We had been talking about this blog, about an upcoming End of Days-themed art exhibit, and why all sci-fi seems (to him) to be apocalyptic.

To him, apocalypse means the end of everything–the total destruction of the world and everything in it, à la Revelations. For me, sure, it could mean that, but I prefer to take a broader view. In my world, and the world of this blog, I define apocalypse as a catastrophic event. That event could be:

  • Global–a meteor hitting the earth, climate change
  • Regional–the Irish potato famine, the black plague
  • Local–tornado, earthquake, wildfire
  • Personal–losing a loved one, losing your job or your home, learning you have cancer

When my neighbor Ann was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that had already metastasized to her bones, she became suddenly interested in apocalypse fiction, perhaps looking for models for how to survive, perhaps looking for ways to handle the worst, perhaps looking for ways to put her illness into perspective. When she asked me for recommendations, I gave her my short list. When she asked me why I love apocalypse fiction so much, my answer was even shorter: hope.

Hope is the foundation of most apocalypse fiction, and perhaps all prepping and survivalism. The belief that there is a chance, and that maybe, with a little work and luck, we can improve that chance. That even if the world does devolve into Mad Max, that somewhere out there lies Tomorrow-morrow Land, where the children will be safe. Somewhere out there lies a place where the sick will be healed.

Perhaps that is what drives us to stock up on staples at the onset of autumn, knowing that cold and flu season isn’t far behind. For my part, I hauled out to Costco on Thursday for discount tinned fish, a 12 pound bag of short grain brown rice, and two 48 count boxes of extra strength Mucinex. Protein, carbs, and medicine–the best bang for my buck. All I need now is a case of chicken broth since Ann isn’t here to bring that to me anymore. The loss of soup when sick isn’t a catastrophe, the loss of Ann, that’s another story.