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Archive for the ‘Article Contest Entries’Category

Article Contest Entry – Just Do It

Thanks to Tessie from the beautiful (but expensive!) Aloha State for today’s entry into our Food Storage Article Contest.  Folks like her are the reason I started this blog and business, and her entry provided a boost of motivation at a time when I’m still a little worried about not having a ‘day job’.:

There are many reasons why people don’t start or keep up a food storage program.  No money, no space, no time, no know-how.  I identify with this very well: these have been my excuses (um, reasons) for not doing everything I could to protect my family’s future.  But here’s what I tell myself these days: just do it and don’t give up!

I live in an area where there’s no Costco, LDS center, or anything vaguely resembling either icons of food storage.  Wal-Mart is a day-trip away and involves the use of not one but two modes of transportation that add at least $100 to the bill.  Our local stores’ sales are more than what most of the country pays at full price: there is never a “loss leader” product, never a double-coupon day.  There are no establishments here that will give me food-grade buckets or even sell me buckets.  My husband lost his job a little while ago and we’re raising our small children in a one-bedroom extension.

I sigh a little each time I read about buying $1000 worth of groceries for $46.23 or see photos of well-appointed household pantries.  However, what’s true for me is true for the person with an unlimited budget and space galore: you can never be sure it’s enough.  If I keep at it, I have just as much chance of making it through a crisis as Mr. Moneybags.  Just do it and don’t give up!

Educate yourself for free online.  If you don’t have a computer, most local libraries have free computer services.  The internet offers a wealth of information for the easily-overwhelmed and shallow-pocketed like me: how to work with a limited budget, reaching simple goals, finding space you never knew existed, alternatives to common storage practices, the best online stores and even regionally-adapted guidance.  Not much time?  Subscribe to email newsletters, Twitter or RSS feeds.  Absorb advice from wherever you can but balance it by doing your research and by evaluating what works best for you in YOUR situation.

If nothing else, make time to evaluate your budget.  I actually found more money to use for food after my husband’s layoff than before it because I was forced to actively look at where our money was going.  A few dollars trimmed here and there adds up.

There is no down side to storing food: it will serve you in ANY personal situation, will not depreciate in value and, despite not knowing whether it will be enough in an emergency, gives you peace of mind knowing that you are at least better off than when you were giving excuses (sorry, reasons) about why you couldn’t begin.

I’m struggling to achieve my goals on a shoestring budget from the nether reaches of the good ‘ole U.S.A., but I’m getting there.  So will you:  there really isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t start or keep up with a food storage program.  Do it.  Don’t give up.

25

05 2011

Article Contest Entry: Copy Canning 101

Thanks to Laura from MO for this sound advice!  Anyone interested in entering the contest just drop me a line!

I first heard the term “copy canning” in 2000 or so, just after the Y2K computer crash never happened. It orginates as far as I can tell with an article by Karen Hood (her and her husband are pretty famous in the survivalist community).  I’ve never read it on this blog, though what the owner advocates is basically the same thing.  I guess common sense is common sense. 

The biggest question I get from my non-prepper friends and family is “How do I start?  I’ll never be able to afford a years worth of food”.  Well, other than “are you crazy?”  Copy canning has become my easy answer and a way to introduce people to food storage without the buckets and mylar (no offense) or the crazy-expensive freeze-dried or dehydrated foods.  I simply tell people:  buy what you regularly do, just buy a little extra.  It works best with canned goods, but it certainly works with almost anything you might regularly buy, except for perishables such as fresh fruit and vegetables or meat. 

Inevitably, copy canning becomes addictive.  I’ll hear a friend say “The fruit salad was on sale and we’re going to eat it anyway so I bought 10.”  Usually followed by “Do you have any extra space at your house?”  So the next step in the process is to teach people how to start organizing it and understanding how much food they actually have on hand and setting a goal of how much they want.  If a family eats 45 cans of vegetables per month and they now have 120 in the basement and 15 more in the pantry, they have 90 days of vegetables on-hand.  That doesn’t necessarily equate to 90 days of food, just 90 days of that particular item they regularly eat. 

So my advice?  Follow a few simple steps, and then a few more, and you will be more prepared than 80% of people in the world.

1)  Start copy canning today – buy 1 extra item of any item you buy when you go grocery shopping, except for perishables.  You can set a goal of how much food you want on hand later, the important thing is to actually start!

2)  Keep your ‘extra’ cans separate – Don’t put them in the pantry with the rest of the food.  Why?  Because if you do, you will likely eat it all before you buy any more, counteracting what you want to accomplish.  Many people buy racks to store food, but I’ve seen some with limited space store flats of cans under beds, in closets, and in their garage.  My suggestion is if you have to store in the garage, rotate your food more often, because the temperature extremes will lower the shelf life.

3)  Rotate your food – If you eat a can of beans, add it to your grocery list, go get one from your storage area to replace in your pantry, and buy it when you next go shopping.

That’s really all there is too it.  I sometimes laugh when I see hundreds of blogs and websites about food storage, when all it really takes is some common sense.

Food Storage Article Contest Entries 1 and 2

Thanks to Don S and Alan B for our first two entries in our Food Storage Article Contest.  I’ll likely post all entries each Sunday and Wednesday.  Remember, if you’d like to participate, just drop a line to admin@adviceandbeans.com.  There’s over $500 in prizes up for grabs!

Thanks!

From Don S:

Food storage is part of survival.  Our ancestors stored food for times when certain types of food were scarce such as winter when fresh vegetables were not available or in summer when wild game was reproducing.  Now we just visit the store and buy what we fancy that day or maybe go to a restaurant.  Our storage thoughts go no further than the next trip to the store or what might be on sale this week.  We have become a dependent-on-others society rather that the “rugged individualist” we once were as a people. 

Lately, catastrophes have been taking their collective tolls on our comfortable ways of life. Some people are waking up to the possibility that Kroger might not have what we need every day.  What would we do if technology suddenly failed?  No electricity to power our comfortable way of life would cramp most everyone’s style to say the least.  What can we do to prepare for such an event?  Two things come to my mind.  Learn to identify edible wild foods in your local area.  Not just the dandelions but the violets, lamb’s quarters, amaranth purslane and whatever else you have been calling weeds in your garden for years.  These are foods you do not have to plant.  Just locate and identify them and prepare them for the table. This is free food for the picking.  The other thing that comes to mind is begin gardening with a vengeance.  Not just planting some lettuce and beans but growing heirloom plants and saving the seeds and planting them the next season.  These foods can be canned or dried and stored to sustain you when the cans of spam and tuna have long since run out.  Get out from in front of the TV or Play station and begin learning what our grandparents always knew, how to find and produce food. 

From Alan B:

It is possible my advice could be considered the ‘first rule of prepping’ or food storage.  It has been repeated so many times by survivalists, homesteaders, and preppers of every school, mostly because it’s true:  “Eat what you store, store what you eat.”  It is so simple, but to this day many preppers I know still insist ‘at the end of the world, I’ll eat anything.’  While that may be true of the prepper herself, it might not be so true of her loved ones.

 The LDS Preparedness Manual lists ‘variety’ (or lack of) the #1 mistake of food storage (p32) and ‘not using your storage’ as mistake #7 (p33).  Having 500 pounds of wheat to turn into bread sounds like a great idea until you realize your cousin Charlie has a gluten allergy.  Plus, it also indicates that ‘wheat is too harsh for young children’ as a main staple.  If you don’t bake bread or use ground wheat in your daily cooking, why would you store it for an emergency?  You won’t know how to cook it, sprout it, or otherwise use it to its maximum potential.  You are better off having 50 #10 cans of Spaghettios than 10 buckets of wheat berries.  The same with rice and beans.  If you hate Chinese and Mexican food, do you think an emergency is going to change that?  Store cans of soup and Spam instead if that is closer to your usual fare.

 It doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily, but the rule should be changed to:  Eat what you and your family store, and store what you and your family eat.  Take into account the tastes of your entire family and any others who might stay with you during a crisis.  Make sure that if 2 family members have a peanut allergy that peanut butter is not a staple you are counting on to carry them through.  Include items in your storage that can be used to flavor food, such as spices (even just plain salt and pepper), bouillon cubes or tomato paste so you can avoid appetite fatigue. 

 If your family includes pets, make sure to include them in the rule as well.  Some dry pet foods don’t store well due to the oils, but make every effort to have as much food on hand for your dog or cat as you do for the rest of your family.  In a time of crisis, a happy furry friend will mean a great deal to everyone.

 Finally, make sure to store comfort foods; gobstoppers, fireballs, and other hard candies store relatively well.  Fruit punch or cocoa store less well, but should be rotated anyway like the rest of your storage.

 Make the effort to incorporate your food storage into your daily life.  If an emergency hits, at least your belly will hardly notice.