So, what is Food Storage? Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory so I guess the better question would be “Why store food?” CNN wrote an article last year stating that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. See http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/24/pf/emergency-savings/ Some of you may have noticed that I’m not American, but Canadian. Apparently as recent as two years ago, 47% of Canadians were living paycheque to paycheque (notice the Canadian spelling? hehe.) Here’s a link to the Globe and Mail’s article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/47-of-canadians-still-live-paycheque-to-paycheque/article4522904/ Please note: I’m not in any way insinuating that Canadians are better than Americans, merely pointing out that we have a problem with this too. And when I say “we”, I’m particularly saying “I” because that’s the plain truth, my husband and I live paycheque to paycheque.
Back to the Food Storage concern. In the nine years we’ve been married, we have had a couple of spells of financial woes. Once when my husband went back to school, and this year due to me needing to take time off work for health reasons. You may be surprised to learn that other than fresh fruits and milk, we haven’t really done any grocery shopping in the last two or three months. You see, we buy a lot of stuff in bulk, primarily at Costco. We started this when hubby went back to school, and I had to manage an extremely tight budget. We started shopping almost exclusively at Costco, calculator in hand. Once we reached our budget, if we wanted anything else to go in the cart, something had to come out first. It was an interesting exercise in self-discipline, to say the least. The first few months were tough, but as we started stockpiling (buying a case of soup rather than two cans, or a case of Kraft Dinner instead of a couple of boxes) this allowed us to build up a food reserve. We have pretty much maintained that habit ever since. So when the money flow slowed drastically a few months ago due to my health, we had a pantry full of canned stuff to rely on. This has pretty much saved us.
That being said, canned food isn’t really that healthy. It’s full of sodium for starters, which acts as a preservative. KD (Kraft Dinner, aka mac and cheese for my American readers) is not really that healthy for that matter. On the other hand, freeze-dried foods are extremely healthy. On average, they retain far more vitamins and nutrients than the fruits and vegetables you buy at the grocery store. If you shop at local farmers’ markets, well that’s a different story since they tend to pick their crops the same day or the day before. However, if you don’t eat or freeze your fresh fruits and veggies right away, they will start to lose all that nutritional goodness. I will talk more about nutrition in another post (after I massively edited this one since I veered off on a ‘health benefit’ tangent!) but what about the fruits and veggies you really like, that you can’t get from a farmer’s market? I’m a huge banana fan, so when I saw the Tale of Two Bananas, it really hit home. Check this out:
Will I stop eating ‘fresh’ bananas from the grocery store? Noooo, I love bananas way too much! But the explanation above is equally valid for a ton of foods that you’re picking up at the supermarket. So I want to store extra food for “lean” times, but I want it to be healthy… AND practical. What does that mean? Well, I could buy stuff and freeze it right away to preserve nutrients. However, the problem is that my freezer space is somewhat limited. And we seem to lose power at least once every winter, sometimes for several hours. Do you remember the huge ice storm that hit this past December? It affected a number of Canadian provinces and American states. Over 300,000 people in the city of Toronto lost power. FOUR days later, 70,000 were still without power. No power = no freezer = no food if you’re relying on your summer haul of frozen fruits and veggies. I’m fortunate that the longest I’ve lost power during an outage is 12 hours, but there have been a couple of times I’ve been out of power for a few days due to human error. The first was a month after hubby and I got married. We’d just moved into a new rental house, and the electric company came by and determined that the meter was faulty and it was the owner’s responsibility to fix/replace it. Yeah, I moved into a hotel for three days while he got off his butt and did something about. Then, there was the time about four years ago when our refrigerator died. Same situation, slow landlord left us without a means to refrigerate food. Fortunately we also had a separate freezer that we were able to transfer the food to, but you can see how life can be so unpredictable and you can’t necessarily rely on just one source for your food needs.
You’re probably all tuckered out reading my very verbose blog by now, so I’ll give it a break. In the meantime, I’ll start thinking about what I want to say for part three. I think I might tackle emergency preparedness, since it is a good segway from food storage.
p.s. (I just learned ‘segway’ or ‘segueway’ is actually spelled segue, no ‘way’ at the end because the original word ‘segue’ is Italian and pronounced ‘segway’!)