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November 8

Eunice's Armageddon Food Supply

Well, I had this brilliant thought a while ago, while I was scavenging through our cupboards for some of the more tasty canned food items such as canned spaghetti sauce, canned soups and even canned soy milk, that I should write a blog post about my dear, eccentric wife Eunice's food shopping habits. As she is in Taiwan at this time, and has been since August 25 (scheduled to return along with Isabella on November 25) I have been doing my own cooking, primarily from cans, as per Eunice's instructions "in order to save money while I'm not there." I must say it works, but gets a bit tiresome.

Let me describe the can situation here. We have at least 6 cupboards in the kitchen, plus one in the patio, which are basically filled with preserved foods. We did not have enough cupboards for Eunice's tastes, so she had a couple more large cabinets built a few years ago. She also bought a new refrigerator/freezer, but kept the old one, putting it in the garage. Exiting the kitchen and entering the living room, there are around 100 canned drinks by the windowsill. There are also packets of pasta. Moving to the garage, there are so many canned drinks in large boxes, that even though I probably drink more liquids than anyone else I know, it would probably take me at least a year to finish the ones we already have. Also, there are boxes of ramen noodles and tomato sauce in the garage. I suppose that there are stashes of food or drink that I haven't even found yet. Just recently, I discovered where Eunice had been hiding my Life Cereal. I try my best daily to consume my portion of the preserved foods in our house, but efforts to deplete these resources seem rather futile. I know that the cupboards will still be crowded with foods when Eunice returns, at which point, she will begin the process of "restocking" the cupboards. Meanwhile, many of the foods in our cupboards are beyond their expiration or best-to-use-by dates. I eat them anyway, with no ill effect so far.

Why does she do this? The answer to this question is multifaceted, I suspect. One reason, I seriously believe, is that she thinks "when Jesus comes" I will be left here without her, as she will be swept up to heaven in the so-called "rapture," leaving nonbelievers such as myself behind to fend for ourselves, at least until we become believers. Since the rapture isn't going to happen, I don't anticipate becoming a "believer." Well, at that time, Eunice thinks, all the stores will be closed or looted, and perhaps crops will mysteriously refuse to grow without help from Jesus, so I will have to depend on canned foods while Armageddon happens all around me, until Jesus comes personally to get me and take me to heaven, where Eunice and I will be like brother and sister. (Frankly, I much prefer being married to her. Why do Christians think people can't remain lovers in heaven?) I cannot help but think how much this scenario seems like the ravings of a paranoid schizophrenic mind. Remember, there were no antipsychotic drugs in Biblical times. The amazing thing to me is, how many people believe this nonsense, no matter what evidence -- and logic -- accumulates to the contrary.

Another reason is more practical. She figures I will not have to shop for food as much when she is in Taiwan, or spend as much money, if there are plenty of canned foods to eat. Besides, she likes to shop for food, and "save money" by buying bargain foods. In fact, she considers herself something of an expert at that. I would have to say that she is good at buying lots of cheap food. Buying lots of cheap food of good quality is another matter. She scours the advertisements from markets which we find in our mailbox, and marks which items she wants to buy. Then, instead of going grocery shopping once every week or so, we wind up going 2-3 times per week to buy on-sale items. Not only that, but she directs me to take her to 2 or 3 different stores to buy different items, when we do go grocery shopping. Since I usually complain about going to so many grocery stores, she cuts the number down from about 5, which is the number she actually would like to go to. While we are in the stores, she also looks for additional items which are on sale, including clearance items and perishable goods which are past their optimal selling date. As a result, we wind up with a house overloaded with food, unless she is planning on feeding the entire neighborhood. Perhaps there is something to that. She likes giving food to our neighbors, and charity, especially Moreno Valley's Community Assistance Program, which is for poor people. I think she hopes all her relatives from Taiwan will come here to live, too, so they will need lots of food. Eunice told me that when she was in college, she and her dorm-mates took turns buying food at first, but eventually, she did all of the food buying, because she was the best at buying food cheaply. I can believe that. However, I like shopping for food, as well, and can buy what I actually want, rather than what is the cheapest, which is usually canned corn, beans, tomato sauce, and cheap, unhealthy sugar and high fructose corn syrup laden drinks.

The third reason why Eunice buys so much canned food, as alluded to above, is that she wants to give much of it to charity. And indeed she does, which I applaud. However, the charities only accept newly bought foods, certainly not ones which are past their expiration dates. Thus, storing a cornucopia of food in the house, for later donation to charity is an impractical idea. If one is going to give it away, one needs to give it away quickly. Anyway, buying food for charity makes Eunice feel good about grocery shopping, and gives her a convenient excuse to buy more food.

A final reason why Eunice likes to buy so much food is probably due to her upbringing. At this point, the reader will probably think I will say she grew up poor in Taiwan, so she feels psychologically compelled to horde food when it's available. That is far from the case. She actually grew up in a wealthy family in Taiwan. However, her parents were very thrifty, which was a prime reason why they thrived financially. Her parents were very much into self-sufficiency and sustainable practices -- farming, aquaculture, herbal medicine, etc. They were basically good examples of "green" people whose example we would do well to follow -- at least that is how Eunice describes them lovingly. They would also share the food that they grew, and herbal medicines they collected, with others generously, as well as the knowledge they had accumulated regarding food, medicine and health. Eunice does her best to carry out her own thrifty, organic, self-sufficient, sustainable lifestyle. That is yet another reason why I love her. But she does get a bit eccentric with her food acquisition activities. Well, I love her for her eccentricity, too.

This post isn't about one of my usual big idea topics, but I figure that someday, some historian is going to run across this post, and use it as an interesting example of life in the year 2009.