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6 September 2019

What is the New Statesman team stockpiling ahead of a no-deal Brexit?

Our writers spill the tins of beans.

By New Statesman

With no-deal Brexit around the corner, we know your biggest priority is ensuring you’ll still get to read the New Statesman in your bunkers after we crash out. So fear not! Our staff members are stockpiling in an attempt to secure their survival. Well, kind of.

Give Chickpeas A Chance

The idea that hordes of people will flock to supermarkets in advance of 31 October recalls a scene from Jumanji, the 1995 masterpiece that left an enduring impression on my six-year-old brain. An unlucky role of the dice summons a stampede of animals; in the ensuing chaos, inhabitants of the town loot the supermarket (the connection between misplaced wildlife and widespread looting is still unclear).

Though food shortages feel unlikely right now, stockpiling is a collective dilemma. If everyone’s doing it, the logic goes, perhaps I should too. Society functions peacefully so long as the majority of people agree to the rules. Aside from the excitement I now feel when hearing the sound of beating drums, Jumanji taught me that when you unleash a stampede (or a no-deal Brexit), this thin veneer of civility can quickly shatter.

If I’m stockpiling anything to prepare, then, it’s chickpeas. I’ve recently discovered that these are one of the world’s most versatile ingredients: they can be made into hummus, roasted in the oven, sprinkled with feta, stirred into stews and added to salads. Chickpeas are filling – which is really the most important thing about food – but can also be transformed into something mildly exotic, which is helpful if you’re living in a bunker. And they’re canned, which means they last a really long time.

My repertoire of cooked dishes is small but selective; over the past two months I have been making the same chickpea curry with whole lemons and mint. Come 31 October, I’ll be reassured by the extra tins of chickpeas, the coconut cream and – why the hell not – the dried lemons I bought in advance. Hettie O’Brien

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Booking In Advance

A close friend once joked that with the number of books I own, I could build a small fort. Up until now, I haven’t had any reason to assemble that fort – I’d prefer to be reading. I may not be stockpiling tinned pulses, or pharmaceuticals, or those fancy French biscuits I fear Tesco will no longer stock once we sever ties with Europe, but I continue to collect books, safe in the knowledge that if and when the time comes, I’ll have something to hide behind. Ellen Peirson-Hagger

Stock-home Syndrome

Back in March, we began stockpiling in my house – sort of by accident. A couple of times we’d over-ordered tinned tomatoes or toilet paper, and one time we thought we were getting one can of coconut milk for a curry and ended up with 12. So when, in April, the Brexit deadline got pushed back to October, we figured we were already well ahead of the game. But since then, we’ve started picking from our stock; in our weekly food shop we started to leave off a tinned item here or there, or in a pinch would pull from the stockpile if we’d forgotten to get the right amount of provisions from the shop. Now we’re at the point where we have, for the most part, depleted the stocks that we’d built up earlier this year. However, we did just order a 14 kilo bag of dog food (for our dog) and our plan is to start stockpiling again before we hit October. Sarah Manavis

Shroom and Gloom

It’s currently very difficult to say how much anything will cost in November or beyond, but if I was going to stockpile something I’d pick dried wild mushrooms such as porcini, morels, and trompettes. Although tariffs are complicated, these have in the past been subject to very high rates in the past – up to 197 per cent when sold out of the EU to Most Favoured Nations – so they’re a product I’d expect to become more expensive. They’re also a good stockpiling food. When dried they can last for years, offering a lot of flavour for a small amount of storage space. A small handful can turn some basic grains into a posh risotto. It’s true that they grow in this country, but I’ve only picked and eaten wild mushrooms once and frankly the fear that I’d just poisoned myself outweighed the flavour. Will Dunn

Kitchen Nightmares

Sometime around the start of the year, when it still seemed vaguely possible that we might be no-deal Brexiting by the end of March, I half-heartedly suggested to my boyfriend that we should stockpile. But since neither of us is especially organised – and as Brexit slowly became but a distant horror in Theresa May’s reoccurring nightmares – the suggestion never manifested in our food shops.

And so when I this weekend flung open my kitchen cupboards, it became clear that we’ll be catching scurvy should Boris Johnson force upon us what his predecessor could not.

Here is a list of what I shall be eating post no-deal Brexit:

•             Plain pasta (about six bags, somehow all opened)

•             1x jar of sweet and sour sauce (I hate sweet and sour sauce, but Brexit beggars cannot be choosers. Will pair with the pasta)

•             A hell of a lot of herbal teas. Must check if herbal tea contains any nutrients

•             3x tins of peaches (mocked my boyfriend for randomly buying these about a year ago – “are we going to war?” – but will enjoy eating both my words and the peaches)

•             1x jar of Marmite

•             Many, many spices. Too many spices, considering I have no food to spice. Will trade for vegetables if anybody’s trying to flavour their chlorinated chicken

•             Vitamin D tablets. No idea why, guess they will come in useful

•             About 15 sachets of Lemsip, circa last year’s particularly self-pitying cold

•             Maybe some bread?

So what I’m trying to say is that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, I’m hoping that Hettie takes pity and invites me round for tea. Every night. Indra Warnes

Bulking for Brexit

“You don’t need Brexit to start stockpiling,” says the long-suffering man who bravely shares my living quarters. “You already do it.”

But sadly I can’t hear his cries beneath the muffle of 25 packs of kitchen roll. He is now but a fossilised late descendent of the Michelin Man.

I have always stockpiled. It’s not the hoarding of nightmarish Channel Five documentaries – just bulk-buying produce I insist I will always use.

Tins and tins of own-brand chopped tomatoes and Baked Beans line our cupboards like the war-chest of an army led by Nigella Lawson and Gregg Wallace. Then there are the dense layers of loo roll multipacks that give our toilet the air of a padded cell. Nine kilos of dried pasta in plastic sacks. An entire freezer drawer of peas. Six tubs of Nivea moisturiser from that one time it was on offer, for that one time I bother to moisturise.

Why? It’s certainly not because of no-deal Brexit (not least because we’ll still have tinned foods and the ability to wipe our bums afterwards – even if it’s with the pages of the only state-sanctioned newspaper by then, the Daily Telegraph).

No, I think it might be a gene. When I was growing up, my dad’s favourite thing to do of a Saturday morning was to go to the big Acton Morrisson’s (née Safeway, RIP) and buy – as far as we could make out – pretty much everything that was on a deal, even if it was the same stuff that was on a deal the previous week. Beck’s beer (who ever buys full-price Beck’s?), Badoit sparkling water (Bad-what?), obscure wine brands (a bargainous crate of “Crux”, anyone?). Some of this stuff is still in the garage, like a time capsule of late noughties consumer psychology.

Because he inherited the stockpiling impulse from his dad (who filled the whole master bedroom in his Beirut apartment with supplies), he claimed this was something to do with the “refugee spirit”. So that’s what I’ll say when I’m making yet another tomato and baked bean pasta or cream of moisturiser soup garnished with loo roll. Anoosh Chakelian

Referendum Ragu

Last time we were on the verge of crashing out, my stockpile consisted of: 

24 loo roll. Ten packs of assorted pasta. Ten cans of anchovies, 15 cans of chopped tomatoes. Five tubes of tomato puree, four blocks of parmesan and five chorizo sausages.

Basically enough food that I could live on pasta for a week (and not run out of loo roll).

I realise that stockpiling parmesan is a privileged position, but given good cheese is going to be one of the main things that we won’t be able to get in the event of our borders seizing up, I think it’s probably a sensible move.

Overall, I think it reflects a relatively optimistic (naive?) outlook.

It also conveniently gives me almost everything I need to make my favourite lamb ragu, and given one thing we won’t have shortages of in a no-deal Brexit is dead sheep, I’ll probably eat relatively well for a few days at least… Jasper Jackson

> This piece is from our Know Your No Deal series on the different ways a no-deal Brexit will impact the UK

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