Food Storage – Brought to you from Uncle’s Value Farm

Food Storage

Hey Uncle!

What can we do to prepare for what’s coming?

I called my stockbroker today and asked him what I should be buying.

He replied, “If the current administration is in office much longer,
canned goods and ammunition are your best bet.”

Why would someone who is normal and sane store food?  There has always been plenty of food.  When you run low, you just run out to the grocery store and get more.  There are thousands of choices from all over the world just sitting on the shelves waiting for us to select which one we are in the mood for today.  For dinner tonight we can have fresh fish that was caught this morning from an ocean 2,000 miles away, along with fresh vegetables from a farm in another state.  Food is available fresh, frozen, dried, or canned.  We can have as much as we can afford of any type of food we desire.

There has always been plenty.  Won’t there always be plenty?

We consider ourselves to be pretty average, normal, reasonably sane people.  Yet we have a well stocked pantry.  My father was born in 1906 and he remembered The Great Depression.  He taught his sons to have at least a 1-year supply of everything at all times.  When he went on hunting trips he would literally take enough food, water, medicine, etc. to last for 6 months in case he got stuck somewhere.  My father’s DC-3 cargo plane crashed in the Amazon.  He was there for close to a year, and had to subsist on stuff we wouldn’t even think of as food.  His experiences during The Great Depression and in the Amazon taught him to plan ahead.  He always ensured his family had everything they might need, no matter what happened.  Dad believed in being prepared.

Even if the price of food does not go up significantly (which it will because the price of food and fuel are inseparable), it is a good idea to have a good supply of staples put away in case something unforeseen happens.  There are plenty of natural disasters that can disrupt our ability to obtain food and drinkable water.  Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, etc. can be devastating if we are unprepared.  There are also plenty of manmade disasters that can achieve the same result.  President Obama declared that the price of fuel will “necessarily skyrocket” then put all kinds of onerous regulations in place to ensure that it will.  Legislation that directly impacts the price of food has been enacted as well by the Obama Administration.  The cost of living is high, and going up.

The fewer people who know that you have put away food, the more likely you are to still have it when you really need it.  Only the people in your household should be aware of what you have.  In times of disaster, if you choose to share with extended family members, friends and neighbors, you always have the option to do so.  If others know pre-disaster that you have what they need, you won’t have it for long.

Do not buy anything for storage that you do not currently use or like.  For instance, some people store wheat.  I know a man who is a survivalist.  To prepare for whichever disaster may occur he bought a thousand pounds of wheat.  In time the weevil eggs in the wheat hatched out and ate some of it.  The mice got into it and polished off whatever the weevils didn’t get.  There was no planning of exactly how the wheat would be used, since he did not have anything with which to grind it into flour.  He has since purchased all sorts of interesting stuff, such as freeze dried corn, which no one will ever eat because it tastes horrible.  You have to admire a man who works hard to ensure his family will not suffer from starvation, but it’s better to do some research first so you can avoid making the same mistakes.  Most “survivalist” or “emergency food storage” items are things that no one likes and they cost a fortune.  The best way to prepare for bad times is to store the products that your family already consumes and rotate the inventory so you’re always consuming the oldest.

For canned goods the easiest way is with a food storage rack.  The newest cans go in the top.  When you want a can of something you take it from the bottom.  At Canracks.com you can purchase the plans for $15 so you can make your own out of MDF or plywood.  Most of the pre-made racks are expensive, such as those from Shelf Reliance.  If you are not handy with tools and do not feel confident tackling this type of do-it-yourself project, get the pre-made racks.  It is much easier to rotate your inventory with a can rack designed for that purpose than to try to move boxes of canned goods around.

All grains have weevils.  When you purchase flour, whether it’s wheat, corn, barley or rice flour, it needs to be put in the freezer for 2 weeks to kill the weevil eggs.  The same freezing time is used for whole grains.  At the end of that time it can be stored indefinitely at room temperature.  Ditto for all products made from grains, such as pasta.

All types of dried beans, dried peas and popcorn can be stored indefinitely at room temperature in a container that keeps out the mice and bugs.  No freezing necessary.

Do not purchase any cans with dents in them.  All cans have concentric rings in the top or bottom of the can.  The purpose of those rings is to alert the consumer when the can has been compromised and the contents have gone bad.  When the contents of a can go bad gasses are produced, which push the rings out.  Any can that has the rings pushed out has to be thrown away.  If the can has a dent in it, the rings may not push out, even if there are gasses in the can.  If that happens you don’t know when there is a problem with the contents.

The dates on cans are put there so the manufacturers don’t get sued by people who consume the products years after purchase.  They are also on there to encourage consumers to purchase more product, even if the product they already have is still good.  Virtually everything that is canned is good years after the date on the can.

The same is true of may types of medicine.  Most are effective many years after the date stamped on the packaging.  (I’ve used burn ointment from a first aid kit from the Korean War, and taken theophyllin that was a decade past its expiration date.  Both worked fine.)

Sugar can be kept indefinitely at room temperature.  It never goes bad.

All spices are good indefinitely.

Butter lasts for years in the freezer.

Bread and baked goods can be frozen for months, then thawed when you’re ready to use.

Meat can be stored for years in the freezer as long as it is in sealed containers to prevent freezer burn.  If you put it in vacuum pack bags it will stay good up to 5 times longer than it does in regular Ziploc bags.  There is a food sealing machine at Costco for about $150 that is good for this purpose.

Potatoes must be cooked prior to being frozen.

Dehydrated potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots last for years at room temperature.

Tea and coffee are good indefinitely.

The Business Costco’s have many items that are not available at any other Costco, such as 25 lb. bags of peas, lentils, beans, and rice.

Put away extra bleach so it can be used to sterilize water if needed.  Store filtered bottled water so there is water for drinking and cooking, even if nothing comes out of the tap.  Ideally, it’s best if you have a source of fresh water on your property.  When you can, buy a large water filter, such as the types offered by Berkey Water Filters.  They can be purchased online at berkeyfilters.com.

Go through your refrigerator, freezer, cupboards, and cabinets.  Write down everything you have now, so you can make a complete list of items your family may need when going to the store isn’t an option.

In addition to canned and dehydrated food, store non-perishable goods that your family regularly uses, such as toilet paper, paper towels, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, paper plates, plastic cutlery, bar and liquid soaps, shampoo, Q-tips, toothpaste, toothbrushes, napkins, wax paper, dish soap, laundry soap, cleaning supplies, Lysol, bug spray, garbage bags, candles, Kleenex, light bulbs, Listerine, a couple of manual can openers, matches, shaving razors, and Ziploc bags.

Make sure you have a supply of all prescription medications you regularly take, plus a variety of over-the-counter medications, such as cold medicines, gauze, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, Neosporin, Band-aids, cough drops, aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, Bactine, iodine, etc.  If conditions outside of your home are such that you need to dip into your storage items, there may be sanitation issues to contend with as well.  For this reason, bactericides and fungicides are a good addition to your pantry.

If you have pets, stock up on their food and medicine as well.  Canned and dried cat food, dog food and birdseed have a very long shelf life.

If the purpose of stocking up the pantry is to prepare for a wide variety of possible emergency situations, the loss of power should also be considered.  The power grids in many cities are quite fragile, often running at the max of their capability, and brownouts/blackouts do occur.  If for some reason you do not have natural gas or electricity, how do you cook?  You can use bottled propane or your fireplace.  It’s a good idea to have cast iron pots and pans because they are designed for use in more rugged conditions, and can be placed directly into the fire without getting warped.   Also, entire meals can be cooked in hot embers by just being wrapped up in aluminum foil.  If wood is not readily available, keep a few full bottles of propane handy for heat and cooking.

Learn everything you can about growing, canning and storing your own food.

The best publication for learning about self reliance is Backwoods Home Magazine.  Jackie Clay is a regular contributor and is extremely knowledgeable on this subject.  I highly recommend getting a subscription to Backwoods Home.

Once you have a well stocked pantry you will feel more secure, knowing that you can care for yourself and your family without relying on anyone else.

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