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“We are confronted today with a great variety of serious economic and social conditions. But facing periods of economic stress, even deprivation, is not new to us as a Church. Throughout their history, the Saints have more than once faced such trials. As a result, the Lord from the early days of the Church has guided His leaders to see clearly certain correct principles.
“It has also been my intention to encourage all Latter-day Saints to review again their personal and family preparedness and to implement immediately the principles and practices that will ensure their self-sufficiency. If we will discuss these truths in our family councils and make a plan to do all in our power to live these principles, we shall all enjoy the promise of the Lord, ‘If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.’ (D&C 38:30.)
Today we are again facing perilous times. Church leaders have asked us to refocus our priorities and become self-reliant in our temporal affairs. Over the years our approach to self-reliance may have changed, but the counsel has remained the same. From the time of Joseph in Egypt, to the warnings of Brigham Young and others in this generation, the Lord has always warned when a day a famine and tribulation was imminent.
“If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls who live under tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson
Yet despite the clarity of warnings to prepare, myths and misunderstandings abound whenever food storage is mentioned as the object of our focus in preparing for troubled times. To minimize some potential misunderstandings let us identify some common myths associated with this food storage.
Myth Number One: The Church will take care of us. They will not let us go hungry.
With the growth of the Church throughout the world, the physical care of the saints has become an impossible task for the church should a large-scale calamity strike. It is among the missions of the Church to provide humanitarian relief to the extent of its means in response to disasters, but it has never been the role of the Church to assume responsibility for the maintenance of every member, when it is the duty of each household to seek the means to be self-reliant. Today the church is capable of growing, canning, and/or storing more foodstuffs than ever before, but this would service only a small percentage of members and is no substitute for the prudent planning of each family to be self-sustaining in emergencies and in times of economic downturn.
“Relief Society stands for self-reliance. The best food storage is not in welfare grain elevators but in sealed cans and bottles in the homes of our people. What a gratifying thing it is to see cans of wheat and rice and beans under the beds or in the pantries of women who have taken welfare responsibility into their own hands.” – Gordon B. Hinckley, “In the Arms of His Love,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 115–18.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught concerning self-reliance: “The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof. “No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able, will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else.” – Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 77.
“My brothers and sisters, throughout the history of the world, the Lord has been concerned for the eternal welfare of the souls of his children. Over the past fifty years, inspired leaders have taught welfare principles to help us plan ahead for difficult times that may come in our lives. The Church has grown and is now spread over many countries throughout the world. But the strength of the Church and the Lord’s real storehouse is in the homes and hearts of his people.” (Robert D. Hales, “Welfare Principles to Guide Our Lives: An Eternal Plan for the Welfare of Men’s Souls,” Ensign, May 1986, 28)
Myth Number Two: The Church has told us what we should be storing and it is wheat, beans, powdered milk and honey.
This is not the case and it never has been.
The time will come that gold will hold no comparison in value to a bushel of wheat. Gold is not to be compared with it in value. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:, p.250).
Have we assumed from this we must store wheat? We should not. Brigham Young’s purpose was to convey the message that the saints should be storing food to prepare for times of scarcity. He could have used as an example a bushel of quinoa to make the point but would anyone have known what he was talking about? No.
Christ could have warned in the last days there would be hurricanes in diverse places but would those he was teaching know what a hurricane was? No. He used earthquakes because they understood what an earthquake was, and that it was a disaster controlled by God.
We must be storing the foods which sustain our lives in the circumstances in which we live.
Myth Number Three: The Church tells us we should store a three-month supply of the foods we eat. A year’s supply is no longer taught.
“Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet. One way to do this is to purchase a few extra items each week to build a one-week supply of food. Then you can gradually increase your supply until it is sufficient for three months. These items should be rotated regularly to avoid spoilage.
“For longer-term needs, and where permitted, gradually build a supply of food that will last a long time and that you can use to stay alive, such as wheat, white rice, and beans. These items can last 30 years or more when properly packaged and stored in a cool, dry place. A portion of these items may be rotated in your three-month supply.” – All is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage
Yes, we are counseled to store a three-month supply of the foods we normally eat. We are also asked to store a year’s supply of foods which will sustain life. Again, the decision as to exactly what to store is up to you. Your food storage should reflect the eating habits and preferences, dietary requirements and food allergies within your own family.
Myth Number Four: When you get hungry enough you will eat anything.
Studies of survivors of disasters have taught us many things. One of those lessons is that children and the elderly will starve to death before they eat foods they do not like or that they are unfamiliar with. Think about fasting, a few hours with no food your tummy grumbles and you are getting desperate to eat, a little later the pains become less, and you become less interested in immediate gratification. When you are ill you can go for days with little food or no food, you just don’t care about eating anymore. The same happens during a crisis.
As you decide which foods are appropriate for your family, commit to learning to use them in various ways and to incorporate them into your daily menu.
A second thing researchers have learned is that those who are able to maintain a relatively “normal” lifestyle, make better decisions, and not only survive, but thrive during a crisis. For this reason, it is important to consider the foods which are comfort foods for your family. For me it is chocolate, so there will always be brownie mix and M&Ms in my food storage.
Myth Number Five: Now that the Church has starter kits, I have all I need.
There is a reason the kits are called “Starter Kits”. They are a place to start. During a time of crisis, no matter the cause you will need to maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes a balanced diet to have the strength and energy you will need to deal with the added stress which a disaster brings. A starter kit does not provide those nutrients. You can have a hundred kits stored and you will survive but you will not thrive.
To thrive during a time of crisis our bodies need more calories and more nutrients to thrive. We need to be storing foods in all food groups to achieve this goal. A starter kit does not meet this need.
Myth Number Six: I ordered a year’s supply of dehydrated or freeze-dried foods, so I am set.
You may now feel having both starter kits and dehydrated or freeze-dried foods will meet the need to store all food groups. This is dangerous thinking.
Again, remember that during a crisis some will starve rather than eat unfamiliar foods. If you choose to store these foods, you must use them in your daily menus, so you are familiar with their use and your family is familiar with their taste and texture.
If your crisis would be a natural disaster, these foods will be of little use. Foods such as these need one to four times the amount of water to food to reconstitute. In other words, one cup of food can take up to four cups of water to reconstitute. During a natural disaster, no matter the cause, there is rarely drinkable water. During the fires in San Diego a few years ago one mountain community was without water for eight weeks.
I know some of these foods, especially the fruits, taste great when not re-hydrated. These are dangerous to eat in large amounts. In order for the body to digest these foods they must be reconstituted. If you do not do that before you eat them, your body will draw water from your cells to aid digestion and if you continue you will become dehydrated, leading to potentially serious health problems.
Myth Number Seven: The time has passed and his is old advice.
We no longer hear many talks in General conference or read article in the Ensign focused on food storage, however, the importance of living this council is no less valid now than it has been in the past. When was the last time we heard a conference talk on stealing? Are we now allowed to steal because are not reminded of the eternal consequences of theft? Of course not, we have been told and we know thus we should be living it without constant reminders. The same is true of self -reliance and food storage.
Myth number eight: I can’t rotate canned foods fast enough before they expire.
A three-month supply of canned foods is easy to rotate. If you don’t normally eat canned vegetables include them in all your soups and stews. If you don’t normally eat canned fruit periodically remove them their cans, place on cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen place in freezer bags and use in smoothies. You can also remove fruit from the can, mash with a potato masher, heat and use over pancakes and waffles.
Second part of this myth to dispel, canned foods are not spoiled because they reach the pull date on the can. Canned foods are safe to eat many years passed the pull date if the cans are not rusted, dented or swollen or the contents do not smell different than the fresh product. If any of these are present, discard the food.
Myth number nine: Food storage is expensive.
The Lord will help. Howard W. Hunter’s words: “Surely the Lord loves, more than anything else, an unwavering determination to obey his counsel” (October General Conference, 1982).
There are so many ways to accumulate food storage. As you shop, purchase two cans instead of one. Watch the grocery store ads and purchase two or three of every canned food item on sale you normally use even if it is not on your list for the week. Eat breakfast for dinner once a week and use the money saved to purchase food storage. Take five dollars every week and purchase food storage. Ask for cash for your birthday and Christmas and purchase food storage. Learn to can and freeze free food from neighbor’s gardens and trees. Plant a garden and fruit trees.
Working out our temporal salvation
“Self-reliance is a product of our work and under-girds all other welfare practices. It is an essential element in our spiritual as well as our temporal well-being. Regarding this principle, President Marion G. Romney has said: “Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle. Salvation is an individual matter, and we must work out our own salvation in temporal as well as in spiritual things.” – (In Welfare Services Meeting Report, 2 Oct. 1976, p. 13.), “In the Lord’s Own Way” Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, May 1986
“There is more salvation and security in wheat than in all the political schemes of the world”. – Orson Hyde J.D. 2:207
With all the economic uncertainty in the world and the increase of disasters in diverse places we do not have to look far to recognize signs of peril. Now is the day to prepare. It is the time to begin, or to update and refine our efforts.
Aristotle said, “For where it is in our power to act, it is also in our power not to act.”
Let us not be found as the foolish virgins – out of oil, out of money, out of time. We have the power to act so let’s act today with whatever means and time we have to strengthen our households, by being prepared to feed our family and others as challenges come.