Saturday, February 14, 2009

Store Food For a Crisis

What will you do when the Big One hits? The Red Cross and the government say they can't handle a really big crisis. In case of an earthquake, we are on our own, folks. Last fall after Hurricane Ike in Texas, Houston spent two weeks with bare supermarket shelves.

Your cash may lose value or get swallowed up in the bank these days. Some people have asked - with banks teetering, why shouldn't we just store our money in the mattress?

I say, if you seriously think your money is better off in the mattress, then consider putting some of it into durable goods and food staples which you can use, now and in case of emergency. Keep a bit of your "savings" in useful or edible goods, not just cash. Here are some suggestions for how to prepare:

Food storage 101 from Sharon Astyk

Food storage 102 - "Two weeks is not enough!"

Her weekly "baby step" storage and emergency preparedness posts, here and here.

Stock up on water, too. Consider getting a 55 gallon food grade water barrel.

Sharon points out that storing food is a way of life. Learn to cook regular meals out of your pantry, to save money, but also to get everybody used to such food. If your kids learn to love pumpkin bread, beans and rice, or pasta with tuna marinara sauce now, then if the Big Disaster hits and they HAVE to eat these dishes every night, they won't complain.

Consider what tools and implements you might need in a long term crisis. Gardening tools. Bicycles. Flashlights. Camp stove. Solar oven for when the municipal power and gas are out.

Look, you buy insurance on your property and your life which you hope you never use. Buy this stuff as insurance and you can use it anyway. Learn to cook out of your pantry and you've reduced your food bills, acquired a skill, and maybe added healthier meals to your rotation. Meanwhile, you have emergency supplies to fend off hurricanes, power outages, transportation stoppages, and sudden unemployment.

Do I have all these items stored? No. We add them as we get to it. But we have enough food for a bunch of indigent relatives and neighbors to get fed for quite some time...

These measures are largely intended as insurance against some weather or other natural disaster which disrupts food supplies for a time. They also make sense as a cushion against economic hard times. If you lose your job all of a sudden and run out of cash, you know you have food in your "bank" as well as cash.

I'm not going to buy a whole bunch of weird equipment and MREs that I wouldn't use or eat otherwise. I try to buy and store only what we will actually eat. Then I cook it and eat it, and replenish the stores.

Stocking up on all that emergency equipment recommended by the Red Cross is a good idea, too. We came home one night to find a neighbor's house completely burned up, with firefighters crawling over the roof amidst klieg lights, hacking at the attic to put out the last smoldering embers. A car on the street had caught fire and the house went up, too.

"Honey, we have to buy emergency ladders for the bedrooms," I said as we pulled into our garage. We and our small sons sleep on the second floor. What if our exit were blocked? And the $100 we'd spent might not gain much interest in our account this year anyway. Invest in equipment we hope never to use - as insurance.

Oh yes, in earthquake country you're supposed to keep a crowbar in the bedroom, too, in case you have to pry yourself out of the house.

Don't run out and buy everything you might want all at once. Take it in small bits. Keep your eyes open for garage sale and Craig's List finds; buy staples when they go on sale. I will be posting soon about shopping for the necessaries in the Laurel: your local drugstore, hardware store and 99 Cent store as well Farmer Joe's and Food Mill.

1 comment:

  1. My mother just asked if we want my late father's tool box. She's downsizing. Of course we want it. We have some tools, but with big changes ahead, good hand and power tools are going to be valuable, to us or to our friends.