Friday, May 18, 2007

What about Chow?

How much food do you have?

Food is probably one of the most important things you can possess in times of crisis. I think it is usually more important than water. Before you scream “blasphemy!” and refer me to the rule of threes (scroll way down if you don’t know them) I would point out that it is usually a lot easier to obtain water than food. So while in the big scheme of things water is more important to living – since we have or can get water, we need to start thinking about food.

Your federal government, depending on how one interprets their advice, recommends you have in your possession at least three weeks of “easy to prepare food”. They recommend two weeks kept in your home (a fall back to the days when we worried about nuclear fallout. Oh, wait...); three days of food in your “72-hour kit” which we call Bug Out Bags; and three days in your vehicle.

That is what .gov recommends everyone keep on hand. If you are reading this blog, I would hope you are leaps and bounds above “everyman” on your preparedness journey. If you are not, then get busy!

Why don’t you poke around the place and figure out how much food you really have?

Stocking up
You can build up your supply fairly painlessly by just picking up a few extras every time you shop. This will take some time though. A way to put away a good bit of food fairly quickly is to buy several cases of canned goods all at once. Canned food will easily last a year with few problems. Here’s a tidbit: Generally speaking, it won’t “go bad”. It merely loses nutrients as time goes by. Think a starving person would care if the can of baked beans was two years old as long as it tasted okay? Heck, they wouldn’t care about the taste much either if they were starving.

But if we can avoid it, we don’t want to eat food that is not nutritious. What to do? Rotate it. Eat the older stuff first. Mark your cans with a Sharpie indicating the month and year you bought them. For May 2007 just write 57 on the can. Then make sure you always choose the older can first when you make supper.

When you make supper.
See, you have to eat what you store. This is another one of the golden rules of food storage. If you don’t normally eat sardines and you go out and buy 50 cans of them – you are going to end up with some very old sardines ten years from now if no crisis arises to force you into your food stocks. Heck, even if something does happen and the grocery stores all close down – you may still not eat them. Under stress we do strange things – strange things like refuse to eat strange food. There were American POWs in the Vietnam war who refused to eat rice – they couldn’t even choke it down – because it was not part of their normal diet.

So eat what you store. I have some yuppie clients (although they shun the term – they much prefer “metropolitan”) who eat out almost every meal. How are they supposed to rotate through food when they never eat a home? This is indeed a problem. I have suggested to them two courses of action: First, start eating at home more – they don’t like this one. Alternatively, buy a bunch of food and every year give it away to a food pantry and buy more to replace it. They like this idea – it fits in with their consumer lifestyle.

Canned goods are easy to store and easy to prepare (you can eat right from the can) but you should consider other foods as well. Rice stores well. You can toss it into a five-gallon bucket, perhaps toss in a bay leaf or two, and call it good. Pasta stores well also – just keep it in a Rubbermaid Tote bin or something to keep the moths away. You might want to learn how to cook it though.

Where to keep it?
Most houses today are not built with food storage in mind. I laughed (if I didn’t, I would have cried) when I was looking at a new home and the kitchen broom cupboard (The five foot high cabinet, not a “closet” mind you) was identified as “the pantry”. Oh, dear God!

To preserve quality, food should be kept cool, dark, dry, and bug free. You really don’t want to keep it in your attic. You don’t want to pile up cases on the deck. So what to do? The best is an honest-to-God food pantry – a room on the north side of the home that is... there you go, “cool, dark, dry, and bug free.” I know, you don’t have that. Got it.

You can cover the floor of your closets with cases of canned goods, lay a sheet of cardboard over them, and then put your normal closet stuff back in there. You can slide cases under your bed. Under your kids’ beds. Under the couch. You can stack a couple buckets, throw a piece of material over them, set a lamp on it and have a funky lamp stand. Use your imagination.

This makes rotating your stocks of food a bit difficult though. Shelves are much nicer for this type of work. But do not let a lack of space, a lack of shelves or any other perceived "lack" keep you from storing some food.

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. - Proverbs 6:6-11

Put up some food.
You’ll be glad you did.

Golden Rules of Food Storage:
Stock what you eat
Eat what you stcok
Keep it cool, dark, dry, and bug-free.
If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America