Food Storage: Traditional Food When it comes to food storage, there are a number of ways to make sure that there is enough food and that it will keep well enough to last everyone through an emergency. Some use dehydrated food, or freeze-dried foods, which both have the advantage of a long shelf-life. Freeze-dried foods even contain nearly all of their original nutritional content. However, it is possible to forego all the advanced forms of food storage and instead store food in a more traditional way. Food storage is a relatively old concept, and one that is necessary for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, of course, is the idea of storing food in case of a famine or another type of food shortage--like grocery stores not being able to get the normal supply of food. The second most common reason people store food is likely in anticipation of some sort of disaster or emergency. In an increasingly violent and unpredictable world, it is impossible to tell when and where the next disaster, natural or otherwise, will strike. Therefore, people make certain that in the event they could not leave their houses for some reason, they would not starve. There are many other reasons besides these two, however. Some store food during a time of surplus--when many foods are on sale because of a good year, people will overbuy and store what they don’t eat for when food prices shoot back up again. Others choose to store food to prepare for times of celebration and festivities, when they’ll need to feed many more people than usual. It would be expensive and inconvenient to buy pounds and pounds of food all at once, so some people gradually build up their supply of food so that they may entertain whatever company might come around. Still others store food for religious reasons--many religious leaders council their congregations to be prepared for anything. Food storage is also an issue of self-reliance; people want to be able to feed themselves, even if there’s less money that month. With food storage, no one has to go hungry: people just buy extra when they have the money, and it saves them from going into debt to buy food when money starts to get scarce. Finally, food storage enables a more complete, balanced diet throughout the year, since having an assortment of food storage means that even when someone forgets to buy vegetables or fruit at the store, they are able to just pull something out of food storage and give their meals variety. Whatever the reason, however, food storage is a good idea for any household, no matter how many people, or how diverse the diets. If people are looking for a good, easy way to get started, traditional food storage is a basic, convenient way to store food without the shock to one’s finances that buying the newer types of food storage (like freeze-dried or dehydrated foods) can sometimes cause. Storing food this way--in cans, or sealed containers--generally means buying just a bit more food each week than normal. A few more cans each week, for example, will eventually become a large and comprehensive supply of different types of foods, all with an extensive shelf life. It’s also important to remember the basics with this type of food storage. Think staples: wheat, rice, corn, beans, and other grains, for starters. Experts suggest that one fully grown person will eat 25 pounds of some type of grain and 5 pounds of dry beans every month, so plan accordingly. And everyone should make sure they have some way to process their grains, particularly wheat, which everyone usually just consumes in the form of flour. In order to make the grain into a more usable powder, someone will need a grain mill. Some are electric, though it makes more practical sense to buy one that is battery- or hand-operated, since in an emergency there will oftentimes not be any electricity at all. The Ready Store sells a hand-powered grain mill that is easy to use and very effective in turning the grains of wheat into something actually useful in cooking. However, it is probably not good enough just to store the very basics, since if food storage is ever actually necessary, no one is going to want to eat ground up wheat every day for months on end; this is why sources also recommend storing sugar, nonfat dry milk, cooking oil, salt, baking soda, and other baking essentials. A variety of canned food would also come
in handy with both breaking up the monotony of the staples and providing essential nutrients. After providing these necessities (grains and legumes), consider also trying to store some sugary foods that will be able to provide flavor like honey, corn syrup, or flavored gelatin. And after all that is done, it’s actually recommended that people store some comfort foods like popcorn, chocolate, or something warm and filling like mashed potatoes (instant) and gravy. This is because if food storage ever becomes necessary, it will likely be a very stressful time, and people are going to need a source of consolation; and it’s been proved that food can and does relieve stress. In order to begin the process of storing food, first make room for the large amount of room that will be needed. Whenever possible, pick the driest, coolest area of the house, as that will ensure the maximum shelf-life for the foods. After that, begin building up the necessities, as stated above. These foods are necessary because of how often they are used in the food everyone eats, even now. One important thing to remember about traditional food storage to remember is that, unlike freeze-dried or dehydrated foods, this food does not have a near-indefinite shelf-life. That’s why most people who chose to go the traditional route are nearly always buying a few cans for their food supply, since they must constantly rotate the food they have stored. Be sure to mark when each food was purchased, and as the deadline approaches for canned food, use it before it goes bad and replace it. It’s actually a fairly cheap way to do something as important as food storage, and it limit’s the number of times someone has to run to the grocery store because they forgot something. When storing staples (not canned food that can be bought at the store), it’s important to remember that those foods cannot be stored in the flimsy bags that they come in. Use plastic containers, metal cans, #10 cans with tight-fitting lids, or something similar; that way insects or mold can’t get into and ruin the food. Food storage then, in the traditional sense, doesn’t have to be a huge project or a source of stress or debt to anyone. This way, it just becomes a simple matter of picking up a few extra supplies whenever grocery shopping. This kind of food storage takes so little effort, yet can yield such positive results in emergencies or times of economic hardship.