Japan’s 8.9 factor earthquake has set that nation reeling from its devastating impact. The  twenty-three foot tsunami which followed a few seconds later swept away parts of the city of  Sendai, four commuter trains, the airport, countless homes, cars, trucks, buses, ships, and businesses, and caused a nuclear power crisis. Even marinas in California were destroyed mere hours later. The quake left a 150 mile long and 50 mile wide abyss on the ocean floor, while the axis of the earth was changed and the earth’s rotation was slowed by 1.6 milliseconds.

As we contacted friends and business associates in Japan to check on their safety, we  were amazed but not surprised that several of them had the same comment – while they were glad to be safe, they realized they needed to store more food for emergencies. Even in Tokyo with all its resources, the distribution channels were damaged or at least hindered as highways and streets were closed and store shelves were emptied within hours. People panicked even 200 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake and resulting tsunami.

Could this happen here? You bet it could – it has and it will in the future. Food supplies quickly disappear when looming disaster is apparent. People will not only stockpile food, they will hoard it. What is hoarding? As those who are creating a self reliant lifestyle know, there is a difference between “preparing” and depriving others of needed supplies.

Storing food and accumulating a supply of the items we use each day is a way of becoming self reliant. It helps us to care for our family’s needs during a personal, local or national crisis. We use the items we store and we rotate and add to them as needed. We are willing to share when times are tough for others. Storing food and supplies enables us to rely on ourselves and our family when challenges arise, instead of turning to the government. Those who prepare do so during times of plenty when food and supplies are available to all, in quantities sufficient for all.

Hoarding is acquiring food and supplies during a crisis in quantities far beyond what is required by the circumstance, making supplies less available for others to fulfill their needs. Those who hoard are not willing to share what they have, and often resort to violent means to protect their supplies. Hoarding deprives others.

After nearly every crisis we see hoarding, and too often, looting is normal. After Katrina we saw people taking things they could not possibly use. People did not just purchase enough for their immediate needs, but filled shopping carts full. Under these circumstances it has often become necessary for store owners to limit the number of items that an individual can purchase.

Once this happens, food suddenly becomes really valuable to people (even though they take it for granted today). Any small shipment of food that arrives will be quickly grabbed. It only takes one day without food to remind people how much they actually need it. Expect the atmosphere to be that of “near panic” if food is delayed by as little as a day. The level of panic will vary from city to city. Some cities and towns may experience very little difficulty receiving food. Others may face a crisis.

Cities depend entirely on food shipped in from farms and food processing companies. When a mass exodus from the disaster area begins, the highways may be jammed up at critical locations, causing gridlock for the trucking industry. If we’re lucky, some trucks will continue to roll. If we’re not, nothing gets through.

Not only have Latter-day Saints been warned to prepare by their leaders for decades, but in North America and elsewhere, the church has provided a way to prepare through Family Home Storage Centers. If you have not already taken advantage of this resource, you should. Products are of the best quality and sold at terrific prices.

Last month I attended a ward conference in Southern California. During the Relief Society meeting the stake president shared that the use of their center was overwhelmingly greater by those who are not LDS members. 

Last week I spoke at a conference with the service missionaries assigned to our local center. They shared a chart showing the use of the center by stakes, with an additional column for non-member use. The non-member column was more than twice the size of any Stake in the region.

When this information was presented one of the men in the meeting asked, “What do they know that we don’t know?” Could it be that we are so accustomed to our bishops storehouses and welfare canneries that we just don’t understand the gift these centers are? They do not provide all the foods we need for a great storage plan, but there is no better way to begin than with these fundamental commodities.

Storage centers provide basics such as wheat, rice, milk, oats, pasta and beans. They also address a few of the foods that provide “comfort” such as hot cocoa and apple slices. All of these are available at below market prices. They can be packed in #10 metal cans or mylar pouches. The products are even available in 25 pound bags for those with large families who do not need protective packaging because they are able to use their inventory quickly. For those with a small household, large bags can be purchased and the commodities canned using a vacuum sealer and pint sized canning jars. 

Quality food at rock bottom prices, rodent and insect proof containers, and great people to help you – what more could you ask for? If you think you can’t afford food storage, maybe it’s because you haven’t taken advantage of the Family Home Storage Center near you. Make an appointment today and get busy before you are the one caught without food and wishing you had listened.

Visit www.providentliving.org  to see an order form and to get a list centers near you.

For more food storage and self reliance tips check out Carolyn’s blog  and listen  to her weekly radio show, Ready Or Not, , every Tuesday night. Contact Carolyn at [email protected]