Sunday, January 31, 2016

LDS Counsel on Food Storage - What Prophets Actually Preach


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been a long time advocate for self reliance.  For years they have counseled members and non-members alike to 'prepare every needful thing'.

I was pushed to write this post after I received a phone call from a woman who found my ad listed on ksl.  One of the most commonly asked questions I get is "Where do I start?"  My response is always the same: "What are your goals?"  The answer to this is different for everyone, but in a largely populated LDS community, most often they respond with something like "our religious leaders have counseled us to have food storage."  

This counsel to store food dates all the way back to Brigham Young, 2nd president of the church, when he told the saints:
"The time will come that gold will hold no comparison in value to a bushel of wheat."
President Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p.298
"...save the wheat until we have one, two, five, or seven years provisions on hand, until there is enough of the staff of life saved by the people to bread themselves and those who will come here seeking for safety."
Discourses of Brigham Young, pp.291-293 

But somewhere down the road, I have found that a lot of people don't really know or understand what this counsel actually is.  Specifically.  And so, from the mouths of prophetic leaders of the Latter-day Saints, this post will hopefully help to cover just that.

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH 84150
June 24, 1988
To: General Authorities and the following Priesthood leaders in the United States and Canada: Area Authorities (formerly Regional Reps.); Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents.
Dear Brethren:
OFFICE OF THE FIRST PRESIDENCY
Preparing for Emergencies (To be read in Sacrament Meeting.)
Occasionally people speculate about possible disasters, which speculation engenders fear and can cause members to become caught up in emergency preparedness efforts that are not only costly but go beyond the basics consistently taught by the First Presidency. Leaders should refer to Preparing for and Responding to Emergencies: Guidelines for Church Leaders. Member preparations require wise planning, diligence, and provident living. If circumstances warrant, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve will provide additional guidance on such matters through established Priesthood channels.
We continue to encourage members to store sufficient food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel for at least one year. We have not laid down an exact formula for what should be stored. However, we suggest that members concentrate on essential foods that sustain life, such as grains, legumes, cooking oil, powdered milk, salt, sugar or honey, and water. Most families can achieve and maintain this basic level of preparedness. The decision to do more than this rests with the individual.
We encourage you to follow this counsel with the assurance that a people prepared through obedience to the commandments of God need not fear.
Sincerely your Brethren,
  • Ezra Taft Benson
  • Gordon B. Hinckley
  • Thomas S. Monson
  • The First Presidency
In their homes, members are encouraged to have food storage sufficient for a year and other essentials of emergency preparedness: clothing, bedding, fuel (where possible), and the like. Church members are also advised to have sufficient supplies to enable them to be completely self-sustaining for at least fourteen days without the benefit of electricity and clean running water.



 Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 14 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992),, p.246.  (Personal Emphasis added in bold)

I repeat, home storage should consist of a years supply of basic food, clothing and, where possible, fuel.  After this goal is reached, emergency and expanded storage is desirable.
- Barbara B. Smith: "She is Not Afraid of the Snow for her Household," October 1976 


"While it is sincerely hoped that members do not get caught up in any hysteria or obsessive preparations for disasters, the Church continues its long-standing practice of encouraging members to be self-reliant and reasonably prepared."
 Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop, Conversation,  Ensign,  Sept. 1999, 78. 



"Perhaps if we think not in terms of a year's supply of what we ordinarily would use, and think more in terms of what it would take to keep us alive in case we didn't have anything else to eat, that last would be very easy to put in storage for a year...just enough to keep us alive if we didn't have anything else to eat.  We wouldn't get fat on it, but would live; and if you think in terms of that kind of annual storage rather than a whole year's supply of everything that you are accustomed to eat which, in most cases, is utterly impossible for the average family, I think we will come nearer to what President Clark advised us way back in 1937."
President Harold B. Lee: Welfare conference address, October 1, 1966



I have a sense and a feeling as we have watched some of these disasters in the world that this is a time for us to learn and prepare from these experiences. Sister Thompson gave a testimony of that. And the preparation happens in our own homes. There are not enough tents in the world to furnish every person with a tent unless the members of the church have a tent in their own homes; a simple thing like that. And then the store house is pressed down, heaped over and running over in our own homes.
Some of you have student apartments. How prepared are you? If an earthquake or an economic disaster happened would you have enough water to drink for 24 hours? Would you be able to get by until help could come to you? Those are the kinds of things we need to be thinking about in our day and time. The Lord expects us to do our little part and then he can bring on the miracles. Then we don’t need to fear.
Julie B. Beck Relief Society Training March 2010

The rationale for emergency preparedness is that by living providently and by acquiring in advance the skills and resources necessary to cope effectively with difficulties, Latter-day Saints can minimize or avoid the suffering that accompanies the unexpected.  They can also have the sense of security and peace of mind (D&C 38:30) that are essential to spiritual development.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 14 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992),, p. 453


It is time to teach the basics again. It is time to make the No. 1 priority of our welfare efforts personal and family preparedness. We must prepare now so that in time of need more of our members will be able to draw upon their own preparedness and not have to seek assistance...
 Elder L. Tom Perry: "The Need to Teach Personal and Family Preparedness," April 1981


The family should ... learn and practice some basic home health skills, such as firstaid, safety, and emergency preparedness. . .
The Lord has spent centuries preparing the world for his glorious coming, and it has been promised by nearly all the prophets, ancient and modern. To be ready, we need to set our temporal affairs in order through food storage, emergency preparedness, elimination of debt, and so on. But even more important is the need for spiritual preparation.
Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel, p.468, 620

Should the Lord decide at this time to cleanse the Church - and the need for that cleansing seems to be increasing - a famine in this land of one year's duration could wipe out a large percentage of slothful members, including some ward and stake officers.  Yet we cannot say we have not been warned."
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pg. 265.



Statistics show that no matter what the Church does, no higher than 15% have storage. We are not going to say any more, but our people are going to need to be prepared... The responsibility lies with the head of each family.
Presiding Bishop David H. Burton



I ask you earnestly, have you provided for your family a years supply of food, clothing and, where possible, fuel? The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.  President Ezra Taft Benson: "To the Fathers in Israel," October 1987

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