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  • I was thinking today about the future. Back in the mid-to-late-20th Century, the future looked mechanical. Food would come in powders or capsules, dispensed by machine. The vision was of a more manufactured, less natural world where the line between computers and people got blurred.

    But in the 21st century, the visions of the future seem more like survival. Books like Margaret Atwood's After the Flood focus on food, including what weeds will survive that we can still grow and eat. In a way, Hunger Games has the same obsession.

    It feels like everyone is growing food. And we have to learn things like how to preserve carrots and beets through the winter. What I heard was you can bury them in a bucket of damp sand (or not damp sand, I can't find a consensus). I went to Fleet Farm to buy a bucket and a bag of playground sand. The woman helping me find the sand asked what it was for and I told her.

    "Oh, my mother used to do that. She would send me out and I remember sticking my hand down in the crock of sand and finding the carrots. I haven't thought of that in so long."

    She was a woman my husband would call "salty." Part of the working-class fabric of where we live, whose roots are old German farmers, but who live now in a world of Wal-marts and convenience foods.

    Maybe instead of looking forward, the novels of the future will look back on that odd time in the Western World, the 1960s-2020s, when people seemed to have everything they wanted at their fingertips, when people forgot the old ways and stopped growing food, when people almost forgot what they needed to know.
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