Sunday, December 24, 2006

Food Storage and Emergency Preparedness

Merry Christmas, everyone.

We had a nice church time (Tim sang "O Holy Night" and it was beautiful. Made me cry. We got so many comments afterward that it made us uncomfortable in the same way you feel awkward when someone says, "Congrats" when you get made Primary President.). Then we came home and slept some.

We're still digging out from the blizzard, and most of the merchants in the area are saying they lost several key days of sales. Judging from the stream of cars outside, people are making it up today. Merry Christmas and Happy Sabbath Day to you all, right?

Anyway, we did our shopping last night, calculated for a time when the grocery store would be empty of the crowds. Everyone, suddenly freed from the freeze yesterday, hit the stores to replenish and Christmas shop. And Tim and I were no different. We'd stocked up before the storm because we thought Tim was leaving town, but we had to face two days (Sunday and then Christmas Day) with no restocking possible, so we had to go out and get milk and bread, mostly, and a few other thisses and thats.

Amazingly, there was almost no bread in the store. Only specialty loaves that cost $4.00/loaf, and not even much of that. And who wants peanutbutter on marbled rye? Not my kids. And we can't spend $4.00/loaf anway. The store was mostly or completely out of a few other things (eggnog, chips, sugar, flour, shredded cheese, etc.). This was something that made perfect sense, considering that no ground or air traffic moved for several days through the entire state, but it was a surprise nonetheless.

I stood there looking at the empty bread row and said to the kids, "That's okay. We'll just go home and make bread. It's cheaper anyway."

And then I started thinking about food storage and emergency preparedness. Granted, we don't have a year's supply of anything right now. But we do have a supply--more than a couple weeks usually (now is an unusual time for us, but I still have 20 lbs of flour left). And--the key thing that I realized they talk about but I never focus much on--I know how to make bread.

It seems like everyone in the US, unable to fathom any but the most unusual emergency that would require a year's worth of food on hand, justifies the requirement for a year's supply of food by saying, "You never know when your husband will lose his job." I've heard it a hundred times in Relief Society. Usually paired with, "Besides, obedience has its own reward." The problem with that justification for food storage is that it brings to mind a different sort of food storage requirement. When you are storing in case the world still functions but you don't, you store things like a year's supply of cheerios, and a year's supply of canned chili, and other things that you eat everyday--usually you can come up with a few dollars for what you lack, right? This is the kind of food storage we've usually had. And justifiably. Don't they say, "Store what you eat"? So I always have, say, 30-50 lbs (3 months supply) of frozen hamburger on hand.

But the church ALSO says to have the basics on hand, and to know how to use them.

Why? For our family, today, it is clearly because there are times when the world DOESN'T function, no matter how much we trust our governments to dig us out or fix what's broken. And it's not so distant as the once-in-a-hundred-years New Orleans Disaster or World Trade Center Disaster or ....okay, maybe even in America it hits frequently. And when the world doesn't function, we suddenly need that massive amount of flour and sugar. It really doesn't take much to disrupt the shipping lines--and without shipping, our cities shut down very fast. And then you not only need flour, and yeast, and sugar. You need to know how to make bread and tortillas and you need to have canned stuff (fruits, veggies, protien) around. Because sometimes the stores actually DON'T have it. And then what?

I have a friend who has a year's supply of money on hand. Been useful since her husband lost his job 6 months ago. Wouldn't have helped her get bread this weekend. Fortunately, she has the other food storagey stuff, too.

Luckily for us, we got to the store right after the first truck did--so they were completely overstocked on fresh fruits and veggies, which was a main thing we needed. And they were stocked with milk. But I definitely came away saying, "Wow. I suddenly wish I had just one or two sealed cans of powdered milk on hand." Sure, it doesn't taste good. We'd almost never use it. But, you don't have this stuff for everyday (okay, you have to rotate it). But I understand now why we're instructed to have enough of the basics on hand to keep you alive FIRST, and then worry about the cheerios. Even in America. Lucky for us, this emergency didn't last a year. And it didn't include loss of heat or power (then we would have been in trouble). But having some on hand left us with enough to share, had we needed to.

And we are thinking now about what to do if we did have a loss of heat and power. Already I've said, "Maybe we should have the coleman stove in an accessible place. Maybe we should test it occassionally--have a yearly outdoor barbecue on it to keep it functional and make sure we both know how to use it. Maybe we should make sure we can a can of fuel for it also accessible. Maybe we should think about how would we keep warm in an emergency since we got rid of our (nonfunctional) standalone fireplace."

Oh, and we HAVE been using our food storage to supplement Tim's job when he was teaching choir and also his joblessness now. It's good for that, too. And we do have a lot of the recommended emergency supplies on hand--candles, matches, first aid stuff (and the knowledge and resources necessary to use it), medicines, bleach, diapers in all sizes, warm clothes, consecrated oil, ward list, etc. We have also (wisely, I see now) kept a year's supply of "something to do" for each of us in the house--things to do with and without electricity. That's been nice, since everyone still needed to stay busy, and we couldn't rely on the library to entertain us like we usually do.

And now I'm thinking, "How easy would it be for something to not only foul but also completely disrupt the water supply? Phones? Heat and power?"

Probably not so hard.

Once again, the Lord is right, and I am grateful for the limited amount I obeyed, and anxious to become completely obedient in this thing.

Now if he will just bless us with a job so we can.....

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