Today we are facing perilous times. We have experienced a pandemic, civil unrest, and economic difficulties. Many are concerned the future will bring serious economic downturns and inflation—with more difficult times to come. I have been asked repeatedly what can be done to prepare for such a time.
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 that a day a famine and tribulation was imminent.
Elder David Bednar taught, “Two basic principles can guide and strengthen us as we face proving and trying in our lives, whatever they may be: (1) the principle of preparation and (2) the principle of pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ.” (General Conference October 2020)
As I contemplate financial downturns, food storage answers the question of how to prepare for a financial crisis better than any other. A great food storage not only allows us to feed our family in difficult times, but it also saves money now and in the future. Food storage purchased now is purchased at today’s prices—before inflation and before prices rise. Food storage also saves money. As we rotate and replace foods, we never have to purchase at full price, this allows us to wait for sales on needed items.
Food prices may explode in the coming year. While I do not mean for this to be a political post, we must consider those things elected officials have promised. Elimination of oil leases will mean increased fuel prices—resulting in the increased cost of food production and transportation. Those increased costs will cause food prices to go up.
Farmers are worried about regulations on water being reinstated. Water regulations in the past in California caused thousands of farmers and farm workers to be without water in their homes and resulted in huge costs to farmers and ranchers for wells to be dug to irrigate orchards and row crops and provide drinking water in homes. The cost of wells, tens of thousands of dollars, was passed on to consumers and will be again if these regulations come back. Remember California provides the bulk of vegetables, nuts and stone fruits consumed in the U.S.
We needed to travel this week from central California to Oregon and there was little snow on the mountains. Trees are already blooming due to a very warm winter. An early bloom means crops could be destroyed by a late frost. Nut and fruit prices will rise.
Disruptions at the port are already happening meaning increased prices on food, vitamins, and other medications imported, mostly from China.
Despite the clarity of warnings to prepare, myths and misunderstandings abound whenever food storage is mentioned in preparing for troubled times. To minimize some potential misunderstandings, let us identify some common myths associated with food storage.
Myth Number One: The Church will take care of us, so we will not go hungry.
With the growth of the Church throughout the world, the physical care of all members has become an impossible task 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. It is the duty of each household to seek the means to be self-reliant. Today the church is growing, canning, and/or storing more foodstuffs than ever before, but this would service only a small percentage of members.
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)
“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 we should be storing 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 quote that 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.
We should not be too literal as we interpret warnings and counsel. Christ could have warned in the last days there would be hurricanes in diverse places, but those he was teaching wouldn’t have known what a hurricane was. 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 we normally eat to 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, but 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 lesson learned 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, and your tummy grumbles and you feel desperate to eat. A little later the pains become less, and you become less interested in immediate gratification. When you are ill you may go for days with little food, or no food, because you just don’t care about eating anymore. The same happens during a crisis.
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 dark chocolate 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. This includes a balanced diet to give the strength and energy you will need to deal with the added stress 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. We need to be storing foods in all food groups to thrive. 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 should be a natural disaster, these foods will be of little use. Foods such as these need one to four times the amount of water than the 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. 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 this is old advice.
Elder Bednar answered this in October 2020 General conference, “Some Church members opine that emergency plans and supplies, food storage, and 72-hour kits must not be important anymore because the Brethren have not spoken recently and extensively about these and related topics in general conference. But repeated admonitions to prepare have been proclaimed by leaders of the Church for decades. The consistency of prophetic counsel over time creates a powerful concert of clarity and a warning volume far louder than solo performances can ever produce.”
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 from their cans, place them on a 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, and heat to use over pancakes and waffles. Pear sauce is one of my favorites.
Second part of this myth to dispel: canned foods are not spoiled because they reach the pull date on the can. Canned foods can be safe to eat for 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. Since we consider food storage the most vital of all preparations, we will address ways to store frugally on the Totally Ready Facebook page.
Myth Number Ten: I have stored vitamins so I’m good.
Vitamins alone are not the answer. Vitamin supplements are not absorbed by the body sufficiently to meet all needs. A nutritionally sound diet is still the superior way to get the vitamins and minerals our body needs.
Why Fruits and Vegetables?
Colorful fruits and vegetables provide the wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and chemicals your body uses to maintain energy levels, protect against the effects of aging, reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, maintain good vision, build strong bones, keep the heart healthy, maintain a healthy immune system, and improve memory function.
No other nutrient plays as many different roles in keeping you healthy as protein. Protein is important for the growth and repair of muscles, bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, hair, eyes, metabolism, and digestion.
Protein helps create the antibodies your immune system needs to fight disease. If you are injured or ill, you may need more protein. Often when people are dieting, or just in a hurry, they will skip protein. If you develop a headache, muscle cramps or shaking you can’t control, you may need to consume protein.
Easy sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and dairy foods. Besides meat, beans, peas, and nuts have the most protein, but they are incomplete proteins. To achieve a more complete protein serving, you must combine them with grain, fruits, and vegetables.
When we speak of grain we are really talking about carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel and are easily used by the body for energy. Carbohydrates are needed for the central nervous system, kidneys, brain, and muscles to function properly.
The best source of carbohydrates is grains – whole wheat, wheat flour, bulger, oatmeal, cornmeal, rice (white, brown, and wild), buckwheat, popcorn, rye flour, barley, pasta, pretzels, couscous, amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and triticale. You can also count muffin, corn bread and pancake mixes when calculating your grain requirements for your food storage plan.
Diets rich in milk and other dairy products help build and maintain bone mass, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, build teeth, and help maintain a healthy blood pressure.
“Self-relianceis 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 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 must to strengthen our households, by being prepared to feed our family and others as challenges come.
Now that preparing has become your quest, visit Carolyn’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TotallyReady/ and her website at: TotallyReady.com for help and inspiration. Each Monday weekly challenges and reminders of what to store are posted on the Facebook page. These include both food and non-food items. Ask questions there or in the comment section here for more help.