Are you storing food yet?

Coffee Price Index (Past Year)

Food prices have been rising steadily with oil prices going up. and the combination of the two is not a good sign for a still shaky world economy.  Global inflation has started to kick into high gear as well.  Couple that will the fact that we will reach 7 billion people by the end of the year and the picture starts to become clear.

Wheat Price Index (Past Year)

Food prices that have been on the rise, will remain on the rise.  That, in turn, means that if you are in lower income brackets, that much less is available to you for other necessaries in life like rent/mortgage.  This type of pressure was a contributing factor to the recent political unrest in the Middle East and is likely to spread to other, seemingly stable, countries.  This in turn could drive oil prices further and that will increase food prices more.  As you can see, the potential is there for this situation to get worse very fast.

While the United States is not at the point of political upheaval due to food prices, the added pinch to the wallet will be felt by all Americans.  While that pinch is not much, a pinch from a different source would be much worse.  The American food system is supplied utilizing a “just in time” infrastructure.    Simply put, in order to maximize profit, delivery of products are fine tuned to that product being sold, so sellers do not have any type of stock in the store.  While this is great for everyone on the supply side, consumers get the raw end when disruption occurs.  As has been seen over and over again on the news, any disaster, or even impending disaster, there is no food to buy.  If this were to happen on a widespread level, the devastation would be far reaching.

Many people are just not ready for this scenario, but preparation is easy to do.  In order to do it right though, a few rules need when making a plan for food storage:

  • Store what you eat.  Storing food does not mean going out and buying 50 lbs of rice and thinking they will be okay.  That may be fine and dandy if you like rice, but could you live on just that for days or weeks?  I know I couldn’t.  If you have that huge sack of rice and a little bit goes bad, the whole bag may need to be thrown out.  Besides, if you need that food to would be nice to mix it up for dinner, which will help moral in a disaster situation
  • Eat what you store.  Even the most tightly sealed container has a shelf life.  Just because you have all the food you may need for a month or two, does not mean all that food will be good if left untouched.  The best way to make sure your stored food will be good when you need it is to rotate it out by eating it.  This ties in with the first rule very well because if you store what you eat, you will eat it at some time and will need to replenish that stock.
  • Buy more when items are on sale, this makes sense for any grocery buyer. In the long haul, buying more at a lower price is an actual investment in that you are offsetting the extra cost of buying food at a higher price later by buying more now.  Buying leftover stocks from the farmers market at the end of the growing season is an excellent way to get a ton of vegetables at a very low price.

The first question that would be on anybody’s mind when they want to start storing food is, “How much is enough?”  There are calculators out there but none are tailored to an individual family.  There will be guesses that you will need to make.  Also, it is better to store enough food in increments instead of going for the gusto of a full year.  I have only just started storing food and I probably have enough to make it through a few weeks and am close to my goal on one month.  From there I am going to go to three months and then in three month increments afterwards.  I hope that this will kick into a higher gear in a couple weeks when the farmers market starts up and I can dehydrate, freeze and can my way to a fully stocked larder.  Hopefully you can too before food prices get out of hand.

-J, the freedomtrekker

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