Saturday, November 13, 2010

stored food

I don't know, maybe this is a weird thing to feel happy about.

Some months ago, my father asked me if I wanted a year's supply of long-term storage food. My parents have always had that kind of set up - it's sort of like camp food (most of it is dehydrated). The idea of having it, I think, went back to some of the dealings my dad had with members of the LDS church when he was working out West.

(I don't agree with some of their theological teachings, but I think the preparedness aspect - the idea of planning to be able to take care of your family in an emergency, rather than waiting for someone to come and help you, is a very good idea. And, by extension, that you help your neighbors out if you can).

My dad's original plans were "surviving a nuclear attack." (Remember the late 70s? The concern about the Russians? We had a bomb shelter in the house and everything. Nowadays, I think, if there were a nuclear war, either (a) I would want to be killed outright or (b) I would want to be far, far away from any places where bombs get dropped. Being a survivor in a messed-up radiologic world where I'd probably develop some weird cancer from exposure to the detritus from a bomb going off seems a worse fate than just dying quickly. And frankly, if civilization just ended and we were back to fighting over what roots and berries we could scavenge, I'm not sure I'd want to be a survivor. But there are other emergencies other than the "ultimate" one.)

I keep canned goods and stuff like raisins and peanut butter and granola on hand at all times. We occasionally get ice storms here in the winter, and while here in town, it's unlikely that we'd be stuck in our houses for long, still, it gives me some sense of security that if the roads are bad and the power's out I can still manage to have some food to survive on.

I've never gone so far as to get the camp-food thing, even though my parents always had it when I was growing up. (And yeah, we would work through it. Though I will say eating stuff with reconstituted dried eggs is not that great when you know there are "real" eggs in the fridge. But whatever).

My dad was doing a restocking and found a new supplier, and I guess they would cut a deal if he ordered multiple sets. So he asked my brother and sister-in-law and asked me if we wanted one.

I decided to take the offer. I don't think I quite have the same survivalist perspective my dad has - I think when he started planning this, this was when all the rioting in Greece was happening, and he had some concern that civil unrest could happen here. (Though I suspect in my small town? If violent protester types came to town, the good men (and some women) of my city would simply get out their hunting rifles, and gently suggest to the protester that they best move along somewhere else, that they don't want any 'trouble.' And the people in my town seem to have more of a "frontier mentality," where their reaction to something like the retirement age being raised would be, "No sir, I don't like it." but they wouldn't get violent, at least not against fellow citizens)

But then again. Ice storms can happen. Or a trucking strike could happen. I am well aware of how dependent my area is on having food trucked in - there is very little that is locally grown, and while I could get eggs in season and perhaps chicken and honey and maybe some beans and peanuts, my own experiments at growing food have been largely unsuccessful - our climate can be very hot and dry, but it can shift from hot to chilly in a short time.

Or bad inflation could happen, which I think is actually a real possibility. I'm already seeing the price of food higher than it was this time last year. (Sweet potatoes are now twice what I was paying last year, it seems.)

So a larder of food isn't such a bad idea.

The stuff came yesterday afternoon. This was a SERIOUS shipment - a pallet of boxes, shrinkwrapped, and delivered by a trucking company, not UPS or FedEx. It was pouring rain when the guy arrived, but he was nice enough to stick the pallet in my garage so the boxes would not get soaked.

My garage is detached from the house (it is also small), so unloading was more complicated. (And I wanted to get it done, so I could garage my car.)

There was something like 13 cases, each with six large cans, and then some smaller packages of stuff. I ripped the boxes open and broke them down; I figured it made more sense to store the cans and get rid of the boxes now, than in some uncertain future time when it might be harder to get rid of stuff like boxes. (Then again, maybe in some really uncertain future time, I'd wish I had the boxes to burn for fuel, if things got REALLY bad...)

It took two trips (on average) per box (the box of beans I could only carry one can at a time, they were that heavy).

Fortunately, I had a closet ready. The closet in my home office is under-utilized (I had mainly stored old magazines, books I plan to donate to the local library used-book sale, and old paper records in there). I had spent the afternoon before clearing it out - throwing away all the magazines, boxing up the books (I still have to see if the local library is taking donations at the moment), sorting some of the records and getting rid of what I could (I think there is no need to keep the bill-stubs from four-year-old electric bills that have long since been paid).

The closet has shelves, which turned out to work fantastically well. I have the top shelf all full of the dried fruit, cereal, and beverage mixes (They have something called "Germade," which I guess is like Postum. That's what makes me think this must be an LDS-owned company: having a non-caffeine coffee substitute in the mix.) These are the things that I consider my "bug-out shelf," where if things got really bad for some reason and I had to run away, they're what I'd grab and throw in my car, because most of the stuff could be eaten without cooking, or even be eaten without having to be reconstituted.

The next shelf is dried veggies, some of which I could grab in a bug-out situation (you could probably eat dried peas without rehydrating, or without cooking). Then there's the grains and beans, and some assorted stuff like soup bases and TVP.

It all fits nicely. It was kind of fun for a while opening the cases and seeing what was in there. (Popcorn! I guess if the world's coming to an end, the idea is you pop that up and eat it while you watch...)

And in a very bizarre and I admit, twisted, sort of way, it makes me happy to have that all stored up. To know that even if things go to complete hell and I can't leave the house, even, I can eat.

I wonder if anyone's tried (a la the Super Size Me and other movies of that ilk) to actually live for a year on nothing but the stored dried food. I bet if you lived in a remote area it would be a Godsend; you wouldn't have to plan trips to a store.

Another thing that happened when I was cleaning the closet was that I found stuff that had gotten buried. I probably have a 2 year's supply of T.P. and nearly as much of paper towels. Which is good to know; in emergency situations paper goods are almost as important as food and water. (And as for water: I keep a couple cases of the much-maligned plastic bottled water on hand for emergencies. In a longer term problem, I could collect and boil rainwater and such, but for short term, "Oh crap, our filtration system shut down so now you have a boil order," it's just easier to use the bottled)

And I have some soap ahead. And shampoo. And I have LOTS of incandescent bulbs. I have no idea of the current status of the supposed ban (last I heard, the fluorescents were to be 'strongly encouraged' but that you'd still be able to get incandescents). But what it means in a practical sense is that I won't need to worry about buying those essentials for a while. (And as for the supposed shorter lives of incandescent bulbs: I very rarely have one burn out on me. I think it's probably because I'm not home that much, and I have big windows that let in light so I don't need the lamps on during the day, and I'm also pretty picky about turning off unused lights to save money on my electric bill...)

The whole "having stuff ahead" thing is a little quirk of mine. It does comfort me, though, to know I could go to my pantry shelf and put together a week's or so worth of decent meals from what I just have on hand (in regular cans and such) and that now, I have the mega-cans that will allow for bigger situations.

(I also have a lot of books ahead. And a lot of craft supplies. If I had to "shelter in place" - as they were talking about during the early days of H1N1 last year - I could happily stay home for a good long time)

Maybe I won't "have" to use them and will be irritated to be choking down tvp and dried corn at some point in the future (because I think even though they're good for long-term storage, you HAVE to rotate them from time to time). But if an ice storm hits - or if there's bad inflation, or hell, if all the local grocery stores wind up shutting down for some reason, I'm covered.

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