A PREFACE: The following is not a prophesy. I pray it will not become reality. The story is fiction but it paints possibilities based on facts around our food infrastructure. I have for many years prayed for farmers, food processors and truckers that they may be safe and prosperous for the sake of our nation. There are things we can do today to keep this story confined within the fiction category.
REMEMBERING THE FAMINE OF 2022 AND 2023
Although it’s been seventy-five years there are still people who remember. The famine of 2022 and 2023 has been the subject of books and documentaries. This is only a historical footnote and perspective based on one man’s remembrances. Jim Farris and ten-year-old son Jerry ended up surviving, but his wife Sally and five-year-old Jessica did not.
Most famines are man-made. Historically corrupt governments have been behind them. In the early 2000’s Socialist orientations and top-down federal decision-making limited free enterprise, innovations and initiatives. Once again, hunger rather than bullets would kill the majority. Best estimates put the loss of American lives at 69 million.
Jim Farris (101) of Buckeye, NY tells us his story 75 years later:
Until late in 2022 my wife Sally and I lived a version of the American dream. I was a successful engineer and Sally did well as an online marketing agent. We lived high on the proverbial hog. It showed a bit over my belt and Sally’s plus-sizes. We had a gym membership and Sally tried diet programs.
The last months of 2022 we dropped the gym membership and dieting. We began looking for accessible and affordable food with lots of calories. So did our neighbors.
In church we learned Jesus predicted, “there will be famines in various places.” We pictured it happening in Eastern Africa or Eastern Europe, not Buckeye. We never considered Jesus words, “Woe to you who are well feed now, for you will be hungry.”
The prosperity we enjoyed vaporized seemingly overnight. It really had been a slow roll down a mountain, till it reached the edge of the cliff. Most were not aware of the threat. The media did not think the staging was news-worthy.
We were drunk on abundance. We had unlimited food options, fast food and cooking videos. The obesity epidemic and weight-related health issues got news. Only muscle-building weight-lifters wanted to gain weight.
Sally and I had great jobs and money set aside so unlike a lot of people we did fine as food and gas prices went up. There were lots of explanations for prices going up. Sometimes we thought we were getting the straight story, and other times not. We knew fertilizer prices went up 400%. Farmers and shippers had trouble getting fuel. Dozens of food processing plants were destroyed by arsonists. It was crazy to see droughts in some places and floods in others.
As food availability went down prices went up. People started to sell off property in desperation. We bought a guy’s $40,000 boat for $3,000. We had the boat for 6 months then sold it for $600. Of course, those were inflated dollars.
I lost my job. Sally marketed cosmetics and hair products. People stopped buying. Sally kept working at one quarter of her income.
Two families we were close to lost their houses and came to live with us. Cars were parked and bicycles brought out. Wheel barrels and kids’ wagons became almost more valuable that cars.
We took our money out of the bank and bought food for friends and neighbors until we realized we were in danger of not having enough ourselves.
Stories of starvation didn’t happen much until the winter of 2023, mostly in the cities, especially with people on public assistance. Gas rationing saved fuel for farmers, food processors and truckers. Food trucks always had armed escorts. The national guard also kept watch. The government helped until they were out of resources. With staggering unemployment government lost tax income and fiat currency was no longer trusted. The government ended up seizing accounts with over $10,000. They raided retirement and pension accounts as well.
Most people had trouble heating their homes, and because it was cold people wanted to eat more food to stay warm. We were on the edge of the suburbs just a day’s walk to a farm. I started working on the farm along with our ten-year-old Jerry. Once a week we walked home with a bag of corn or wheat for Sally and Jessica. I hated to see how thin they looked. No one wanted to look at themselves in the mirror. I remember Sally coming into the house with a weak smile. She had looked through the car and found a bag of cashews beside the spare tire. I never thought I would punch more holes in my belt. It was for the kids.
We hated hearing the news about the deaths. Somehow it wasn’t so bad when you heard of families dying in the cities but it got too close to home when they were in the neighborhood.
Early on some desperate people would raid homes. Sometimes they were shot but most of the time they didn’t find anything. After a while those desperate for food didn’t have the energy to walk to someone’s home to rob it. In fact, we ran out energy to dig graves. We piled the bodies in an abandoned house.
Hunger brought out the worst and best in people. There were some marauding gangs looting people’s food stocks. We killed most of them. There were instances of cannibalism but most of that happened after people had already died.
Our culture had been drunk with food. Hunger brought back our sobriety. The biggest cultural swing was this; people began calling on God! And lots of people in Churches sacrificed and served one another. It was funny but in the worst of times it seemed that God was very close. He kindly spared many of us.
Early on most people pitched in to help one another. Neighbors watched out for each other. Although we wanted to share our food, and did it at first, we later kept our food to ourselves. It tore us up to see neighbor children shrivel to skeletons.
There were lots of amazing acts of sacrifice. Our neighbors two houses over, the Zaleskis, were both in their eighties. They brought out their entire pantry and shared it with the neighbor children. They said they knew Jesus, and had lived full lives. The children needed a chance. Later, after we recovered, we honored them a proper burial.
It may not sound like much but there was a big movement for victory gardens, just like they had in World War II. Just a couple hundred more calories a day from the gardens made the difference between life and death. Those gardens, plus food rations, which were never enough, and sharing, and gleaning, and foraging helped most of us make it.
Those raised by farm people with a custom of having large pantries thought of having stock at home as normal practice. They were sometimes called “preppers.” Most of the population didn’t stock food or store up. They relied on weekly grocery runs.
THE PRESENCE OF GOD
Now for the amazing stories many today wonder about. This was the most painful time of our lives but it was the most glorious because we felt God was with us!
Sally and Jessica both died. But here is the thing – Before Sally passed she opened her eyes and said, “Look, I see Jesus coming. He’s coming for me.” Sally had a beautiful smile but I had never seen her as beautiful as at that moment. [Here Jim Farris choked up for a few moments]
Jessica passed two weeks after her fifth birthday. She was trying to say something. I put my ear to her mouth and she whispered. “Angels, daddy. See?” [This time Jim Farris sat quietly for several minutes while his caretaker got him a glass of water. Then he continued.]
We saw miracles. Real miracles. A prophetic woman talked to our neighbors saying she saw a vision of a bread truck flying over our street and dropping loaves of bread. The next day and for three weeks more we woke with flaky white stuff on the grass and trees. We ate it. I’m convinced it was the same manna that Moses ate in the wilderness! After those three weeks the gardens and farms began producing again. The manna stopped. I don’t know why it didn’t come for Sally and Jessica, but it came for Jerry and me and others.
There’s a story of the last cup of cereal being multiplied to feed seventy people. And it wasn’t just a story. My uncle was there and told me first-hand how a band of Christians prayed for it and it happened!
There were many wonderful stories of miraculous supply. I only wish there had been more of them. My sister and her family were gleaning in a potato field in Montana. It had been gone over by machinery, but they kept digging day after day and found enough to live seven months till the early harvest in the spring of 2023.
Those were the wonderful stories. But there were heart-wrenching stories where people we knew tried to live on dried grass and tree bark. It wasn’t pretty. I think what wrenched my heart the most was when parents decided not to eat their rations but gave them to their children, hoping a relative or neighbor would take care of them. But sometimes the relatives and neighbors didn’t make it. I think that’s enough.
[We asked Jim Ferris if he had any concluding thoughts. He said again,] “No, I think I’ve told you enough.”
AFTER THOUGHTS FROM STEVE
I am the eternal optimist, especially regarding God’s great, generous goodness in Christ our Savior. I believe He wishes to wildly prosper countries who seek Him out and honor Him. The realist within me speaks, “Even so, we cannot presumptuously assume upon His grace. We must be aware of potential problems, seek His wisdom and prepare.”
My next blog will come with practical suggestions for creating stories with happier outcomes. In the mean time I encourage you upgrade your peace in Christ, have extra food and water on hand, and start your own “victory garden.” A wise man said, “Growing food is literally like printing money.”
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Steven C Johnson