Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Food Storage Is For Everyone; Surviving The Current Economic Crisis

** Note: Fantastic recipes at the end of this article, which were also posted today as a supplement to the theme of the article, so keep on scrolling.**

With the threat of another great depression looming, it seems appropriate to talk about ways to protect yourself and your family. Those of us born after 1950 tend to picture our parents and grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, scraping butter wrappers and stuffing cash into mattresses as a way of life. It makes little sense to us, because as a nation we've enjoyed prosperity for several generations, and we haven't really felt the need to do much in the way of self-preservation on the most basic level, unless of course you're me. Why, you ask?

Yes, I'll say it, I am a Mormon, but I am also a progressive liberal who grew up on the East coast. I fully realize that people who are not Mormons tend to be informed about us by the mainstream media's portrayal of Mitt Romney, the FLDS group in Texas and northern Arizona, or by HBO's hit Big Love. I must say I don't particularly identify too closely with any of them. Yes I know people in real life who know Mitt; he was my governor for a while. Yes I have been to Utah and seen members of the FLDS group out in the community, and yes I find Big Love entertaining.

Frankly, none of this is the point. I appeal to you on a more practical level. This post is for Mormons and non-Mormons alike, the religious and the atheists, the regular folks who consider themselves citizens of the earth. Really, anyone affected by the current financial climate.

Something you may not know about Mormons is that for decades, as a group we've been instructed to keep a year supply of food and some basic supplies and cash on hand in case of emergency. I understand that your thoughts might immediately go the FLDS group stockpiling weapons and supplies just like Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek's characters in the movie Blast from the Past, in some crazy nuclear bunker below Pasadena, California. If I hadn't grown up being completely used to the idea of being prepared for the worst, like a boy scout, I might also jump straight to crazy.

I'm not saying there aren't some crazy Mormons out there, but the vast majority of us are pretty regular people, in regular jobs, with very regular families -- soccer practice and all. So why all the preparation? Well, emergencies don't usually come in the form of nuclear holocausts. Mostly it's something job loss or natural disaster related. One only need look at devastation of Hurricane Katrina or the increasing job loss rate to realize that it's a good idea to take the boy scout approach to your food.

Now take a look at the last three weeks of the economy -- Wall Street went down in flames, banks failed, jobs started vanishing, all of our 401ks' look like penny candy pocket money, and executives of the bailed out companies have already squandered our tax money in really foolish ways; think AIG executive spa retreat. We haven't even come close to seeing the worst of it yet. We all know the worst is ahead of us. Wouldn't it be nice to know then that you, and your family, won't have to put bread and milk on a credit card, or worse, starve?

Even with oil prices dropping, food costs are still rising. And even when in the most prosperous of times in the most prosperous of countries -- this country, our country-- the poorest citizens, including the children and the elderly, have been going hungry for years. While we don't yet know exactly how bad things are going to get with the economy, isn't it just common sense to put enough basic necessities and cash aside to both supplement and survive financial hardship? Duh.

I've got news for you, severance packages are not guaranteed with layoffs. Every financial guru out there has been saying have three months salary set aside for emergencies. Three months may not go very far with the US dollar dropping like a rock. I would hope that the current financial climate is forcing everyone to do his or her part in handling what is about to be very difficult times indeed. You don't have to get religion or be crazy to subscribe to the philosophy that it's important to take care of yourself and your family, to plan ahead, to live below your means and to prepare for a year with no help from the outside.

Well, there are very manageable strategies to help you plan ahead. I promise that you can go the Mormon website dedicated to planning ahead without having two young men in suits descend upon your doorstep to convert you. In the last debate, Obama wisely stated that this is going to take ten years to come out of totally, and that we must to do our part if we can.

My friend, and former student, Hannah has a blog dedicated to breaking down food storage and emergency preparedness into inexpensive once-a-week steps that are very easy to follow. If you don't care for religion, or Mormons in general, you can just follow her program without paying much attention to the religious stuff she's posted. And if the religious parts make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, well that's just fine too.

I'll be guest posting there this week to talk more specifically about dealing with preparedness when coping with food allergies. I've worked out four recipes that can be prepared without using many perishables (some can be frozen) and that use non-perishable substitutions that can be stored at room temperature if you lose power for an extended period of time (think ice storms and hurricanes knocking out power for up to a month in some parts of the country).

I have posted all four recipes here on this blog just today. Give them a try, and find out how you can have a delicious meal made entirely of ingredients that did not have to be purchased the week you wanted to make the meal. And in the meantime, start thinking about how you can help yourself through this nation's financial crisis.


Heather said...

Inspiring. We are good on the food basics, but need to add maybe some exciting extra things and work on the extra cash thing ;)

Heather said...

P.S. Loved the recipes!!

The Eslinger Family said...

Great post and Great Recipes! Thanks so much for sharing!

chunkymonkey said...

I am on a food storage kick right now. It is fun planning and saving and even canning dried essentials on my own. Does anyone know the shelf life of canned, sealed Basmatti Rice? I will be canning it with little oxygen absorber packets next month (borrowing a canner--it is the rice we eat) and am guessing it'll last as long as basic long grain rice???

Can't wait to try your recipies

David & Lisa said...

we are adding to ours slowly. Gotta get our water together. I have to containers but haven't filled them up! I'm going to order some freeze dried meals...seems like that would be easy if it is all we have! thanks for the recipes...mexican hot chocoloate here I come!

EMama said...

fabulous. well put.