(A fair warning to any potential houseguest: the photo above shows our actual fridge. It really does look like this most of the time. Actually, it’s fuller right now than it usually is because I went grocery shopping today.)
Long ago, even before we moved here, our relocation agent was giving us an overview of life in Denmark. One of her jobs seemed to be lowering our expectations.
“In Denmark,” she said. “The grocery stores are a lot smaller than they are in the United States. The things you can buy are also a lot smaller. You can’t buy a gallon of milk, for example. That’s too much milk. In Denmark, no one wants to buy that much milk at once.
“So, you will notice,” she continued, “that people don’t keep a lot of food at home. They just have what they need at the moment. No one keeps foods in storage. There’s no room for that. We store our food at the store.”
I thought that was pretty funny and the “storing our food at the store” quote stuck with me.
In the United States, people are encouraged to keep a “three-day supply of food and water,” in storage. You’re supposed to be prepared for the unexpected. In case of a natural disaster or just your general disaster, most people keep bottles of water (plastic bottles that disintegrate over time and need to be replaced) and canned foods and freeze-dried foods and just regular cereal boxes that don’t expire for at least ten years.
Everything I buy here will go bad next week.
In Denmark, no one worries about not having provisions. Most people live within walking distance from a grocery store. And if something horrible happens and the grocery stores don’t open? Well, there is this general feeling (and expectation) that if that happens we can look forward to a delegation from the Kommune serving hot cocoa and roasting hot dogs on just about every street corner.
When I lived in the United States I threw out an amazing amount of food. Even all those cans of beans and pockets of instant oatmeal, although loaded with preservatives, eventually expire and need to be replaced.
Here I, like most people in Denmark, am very much unprepared for any natural disaster. It’s a very liberating feeling.