Everywhere I turned on Facebook today there was another article link on self reliance and food storage. I think I got to the eighth link before I’d had enough of seeing pictures of junk food and toxic chemical products en masse. I’m not opposed to large pantries, on the contrary I prefer having a variety of items on hand so I don’t have to hit the stores every few days. But I do have a problem with the perpetuation of junk food stockpiles, enough people! Having a store of items on hand in case of natural disaster or zombie invasion doesn’t equal boxes of hamburger helper (can you eat the cardboard if the lights are out?) and cans riddled with hormone-disrupting BPA. Or does it?
Rules I’ve Learned in Food Storage
- Choose multi-use products: like baking soda and vinegar for household cleaning, cooking, hygiene (both are great when your bottle of shampoo has run out and baking soda is just fine for teeth cleaning). Don’t stock up on 50 bottles of window cleaner.
- Opt for glass instead of plastic whenever possible: plastic leaches into products all the time, so stick with glass for long-term storage of foods and beverages. Glass is also recyclable and makes a better option for the environment.
- Nix the junk food: chances are, if the power is out and you’re turning to your pantry for a meal that box of twinkies or ho hos are not going to provide the nourishment your body needs. Healthier choices like jars of dried fruits and nuts will be much more versatile and more nutritionally balanced.
- Research product shelf-life and containers thoroughly: you might be surprised that some pantry staples need to be stored in specific conditions to prevent spoilage. For example: mayonnaise shouldn’t be stored for more than a few months, even if it is unopened. Decide if your household will need alternatives or could make do without certain items in an emergency or crisis.
- Make a list of what you need: I’ve seen some folks go out and get coupon crazy in the name of “emergency preparedness” only to discover they don’t have anything on hand for a real emergency. What would your household need in case of a natural disaster? What about a sudden loss of income due to a health crisis? Things like batteries for the flashlight, bottled water (common with weather-related disasters), cash (ATMs don’t work without electricity!), and a first aid kit would be high up on my list.
While I found the product examples to be a bit ridiculous (c’mon, who’s gonna’ need forty disposable razors if we’re in another New England ice storm??), this blog post and this blog post had some pictures on creatively stashing your emergency stockpile of supplies. Do the trees a favor: stock up on shop rags instead of a gazillion paper towels, OK? 🙂
Further fun researching:
- Colorado State University Extension’s Food Storage for Safety and Quality
- Center for Disease Control’s Keep Food and Water Safe After a Disaster or Emergency
- Texas Agricultural Extension Service’s Safe Home Food Storage
- FEMA’s Ready.gov website
- Mother Earth News’ article on building your own Emergency Survival Kits
- Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ blog on How to reduce BPA levels by 60 percent in 3 days
Be safe kids! 😉