Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie recently compiled a list with very good advice for us all. It’s posted on his website and has gone viral on social media, including Facebook. He lists 10 things to secure “Food Security.”

Ten Levels of Food Security

1) Keeping a reserve of non-perishable food.

2) Maintaining a real pantry by rotating stock.

3) Growing vegetables.

4) Hunting/foraging.

5) Saving seeds.

6) Keeping hens.

7) Growing fruit trees.

8) Preserving the harvest.

9) Raising meat.

10) Breeding livestock.

When was to last time you heard a Congress critter publish such a heads-up?

I grew up with all the above on my grandparents’ farm deep in the Maine forest. There was no power on the roads. We all lived by these “Ten Levels of Food Security.” Everyone provided for their own food/water/shelter like countless generations before. We weren’t starving or freezing during the Great Depression years. We didn’t depend on getting lettuce from Salinas Valley or beef/chicken from Midwest feed lots.

For the past few decades, we have been lulled into the slavery of dependency and enjoying dog paddling in the warm water. The water is heating up. The burner’s on high. What’s for dinner?

Do you have your own water source, wood stove and woodlot, gardens — a chicken coop — a means of lighting if needed for an extended time beyond the fuel you have on hand for a generator? Can you provide for your own food, water, and shelter? What will you do if the supermarket shelves go empty and the trucks stop running?

In the past few years the term “Prepper” has become familiar. People have left cities, acquired rural property and set about setting up a more independent, self-sufficient way of living. Many live “off the grid” entirely. Many don’t but have the capacity to, should the “lights go out.”

We hear about people having a “bug-out bag” to throw in the car; indeed, many keep one in the car trunk, ready to hit the road for some remote place to hunker down if need be. This is only a temporary respite and feasible only if you own your own bug-out land, even if it’s only an acre with a water source, a means to stay dry and warm and, well, have the “Ten Levels of Food Security” accessible. And you need to start a minimum of two years ago.

If you’re still living in a big city and you’ve got your bug-out bag in the trunk of your car so you’re feeling “safe,” you might want to think that over. If catastrophe happens, you ain’t getting out of Dodge. The highways out will be shut down before you know what has hit.

And thinking you can just hit the road and scout around for a forest to trek into and hunker down, you are likely to learn that any land you find is owned by someone. And they know their land. You wouldn’t go undetected for long. And they may not lay down a welcome mat.

We’ve all heard people lament not being able to pick up and move or put in little extra food. And they are right. As long as they think they can’t, they won’t take the steps to do it.

What man can conceive, man can achieve.” It’s up to us. No one is going to do it for us. We just have to decide what is more important. I packed up my kids (single mom) and got out of California long ago. I lived there for 10 years. I saw the writing on the wall, the creeping deterioration, 41 years ago! I didn’t have the means, nor a promise of a job. I just packed up and headed east, back home t’Maine.

After living in town for 10 years, I bought my home out here in the country, 31 years now, nestled down in the forest. I have my own well, a great wood stove, garden.

This resulted in a big added bonus: Three of my now-grown kids now have their own homes here in the country, as well as their grown kids with their own homes here, all with land, wood stoves and wells, and some with flocks of egg-layers (chickens, quail, guineas, and even meat rabbits) and room for gardens and six of my 13 great-grandkids.

If I hadn’t left California, odds are most of them would now be living there. That’s a nightmare scenario I am grateful to God did not happen. (The only son not living up here lives in Florida, along with my other grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Florida’s a heckuva lot better than California.)

But man-caused circumstances are not the only thing that could plunge us into dire straights if we aren’t practicing self-sufficiency. A loss of income from illness or job loss, natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires. The most disastrous would be a direct hit from a solar flare, like the one in 1859, “The Carrington Event.” The sun belched out a giant solar flare that headed directly for earth. There was no way, then, to know it was coming. The night sky, across the world, was suddenly afire, so bright, they said, one could read a newspaper. Many thought the world was ending.

It knocked out the whole telegraph system, the only power system at the time. It fried the lines and exploded the transformers. Today, it would take down the entire grid. Everything would be dead. And it could take months to years to get up and running again. 

There are ways to mitigate some of the damage and today’s technology can give us a heads-up if a solar flare heads our way — we’re overdue — but only a few hours and we could be powerless for a long time.

We could all get a crash course in the “10 Levels of Food Security.” Whether hit by a temporary setback like illness or loss of job, recession, hurricane, flood, blizzard or solar flarewe should think of being able to provide our own food, water and shelter as the best insurance policy we can have.

There is no negative to becoming more self-sufficient.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now living in Morrill. Her column appears in this paper every other week.