Grain prices should stay unrelentingly high this year, according to a Reuters poll – the latest sign that the era of cheap food has come to an end. ¹
Around the globe, high food prices are the talk of mainstream media, the food trade, and government agencies. New Zealand Institute of Economic Research principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub says the trend to higher prices will hurt their economy:
“Our modeling suggests that these ongoing high prices could reduce New Zealand’s economic welfare by $3.3 billion, or 2%, of GDP.” Higher prices reduced the purchasing power of New Zealand consumers. The results of the NZIER research showed that New Zealand household’s spending fell 2.9% following the price increases.²
Rules are needed to curb speculation in surging commodity prices as the world heads toward a food crisis that threatens political instability, warns the head of the United Nation’s food agency. The warning, in comments published in Japan’s Nikkei business daily on Tuesday, echoed a call the previous day by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said the world risks food riots and weaker growth if global leaders fail to deal with volatile food prices.³
Food prices are on the rise and are expected to increase for the next several years, more if world leaders fail to act. Cotton prices are at an all time high. Oil prices are up from the same time last year forcing up transportation costs on food and other commodities and the products made for oil and oil byproducts.
February could be the month you get serious about protecting your family from an uncertain food future. So many economic issues are out of our reach to solve, but this one can be addressed by simply planning, saving, organizing, and building up our family resources. By doing just one thing each day you can make great strides this month.
February 2nd: Meet with your family and tell them of your intention to spend the month of February preparing to be more self reliant in case of an emergency. Tell your family this may involve purchasing some items. It may mean some sacrifices will have to be made. Get a coin bank and tell everyone if they would like to help, that you will be placing your spare change in the bank every night, and they can do the same. Tell them any family member contributing will get to help decide what to purchase. This will help your children feel included and empowered and also help teach them a little about money management. Beginning today, save your pocket change at the end of each day. Make saving a part of your dinner time ritual. Use this money to take advantage of sale prices or to accelerate your food storage goals.
February 3rd: Find a food storage buddy and set up a time to meet. This can be someone who has been building a family General Store in their home for years, or a friend who has expressed an interest in getting started. Having a friend to work with holds you accountable to another person. With our busy lives and so many distractions it is so easy to get started and then find excuses not to continue.
February 4th: Check the water you have stored in bottles and jugs – dump and replace any that is older than 1 year.
February 5th: Call grocery stores and bakeries and ask if they have 5 gallon buckets they are willing to give away or sell. Sometimes they will just give them to you. These can be used to store grains, pet food, or even to stack your food pouches in so the pests can’t get to them.
February 6th: Read the talk “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear” by President Gordon B. Hinckley (Ensign November 2005).
February 7th: Visit Our General Store at Totally Ready and add the items listed to your food storage this week. Family Home Evening: Make a list with your family of all their favorite meals and snacks. These will become the basis for your year’s supply of food.
February 8th: Gather recipes for the meals that are family favorites. Make a list of the ingredients in each recipe. You should see a pattern develop. You may discover you eat far more rice than pasta. That will help you when purchasing grains to understand you should be storing more rice than pasta. The same is true of favorite fruits and vegetables. Once you have your ingredient list you will understand what spices, sauces, extracts and other condiments you need to be storing.
February 9th: Collaborate with others. Create a list of items you will need for food storage or family preparedness, and a list of friends and family who may be able to provide some of those items. You may know someone who always plants a huge garden while you don’t have a large yard. They may appreciate some help weeding in exchange for vegetables. You may know someone who has fruit trees who would let you have fruit in exchange for help picking or canning. This is especially true of older family and friends who may no longer be able to do it on their own.
February 10th: Brainstorm with your family on a list of talents and resources you have in “surplus” that might be used to barter for the items on the list you created yesterday. If you do canned foods each summer, consider trading some for fresh fruit or veggies. If you can bake bread, cut hair, or teach piano, consider a trade for fresh eggs. Don’t forget services like mowing lawns or shoveling snow now, for barter “credit” tomorrow.
February 11th: Become a detective. Label items not emptied after one use with the date they were opened. This will include shampoo, soap, TP, toothpaste, oil, mayonnaise, pickles, anything not used up the day you open it. This will help establish benchmarks for family consumption patterns.
February 12th: With a permanent marker mark the tops of all the cans and jars currently in your cupboards and storage with a slash or an X. As you purchase new items, mark them with the dates they were purchased. Canned foods will remain good for a minimum of two years past the expiration date. Marking with the date purchased ensures you will always use the oldest first.
February 13th: Read Becoming Self Reliant by L Tom Perry (October 1991).
February 14th: Check Our General Store at Totally Ready and add the items mentioned to your food storage this week. It’s Valentines Day – so for Family Home Evening brainstorm a list of treats to add to your food storage. Every great food storage plan includes chocolate, snacks and ingredients to make favorite desserts.
February 15th: Begin an inventory of your food storage. Today you can start by listing your stock of pet food, cleaning supplies and toiletries.
February 16th: Continue your food supply inventory by listing all of the fruits and vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy, canned, frozen and/or dried, these should be items you normally eat.
February 17th: You’re really rolling on this inventory – today you count your long term cache of grains, powdered milk, beans, etc.
February 18th: Gather together all over-the-counter medications and check the expiration dates. Discard any liquid medications that have expired – tablets are good at least two years beyond the expiration. Make a list of those you need to purchase and post it in your kitchen. Read through the weekly ads and replace the items on the list when they are on sale.
February 19th: Make a list of handicapped or elderly family, neighbors, and friends who may need help with food during an emergency. This list may also include those who financially cannot prepare. Make it a goal to help them do all they can on their own and then plan for them in the creation of your own General Store.
February 20th: Read Family Home Storage: A New Message Ensign March 2009
February 21st: Visit Our General Store at Totally Ready and add the items for the week to your own General Store. For Family Home evening prepare a meal entirely from food storage. For help with recipes search “recipes” at Totally Ready.
February 22nd: Plan your summer garden and make a list of supplies you will need. For help with this listen to READY OR NOT tonight 6:00pm Pacific- 9:00pm Eastern.
February 23rd: Purchase pet food. If you have no pets, then you have a free day.
February 24th: Check out a new resource, such as the Federal Citizen Information Center at https://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/ to find a list of available bulletins on many subjects including nutrition, canning, and preparing for medical emergencies.
February 25th: Gather empty canning jars and fill them with water. Flip the lid over so the metal side is down, not the gasket, and your lids will remain usable for canning later. Return them to their boxes on your shelves and you have added to your water storage. Water stored in this way does not need to be processed.
February 26th: Place a magnetic note pad on the door of the refrigerator or place a note pad and pen in your food storage room. Every time you use items from your storage, record it on your note pad. When you use another place a hash mark next to the item. Do this until the items goes on sale and you can replace them at a reduced price. Once you have your three month supply you NEVER have to pay full price again!
February 27th: Read “Food Storage” by Bishop Vaughn J Featherstone (Ensign, May 1976).
February 28th: Prune fruit trees and bushes and prepare them for summer.
Now, a parting thought to ponder: Although the Savior’s parable of the Ten Virgins was mainly given to teach us about the spiritual snares that await the unprepared, having the temporal equivalent of oil in our lamps may be just as essential to the well-being of our families when soaring food prices, wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards and floods can affect so many in turbulent times.
For specific help with food storage question contact Carolyn at:[email protected] Every Monday Carolyn posts items to add to your own General Store. By the end of the year you will have a complete three month supply of the foods you normally eat, and other non food items, designed specifically for your family. Listen every Tuesday night to READY OR NOT on the Preparedness Network as Carolyn interviews guests. February is all about food storage. February 8th: Using Long Term Storage February 15th: Rounding Out Your Food Storage February 22nd: Planning Now for a Fabulous Garden No Matter How Small Your Yard or Balcony