How to Prepare for a Food Shortage

| September 14, 2017

A food shortage can happen to any of us, for any of several reasons. It is easy to think that something like a food shortage will only happen to other people, but the fact of the matter is that a natural disaster, or losing a job or your home, can happen, and often without warning.

Empty Store Shelves

For this reason, we need to be prepared in case a food shortage hits us and we don’t know what to do.

Keep a Stockpile

The first and easiest step is to keep a stockpile at home. It is estimated that most houses have 3-30 days worth of food at all times, but we need to aim for enough food to last for 25-90 days. If you have enough space for this much food at home, try to keep it hidden somewhere, in case of looters.

If you don’t have much space of your own, talk to your neighbors about starting a collective stockpile. It can be for just a few of you, or for everyone on your street. You’ll want to keep it somewhere both secure and nearby, that you all have access to, but which is out of sight from the street.

Stockpile foods with a long life. This means you will, of course, want to avoid anything fresh, or poorly sealed. Look for a minimum 2-3 year shelf life. Good ideas include:

  • Canned goods
  • Jarred goods
  • Dry pulses (Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas, etc)
  • Dried fruit and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Dried, sealed meats and hard cheeses

And don’t throw cans or jars out just because of their best-before date! This date means nothing regarding how edible the food is, it just refers to taste, consistency, etc. Any food that can be safely stored in a can or jar for over two years can be stored pretty much indefinitely so long as the container is not damaged.

Food Stock

Be wary of dampness as well. Any food which is in a metallic container must be elevated away from the ground and stored away from water leaks. Food in paper containers is completely useless and must not be stored. Unwrapped foods are also useless, especially if you can’t check on them regularly. Make sure as much food as possible is in water-tight containers, such as plastic bags.

Pick the Right Type of Food

Make sure you have a wide variety of foods. Canned and jarred meats, canned and dry fruit and vegetables, grains and pulses in plastic bags, are all excellent for nutrition. Keep some shelf-stable supplements, too, to help provide nutrition. But don’t forget that you will need plenty of pure and simple calories too, so don’t skip chips, sweets, and chocolates. They have a long shelf life, come wrapped tightly in plastic, and are loaded with calories while taking up very little space, making them great emergency foods.

Finally, typical bulk buying strategies of getting large containers are not a good idea. Why? Because once they’ve been opened these containers can allow bugs, fungi, and dampness inside. So unless you plan on eating 25 lbs of lentils, or a pound of of ravioli, or 10 pounds of sugar all in one go, try to keep your stockpile in small containers that will cover one or two meals for your family at a time.

Grow Your Own and Know Where Food Grows

Fresh food can be very hard to get during times of crisis, so it is important to have access to your own fresh food wherever you are. Growing some food in your garden or an allotment are great ideas. But if you can’t grow your own, consider finding out about community gardens, edible ornamental plants people grow, and local wild edibles. Don’t go for anything that is questionable, but crab apples and blackberries are usually safe bets. A book on the subject would be a good thing to have handy.

Learn Where Nearby Food Banks Are

Finally, it is highly important to remember that in the event of a crisis, personal or widespread, there are NGOs (non-governmental organization) and government official schemes designed to deliver food to people who need it. If you find yourself suddenly without food, find out where your nearest food bank is and see if they have anything to help you out.

Category: Disaster Preparedness

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