Monday, December 29, 2008

10# buckets of food....really?

This post is copied from an online forum where me and a few friends debate the nitty gritty of trying to start up a CSA and live in a peak oil world.
The thread began as an entreaty from one of our members for us all to go out and buy 10# buckets of storage food to prepare for the 2012 armeggedon that is currently being predicted.

It is interesting how many people are focused on 2012 as THE year for armegeddon prophesies.
The way I see it is more along the lines of give a man a fish/teach a man to fish. Yes, some food storage can see you through some of the ups and downs of the contraction that will occur. However, this contraction is going to take a LONG time. You can't possibly store enough food to keep yourself fed for the duration. A more balanced approach is to practice good storage practices and learn how to grow/raise more of your food.
Good storage practices basically boil down to -- store what you eat, eat what you store. It's all well and good to have 3 years of red wheat stored in your basement, but do you eat it? Do you know how to cook with it? Mill it and prepare it and bake it? Do you have favorite recipes with it? I try and find things that my house eats a lot of and find ways to store that item. For example, Dave and I have about 3 months worth of oatmeal and raisons in our cabinet on any given day. I use up the stored oatmeal as we eat our breakfasts and when the stores get too low, I go and buy another 3 months-ish worth. It's a food we like, we are familiar with and cook often. Plus it's like 8$ for 3 months worth and it's very healthy. The other item I store a lot of is dry beans. Every other week I make a dish out of dry beans. Chili or tacos or beans and rice, whatever. Again, it's something we like, we have favorite recipes and costs under 10$ to restock. PLUS, I know we have the spices in the cabinet to make it to our tastes.

Knowing what foods you go through quicker than others is important for storage. Sometimes the things can be correlated. For instance, since living off of stored beans and stored onions I've noticed that we [u]never[/u] fix beans without needing an onion. At a rate of about 1 onion per 2 cups dried beans. It would make life sucky if we ran out of onions before beans. But knowing it I can be aware of the onion stores and plan accordingly. These sorts of things can only be learned by actually living out of your storage. And it would suck to try and learn them after the SHTF and you're trying for the first time to live on what you've stored. I think you'll find yourself with spoiled food from things that you eat less than you thought, and gaps in essentials that you eat more than you thought. So yea, go ahead and order 10# buckets of whatever to store in your basement, just don't get to the point where you're trying to convince yourself to eat plain boiled peas on pasta for dinner because you've eaten all the pasta sauce and can't make any more with what you've stored.

Learning to grow your own stuff can help even out the yearly cycles of abundance/depletion. Again, it boils down to grow what you eat and eat what you grow. And all of the lessons that you'll only learn by trying it. This past year I grew onions, thinking I would have WAAY too many onions. And it turned out that I barely harvested enough for a half a year. I wouldn't have figured it out until we were actually trying to eat off what we grew.

These sorts of things are how I'm preparing for 2012. Do I think the world will end on 2012 in a riot of fireballs and teargas? No. But, it's a nice arbitrary goal for having a handle on my own food security needs. By starting now on the easy stuff, I can work out the kinks and identify problem areas before I have to really rely on storage skills for actual food security. I can't really do anything about the crumbling infostructure or the petroleum based food production methods that produce most of the grocery store fare. I CAN figure out how many onions I need to grow every summer so that I have enough onions to keep eating them until the next crop gets harvested. I can't really afford a 10# bucket of dry beans, but I CAN figure out how we like to eat certain beans, how they need to be prepared from dry state and how quickly we go through them. So that when I can afford to buy a bulk amount of beans I'll know how big a bucket is feasible for my family to eat through before it spoils. And I'll know how to fix them so I don't have to call my Mother-in-law and ask her what I'm doing wrong. :-P (and yes, Pat and I have had 30 minute phone conversations more than once about dried beans.)

Instead of focusing quite so much attention on stocking up for armegeddon day in Dec 2012, try and focus on the yearly cycles of abundance and depletion and learn from them so that in the aftermath of 2012 you know how to live off those 10# buckets.

No comments: