Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why I have Food Storage - A Personal Story



Food storage.  Not a popular, nor remotely fun topic for most everyone I know.  But I could talk for hours about it, probably days, and love every minute of it.  But I'm weird.  And I'm okay with that.
And it might be my weirdness that propels me to write this post. But it also might be because I think it is important.



Why do I have food storage?  There are lots of reasons:

Safety
Security
Cost effective
Preparedness
Health benefits
Convenience
But one reason that sometimes slips between the cracks is probably the most important of all.  I have food storage because there was a time in my life when I NEEDED it.  And I don't mean need it as in "I need a cup of sugar from downstairs to make a cake".  I needed it as in, if we wouldn't have had it, we wouldn't have eaten.


I remember a cold day in February.  Snow covered the ground.  The power was out.  Not because of a storm, but simply because I was behind on my bill and the city had shut it off that morning.  We were dead broke.  2 kids, no jobs, no savings, debt, and now no power.



Rewind 2 years.  My husband and I sat entertaining friends in our overly luxurious house.  Our brand new cars were parked in the garage.  Our bank accounts held very sufficient savings.  We had money.



And then life happened.  Investments went bad.  Jobs were lost.  Loans were called due.  We had a son diagnosed with a very rare life altering medical condition.  We lived off of our savings.  We had another baby.  We moved.  We moved again.  Months and months and months of random side jobs, but mostly unemployment.



I find it critical to include this in the story because I believe a lot of people have the mentality of "it will never happen to me".  I certainly did.  I am in no way saying that our circumstances were entirely out of our control.  Mistakes were made.  Obviously we did what we thought was best at the time.  The main point is; major life changes can, and most likely will, happen.



We were well beyond the point of having any savings left.  We made practically nothing.  We borrowed to pay for rent and healthcare for our son, who couldn't afford to lose insurance.  And we lived off of our food storage.



At first I willingly accepted the challenge.  I was confident that my supply of food was sufficient.  I had buckets of flour and rice.  I had canned beans, vegetables and home bottled fruits.  I had pasta and peanut butter and oils and sugar.  I had powdered milk and eggs.  And, I thought I knew how to use all of it.



But living off of your food storage takes practice.  I learned how to make bread.  I learned how to make everything.
 But just a few weeks of not going to the store proved torturous.  I remember when the box of fruit snacks was empty, and I literally said to myself " what kind of mother am I?  I can't even provide my sons with a fruit snack". (Go ahead and insert my present day embarrassment and laughter here.  Anybody who knows me will know why)...



And so there I stood, watching snow fall outside the window.  I stared at the plot of dirt that was my garden.  I'd never really planted a garden.  We moved into that home 2 months before, in December.  I knew little about gardening then, but I knew you could store carrots in the ground over winter.  I remember wishing there were carrots planted outside my back door.  I remember thinking, "oh, the things I could make with carrots".  (Carrots, people.  CARROTS!). I was day dreaming about carrots.

That was the day that I promised myself that I would always plant a garden.



Needless to say it wasn't the easiest time of my life.  However, it turned out to be one of the most rewarding challenges.  I learned some very important lessons; about life, and money, and happiness.  But for the sake of this post, I'll touch specifically on what I learned concerning home food storage survival:



Food Storage Lessons Learned

  

It will not last nearly as long as you think it will.

What I assumed to be a year supply was easily depleted in just over 3 months.  This is partially true because:

Zero supplementing from a grocery store drastically changes the way you eat.

You eat what you have.  Nothing else.  No more running to the store to get that final ingredient.
Food becomes nothing more than fuel, and you quickly realize that: 

Food provides comfort, and is a luxury
There was no instant gratification.  Cravings happened on a daily basis with no way to satisfy them and it wasn't pleasant.  Meals become simple.  No more main courses with 4 various side dishes.  I don't believe this lesson can be learned aside from experiencing it.  You realize the things that you just enjoy eating.  We literally spent hours attempting to find the perfect recipe for homemade tortillas, just so that we could then make them into tortilla chips.  If the world ends, and you have tortilla chips, you are welcome at my door.  Figure out what your food comfort / luxury is, and store a lot of that.

Anything you have is better than nothing, but variety is awesome
  You get to a certain point where you are just grateful to have something to eat, but eating the same thing day after day is mentally defeating.  Store a variety of foods; fruits, vegetables, meat, grains, desserts, dairy.  You'll be so happy you did. 


Learn how to use what you store
I feel like I had a pretty good grasp of this before, and it made things so much easier.  I can't imagine doing that again without knowing anything about how to prepare it.  That just adds another level of anxiety you don't need.

Don't forget the oil
Your body needs fat.  Healthy fat.  And oils have a way of satisfying cravings when nothing else can.  Olive oil, butter, shortening, etc.  It's one of the basic elements of food storage.  And you'll use it a lot more when making things from scratch.

Plant a Garden
This should probably be #1.  The more I learn about food storage, the more I'm convinced on the importance of a garden.  Learn how to grow your own food.  No amount of canned or frozen or dehydrated or freeze dried anything will ever replace the deliciousness of fresh produce.  

Its not always about the end of the world
Most likely, you'll need food storage because of a job loss, a natural disaster, or something along those lines.  Don't get caught up in the zombie apocalypse and think you need a 5 year supply.  Start with 2 weeks.  Work your way to 1 month, then up to 3.  Be realistic about what will most likely impact you and your family and plan around that.  

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