"Store what you eat, and eat what you store" sounds good and reasonable. Unfortunately, it's not so practical unless you never eat out and plan on the grocery store always being there to meet your needs for your baked goods, dairy products, and convenience foods. But it sounds good on paper.
As preppers, we take self-reliance seriously, sometimes to the extent that we aren't willing even to entertain thoughts from experts in their fields. Well, sure, you might go and buy this device because so-and-so recommended it, or learn that skill because it will always be in demand, and buy a zillion widgets so you have them for barter. However, when it comes to food, for so many people good sense and reason fly right out the window.
For over a hundred years, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have counseled their members to prepare for difficult times, whether personal or community- or nationwide, by having on hand at least a year's supply of food. For those who wonder, only about 3-5% of Church members actually do this, and in my observation, I think that number is very generous. I've posted before about the recommended amounts, but for quick review, here they are:
- Grains, 400 lbs;
- Sugars, 60 lbs;
- Legumes, 60 lbs;
- Oils, 20 lbs;
- Milk, 15 lbs;
- Salt, 10 lbs.
So here you have very accomplished, well-educated individuals, many of whom are very well-versed in the amounts and kinds of food needed to sustain life. Yes, the Church does have food for sale, so perhaps they have an agenda in wanting people to buy more. Except that the food they sell in the Home Storage Centers costs far less than what is sold in grocery stores, so there's no profit motive for them. They just want people to be prepared. The storage amounts are already pretty low, and yet so many decide they know better than the experts and decide to store less.
And to be fair, while they are the experts on food storage in general, you are the expert on you. And that needs to be considered as well. Allergies and sensitivities to certain foods must be considered, as well as likes and dislikes. If you've lived your life on convenience foods and garbage, the transition to whole wheat and beans may be a little rough. Which is why the Church counsels their members to also have a three-month supply of foods they normally eat.
So even among those who claim to be prepared, there are very many who refuse to store what's needed. "We'll never eat that much (fill in the blank)." And they're right, as long as society holds together and we have grocery stores and restaurants, they never will. If they are asked how often they buy salt or sugar or oil, they won't be able to answer because it's so infrequent. Most families can make a salt container last a year or more. They don't make cookies from scratch or deep fry any foods, so the sugar and oil last a long time, too.
But after TEOTWAWKI hits, it's going to be an entirely different affair. Here's why:
- Baking and cooking from scratch. A lot of salt is used in making bread and in cooking beans. Bread also uses quite a bit of oil, and oil is used to saute otherwise unpalatable foods into something tasty. Sugar will also be used a whole lot more. Bear in mind that Americans today consume well over 100 pounds of sugar per year. Subtracting 40 pounds per year is subtracting a lot of calories. TEOTWAWKI is not the time to plan on losing weight. That's going to happen regardless of what we do.
- And just what, exactly, is the big deal about these surplus calories? Well, for one, calories are needed to maintain body temperature. As was noted in the post on the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, the volunteers needed extra blankets, even in the summer, to keep warm. The needs will be substantially greater in winter.
- During TEOTWAWKI, if we're just going to be lounging about all day, perhaps not so many calories will be needed. Lounging around has a nice ring to it, but it's probably best to plan on becoming much more active. Can you imagine asking a teenage boy to spend the day in heavy labor and then tell him he's going to have only 2,000 calories for the day? That's not going to go over very well.
- Without adequate calories, our ability to work well with others is drastically diminished. The Minnesota Starvation Experiment volunteers thought only about food all the time. Even the most extroverted of them became introverts who lacked the patience to work well with others. Some had to drop out of college because they could no longer think clearly. And these were people who could have dropped out of the experiment at any time and ended the suffering. I've got a wedding coming up in two months and feel the need to shed 10-15 pounds. It should be quite doable. And yet I am irritable with my family at a time when they and I know I can end it at any time and grab something to eat. How significantly worse will it be when people do not know where their next meal is coming from? That will be bad.
And as for salt, well, people had better stick with the recommended minimums for that as well. Iodized salt prevents mental retardation in children and prevents diminished mental capacity in adults as well. Our bodies need iodine. Our bodies also need sodium. Without adequate levels, we are going to have problems.
Links to related posts:
Minnesota Starvation Experiment
Overview of Long Term Food Storage
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