Monday, Oct 1, 2012Dear JWR:
Stockpiling food has been performed for centuries. Our earliest ancestors were hunter gatherers. If they didn’t save up food for the winter, their existence would most certainly be doomed. It has been recorded that in hard times throughout history people have re-learned preservation techniques that would ensure their survival for the months and years ahead. I believe we are in a similar trend at the moment.
Most everyone has a reasonable supply of food in the pantry for convenience purposes. On the other hand some people, like our neighbors who we have affectionately named the “Pod People”, exist using the “just-in-time” method. These folks patronize a fast food restaurant for most every meal. If the Golden Arches drive-thru is not visited, then assuredly the pizza delivery guy will stop by. The only time we have seen “real” food go in their house is when they buy a 50 lb bag of dog food for their large dog. I worry that even a minor issue, like losing power for several days, would completely deplete the Pod People’s presumably meager supply of food and would force them to venture into a dangerous situation to obtain proper supplies.
My husband and I have always had a reasonable amount of food on hand. We could probably have gone a month on what was in the pantry. We like to eat! Even so, I hadn’t really thought about storing much more food than that until last year when I met a co-worker who is a self-proclaimed “prepper”. He introduced me to dehydrating and re-sparked my interest in canning.
With this new interest in food preservation, I began to think back to my childhood. My father was a meat cutter. We always had a large chest freezer and full pantry in the basement, and he closely watched grocery store sales. He memorized prices on a variety of items we commonly used and “cherry picked” the many sales, stocking ahead whenever he could. My mother taught me to can. One year when they had a wonderful producing garden, she canned 60 quarts of what she called Dynamites (a mixture of tomatoes, peppers and onions). These memories made me realize that my parents were the first “preppers” I knew. Not only did they have adequate food for months, but they had alternative ways to cook, extra candles, a shortwave receiver and many other items that our preppers of today commonly stock. It was a way of life, something I accepted and I thought everyone did this.
Within a year of my re-sparked interest in this lifestyle I’ve expanded our one-month supply of food to an estimated seven-months. A Craig’s List score on free canning jars by a friend was helpful, along with my dehydrating frozen and fresh vegetables when they were found on sale. We also purchased commercially canned food, and stocked up on water as well.
Both my husband and I have been solidly employed for the past 25 years. But as luck would have it, this year my husband became unemployed for two-months and then shortly after I was unemployed for four-months. While we didn’t have to delve into our food stockpile, this completely unplanned and unwanted occurrence was a wake-up call. It showed me that the way of life that my parents instilled in me needs to be continued. My goal is eventually to have one-year worth of food.
I often wonder how our Pod People neighbors might have fared in a similar occurrence. With dwindling funds, the constant fast food runs and pizza deliveries become very expensive. What would they do? Lean on the government, or family for assistance? What if those avenues dry up? I hope they like dog kibble. - Wendy Q.