Why Store Food?

by Cynthia Hillson

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The world we live in is ever-changing, fast-moving and full of surprises. A hundred years ago, people did not have to go to the store very often. Our society was much more agrarian than it is today. Families grew, and ate, most of their own plants and animals. Food was stored and eaten from harvest to harvest. Twenty-five years ago, most families had several months' worth of food stored away. In today's fast-paced, buy it when I need (want) it lifestyle, a high percentage of people would be at rope's end if they couldn't go to the grocery store, or a restaurant on a near-daily basis. This concerns me.

What if something does happen to our food supply? It's possible - it could happen anytime. There are many things that can break up our normal food chain. Loss of employment, strikes, layoffs, a job change with reduced income, natural disasters, civil unrest, a major injury, illness, or death of the primary wage earner, or an oil crisis.

We all know the effects that El Nino has had on certain crops. What if gas prices, or the availability of gas getting to the pumps, generates inflation, especially on our food supply. Are you aware that half of the trucks on our highways contain food? Plus, food reserves in this country are some of the lowest in history; some experts say that we only have a 30-day supply of food.

Yes, America has a safe, abundant, food supply system that is admired by many other countries, but if transportation becomes a problem, more food will lie in the fields and rot. I do not want to scare you; I want you to think about your food in a different light today.

The dinner you ate today needed 10,000 people to get it to you. You'll find this information at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) web site. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman observes that it takes the work of "tens of thousands of people" to produce a meal for an American family. He then says: "I must confess, however, that until recently I hadn't thought very much about the connection between food on our tables and computers."

It has been said that every family will be the victim of one serious crisis during their lifetime - some of us have more. My family has gone through many. My husband had to have back surgery three years ago, which put him out of work. Our income has not gone up; in fact, it's gone down 30%, due to job-related changes. Not easy with six kids, but it sure has taught me that many others may be facing some of these same challenges. It is during these high-stress times that we should not have to worry about food.

You can't prepare for a disaster when you are in the midst of it. Perhaps one of the greatest assets of being prepared is knowing (peace of mind) that you have the contingency plans set aside if you ever need them.

Storing food and building up an adequate pantry are essential. Long-term storable food is truly an "insurance policy" that you can eat. Many people also store enough food to help others in their community and churches. Would you be able to feed your family? I encourage you to begin storing food. Store foods that your family likes - variety is important. Learn to store food properly. Rotate and eat it. Storing food is your insurance that these events will not cause you, or your family and friends, to go hungry.

Cynthia Hillson is a mother of six, author, speaker. She's written "The Y2K Pantry: How to Feed Your Family if the What-Ifs Happen", "Thriving On Thrift: A Common Sense Guide to Feeding Your Family for Less", "How to Feed Your Family with a Bag, or Two, of Wheat" and "How to Feed Your Family with Dehydrated Foods and Powdered Eggs".

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