In the next few blog posts, we’re going to talk about a variety of foods that are suited to a home food storage program. Because I generally gear my posts to beginners and I don’t want to scare the pants off you I’m going to say this again…Don’t Freak Out! I don’t want you to go out and buy 400 lbs. of wheat and expect your family to eat it. They won’t. Trust me…I wouldn’t either! This organization is all about being realistic but being prepared at the same time.
In each of the next several blog posts I’ll give a rundown of the raw ingredients you can choose from when putting together a food storage plan. I don’t use many prepackaged foods. I prefer to know what’s in the food I eat when
it comes to salt and preservatives. I also like the ability to try new recipes with the foods I have on hand. Most of my food storage is freeze dried. I live in a tiny apartment and don’t have room for a lot of bulky items. Also, I actually use freeze dried foods daily. I love the quality and convenience.
When you’re reading the next few blog posts, I want you to keep several things in mind. The first thing to think about is keeping variety in your diet. We’ve talked about it before, but it’s a really, really important consideration. Don’t take it lightly. From my experience, there two extremes that you should probably avoid. The first are people who, like an acquaintance I’ve mentioned in earlier posts who simply buy however much wheat, corn, rice, or beans they think is necessary to meet their needs and leave it at that. I’ve already told you how I feel about that. Then there are the others rely on prepackaged decisions made for them by their storage food retailer who put together a “year’s supply of food” to buy all at once. Big mistake. I’ve looked at and sampled many of the products available. Some are really good, some are so-so, some are just awful! My biggest problem with them is that they decide what you eat, not you.
I’ll use an example from my own life. I recommend Mountain House Foods for freeze dried entrees and backpacking foods. Great food! I love them, but take their 14-day emergency food supply as an example. In the breakfast section, they provide 5 servings of scrambled eggs, hash browns and sausage. Now I have nothing against sausage in general, but I can’t eat it. Makes me sooooo sick. So, I’m already down 5 meals. I also have trouble with rice…hmmm now I’m down 10 more meals. What was the point of buying it then? So. Buy what you like to eat. Don’t buy “an emergency food supply”. Build your own!
There are dozens and dozens of food storage plans out there. Some of them are based on the so-called “Mormon Four” of wheat, milk, honey and salt, with as many additional foods as the person planning found desirable. This plan was developed in the 1930’s. Boy, have we learned a lot about what makes a realistic food storage plan since then! The least of which are the attention that needs to be paid to food allergies…can you envisage what would happen if someone like me tried to live off a food storage plan like that? I’d be dead in a week…or maybe just wish I was.
Many people are just like me…allergic to wheat. The WORST part is that most people don’t even know they have it until they try to live on a diet with large amounts of wheat…not…good. Another thing we’ve learned over the last century is that many adults have an intolerance to the milk sugar lactose (take my husband for example). Let’s see…wheat, milk, honey, salt…sounds like we would be in for a lot of ugly surprises if we had only stored these staples.
The second reason to have variety in our food storage plan is the problem of appetite fatigue. We’ve discussed before that many people believe providing variety in the diet is unimportant and that if and when the time come you’ll eat what you’ve got and that will be that. Remember my acquaintance the prepper? He had trouble after only a week, and he wasn’t under any undue stress. Times of crisis produce stress. Maybe physical, always mental. If you are suddenly forced to eat a diet of strange, foreign and monotonous foods, it’s going to add more stress to what you are already dealing with. If your family includes the elderly, young children or babies there is a real chance the will stop eating or refuse to eat enough of the right foods to even survive. I’m not kidding and this is not something to trivialize. When it’s wheat, wheat, wheat, day in and day out, wheat is going to become really unpopular, really fast. I’m getting a little queasy just thinking about it. Much better to have a variety of foods in your stockpile to preclude appetite fatigue and more importantly, to use your stored items in your everyday diet so the will be used to eating them.
One more thing I want to mention, and this goes for all the food you store. Unless you are already familiar with and are eating a specific type and BRAND of food, don’t buy a ton of it to store! Let me tell you a scary bedtime story… Once upon a time there was a couple who used canned tomatoes in cooking a lot…we’ll call them “me” and “my husband”. This couple usually bought these tomatoes from Aldi. This couple loved these tomatoes and the tomatoes loves them. One day the couple was walking through Walmart and heard the siren song of another brand of tomatoes…these tomatoes were on sale…these tomatoes were from Italy…these tomatoes had fresh basil in them. The couple bought a case of these tomatoes…and then discovered the sad fact that these tomatoes made both of them sick…sigh…so sad…
Beware! Don’t let this happen to you!
Luckily, the couple took my own advice and tried the tomatoes out BEFORE they needed them in an emergency. They could return the unused cans to Walmart and purchase the ones from Aldi that they knew would be good for them! Since it was Christmas, they also picked up a couple of boxes of cocoa dusted truffles…well you gotta treat yourself, right?
When you read through the list you may be tempted to think, Oh, I need so much! I’ll never do it! Well, take heart. Don’t let fear or doubt overwhelm you. Any storage is better than no storage and even the best storage had to start with a single item. Just begin and then build it as you can. Remember, If I can do it, You can do it!
The point of everything we teach at Realistic Sustainability is to start small and prepare for a personal emergency first. Don’t worry at the beginning about a natural disaster or the end of civilization or the zombie apocalypse. Start with just thinking of how you would live with little or no money, but with access to your home, your kitchen and power. We aren’t going to get into survival mode right now. There are a couple of things you need to think of though.
First, you will need to learn to make bread. Buying a years’ worth of store bought bread is costly and nearly impossible to store. I own a bread maker, but I know how to do it by hand if I must. The bread maker may be one of the best investments you can make. Trust me here…I’m old and tired…and I hate kneading bread.
Second, we need to address water storage and purification. This is not something you can ignore. We can live for weeks or more without food, but only days without water. You need about one gallon of water per day per person. I strongly suggest if you do nothing else, keep a 14-day supply for your family. You never know when you’ll need it even under normal circumstances. Here are 2 stories from my own life…
First, when we were young marrieds we lived out in the country and had a well for water. I had a 2-year-old and I was 7 months pregnant with my second child. The well pump went out…you guessed it. No water, and as I’ve already confessed to, no water storage. I called everywhere. No one would come out to fix it right away. We went 3 days without water. Luckily a neighbor filled up one of those big drink coolers you see at football games for us. Still, it was not a comfortable time.
The second story has a happier ending because I learned my lesson and always keep water on hand. About a year ago, we were living in a small apartment in a small city and the aforementioned city decided to “fix” the water main outside of our apartment complex. We were completely without water for 2 days and for about 2 more days afterward the water was a nasty brown color. THIS TIME I was prepared! I had heeded my own advice for a change and had 2 weeks’ worth of water tucked away. It’s not that hard. I just rinse out clear plastic juice containers and fill them with water. Once it’s a habit it’s no big deal.
Third, I strongly suggest that if you like them, you learn to make your own tortillas. They are a great change of pace to bread. Also, think about learning to make tofu. It’s a real pain in the back side to make, but it’s a good source of protein if you don’t overdo it and eat it every day. Knowledge is never wasted. Even if you don’t need to make these things because you HAVE to, wouldn’t it be fun to make your own because you WANT to?
Should anyone reading this wish to contact me please feel free to contact me via e-mail at: DrRobin@RealisticSustainability.org. I would love to hear from you.