Saturday, February 16, 2013

It takes all kinds of crazy to make the world go 'round

The next few months represent a kind of a windfall in our lives--we calculate tax returns and Costco sends us our rebate check.  This year's (from Costco) was almost $400 and we're going to have a pretty huge tax return (Thanks Noah).

When I asked the hubbs if he was saving the Costco refund for something special (thinking this might be the year that he's willing to fork out the cash for the 57 inch TV he wants) he said, "I don't know.  I was thinking formula, cheese and milk."

Our tax return will be spent similarly--investing in our retirement and repaying our short-term savings account (which we had to dip into in order to fund the move to NY and our new car). There is one splurge that we're making.  And, the fact that I want this plants me firmly into the camp of "certified crazy person."

Do you know what that is?  That's enough grains and legumes to feed my family of 4 for 3 months.  We'll also add salt, lentils, an heirloom seed planting kit, yeast and a kerosene heater. With next year's return we'll add more--some fats, sweeteners, maybe some dried eggs and milk and more grains and legumes.  In the end we'll have enough food for each of us for 4 months. I'd love to have a year's supply for each of us but we don't have a ton of storage space and in a couple of years we're going to have a find a new place to live and pay to move all of those 50 lb buckets so we'll probably just stick with 4 months per person until we have a more permanent housing situation.

It stems from my Mormon upbringing--Mormon's are urged to have a years supply of food for each member of their family stored at all times in case of emergency or unexpected need.  I think that most Mormons imagined some kind of zombie Apocalypse when the Prophets of our church started talking about food storage in the 1970s.  I have come to realize that maybe they were just worried about unwise farming practice and people spending more money than they make along with the occasional hurricane or earthquake.

My desire for 5 gallon buckets full of wheat, beans and rice was pushed to full furry when we moved to NY.  Hurricane Sandy arrived just a few weeks after we did and I was still in the process of stocking my kitchen.  We hit up Costco and stocked up on granola bars, canned chili and baby formula which, at the time, was all we could do.  We've been hit by two more storms this winter that knocked out power for people for days at a time.  We had a short period of gas rationing just feels like it's time.  Because even starting to think about food supplies being cut off and having to watch my children starve is enough to send me into the fetal position. In the past I could justify living by family who had food storage as my way out having my own.  That's not an option here so I just decided that we need to do it.  And then I had to talk the hubbs into it.

There are two schools of thought about food storage.  The first is that you store things you eat.  There are tons of specialty companies that make all kinds of dried,  freeze-dried and canned foods and meals that range from fruits, veggies and eggs to beef stroganoff.  I do not subscribe to this school of thought. I think that if you're paying a premium for foods that are packed to survive for between 20 and 30 years you buy the most basic things available, put them in a safe place and let them survive.  In my ideal scenario, in 19 years we'll open these pails while snacking on donuts and bonbons and if they're still good we'll donate them to the local food bank.  A couple of hundred dollars for peace of mind that lasts 19 years?  Well worth it.

Dear Family, 
If we ever have to use the food storage I'm buying please forgive me all of the freeze dried beef stroganoff you could have eaten and enjoy your rice and beans and the occasional peasant loaf. When we are through whatever emergency there was you never have to eat rice or beans again for as long as you live--You'll have a great tale to tell at dinner parties when they serve rice as a side.   


  1. I got the survival vegetable seed vault for Xmas and I look longingly at the big "family of 4 eats for a month" tubs at Costco every.single.trip. Thank you for the links to the longer-term legume pails.

    Keep in mind my grandma has those two 9-foot giant freezers of food in her basement. I might not be Mormon, but I come by this honest.

    1. Oh Rachel, I would love a 9 ft freezer. And I would love to purchase a whole cow someday. Your grandma is an inspiration.

      I didn't mean to infer that only Mormons came by the tendency to long-term stored food and seeds. I credit you with opening my eyes to the terror of alien abduction I should have known that you would also sympathize with my food crisis fear.

  2. Just a quick question: what are you going to do with the wheat?? I assume you're not set up to mill your own flour...?

    1. Oh Agnes. Bad news. Yes actually, I am set up to mill my own wheat. We have a wheat grinder. Somehow admitting that makes it seem all the scarier

    2. That is so cool, Sallee! How is the flour that comes out of it? We recently went on a tour of an old mill around here, and I didn't know there were so many steps to milling flour, like separating out various different sizes of particles, etc. I assume your home grinder just leaves all the parts in there, so how is the taste? Probably yummy...