The news is alarming: reports of food shortages around the world, world leaders confirming there will be even more shortages to come, food warehouses and production facilities burning down and more transportation bottlenecks. In the last month or two I’ve received several emails and phone calls from people asking if it’s too late for them to “get food storage.”
First question “Should I have food storage?”
Many in the prepper community seem to have a doomsday mindset: they’re stockpiling food and supplies for a time when everything falls apart. And it certainly looks right now like things may be falling apart. These preppers are thinking only about food storage. Obviously food is a primary concern for everyone, but how long do you think “food storage” will last? Six months? A year? And if there’s a massive social breakdown, do you really think you can hold onto that food while your neighbors and community suffer?
Now don’t get me wrong, having stored food is important. But I don’t think anyone can store all the food and other necessities needed to sustain you for an extended period of time. That’s why I think it’s
more important to have a food plan. A food plan is a multi-pronged approach to preparing for a wide-spread crisis, like prolonged food shortages.
A good food plan does start with storing food, beginning with a super pantry. This is a three-month supply of canned, boxed and frozen foods that you typically eat every week. But this food storage isn’t just for a Mad Max world. This is the pantry that will tide you over through all sorts of hiccups in life.
Read: Six Reasons to Have Food Storage.
Once you have a good super pantry, you might want to look at a larger, long-term food storage.
Your three-month, super pantry storage is designed to be used in a variety of crises (job cutbacks, major car or appliance repairs, etc.) and be replenished regularly.
But a long-term supply is a year’s supply of food that can be stored for several years before needing to be replaced. That makes it good for the kind of disaster everyone is worried about right now: one that is widespread and interrupts the food supply for more than three months.
A long-term food storage consists of five components: grains, beans, dairy, salt and honey. These foods are inexpensive, compact, can be stored just about anywhere and have a long storage life. They will ensure that your family has a nutritionally sound diet should a food crisis persist for a long time.
Read: Short Term vs. Long Term Food Storage
But food storage is just the first part. The next step is to have a way to continually produce food. That’s why gardening is a key ingredient to a sound food plan. Read: Ten Reasons to Garden
Living in North Dakota, our window to grow a garden is pretty small: about 100-115 days, which makes it hard to produce enough food for a year. That’s one reason to also have perennial food growing in your yard: berry bushes and fruit trees, an asparagus or a Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke) bed and perennial greens like sorrel and Good King Henry. Read: The Perennial Vegetable Garden
You can also extend your gardening window a month or two. (I’ll discuss how to extend your garden season in a forthcoming post.)
The best thing you can do during that short gardening window is to preserve as much of your garden as possible. Food preservation is an important part of a food plan.
Canning is the most common way people preserve their garden’s bounty. It’s perfect for most vegetables, fruits and meat. Read: Canning FAQs
It’s best to not just rely on one form of food preservation. You’d hate to lose everything if someone unplugs the freezer or a flood destroys all your jars of food. You should use other food preservation methods as well: drying, freezing, fermenting and storing in a root cellar.
Read: How to Preserve Your Summer Harvest.
The next part of your food plan is have alternate food sources. Learn how to forage for food. For example dandelion and tender nettles are just a couple of the delicious and plentiful wild foods that you’ll find in North Dakota. If you live in a more moderate climate, you have a cornucopia of foods you can forage: berries, mushrooms, edible weeds of all sorts.
You may also want to include hunting and fishing as part of your food plan.
The key component
But the most important part of a sound food plan is to network with friends and neighbors. For example, most people are not able to keep chickens, so find a
friend who has chickens and arrange a swap, something like eggs for jelly. You likely can’t raise a pig or a cow, either. Find a friend or two who’ll split one with you.
Start asking your friends how concerned they are about the news of impending food shortages. Encourage them to implement a food plan. Even a bunker filled with freeze-dried foods is not enough to get through a major crisis if you have not built good relations with your neighbors and formed a network of like-minded people who can all rely on each other. Read: How to Talk to Your Neighbors
Second question: Is it too late?
You’ve heard the saying “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today.” So the answer is no, if you’re working on a food plan it’s not too late to start. If you want food storage, a stockpile of survivalist food, then that may be a little hard to get right now. Not impossible, but you’ll be competing with lots of other panicking folks. If your goal is to stockpile food you will likely experience delivery delays.
Today is always a good day to start implementing a food storage plan. Even though some of the shelves in
the grocery store are a bit bare, get started today. Every week buy a few extra cans and boxes of food to put into your Super Pantry. This food will come in handy during just about any kind of crisis, not just a food shortage. You’ll find a Super Pantry can pull you through a job loss or expensive home or auto repair that would otherwise deplete your bank account.
After you have a good start on your Super Pantry, go buy a few big bags of rice at the warehouse store. Plan to buy legumes and wheat at the elevator or food co-op this fall when the harvests are in and the prices are at their lowest. Honey will be at it’s cheapest beginning in late August. By the end of September all the beekeepers are starting to close down for the winter.
Read: Is It Too Late?
Don’t go crazy! You don’t want to stress the family budget. The plan is to get all you can afford and learn to manage a good inventory of food and other supplies that will tide you over. This is not a project that you can finish up all in a week. It takes baby steps, small but important things that you do each week to implement a food plan that will sustain you and your family through a major crisis.
My Getting Started ebook is free this month and will help you map out those baby steps. It breaks everything down into small segments and guides you through setting goals that will get you better prepared. You will rest easier knowing that you are taking important steps for whatever is down the road.