A Calendar for Food

What do calendars mean, anyway? I’ve read that they probably first arose as simple ways to keep track of seasons, as a guide to gathering, early farming and probably some hunting, you know, following the herds, fish runs or nesting birds. I imagine in the earliest clans, it was one of the more important jobs and perhaps had a long training period to learn to ‘read‘ the moon’s cycles, the stars, weather and environment.

Sophisticated sciences today, but for our earliest forbears, not just sophistication was needed to learn, but responsibility as well, as making the right ‘readings‘ would have been a much more literal choice of life and death — of survival itself.

Catastrophe if you arrived, and the nuts, grains or fruits were already dropped, the eggs hatched, the herd moved on, the fish spawned and died.


Example of an American grocery store aisle.
Image via Wikipedia

Nowadays, if the grocery store is closed, it’s a matter of waiting until tomorrow morning. You may be disappointed you couldn’t have that ice cream you hankered for, but you will never be faced with a long slow starvation, not just for yourself, but your family as well.


With all our sophistication, technology, global village market, why do people in some parts of the world still face the same horrifying conditions our ancients did? I do not understand our greed that we should be so indifferent to the suffering of others.

If an ancient clan encountered another that was starving, would they have shared their food stores? Impossible to know, but my inclination is to guess ‘yes, and no‘, or rather, ‘it depends‘.

If it would put your clan at risk of the same fate, however painful, likely you would leave them to starve.

If it involved discomfort, but not the threat of death to your people, you might consider sharing, perhaps after some sort of consensus is reached.

If you had food to spare, my guess is if you were an ancient, where food meant life or death, but not the size of your status in your society, you opened your storage sacks and pits to your neighbours.

In today’s world of greed, the food we produce has to be paid for with coinage, first and foremost to the shareholders. Slow and painful death by starvation doesn’t factor into the equation. Nor does a simple calendar of lunar movements, stars and seasons, unless, of course, you are marking a special event with a grand feast, a birthday, an anniversary, a holiday.

How is it we have come to this, where the same cruel logic applies to health and disease, to housing and shelter, education, technology… Ancient life was harsh and chancy, but ours seems to be a trade-off between plenty or compassion, a progression of calendars that mark special events to ‘stuff ourselves silly‘ while others go hungry.