Getting Other People Involved In Food Storage

Sharon January 6th, 2009

One of the issues I think all of us face is that our own personal food storage can only take us so far.  Ultimately, our own security in both a pragmatic and a moral sense depends on not having our neighbors go hungry either.  So we’re left with the oxygen mask issue – you know, the analogy of those oxygen masks that come down if something bad happens on a plane.  First, you start by taking care of yourself, but then, you turn around and see if anyone else needs help.

 Now this can be tricky. There are a host of larger community ways we might introduce the subject with all the trappings of “authority” (ie, classes, using existing infrastructure like CERT programs and local planning, etc…), but I want to start talking about the most basic ways we talk about food storage – by just talking about it to our family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. How do we get started?  How do we approach what is obviously a fraught subject?

I think one of the most important things we can do when we get started with these conversations is to seperate out acceptance of our personal vision of the future, from acceptance of the *actions* we’d like other people to take.  That is, we need to distinguish between how much we want people to agree with our point of view, and the actions we want them to take.  I want people to store a reserve of food – I’m not picky about whether they store it because of peak oil, climate change, zombies, economic crisis, volcano eruption, not liking to shop, to save money or the arrival of the rapture.  I think a lot of the time it is easy to mix the two up – to think that people only act from the motives that move us, but of course, that’s not true.  So generally speaking, I think it is more productive to talk to people, and figure out what does motivate them, and also to offer a range of reasons, rather than one or two.

So for me, a conversation about food storage might begin with a discussion of high food prices, and the savings that we might get if we bought in bulk together. Or perhaps if I know they are facing a possible job loss, about how food storage has helped us through periods when we were financiallyl insecure. 

Or it might not begin with food storage at all – instead, it might begin with common ground, for example, could we work together to save money, or to make the neighborhood more food secure.  The issue might be less about visions of the future and more about finding a way to be useful to one another. 

With some people, it might take a while.  If you get a negative response to something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person you are talking to hasn’t heard you or will never consider an idea – a lot of us reject things the first time we encounter them, simply because they seem alien or strange.  One of the tools I use is to make it routine – mentioning that something is on sale and it might be a good time to stock up, for example. 

Some of us have religious or cultural invocations we can use – for example, if your community or family has known hunger in the past, or has religious obligations to self-sufficiency, sometimes it is productive to speak in those terms.  It can be useful to talk about our history – I often ask people to think about their grandparents and great-grandparents, and ask whether most of them made it through 80 years or so without hunger, war, disruption of supplies.  Putting it in family terms helps people connect to an idea that seems foreign, but may not be.

Patriotism and pride are, I think, also important ways to come at this, although they should be used carefully. Many of us are not so very far removed from people who took a great deal of pride in their self-sufficiency.  While we don’t want to make those who need aid feel bad, there are good reasons to invoke the sense of pride someone gets when they manage to get through tough times independently.  This is important in a national sense as well – that is, it can and should be a matter of pride to be able to go forward and leave extra for those who are truly in need when the government steps in.  This pride needs to be balanced with real need – but people should feel proud of themselves for finding ways around difficult situations, and being able to help others or leave extra for those who weren’t as fortunate.

Most of all, I think that developing a family or community or neighborhood level of food security involves keeping at it, making it part of what normal people do.  You may be surprised at how people gradually evolve from “That’s weird, I don’t need to do that” to “Could you show me how to get started?”

 Sharon

15 Responses to “Getting Other People Involved In Food Storage”

  1. richardon 06 Jan 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Sharon,

    I store my food in a special place. It is called a ’store’

    Good part is: Every day fresh green stuffs! And the price is ridiculously low!

    ;-)

    But now for a more serious note:
    - 100 kg of potato’s = 7.50 euro
    - 25 kg of onions = 1 euro
    - 100 kg of wheat = 12 euro
    These are the bulk prices here in the Netherlands, if you buy at the farm, I expect that in the US it won’t be much different.

    Even if food prices double, that still won’t be a (real) issue for us in the rich world. If food prices double, people would just eat much less meat. Because then meat prices would 5 fold, since it takes about 10x as much corn to create a pound of meat than just eating the stuff directly.

  2. Trishon 06 Jan 2009 at 4:21 pm

    What I would like to hear from Sharon is what she thinks about the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza going on right now. I seems she comments on plenty of current events but has stayed strangeley silent on this one.

  3. [...] Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » Getting Other People Involved In Food Storage One of the issues I think all of us face is that our own personal food storage can only take us so far. Ultimately, our own security in both a pragmatic and a moral sense depends on not having our neighbors go hungry either. So we’re left with the oxygen mask issue – you know, the analogy of those oxygen masks that come down if something bad happens on a plane. First, you start by taking care of yourself, but then, you turn around and see if anyone else needs help. [...]

  4. graceon 06 Jan 2009 at 5:14 pm

    trish
    I have no idea but my guess is, about the same as when we sat and watched “our” Shock and
    Awe raining down on Iraq. Heartsick.
    grace
    N Mes

  5. graceon 06 Jan 2009 at 5:14 pm

    mex

  6. Sharonon 06 Jan 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Trish, frankly, I’m horrified at Israel’s response – I find it totally appalling and unjustifiable.

    Beyond that, honestly, it would take a longer response than I have time to construct right at the moment. I almost certainly will write about it, and fairly soon, but not tonight.

    Sharon

  7. wasteweardailyon 06 Jan 2009 at 7:27 pm

    I talked with a woman tonight who is moving to Detroit her new husband just got a job there after being unemployed for 9 months. She said he was taking a 40% pay cut over his previous job. They were going to have to live off less. I conveniently pulled out Depletion and Abundance from my bag( a Christmas gift) and handed it to her saying “You may want to read a book like this then”. She looked interested and wrote down all the info. She said she knew she could do it because I had told her that living with less was a choice we had made and she knew they could do it too. Now I need to talk to her about food storage!
    Cindy in FL

  8. Jenon 06 Jan 2009 at 8:49 pm

    The issue of pride reminds me of a story my grandmother told me years ago about growing up during the depression. She grew up in a farming family, and they had lots of eggs on hand, but her father (an Italian immigrant) refused to sell them to earn an extra few dollars for the family because then everyone would know just how poor they were…

  9. Lizon 06 Jan 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Sharon, I’m curious how you deal with people who respond, “I don’t need to store food, I’ll just come stay with you!”

    The first time someone said this to me, I took it as a joke. The second and third and fourth times were eye-openers. Frankly, I’m much less likely to speak face to face with people about food storage now unless I know they’re going to be receptive. I write openly on the blog, but I think most of my readers are far away enough that I don’t really need to worry about them knocking on my door (that’s a nervous sort of joke).

    What I use as a conversation opener these days is an off-hand remark about maybe needing to have a larger garden this year. The response I get from that usually tells me whether it’s safe to continue.

    I really hate feeling this way, as though everyone around me was a potential threat.

  10. Sharonon 07 Jan 2009 at 8:51 am

    Most of the people who say that to me are well, people who probably will come stay with me ;-) . But I know what you mean when it is weird. I once said “Well, don’t forget to bring six months worth of food with you.” And someone blinked and laughed nervously, but it got the point across.

    Sharon

  11. Jennieon 07 Jan 2009 at 12:10 pm

    “Don’t forget to bring six months of food with you.”
    Hahahah! I love that!

  12. Grandma Mision 07 Jan 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I used to be the “Y2K” nut case… but things from the family are lightening up while the world is getting heavier.
    Saw some real lights go on this holiday season (that pun just happened by itself, lol) when we were all snowed in for 2 weeks (me by myself way out in the boonies and with suddenly no running water to boot).
    My adult kids kept asking if I wanted them to send someone to rescue me, they were pretty worried. Every time I just chuckled, and said “Now, you KNOW that I have plenty of food here, plenty of stored water and the knowledge/ability to get water from the lake to flush the toilet, boil it to clean it up enough to wash dishes and take a “bath” – I’m just ducky folks!
    and I was… it was fun, and not the slightest worry or hassle.
    Yeah for reading Sharon and knowing about PO and CC for several years, huh?
    Grandma Misi

  13. Erikaon 08 Jan 2009 at 7:14 am

    Great ideas! My questions come from a bit closer to home – my DH is constantly complaining about how much food I have stored (e.g. extra bags of dog food – usually one bag, her bin full (holds one bag), and when it’s close to empty, I buy one to replace the one that will go in her bin – two bags lasts about 8.5/9 weeks; sugar – the organic sugar at Costco is cheap, and I bake a LOT, so I usually keep 4 or so on hand… he doesn’t even like that I buy the big Costco sized ones), even though his family has several large cabinets and a second fridge for storage. He doesn’t mind canning and drying food – he grew up with that (family garden). I try to explain to him why I’m doing this (PO, CC, the fact that we live in Western Washington, where winter storms and power outages are a regular occurrence, the economy, the economics of food storage [cheaper in the long run], etc.), but he lags a bit behind me when it comes to jumping on the proverbial bandwagon regarding PO, CC, the environment/etc.

    We have also had family members who have been invited to help with gardening/canning, invited to plant their own garden at my in-laws, and offered free seed – all of which they’ve declined. Then winter comes, money gets tight, and the same family members are asking for $ for food or “some of that good homecanned ______.” Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a heart, and could say, “Lack of proper prior planning on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on my part.”

    I don’t think the conversation was here… maybe the yahoo food storage group… but at one point there was a really good discussion going about food storage vs. hoarding. I certainly think that those of us that keep up (or try to) with Sharon understand the difference between planning for a years worth of food for our families and hoarding things/food, but sometimes, when people find out one of my big goals is to get to the point where I have a years’ supply of food for my family, that we have a working method in place to not only eat from it, but restock it regularly, they start jumping to the conclusion that I’m a hoarder – that I compulsively “squirrel” away food. I think it is unfortunate that so many people – average Americans (those I’m thinking of) – are so detached from reality (esp. the negative parts – our cushy, oil-fueled, fast lifestyle most likely will end; the environment is trashed; your job might be cut in this “recession,” etc.) that they think that preparedness is a disease.

    I’m no where near my goal of a working annual food storage system, nor am I anywhere as eloquent as Sharon and most of the others here when it comes to explaining myself, but I do try to make it a point of conversation – be it my garden (small front yard victory garden and shared big garden at in-laws’), cooking from scratch, or keeping a stocked pantry – one of those is bound to come up on a regular basis…

    –Erika

  14. Sharonon 08 Jan 2009 at 8:35 am

    Erika, if you search “hoarding” on the site you’ll find a couple of posts on the subject. I agree that it is a false way of thinking people immediately jump to, but I’m not sure what to do to end it, other than keep writing on the subject.

    Sharon

  15. Jenon 09 Jan 2009 at 3:31 am

    I think it’s interesting how times change, and what used to be par for the course is now weird, or considered hoarding. I remember my great aunt and uncle had tons of stored food, in pantries, a chest freezer… she canned & dried, etc. (All that “old people” stuff.) And it was completely normal (even to a city kid like myself) because that’s what everyone of their generation did. No one accused each other of hoarding…it was just common sense.
    So strange that the perception of food storage has changed so much in so little time…

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply