Archive for November 14th, 2008

Friday Food Storage Quickie

Sharon November 14th, 2008

It has been a bit since I’ve done a Friday Food Storage Quickie.  I think we can all see that the economic situation is deteriorating – the good thing about the deflation we’re facing (if there is a good thing) is that prices are coming down quite rapidly.  So now is the time to make purchases if you’ve got the money – especially if you are concerned about an impending job loss, or about loss of access to retail.

 That last is something that most of us haven’t thought much about yet, but I think we should.  Most retailers are facing major economic shocks – most have purchased their holiday inventories, but can’t get credit at this point to buy more for the New Year.  That means their survival depends entirely on their sales – sales that are dropping like a stone.  Barring some major shifts, we can expect to see retailer bankruptcies and emptied malls after the holidays – and since we know that, there’s a lot less incentive to be things at retail prices, since they’ll shortly be 70% off.

But that comes with a price – for those in population centers, it may simply mean a longer bus ride to the nearest grocer.  For those is rural and exurban areas, it may mean that we have to travel long distances to buy goods that we’ve been able to acquire locally.  And relying on the internet comes with difficulties as well – the DHL’s pull out of US deliveries, and the postal service’s layoffs suggest that getting something to your door may get pricier and harder not very long from now.  Add to that the decline in overall shipping, and the problems shippers are having getting credit, and it may not be very long before many of us find empty shelves and storefronts, and long trips to meet basic needs.

That means that now is a good time, if you can afford it, to build up your pantry and basic resources.  While gas prices are down, it isn’t so cheap we can afford to take long trips often, I suspect, particularly given cutbacks in jobs, hours, etc…

If you check out the other posts in this category (check the sidebar) you’ll see that we’ve been working on the basics of a good diet in our storage.  This week I want to focus on two things: food for your pets, if any, and peanut butter for yourself.  We’ll also talk about those little things that send us running to the store – and how to avoid that.

1. Pet foods – I’m going to do a post soon about feeding your pets and livestock without the grocery store, because I think that the cost of commercial pet foods is increasingly a barrier for families.  That said, however, for all their limitations, the pet food companies have done a lot of research into animal nutrition and the easiest way is to store commercial pet food.  The food can be easily stored in 5 gallon buckets, and most commerical dry dog and cat foods will keep for a year or more.  It is also worth taking a look at the actual recommendations for the amount of food an animal of your pet’s species and size requires – a lot of us overfeed our pets, and that’s not something we can afford even at the best of times (because it isn’t good for them). 

Canned wet food should stay good for several years.  Generally speaking, most vets I know don’t recommend an all dry-food diet for any animal, but wet food is more costly, so you could probably supplement your animal’s diet with meat scraps or milk you have for yourself.  If you are feeding your animals a homemade, BARF or other special diet, you’ll have to decide which elements you can store and which you can’t.  I don’t generally recommend filling a freezer unless you are absolutely sure you won’t have power outages.  If you are storing dry food, while feeding another kind of diet, it would be wise to add a little dry food to your pet’s diet now, so that they don’t have to have an abrupt dietary shift.

I find the cheapest sources for pet food to be large bags at Costco or feed stores.  Check the dumpsters also for broken bags.  I generally believe that high quality pet foods, particularly made from organic meats are better for the animals and much better for our food system – because feedlots are able to sell as many as 1/7 of all their cows that are too unhealthy for entering the human food chain (and that alone should scare you) to pet food makers, that helps keep the feedlots profitable.  Add to that the tendency to use euthanized pet corpses as part of the feed for cats and dogs, and you’ll see that commercial pet foods are not a good thing.  But if you can’t afford better, feeding an animal you’ve taken responsibility for is essential.  

2. Peanut butter or peanuts and something to grind them in.  Yes, I know some people can’t eat peanuts.  For those folks, sunflower seeds or sesame butter will have to take its place.  But for the rest of us, there’s nothing like peanut butter – cheap, widely available, delicious (yes, I know that a lot of non-Americans find peanut butter just as weird as we find vegemite and the equivalents – you are welcome to stock up on marmite instead, but I’ll pass ;-) ).  Even better is fresh ground peanut butter – so the best way to do this is probably to store whole, raw peanuts (which keep about 2 years in a cool, dry place), and grind them daily. But hand grinding peanut butter is a chore not all of us want to take on.  So now is the time to add protein rich, tasty peanut butter.  The only difficulty with this is that the kind of peanut butters that are best for you are not the best keepers – so you might want to throw some of the generic, shelf-stable supermarket brand into your storage, even if you usually use the natural stuff.  You can always donate it to the food pantry if you don’t want to eat it and no emergency arises. 

Finally, as long as we’re stocking up on basics, now is a good time to think about the little things we all need for our projects whether building a chicken tractor out of scrap wood, repairing your sandals, helping the kids with a school project or mending a pair of jeans.  At least in my house, these are just the kind of small things that require a special trip to some out of the way store – for nails, appropriate thread, glue, posterboard, the right screw, duct tape, etc….

We probably will lose some of the chain hardware and craft stores, while those same chains probably already drove our local resources out of business.  So now is the time to stock up – to buy extra needles, a spare role of tape, an extra blade for the exacto knife, another tube of shoe goo or a few extra hooks and eyes.  Don’t buy out the hardware store – they aren’t things you need zillions of, usually.  But remember that most of these things are shipped from far away, and when you see a bargain, or pass a yard sale table with a few boxes of nails on them, think about the fact that it might soon be a project in itself to get those small things that are so necessary, and so easy to forget.  And if you don’t have problems getting them – you’ll still save yourself some time and energy the next time you go to fix something.