Disruptions in the food supply can be caused by a number of factors:
Erratic weatherNatural disasters
Contamination of food supplies
Disruptions in transportation
Acts of terrorism
Preparing for a disaster will reduce fear, anxiety, and losses. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantities to last for an extended period of time. If you don’t prepare beforehand, you may be dependent solely on relief organizations and the government. In a major emergency, it may be as long as 9 days before emergency services can reach you. A recent example is New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina.
Start with a minimum of three days of emergency food and water. Add to your inventory as your budget and space to store items permits.
Food Storage Guidelines
- Use storage areas that are well ventilated, clean, dark, dry, and cool. Quality of food may also be expected to deteriorate slowly with storage because of time and temperature. A good temperature for storage of canned food is 50° F., which is almost refrigerator cool. An increase of 20° F. approximately doubles the rate of deterioration; thus, food stored at 70° F. will deteriorate twice as fast as food stored in 50° F. Since 50° might be difficult to maintain, you can store foods over a long period at 70°. Storage at 90° F. is highly undesirable, as it promotes rapid deterioration.
- If your storage conditions are less satisfactory, rotate contents more frequently than recommended. Even though space may be limited, there are usually “hidden areas” for storage. Use your imagination!
- Do not place food storage containers on or against cement or dirt floors and walls. Place pieces of wood between the storage containers and the floor or wall to provide ventilation and protect against moisture.
- Keep stored food away from products that may affect the flavor of the food.
- Rotate and use food storage items regularly. Date food items as you purchase or can them. Then, store new supplies of food at the back of the shelves, moving earlier purchases forward to be used first.
Water is more essential than food in sustaining life. Store a minimum of seven gallons of water per person for drinking and food preparation. Store an additional seven gallons per person of the same quality water for bathing, brushing teeth, and dishwashing. Use heavy plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. Metal containers, which may corrode, tend to give water an unpleasant taste.
If you have any doubt as to the bacterial safety of stored water, you may purify it by boiling vigorously for one to two minutes or by adding chlorine bleach (5 percent sodium hypochlorite solution). Generally, half a teaspoon of bleach will purify five gallons of clear water, and one teaspoon will purify five gallons of cloudy water. If you store it away from sunlight in clean containers, and if it is safe bacterially at the time of storage, water will remain pure indefinitely.
Mistakes to Avoid
- Variety – a lot of people only store the four basic items, wheat, milk, honey, and salt. Besides not being a complete diet, you can get “appetite fatigue” for lack of variety.
- Extended Staples – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Store dehydrated and freeze-dried foods as well as home-canned and store-bought canned goods.
- Vitamins – must be stored along with your food in order to get proper nutrition.
- Quick-and-Easy and Psychological Foods – quick-and-easy foods can help you through the times when you may be under too much stress to cope with preparing food. No-cook foods such as freeze-dried foods are wonderful since they require almost no preparation.
- Balance – keep balance in mind as you build your food storage. Buy a variety of things rather than a large quantity of one.
- Containers – always store your bulk foods in food-grade storage containers. You can also buy foods that are packed in nitrogen in #10 cans. Nitrogen will give the food a very long shelf like.
- Use Your Storage – you must use your food storage in order to know what to do with it. Replace depleted items as necessary, thereby continually rotating your supply.
No single food storage plan will work for everyone. Each family’s needs differ. The most important thing is to start storing just a few items today and add a little more each month.