The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing a critical examination of how communities and countries prepare for multiple, overlapping crises. Here are a few lessons the Japanese Red Cross Society learned after the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant meltdown ten years ago this month.
Molnárné Tomi Tünde spent much of her childhood in the kitchen next to her grandmother, learning the local cuisine and the ingredients that people in her part of north-eastern Hungary knew how to find in the landscape, or grow from the region’s fertile ground. Nearly everyone at that time had a garden, some sheep and a few goats.
But successive waves of economic and social upheaval changed all that and many people found themselves out of work and distanced from the land. Many of the old ways of making delicious food from local plants and animals fell by the wayside in a world where the main foods people could afford where industrial commodities produced at a large scale.
No wonder that even this energetic and dynamic woman — a force for various good causes in her community — never conceived that she would end up helping to reinvigorate some of her region’s traditional cuisine as a gourmet cheese master.
“I always liked cheese,” she says. “But I never dreamt of producing it.”
After all, Tünde was a social worker, not a chef. As a Red Cross employee, she was well known for organizing blood drives and other initiatives to help those hardest hit by the changes in the local economy.