Establishing Your Comprehensive Plan
for Food Security
By Lee Bellinger
My researchers and I have carefully investigated the workings of the U.S. food supply chain for our subscribers. And in just one short year, these same readers have acquired more than 8,000 of our Maximum Shelf-Life Emergency 30 Day Food Reserve units. This began as a simple reader service, so it is gratifying that so many people have begun to improve their own homes’ food security situation so seriously. It’s also great to see that so many have paid attention to my shocking research on the frailty of our food supply system. Because all it really takes is for a single “hiccup” in the food supply chain, and your grocery store will be cleaned out.
That hiccup might be a riot – during the London riots in 2011, grocery stores were overrun and stripped bare. It could be a credit or currency crisis that freezes up vendor financing up and down the supply chain. It might be a union action, like the orchestrated trade union efforts last fall to keep Walmart trucks from entering and leaving supply hub warehouses. Or it could be the next natural disaster to come down the pike in this era of very weird weather. Not to mention terrorism or another form of national emergency. Hurricane Sandy serves as a reminder for how important it is to become more self-sufficient when it comes to feeding yourself and your family. New York and New Jersey are major transportation hubs, linked to the world with three major airports, extensive rail service, a maze of interstate highways, and ports for ocean-going vessels. Yet days after the storm passed and the sunshine returned, people still stood in lines to get the basic necessities.
That’s why today, I’m providing you with a comprehensive, 3-step plan for food self-sufficiency…
Step 1: Setting Up a Backup Food Supply
The first step in your self-sufficiency plan is to build up a store of long-lasting food. Ideally, you want to have at least 30 days of long-shelf-life food for every person in your home. For the greatest level of comfort, shoot for a food reserve that gives each member of your family 2,000 calories per day. (You can each get by on 1,200 calories per day, but you’ll be hungry.) You have several options in building up such a store. You can buy a little extra at the store every time you grocery shop. You can shop in bulk and establish your reserve all at once. Or you can buy preassembled food units that also serve as a great hedge against inflation.
One way to build up food reserves is to buy and store canned goods. Canned goods are high in flavor, they’re often familiar (especially if you choose canned foods that you normally eat), and they don’t require water to make. On the downside, cans are heavy and they expire after a year or two. Dried goods are an inexpensive way to build up your foods stores. Dried goods like beans, rice, pasta, and prepackaged dried meals can add variety and nutrition to your food reserve. The big advantage of dried goods is that when properly stored, they can last much longer than canned goods. Some dried foods last up to 20 years. Dried foods are also lightweight, so if you have to travel with your food, you’ll have an easier time of it.
Food storage kits offer a lot in the way of convenience. A good kit will provide you with a variety of foods, proportioned so that you and your family will have the calories you need on hand. Another big advantage is that these types of kits are packaged for maximum shelf life.
Step 2: Protect Your Investment
Once you’ve established a food reserve, you may need to work out a plan for rotating it, especially if you use canned goods as your primary food source. Canned foods typically last about one to two years. When you first buy your reserves, it might seem like the expiration dates are a long way out, but that time will pass before you know it and if you don’t rotate your food stores, it’s a big waste of money. Whenever you make a shopping list, pull whatever you can from your food reserves. Then when you shop, add the new items to your reserve.
Once or twice a year, go through your food stores and take an inventory. Make sure your calorie count is where you need it to be. Check the expiration dates. Make a plan to use any food with an expiration date that is coming up within the next six months. If you have a large food store, plan to work some of the food into your regular menu so you’re not faced with having to eat everything from your stores before the expiration dates come around. Also make a plan to replace the food that you’ll be taking form your stores.
Step 3: Make Your Own
Setting up a food reserve and taking care to protect your investment will keep you and your family comfortable and well fed through almost any kind of short- to medium-term disruption. But if there’s ever a longer-lasting crisis like the dollar collapsing or you losing your job and finding yourself unable to find another, then it will help to have a longer-term plan in place for better food self-sufficiency. And that means learning to grow some of your own food.
No matter what type of living situation you have, chances are you have enough space to grow some of your own food. Whether it’s a small garden of potted plants on your apartment balcony or a small plot in your backyard, you can grow some of your favorite foods. Tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, lettuces, onions, beans, radishes, peas, and carrots are all easy to grow and can help increase your food self-sufficiency.
Yes, Gardens Are Coming Back as an American Pastime
Garden plants will produce more than you think and often all at the same time. To get the most out of your garden, have a plan for preserving your food. You can blanch and freeze many types of vegetables and use them during the following year. You can pickle or can most vegetables you grow and they’ll keep over the next year or two. You can also dry many kinds of vegetables – carrots, peppers, onions, garlic, beans, peas, and tomatoes all dry fairly well. In many climates, you can “store” your carrots right in the ground – harvest as needed all winter long!
Obviously, feeding your family is one of the most fundamental things to prepare for. Setting up a food reserve, setting up a system to rotate through it so you don’t waste your investment, and setting up your own garden are three steps you can take that will greatly improve your family’s self-sufficiency when it comes to putting food on the table.