My last post on food storage inspired some of you to ask some Very Good Questions so, of course, I must answer them.
First, however, Stacy asked a question several posts ago about whether or not I got the bedding I’ve been drooling over (though, not on, because it is dry clean only, so it would be financially stupid to drool on it). Anyway, here is the answer to that question (which, in case you were wondering, has absolutely nothing to do with Mormon Monday): I got the duvet cover on EBay for $80.00 plus shipping. It had two flaws which were very difficult to find once I had it in hand. I attacked the flaws with a little fabric glue, and now it’s just fine. The flaws are noticeable only if you know they are there and really, really hunt for them. Good enough for me, and a huge savings to boot.
Now, on to the Mormon Monday portion of the post, in which I will answer questions about food storage (which, in case you were wondering, has everything to do with Mormon Monday because we Mormons are (supposed to be) all about food storage and preparedness).
I don’t know if you’ve talked about this on Mormon Monday, but I’d love to know more about having a year’s worth of food on hand, why everyone is supposed to do it, where it comes from Biblically, etc. Then, I’d like to know where you store all this stuff! I have no idea where in my house I’d put that much food..
I will try to be both thorough and brief (*snort* Go ahead, I’ll wait while you email each other and place your bets . . . . Okay, ready now?).
Why is everyone supposed to do it? Basically, so that in the event of some kind of emergency or catastrophe, we are prepared to take care of ourselves as much as possible. If we don’t prepare and something does happen, whether it be a job loss, a natural catastrophe, a severe economic downturn, whatever, then who will take care of us? Our church? Our government? While both can and do provide assistance to those in need, it becomes more difficult for them if the need is widespread. Also, a church and a government are only as strong as their resources, and their resources are their people. If we, as a people, don’t strive to care and prepare for ourselves, we limit what our churches and governments can do for us. They can only do so much at once, and our temporal, physical welfare should be primarily our responsibility, not theirs.
If we, as we are able, are preparing on an individual family level, then we aren’t taxing church or government systems. There is a certain freedom that comes with such independence. Additionally, if no one is prepared to care for themselves during a widespread emergency of some kind, then how could they possible help care for others during that time? Some of us, even most of us, are able, if we are careful and wise, to put aside some food and emergency supplies. Maybe not an entire year’s worth, but at least some. Then there are those who really aren’t able to put much back at all. The more I do to prepare myself, the more I will be able to help those who are unable to help themselves.
As far as where the idea of food storage comes from Biblically, the primary example that comes to my mind is Joseph and Pharaoh and the seven fat years and seven lean years. Through a dream and the words of a prophet, Pharaoh was warned to make sure he and his people were prepared, and so they stored food and provisions. Today we have been counseled by our prophet(s) to be similarly prepared (though not for seven years). Additionally, there is the story in Matthew of the ten virgins. Five were prepared and five were not. Obviously this story is generally looked at, and rightly so, as a parable for spiritual preparedness, but I think it is also rightly applied to temporal preparedness. Are we not both spiritual and temporal beings at this point? Do we not have both spiritual and temporal needs?
At this point I guess I should also mention that our church doesn’t just emphasize temporal preparedness. We are also taught to do our best to be spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally prepared for whatever challenges life may bring.
This reminds me of a lesson I once taught in Sunday School. If we are not looking after our temporal, spiritual, emotional, etc. needs, then we are weighed down by the burden, the worry, the trials of our unmet needs. I got a volunteer from the class and put a backpack on him. For every one of these needs I put a large stone in his backpack, which became quite heavy. I asked him if he would be able to carry two backpacks laden down that way, and he said no (even though he was in his 20s and thought he was all that and a bag of chips (it was the 90s people) ).
The point is this: we all have burdens and worries, and they change and fluctuate throughout our lives. In many instances they are beyond our control. However, if we prepare for the things we can, take control of and responsibility for the things we can, then we each are carrying around a heavy stone or two, but never a whole backpack full. As long as this is the case, we can help others as they need our help, and others can help us as we need their help. If we all walk around with our backpacks full of heavy burdens, no one can help anyone else because everyone is already too overcome with their own burdens. Biblically speaking, we are told over and over to help and serve others, to visit the widows and afflicted, to strengthen the feeble knees. We can’t do that if we, ourselves, are too feeble. Food storage is just one way we can strengthen ourselves, just one way we can cast a stone out of our backpacks and lighten our load so that we are free to care for ourselves and help others.
Now, where do we store all this stuff? Well, as I’ve said, we don’t have everything we should have for a year’s supply, but I think we’ve figured out our storage area. We do have a storage room in the basement where we keep what little food storage we already have:
Lots of room for food storage in there. I realize not everybody has that kind of space, but think about what space you do have: a shed? under a bed? a little extra space in a utility room or closet? the garage? an attic? Not everybody has the space to store an entire year’s worth of food, so we are encouraged to store what we can.
Where do you get these gigantic bags of sugar, wheat, potatoes, etc? And how do you store it and keep yucky things out of it? We always talk about buying the really BIG bags of sugar and rice at Costc*, but don’t know where we’d put it when we got it home.
C0stc0 and Sam*s are good places to get some things, like rice and sugar. For wheat, you need to research what is in your area as far as mills and whatnot. Our church actually has farms and granaries, so we can buy it through our closest church storehouse for pretty cheap. I’m not sure if our church storehouses are open to the public, but if you know any Latter day Saints you could always ask them if there is a storehouse nearby and if they can pick up some wheat for you. You can also search online under “wheat” or “bulk foods” and you will find lots of companies from which you could order wheat, rice, oats, etc. I think I am going to order my potatoes from Walton Feed, but I’m not sure yet.
Keeping yucky things out of all this stored food is important, and there are several ways to do it. The most popular way among members of my church is dry pack canning. I have never done this myself, but may try it. Because I am a tad lazy about all this food storage stuff, I prefer storing larger quantities at once with less effort. Behold:
The bucket method! It involves getting food grade buckets, washing them out with bleach water, letting them dry completely, then filling them up with your grain and putting an oxygen absorber or a small piece of dry ice wrapped in a paper towel in the bucket. Then you put the lid on, “burp” the lids slightly every now at then as the oxygen is absorbed, and you’re good to go. The purpose of sucking all the oxygen out is to kill any little bugs that might already be in your grain (the purpose of burping the lids is to keep the bucket from imploding). As long as you keep the lids sealed tight (except for when you’re getting some food out of the bucket) no new bugs will get it, and it will last for years.
Okay, what do you do with the wheat? And why do I suddenly have “The Little Red Hen” running through my head? (”who will help me grind the wheat?” “then I will do it myself!”)
You have “The Little Red Hen” running through your head because somebody taught you well. And, since this is a Mormon Monday post, I’ll just leave it at that.
When you store the wheat, you store the grains whole. As you need it, you grind it. You can use the wheat to make breads, to cook as hot cereal (which doesn’t require grinding), or to sprout wheat grass, which is edible and very good for you. You can make cous cous (though I have no idea how), and I’m sure there are other things more knowledgeable people can do with it.
Okay, I think that pretty much covers all of your questions, so now for the challenge I’ve been promising:
Sometime between now and next Monday, I challenge you and your family to make and use a cardboard box oven. That’s right! How are you supposed to bake all that wheat that you had to grind by hand because the electricity was out? Hmmm? Enter the cardboard box oven! I! Know! I’d never heard of such a thing either, but the ladies over at one of my new favorite blogs give us all the directions. I don’t know that I’m going to try baking bread in it this week, but maybe.
So, who is up for the challenge? Let us know in the comments section. You don’t have to know what you are going to bake yet, just let us know you are accepting the challenge, I will
badger remind you via email throughout the week, you make your oven and bake something, then next Tuesday, Oct. 28, we will all post about our adventures in cardboard box baking. Make sure to include pictures!
So now you are rolling your eyes and thinking I sound like a total nerd, but how about this: you know your kids will think it’s cool! Unless they are pre-teen girls. But the rest of them will think it is great fun, and it will be an opportunity to bond and build family memories. You know it will! Come on . . . you know it will . . . just accept my challenge . . . everybody is doing it . . . it will be fu-un . . . your family will learn a new, unique skill . . . imagine the show-and-tell ooos and aaahhhhhs your kiddies will get when they take in treats baked in a cardboard box! And if you have no kiddies? Well, think of all the ooos and aahhs you will get when you take cookies or whatever into work and tell everyone you make them yourself! In a box! And if you’re adopting and waiting for a kiddo? What a great distraction from all the stress and worry that comes with adoption! Plus you’ll have comfort food to help you with the stress once you’ve finished. See??? Win win!
And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt needs to buy a box of paper.