There are threats everywhere on Game of Thrones, and for everyone.
The Lannisters just got burned (literally) by the Mother of Dragons and her beloved Drogon; Daenerys’ fleet was wrecked by Euron and most of her war council is either dead (Lady Olenna) or kidnapped (Ellaria and Yara); and for the Starks up north, “winter is here.” And the White Walkers are coming. But there’s something out there that’s even scarier than dragons and “walking dead men,” or perhaps more accurately, something that isn’t out there: food.
Food isn’t nearly as exciting as flying beasts that shoot fire, but without it, people die, and without people, there are no armies, and without armies, there’s no one to fight back against the Night King. It’s a major problem — it’s also been a recurring theme on Game of Thrones since the early seasons.
There was the Riot of King’s Landing, when the starving crowds threw cow pie at King Joffrey and tore the High Septon apart (like, he was actually ripped limb from limb). There was Littlefinger warning the Small Council that there’s only enough food for five years of winter (it could last much longer than that). There was Bronn asking Tyrion and Varys, “Have you ever been in a city under siege? Maybe this part’s not in your books. See, it’s not the fighting that kills most people; it’s the starving. Food’s worth more than gold.” As always, my dude Bronn knows what’s up. He was also on hand in the most recent episode, “The Spoils of War,” as the Lannisters were bringing sacks of grain (the gold was shipped earlier) from The Reach to King’s Landing. It was a solid plan, until Drogon came along and, well, we know what happened next.
Meanwhile, in Winterfell, while Arya is showing off her assassin skills and Bran is a short-circuited, three-eyed weirdo, Sansa is all about that grain. Unfortunately, there’s only enough of it to feed the current inhabitants for a year, and that’s without any other armies returning to defend Winterfell. (They’re going to need all the help they can get; the White Walkers will presumably arrive in Winterfell long before anywhere else.) “Whatever direction the threat comes from, this is the best place to be,” Sansa told Maester Wolkan. “We need to start building up our grain stores with regular shipments from every keep in the North. If we don’t use it by winter’s end, we’ll give it back to them. But if the entire north has to flee to Winterfell, they won’t have time to bring wagon loads of grain with them.”
It’s not as flashy as digging through caves, but Sansa’s reasoning may have saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. It’s still not enough food, though (remember: the Long Night supposedly lasted an entire generation, and this winter might be just as bad). It’s the one problem all the major players — Cersei, Daenerys (who, between the Unsullied and Dothraki, has her own scarcity issues to deal with), and Jon/Sansa — are currently faced with.
Well, that, and the murdering ice-zombies. But the White Walkers won’t matter if everyone’s dead from starvation before they even arrive.