Sunday, June 1, 2008

Stocking up

We've been living out of our pantry this week, which made me think about emergency food supplies. The Red Cross recommends everybody have at least 3 days worth of food in their house in case of emergency, and that's certainly not hard to do. I obviously had more than a week's supply of food in the house last weekend. On the other hand, most of the food that I have requires preparation -- all my bags of rice and beans won't do us any good if the electricity is out and I can't boil water.

So how about a real emergency supply, with foods that can be eaten straight out of the box/bag/can? Of course, a lot of canned, ready-to-eat meals are super processed and not really the sort of thing I like to eat anyway. The exception? Tasty Bite! Ready-to-eat delicious, spicy, vegetarian food in space-agey silver packets... pretty much amazing.

I'm not really sure why I'm thinking about emergency food supplies. Certainly I'm not going to build one here, when we're about to leave in a couple of months. I suppose it is born out of a basic sense of insecurity -- right now, when there's not much food in the house at all, I feel sort of nervous. No onions? No potatoes? No black beans, eggs, or butter? A well-stocked pantry is a comfort, one less thing to worry about.

The weather has been strange lately, too, and natural disasters and food shortages are all over the news. I remember back when I was a little girl and a hurricane was about to sweep through our town. I heard a neighbor talking about the risk of the water mains breaking, and ran home in a panic to fill every sink and tub. My parents had to persuade me that it probably wouldn't be necessary, but it took a lot of comforting. I just wanted to be prepared, and I guess that I still do. I hate being caught off-guard... and I hate being without food even more!

I know that the LDS church believes its members should keep a large supply of food -- I think they recommend a full year. As I understand it, this is protection against the second coming, when the crops of the world are destroyed, but also good for general self-sufficiency. I poked around on the internet and found a few people saying that their food supply had come in handy in the absence of a natural disaster -- when parents got laid off, for instance, the food reserves kept the cost of living down until there was a source of income again.

A year sounds a little excessive to me, but having a few months' supply of food on hand just seems like a good idea. If some of it doesn't require any preparation, all the better, right? If you only store foods you eat anyway, and slowly rotate that food out, then it won't even get a chance to spoil, and you know your money won't be wasted. If nothing goes wrong, all you've used up is a little storage space -- and in the event of earthquake, economic collapse or end of the world, you'll be the most popular kid on the block.

Maybe I'm just warning you that someday you'll walk into my basement and face a mountain of wheat berries, a wall of dried beans, and all the Tasty Bites in the world. Just to be on the safe side!


tom said...

As for cooking after some catastrophe, I suggest your emergency supplies should include a two burner camp stove and a gallon of fuel. When the hurricane did come up through NC and we had no power for a few days we cooked on it. The power was interrupted but not the water. Then you can cook your meals and also have hot water for tea and other essential purposes.

j said...

And in Phoenix you could leave those lovely silver packets on the sidewalk for five minutes and voila--totally cooked vegetarian goodness!

Actually, for us, the garden is a good source of a bunch of yummy veggies, but in a case of a natural disaster lots of that stuff is in the fridge or freezer--we've been thinking that perhaps a food dehydrator might be a useful toy--do you know anyone who has one?