Contributed by Jennifer Dawson
Norway is going to spend $6 million annually to stockpile grains saying that the pandemic, war in Europe, and climate change have made it necessary to do so. If a country is stockpiling food, one wonders whether households should also store food in the event of emergencies. Granted that governments stockpile to access a 3-month food supply for its people and to stabilize prices, can this initiative be replicated at household level? If so, what and how can a family or individuals stockpile provisions without straining budgets and wallets?
Storing food supplies can be a prudent measure in certain situations because possessing a supply of non-perishable items during emergencies such as natural disasters, power outages, and other unforeseen events ensures that you have access to essential nutrition when the flow of local stocks is disrupted. Whether on a large or small scale, building a stockpile can also cushion the impact of inflation or economic instability. Buying in bulk or large quantities when prices are low can be cost-effective in the long run.
Bear in mind that the need for a food stockpile may vary based on your location, climate, and the specific risks in your region. Hence, it is vital to adapt your preparations accordingly. For example, families with children can make emergency preparedness even more critical as kids have specific nutritional needs. Remember when there was a formula shortage in the US? Frantic parents did not know where to source milk for their young as 40% of the supply of baby formula was out of stock. The shortage lasted nearly a year and the government unveiled a plan to prevent it from happening again. In this case, having a reserve of familiar and nutritious foods can assist in ensuring the well-being of children and babies during unforeseen events.
Likewise, if you have health issues that could prevent you from easily accessing food, stockpiling provisions is a safety net. Another category of at risk households that should amass food are residents located in disaster-prone areas. For instance, Forbes ranked 5 most disaster-prone counties in the US where natural disasters occur more frequently and intensely. Los Angeles county, in California, topped the list having declared 22 natural disasters including 20 fires, 2 severe winter storms, flooding, and mudslides in the past decade. In this regard, it makes sense to keep a supply of emergency food supplies as well as other items such as water, fuel, and hygiene products.
What and How to Store Stockpiles
When building up stocks, it is essential that you focus on items that have a longer shelf life, require minimal operation, and provide essential nutrients. In this aspect, canned goods are often recommended for stockpiling because they can last for several years. They also require minimal preparation and can be eaten immediately or heated before consumption. Furthermore, canned goods come in a wide variety such as fruits, veggies, meats, fish, soups, and more allowing for a balanced stock for access to a range of nutrients and flavors. Many have high water content which can help you in hydration during emergencies when access to clean water may be limited. They do not require refrigeration which is an advantage during power outages.
Another ideal form of food products to store are those that are freeze-dried. Thanks in part to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which helped modify and innovate the technique in several forms for their astronauts, you’ll readily find freeze-dried foods at supermarkets, groceries, and convenience stores. Like canned goods, they have an extended shelf life, are portable, and retain most of the food’s original nutrients. They can also be quickly rehydrated with water which is particularly useful in emergency situations where cooking facilities may be limited. Plus, freeze-dried foods are offered in a wide variety including fruits/veggies, meats, and full meals. No refrigeration is also necessary until they are rehydrated making them a suitable staple in a survival kit.
Proper storage of your food stockpiles is critical as well so that they last longer and remain safe and nutritious for consumption. Hence, use appropriate containers and select a cool, dry area for storage. You should also practice a rotation system to ensure that older items are used first. Make sure that you keep the area clean and free of pests. Inspect your stocks frequently to ensure that everything is in a good condition.
In general, stockpiling provisions can be a reasonable strategy for emergency preparedness and financial stability. However, it should be done thoughtfully and in consideration of various factors such as suitability, usability, and relevance for your needs.