And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Food Storage Rights and Wrongs

There are different approaches to Food Storage. Probably as many approaches as there are folks who store food. I think they basically boil down to 3 basic types, though.

The first group are the hard core survivalist types. They stock up on military rations or meal replacement bars, totally disregarding taste and variety in the interest of having "food" that is easy to store and transport.

The second group are folks who store absolute basics and learn to cook from them. Their storage includes bins of wheat (not flour, the have a wheat-grinder), sugar, salt, cornmeal, and home-preserved goodies (either from their home garden or a local, organic grower).

The third group are folks who buy mass produced, store bought items that take little or no prep before being ready to eat. Their shelves are full of Spaghettio's, canned fruit, and Hamburger Helper. Their freezers are full of ready made lasagna and chicken nuggets.

Now, when I decided to start getting serious about food storage here at Barefoot Manor I did a lot of research into things. I wanted to make the choices that were right for my family. I wanted someone out there to tell me what the right way was.

The folks in the first group...well, I give them kudos. To have the emotional stamina to survive on "meal bars" for any period of time is astounding. I don't think my family could do it. Oh, if that was all that was available I am sure we would make do for a while, but how long would it take for "appetite fatigue" to set in? For those who may not know, appetite fatigue is when you have to eat the same thing for so long that you would really rather starve than take another bite of it. The elderly and the young are more susceptible, but even I would get sick of those things pretty quickly.

The folks in the second group...I applaud them. I wish I had the knowledge and the resources to do as they do. Grinding my own wheat is a little out of my league at this point, though. Every year I work on gaining new cooking and food preservation skills, but I am a long way from what these folks accomplish. This type of food storage takes a giant commitment of time and energy to acquire and to manage.

Then there is the third group. I gotta give it to them. The food they are stocking is easy and familiar. It is cheap, and takes little to no effort to store. But I fear that they are taking a nutritional hit with these foods. Store bought foods are full of chemicals and hormones that just can't be good for us. There is also the fear that they are contaminated with salmonella or e. coli or some other frightening bacterium. At the very least they are very high in sodium and fat, which isn't so good for the heart or the waistline. So that doesn't seem like such a good idea, either.

Each of these groups believes that their way is the best way, and far be it for me to say otherwise. I, however, am gonna say that my way is right for me and my family.

See, here is the plan:

I already have some home-frozen produce from the garden last year. I also have venison that Dad and Bro shot and butchered, and beef from a cow that is local (I don't know if it is organic, but I know the woman who raised it at least).

I am going to work on increasing the production of my garden and my preserving skills for this next year, and work on finding local sources for ethically treated (and hopefully hormone-free) meat. I will also work on learning how to cook more and more from scratch, so that I can store more of the basics and fewer "processed" foods.

In the meantime, I am going to use coupons and any means available to me to stock up on foods that my family knows and enjoys. That means store bought spaghetti sauce and canned soups are going to continue to be a part of our diet. Some of the worst stuff I have already almost eliminated, but I am not going to shock my family with a total diet change all at once.

The military food rations? Well, those I just don't think I will ever be able to stomach. I MAY however, pick up some of those nutrition supplement bars if I can come upon them cheaply enough. They would go well in the winter car kit (a must in MN winters) or for an absolute emergency. Granola-type bars would be good for this, as well.

So there you have it, folks. One more person telling you that THEIR way is the right way.

Kinda funny, isn't it?


Finding Pam said...

Barefoot gardener, thanks for the email and your answers. You are very kind.

Marcy said...

We're learning to stockpile necessities... it's really a challenge but given enough thought one can have enough in the pantry and/or freezer to last a couple years maybe! My greatest fear is running out of (*gulp) toilet paper!! Ha!

barefoot gardener said...


I, too, worry about not having TP. I think I could handle losing a lot of things in a difficult time, but TP is one of the things I would really miss.

Pull up a chair and stick around...I love seeing new faces around here.

Wendy said...

I read this post a couple of days ago, and I've been thinking about it ever since (I'll bet you never realized you had that effect, huh? ;).

I think I fall in between the 2nd and the 3rd group. Since we embarked on our "eat locally" lifestyle, we've given up most processed foods, although there are a few we still purchase. And during the winter, I buy a good lot of canned foods (like tomato sauce and canned beans, and fruit that doesn't grow in Maine - like pineapple) when my supply of home-canned goods starts to run low. Mostly though, our "storage" foods are things I canned or froze during the summer either from my garden or from a local farmer.

But for the record, I buy flour - usually unbleached white flour from a "local" mill. I don't grind my own :).

What I wanted to say, though, is that you are correct, and there is no "right" way. While my family eschews most processed foods, I know that a lot of people like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and if one has a coupon for $1 off five boxes, and each box costs costs 33 cents, then three boxes are essentially free. Combined with a can of tuna (for 69 cents) and a can of mushroom soup (79 cents), that's a meal for a family of four for less than $2. Not bad, in my opinion.

There are a lot of people who would argue that "from scratch" meals are even cheaper, and that may be true, but on those days that I'm out with my girls until after dark and I have to come home and cook dinner, I'm thankful for the pack of English muffins and the canned tomato sauce so that I can make some muffin pizzas ;).

If the idea is not to starve, having the things your family will eat and enjoy is far more important than bowing to some other person's idea of perfection. It's a balance, and as my husband always says, In medio stat virtus - "Virtue is in the middle" :).

barefoot gardener said...

Wow! I had no idea I had that effect! Just hold on a moment while I deflate my head a bit....

I think you are right that it is all about the balance.

I have such high ideals for what I want for my family. I would LOVE to cook everything from scratch and eat only local/organic foods. But I have to face the fact that I don't have the time, knowledge, money,or (frankly) energy to live up to my ideals.

I guess that was the underlying reason for this post. To remind myself that all I can do is do the best with every day, and hope that it will be enough.

Anyway, thanks so much for the great comment!