My illustrious blogpal Deb recently quoted an excellent article by Heather Havrilevsky on salon.com:
Lately I've been buying beans. Not canned beans, mind you: Dry beans. Bags of dry beans that only cost 65 cents, beans that have to be soaked overnight, beans that you have to sort very carefully to make sure there aren't any chunks of gravel in there.
This is my response to an impending recession, my move to scale back and batten down the hatches for the coming economic storm.
Heather, I'm totally with you, babe. In fact, I may have a bit of an edge in the dried bean department. Let me 'splain.
For decades, leaders of my Church have been asking members to set aside food, water, and money to be used in times of emergency. When we lived in a 900-square-foot apartment in Manhattan, we stored what little we could, but when we moved to a house with a basement, we knew it was time to start following the counsel we'd been hearing for years. We took the 'building up' phase slowly, but now we're in the happy situation of being able to rotate and maintain a year's supply of food for our family. (Have I mentioned recently that there will soon be eight of us? Yeah. That's a lot of food.)
It's quite a comfort knowing that we could feed our family if disaster struck. It wouldn't have to be an earthquake; I've known families who ate well using their food storage for months on end when jobs were lost or providers were disabled. I know other families who 'practice' living on their food storage alone for a few weeks at a time, just to make sure they can do so comfortably. (This is a good way to find 'holes' in your storage that can be filled later.) They then bank the cash they would have used for groceries during that time, which adds to their emergency savings.
I've heard of some bunker-mentality folks who buy guns so that they can "protect what's [theirs]." This attitude is anathema to me. Theodore M. Burton said,
Some members of the Church have said to me, “Why should we keep a store of food on hand? If a real emergency came in this lawless world, a neighbor would simply come with his gun and take it from us. What would you do if a person came and demanded your food?” I replied that I would share whatever I had with him, and he wouldn’t have to use a gun to obtain that assistance either.
My dear friend C had quite a bit of fun poked at her by movers when she and her family relocated to Puerto Rico and took their massively bulky food storage with them. But when a hurricane laid waste to their side of the island months later, they fed their entire neighborhood for the two weeks it took for power and transportation to be restored.
If something similarly devastating happened here, I'd immediately let our neighbors know they were welcome at our table. (Just another reason for you to buy the house that's for sale next door, people.)
My food storage isn't perfect; we need more honey, for example. But here's what we've got.
Yep, we actually eat it. I have a wheat grinder and a bread machine, both of which get regular use. I also have an awesome Wheat Berry Salad recipe that I make a lot in the summer. We've also had sweetened cooked wheat berries for breakfast in times past. It's rib-stickin.'
Other Bulk Items: Above are buckets with sealed mylar bags inside for super long storage: oats, other grains, beans, etc. That stack is three buckets deep.
Here are the 'open' buckets, with these awesome 'Gamma Seal' lids on them.
I have a few freeze-dried things in #10 cans, but not a ton, because we don't really like the stuff. Tip: don't store what you won't eat.
We generally buy our grass-fed meat and pastured poultry in bulk: a few chickens, a side of beef, a whole hog or lamb, etc., at a time. We need to find a new supplier this year. In years past, I have also blanched and frozen excess garden or CSA greens and squash for winter use. This year, I hope to expand to putting up frozen fruit.
Garden: I've got a post in the works about this year's garden; but for now, here are our seedlings. I started the tomatoes and herbs a few weeks ago. The cucurbits, planted last week, are just starting to sprout. I'm trying to rig up my light above them, because it's supposed to be cloudy all week.
In addition to the electric wheat grinder, I have a food dehydrator, a hand grain grinder, a sprouting kit, and a large thermos (passive heat for grain cooking and yogurt making). I didn't photograph them, but we also have two 55-gallon drums filled with water and a siphon to go with them. I also love that we have a creek running behind the house; I have a lot of water purification tablets, if need be.
Books: Could I write a post like this without mentioning the books I own on the subject? Doubtful. All these are incredibly useful; they are, clockwise from upper left: Keeping Food Fresh, Eating Off the Grid, Nourishing Traditions, Cooking with the Sun, The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book (buy it used; it's the best whole grain bread book ever, but it's now out of print), and (the book with the best title of all time) Apocalypse Chow. If we lost power for days or simply couldn't pay the propane and electric bill, I'd still have a plethora of options for food preparation.
While we're on the topic of books about food, let me put in a plug for Michael Pollan's latest book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. It will certainly make my Top Ten Books Read list this year. It is a clear-eyed look at modern America's unhealthy relationship with "edible food-like substances," and proposes simple solutions not only to what Pollan terms "orthorexia" (an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating), but also to our rapidly expanding waistlines, our continent-wide health crisis, and global environmental issues. LDS readers: this book dovetails beautifully with a certain Section 89 (except for a couple of paragraphs on red wine).
We have ample food here at the Perkins Homestead, and plenty of cheer and song to go with it. Stop by any time!