The Ant's Advice
The Ant's Advice
We are all probably familiar with Aesop’s fable, The Ant and the Grasshopper, in one form or another: A grasshopper sings one summer day when an ant passes by, carrying a great ear of corn. “Come sing with me,” the grasshopper says. The ant says, “I’m helping to lay food for the winter. I suggest you do the same.” The grasshopper ignores the ant’s advice and continues to sing. When winter comes, the grasshopper has no food and it watches the ants distribute corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. The grasshopper knew then that it is best to prepare for the days of necessity.
Each winter, I’m reminded of this fable during the winter months when folks are bundled up indoors, enjoying a warm, hearty meal together. The fable illustrates why it is so important to be prepared for winter by having food storage or at least a food storage plan. But what else does the fable teach us?
It informs us which foods to store. The story concludes with the grasshopper watching as the ants distribute “grains and corn.” Although it is mentioned briefly, it is a very important detail. It is no coincidence that grains, beans, legumes, and corns are some of the healthiest foods in the world and particularly beneficial to consume during the winter.
According to George Mateljan, author of The World’s Healthiest Foods:
Whole grains that include the nutrient dense bran and germ makes the perfect example of a good winter choice. Seeds are another great example of a nutritiously compacted winter food, especially sunflower and sesame seeds, which are considered especially warming in some traditions. Dried beans and lentils that would be used in preparing of a hearty winter soup would also fit into this category of smaller, dense, and compacted foods.
Whole grains, beans, and legumes are complex carbohydrates that provide our bodies with a substantial amount of protein and fiber, keeping us full and regular throughout the season. These dense foods also boost serotonin levels in the brain, acting as a mood lifter when the days become grey and gloomy. Diverse in applications, you can make breads and porridges out of germinated grains. You can even incorporate them with your beans and legumes in hot soups and stews.
The Ant and the Grasshopper has taught us through the years the importance of having plentiful supplies of food set aside for winter, and more specifically, to have dense foods like grains and beans. Luckily, for us in this day and age, we do not have to suffer like the grasshopper because we don’t have to prepare in the same way. Food storage cans and buckets of grains, beans, legumes, and more are available at the click of a button—even in the dead of winter!
- Jordan Freytag