Episode 255. Insurance In Troubling Times

This is The ChangeUnderground for the 3rd of May 2021.

I’m your host, Jon Moore

Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!

If this last year has taught us anything, it has taught us this: People are both a great source of joy and an extreme source of frustration. While we’ve been through something that happened 100 years ago, there’s no guarantee we’ll come out of this pandemic and not have to worry for another 100 years. 

As the interface between humans and wilderness is continually expanding, the chances of other viruses arriving is increasing. Mrs ChangeUnderground and I like to watch TV shows where people are moving house. Gives us ideas, things to think about. I find my first thought on seeing these properties is could I do a lock down there? I was looking at units, flats, apartments, depending upon where you live just prior to the outbreak. They were very quickly dropped from my searches. 

And think about this. This virus, whilst more virulent and deadly than the seasonal flu is really not that severe in the larger scheme of things. Ebola has a 50% average fatality rate. Imagine a virus, transmissible prior to symptoms with that death rate and a truly nightmare situation comes to mind. 

As with all these things, the wealthy do better. They can afford to isolate, pay off governments to travel or find loopholes in quarantine arrangements, to be in safer places. What about the rest of us? Many people have been left in the position of breaking curfews to find work and food or slowly starving at home, avoiding infection. 

There were many people doing quite nicely thanks very much before the pandemic who’ll want a return to the ways things were. Those who literally put their lives on the line will be expected to return to their social positions within society. Think, nurses, grocery store workers, delivery drivers and so on. Of course the once a week clapping that was initiated in many European countries as a mark of appreciation was a gesture of thanks but actually bumping up people’s wages to reflect the importance of the work they do and did? Not likely. I’m pretty sure I read that English NHS nurses are being offered, wait for it, a huge 1% pay increase.

There will be trouble ahead, socially and I think we should prepare for it. 

I am despite all that I’ve just said, an optimist. Doesn’t hurt though to have a little insurance just in case. At the most basic level, we need to eat everyday. Usually three times but we can survive on less.

Growing at least some of our own food would seem to be the prudent thing to do. 

Again, taking a worst case situation, what foodstuffs provide all the required nutrients and can be jazzed up or down with herbs and spices? Well the humble potato when combined with dairy does this. Now your climate will have a say in this but growing huge amounts of spuds is not a difficult thing. The problem is disease over time. Think the Irish famine following the potato blight. That was made worse by grain continuing to be exported to England whilst people starved, in the name, I might add, of Free Trade. But that’s a whole other podcast.

We know about the blight, we can take steps to avoid its recurrence. The dairy part is both difficult and dead easy to deal with. The easy part is UHT milk. Now I know this tastes like crud but, in an emergency situation it would suffice. Or if you have space, a goat, sheep or cow would work. 


There’s a thing called the potato diet. I, Mrs ChangeUnderground, one of her sisters and her brother-in-law went on said diet a few years ago. If you know me, you know I love spuds. To me this was an adventure. How many different ways could I prepare potatoes? Which herbs, which spices? Boiled, baked, sauteed, mashed, whole and etc and etc. After three days I could feel some changes in the body, they seemed positive but the others on the experiment were not happy. It seems they saw the seven day trial as a test to be endured rather than an adventure to be experienced and so they stopped after three days. I kept going to day 5 when all the previously boiled spuds were consumed and hey steak was on offer. The point is, if we are faced with a more deadly pandemic and needed to completely isolate, we could survive on spuds and dairy but the key would be mindset as well as the ability to add variety in flavours. 


This “cupboard” milk versus fresh raw milk split is the defining line in how the current pandemic has affected people. It might also point to a different future. Spuds and UHT milk are the urban/suburban solution to avoiding starvation and staying out of the path of any more virulent pandemic. Fresh milk is the “out of town” solution. To see how much healthier the out of town solution is, think about how your life would have changed if you were living on a few or even a half acre when the lockdowns rolled in.

I’m in the fortunate position of already living out of town so my life changed very little. The things we needed from the supermarket we clicked and collected, the rest of the time we stayed home. I was an essential worker at the time, in the disability field so I still attended work but even then the clients weren’t there so I pottered around on the gardens on my own. I delivered harvests to the residential side of the business but again didn’t have to come in contact with other people.

Should the worst happen in the future, I would not like to be living in a unit in an urban setting. With a 50% mortality rate or even 10% supply chains would be severely disrupted. So now is a great time to start growing some of your own food. Maybe not the full on spuds and dairy approach but certainly lots of leafy greens, roots and fruits would be a fine way to go. I mentioned the spuds and dairy to point out that we can make do on very little variation, not that we should live that way.

While the pandemic continues to run its course around the world, those of us in the fortunate position of being in good places, at the moment, should think about some insurance. The quickest and easiest way to buy ourselves a little breathing room is to stockpile some dry goods, not 10,000 rolls of toilet paper, but some grains, pulses and so on and to start some gardens. As we get better at this, which we will over time, we can support not just ourselves but those around us. As the sainted Bill Mollison pointed out decades again, we only 10% to move from consumption to production and we can turn the planet around. A sobering thought and a far better an idea than returning to mindlessness many were feeling prior to the great slowdown. If we have our basic needs met as we enter any future lockdowns, imagine what we can create. During the 1665 plague Isaac Newton came up with calculus, optics and gravity using a quill and paper. We can solve so many more things with our interconnectedness and our base of knowledge nowadays.

Plant a garden, change the world. Simples.

If you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions, I opened a new Facebook group, imaginatively called, the ChangeUnderground Podcast Group. You search on FB or there’s a link in the show notes and in the transcript over at WorldOrganicNews.com/episode255

Let’s build some insurance as we decarbonise the air and recarbonise the soil.

Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week.




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