• Peter Alton

Nine Meals from Anarchy

Updated: Sep 3

“There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.” Alfred Henry Lewis 1906.


In today’s climate the above statement has never been more relevant. Mankind can survive without clothes, phones, social media and even transportation but remove or limit food and there will be severe repercussions. Like a sleeping volcano our collective stomachs will rumble, cracks will begin to form and the social structure will start to fail. When the lava breaks there will be serious unrest and social anarchy could actually become a reality.

If food supply is interrupted a sense of fear and panic would arise even if the interruption is only temporary. After only a relatively short period of only nine missed meals it would not be not be surprising to see even the most law abiding citizen turning to crime to feed themselves and their immediate family.


In recent weeks in the wake of the coronavirus we have seen people stripping supermarkets of toilet rolls, hand sanitiser and pasta. Imagine the panic if the stores closed and even basic food became scarce. Black market racketeering would become a reality and people would start to fight amongst themselves. Parents facing the reality of not putting food on the table for their children would be forced into making harsh decisions. Anarchy would undoubtedly go from being a possibility to being a certainty.


Most families could cope with food being scarce. Substituting your usual burgers for a pasta bake would not be desirable but at least you would not starve. However if even the most basic of items became unobtainable it is without question that mass panic and hysteria would set in. Most homes have freezers but are they really being used to their maximum potential? There are no doubt families that could survive for several months on the contents of their freezer, however there may be a limit to the amount of burgers and sausages you can actually eat on consecutive days before you go stir crazy.


Some people would have fruit and vegetables growing in their garden which would offer a temporary reprieve. The innocence of schoolboy scrumping however would enter a new dimension with grown adults raiding neighbours gardens in a desperate search for food. A greenhouse would be become a one-stop shop, shining like a neon beacon advertising an all you can eat buffet for any passer-by. Outside of the home people would be going feral eating anything that looked remotely edible. In the countryside road kill would become a delicacy making hunting and trapping wild animals a way of life. Fishing would go from a pleasant Sunday afternoon pastime to an absolute necessity in order to survive.


However mankind does not ever need to be in this situation. The advent of fast food, convenience stores and online shopping has in reality only served to make us lazy. At the click of a mouse we can have anything we desire delivered to our door. There may be a financial cost but ultimately everything in the food chain has a price. This has meant that society has lost the art of self-sufficiency. Sure people grow a few tomatoes and have a couple of strawberry plants but these are more for pleasure rather than a way to feed the family. We need to get back to growing produce specifically for the table. Adopting a vegan diet can help reconnect us with our fruit and vegetables and encourage us to try new flavours and ideas. Maybe we could even have a small holding of livestock such as chickens and rabbits where we really would be self-sufficient. Going old school creating chutneys and jams in the kitchen, returning to basics baking bread and cakes instead of ordering online could really be the way forward.


Society has come a long way since the 1940’s when self-sufficiency was regarded as a way of life. Innovations in our food chain has made a lot of things more accessible but ultimately it has made us lazy and ill prepared for a sudden food apocalypse. It is probably truer than ever that there are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy. However with a little more planning and investment of time in growing, preparing and storing produce we could perhaps buy some more time. The Pistols told us there was no future but perhaps with a bit of planning and forethought there really could be a future for us all.




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