These are all valid questions and this guide is to help those people who:
1. Don't store extra food for emergencies
2. Understand why it is important to store food for emergencies; and
3. For those who are thinking of storing food for emergencies but are not sure if they are making the right decision.
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WHO STORES FOODFirstly storing food in many forms have been done since biblical times so it is not a strange thing. Wheat/grains/beans where frequently stored by the Egyptians and many civilisations since then where famine and months of drought where as real as they are today. Farmers store grain and hay from the summer months for their cattle in the winter months in order to feed them - hence the term "Make Hay While The Sun Shines". Storing hay and grain from production in summer for cattle in the winter ensures that their cattle are well fed when the weather is very cold and hay cannot be produced. Many African tribes store rice, wheat and grain in preparedness for months of drought where almost nothing will grow due to the extreme heat conditions. In the USA food storage is a major and almost fundamental way of life, not only because some states have volatile weather patterns of tornadoes and floods and snow but many people store extra food in underground store shelters and basements of their homes in the event of job loss, terrorist attack or simply to be a position to help those less in need due to unforeseen circumstances.
This is the ethos for everyday individuals who store food for emergencies. Storing food should no longer the perceived to be done by less well off countries, weird paranoid bushtuckers living in the forest or anti-government anti-establishment weirdo people. In fact storing food in the good times helps us prepare for the bad times - the same way people save money for a rainy day (when times are financially difficult), why not store food?
WHY STORE FOOD/EMERGENCY PLANNING
This is a very important question that non-food storer's (savers) must urgently consider - why not store food for when things get financially difficult?
Have you ever lost your job? If you have, the first thing many worry about is how their rent or mortgage is going to be paid, along with their regular bills. Usually if you have savings you will dip into that to pay these bills - but most people will not have have enough savings to carry them through indefinitely. If you don't get another job soon you may have to consider going onto state benefits to pay these bills. But with rising fuel costs increasing the cost of gas, electricity and petrol along with rising rents, what happens when the money you get does not stretch far enough to pay just your basic bills? ......Choices then have to be made between paying certain bills and buying food. This is the choice many are currently making in 2011 all over the world in developed and undeveloped countries and food poverty is a very real thing in Britain today. Channel 4 News highlighted this real worry that in parts of Britain food banks have had to be opened because people cannot afford to buy food. Even some with jobs have had to have assistance with food because the money is not stretching far enough to pay all the bills.
This decision becomes even more desperate when you have children/ pets to feed. Added to this desperate situation is that the cost of food which is rising. So the grocery shopping you could have bought 1 year ago with £100.00 is mostly likely going to cost you £150.00 -200.00 to buy today - THIS IS CALLED FOOD INFLATION.
Yes there may be food all around us, but if you don't have the money, how are you going to buy it? Isn't this what you would call an emergency?
This is what non-food savers must think about; An emergency can be any of the following:
1. JOB LOSS
Income is greatly reduced affecting your ability to pay bills and buy food.
A major sickness can drastically effect your income, if you have to stop work because of sickness or if you can go back to work but after some time you may only get sick pay from your job - In the private sector sick pay is a huge reduction from your regular income and while you get SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) you cannot qualify for most state benefits as you are still legally employed, and even if you apply for housing benefit this may take a month to process - have you ever tried living on statutory sick pay for 1 month with no additional savings? The average SSP is £326.40 per month ( £81.60 p/w). With your rent or mortgage due while you wait for assistance, you are now in a very tough position.
In the UK inflation is currently CPI 4.5% / RPI 5.2% (week ending June 5th 2011) with rising fuel/ petrol utility and food costs, inflation WILL rise again before the end of 2011. Let's be clear the TRUE cost of inflation is the RPI rate NOT the CPI rate that the government & news reports promote. CPI rate of inflation (4.5%) DOES NOT include mortgage, utility rates and food costs, which has major effect on household income the RPI rate of inflation (the TRUE cost of inflation which includes all of these currently at 5.2%). DON'T BUY INTO THE HYPE THAT INFLATION IS DOWN - in July 2011 the news advised inflation is down due to sales promotions in groceries - but while SOME food may be cheaper utility prices are going up 3 times the amount of inflation!! With inflation outstripping saving rates and salary increases for most - this means you will have less disposable income to buy food. Added to household debt, many people will be in a difficult position of not being able to buy food as well as paying their basic monthly bills.
In 2010 the UK had one the coldest winters in 30 years causing problems with transportation nationwide. causing delivery problems in groceries in some parts of the country resulting in food shortages of basic items Regardless of your beliefs or non-belief for food storage - I would encourage everyone to ALWAYS stock extra food for winter months in the event of bad weather and the effects of such. Being cold and without a hot meal or a cup of tea is not anyone's ideal scenario. Remember it takes time for the council/charities and the government to provide assistance when there are food shortages due to bad weather or power outages.
Good winter planning is always have a couple torches, candles, portable gas heater and a camping stove along with extra food to carry through for a least a week MINIMUM - though I would always encourage greater food storage for much longer periods than 1 week.
5. NATURAL DISASTER -
Because of the inter-connectedness of the world we live in, natural disasters all over the world now affect us in the UK. Fires in Russia in 2010 affected the cost of wheat as Russia withheld exports, which now have increased the cost of the breakfast cereals, pasta and flour we buy everyday.
6. FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY
In 2007 the UK woke up the startling news that a bank may collapse and suddenly had rows of people lined outside desperate to get their money out, For some the bank held all the money they had in the world. Since then we have seen great financial turmoil in the world and governments struggling to get to grips with the new financial landscape facing them. Any financial uncertainty now has a ripple effect around the world. Even if you apply for a financial handout, it still takes time to receive and with governments STILL struggling to manage their economies the handout you get today may no longer be available tomorrow -
These real events affect our daily lives and this is why more an more people are storing food. THE THREE MAJOR THINGS THAT AFFECT PEOPLE AFTER AN EMERGENCY IS FOOD, WATER, AND SHELTER. IN JAPAN, AFTER SHELTER, WATER AND FOOD WAS NEEDED. Creating a personal food bank need not be expensive spending an extra £30.00 on food along with your normal grocery and storing it can be the thing you will need the most when you lose your job, waiting for state benefits, for even losing some benefits and in a natural disaster.
THE EFFECT OF INFLATIONMost people know what inflation is - A simple explanation of inflation is: the value of your money is reduced/eroded over time - meaning what you paid for products say 3 years ago, the same amount of money will no longer be able to buy these products today, you will have to pay more . This applies to almost everything we do today, We may watch the same amount of TV but we have to pay more today than 2 years ago to watch the same thing, This is the same for petrol, for clothes, light, gas, in fact almost everything we consume costs more today than it did 2 years ago or even 1 year ago. Inflation is on the rise and will continue to rise with governments struggling to cope with their own economies, printing more money devaluing currencies and with social and economic unrest in several countries around the world - Inflation is going to rise beyond expectations predicted.
So the question is - if the cost of everything is going up and so is food what are you doing about it? Some bills can be reduced or even eliminated with very careful planning but you still need to eat and so do your pets and your children (if you have any). The stress of paying bills can have real impact on our health - What about when you don't have enough food to eat? Food provides an emotional, psychological and natural well being, particularly to those who don't have it
With rising inflation food can soon become a precious commodity for some households
Reducing the impact of food inflation (rising food costs) on your household can be achieved by buying food differently, cooking more meals, growing your own and seriously considering food storage over the longer term which is food of hedging against food inflation.
1. TRY TO BUY IN BULK -
Buying a 10 kg or 20kg bag of rice instead of 1 kg bag of rice -Rice will last for 2 years without any special storage methods. If you want to store for longer term, storing in mylar bags with an oxygen absorbers will allow your rice to last for 5-10 years once stored correctly. Buying large bags of 440/ 640 or 1100 teabags will give a saving of £16 to £60.00 per year. Buying a 3kg bag of pasta for £3.00 will save you £3-£6.00 per month depending on how much pasta you consume. White flour keeps for 6 months with no special storage methods and for 5 years in a mylar bag and oxygen absorber.
Wheat in its pure form last for 10-12 years stored in mylar bag and oxygen absorber a 20kg bag of wheat can ne purchased for £20.00 from farms and online, which can you can use a grinding mill to make your own flour to make bread, pasta etc.
Get together with friends and family and buy in bulk and distribute among each other for significant savings. Most civil servants will qualify for a Costco membership card which sells in bulk only- giving amazing savings. If you know someone who has a Costco card - ask them if they would be willing to purchase on your behalf giving significant savings from your regular grocery bill
2. BUY TINNED VEGETABLES -
Most tinned products are cheaper than fresh vegetables and will last for 2-3 years normally. Fresh fruit and veg is cheaper to buy in summer months and this is the time to buy for dehydrating/ canning / pickling or jam making. In winter fruit and vegetables can be more expensive thus if money is short the tinned items you purchased in summer will help you through winter
3. BUY FOOD MONTHLY -
If you buy food on a monthly basis you can plan your meals better and save money. Buying food on weekly basis costs more in the long term than buying food for the month.
4. LEARN TO COOK -
Buying a ready made meals costs more money than cooking the meal, it feeds less people than home made food because its less fulling, is more fattening and more salty than home made food - the reason the ready made foods are so salty is because salt is a natural preservative. Therefore that ready meal has been sitting on the grocery shelf for about a week or two, so most the nutrients are lost. The average cost of fast food or takeaway is £10-£15 if you buy fast foods twice per week that's £80 to £120 wasted per month. You can easily treat yourself once per month - but when you regularly cook a meal you soon realise how much better the food tastes and how much more money you have left over to pay bills
5. SHOP AROUND -
Fruit and veg is usually twice as expensive in the grocery than buying from vegetable and fruit stall. Farmers markets are even cheaper than your local fruit and veg stall and these items can be purchased in bulk . Though you may be accustomed shopping in one supermarket why not have a look at others to see how much you can save.
6. STOCK UP ON SPECIALS -
When a supermarket has special promotions on food items stock up!! Recently a 1kg brand name tub of margarine that usually costs £2.98 was on special for £2.00 (cheaper than pre-VAT prices!), margarine can be frozen thus spending £10.00 buying 5 will most likely keep you for the rest of the year so when prices go back up it will not affect you, the same goes for many food products (including chocolate if you choose to). Chocolate greatly fluctuates from £1.00 to £2.75 for the same product! so buy out of season (not near Mother's Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas) unless they are on special. In the summer months tea, coffee, cocoa and long life milk is usually discounted because naturally in summer most go for cold drinks instead of hot drinks so groceries usually discount these items. A 200g of brand name coffee costs approximately £5.00 but can be purchased in summer for £3.00, STOCK UP - so you will have for winter when your snowed in or feeling poorly and cant get the grocery for these items. Long life milk lasts 6 months unrefrigerated. Therefore you never need to be short of milk again if you always buy in advance. If your not keen on long life milk, buy a tin of powdered milk and keep for emergencies
7. GROW YOUR OWN -
Fresh fruit and veg can be grown at a fraction of the cost than buying on weekly basis. A pack of cucumber seeds cost approximately £1.00 for 10-12 seeds. Each seed is capable a producing a cucumber plant that will produce 15-20 cucumbers and can be grown in a greenhouse. Mixed salad leaf seeds can be purchased for £0.38p and give fresh salad all year round and grows extremely quickly, Certain dwarf tomato plants can be
grown indoors on a window sill for most of the year, it tastes better, and easy on the pocket in the long run.
Fruit can be preserved through canning with absorbic acid and sugar, through freezing, dehydrating or through jams. Vegetables can be grown via greenhouse, some almost all year round and dehydrated or pickled. Storing carrots, and potatoes with sand and straw when the weather gets cold will preserve for 3-4 months., Dehydrating will preserve vegetables and fruit for years and storing dehydrated fruit and veg in mylar bag with an oxygen absorber will allow them to last 8-10 years.
Storing food for long term is a form of hedging against inflation. Just like purchasing gold or silver or property to hedge against inflation as the anticipation of these investments is that they will increase in value, particularly when currencies are weak. Storing food long term is the same as a form of hedging against inflation,
If you handle cannot large uncontrolled increases in your food bill then you NEED to start a Long Term Food Storage supply programme.
I hope after reading this guide you will be encouraged to store food even if its just a 3-4 month supply. If you find yourself not needing it, you would not have lost anything but only gained because you always need to eat!. But if you are one of those people who may have the very real prospect of losing your job, paying your utility bill or buying food in winter, will you not be glad that you had some food stashed away to make your decision and life a little easier? Make Hay While the Sun Shines!. Take some of that extra money you may waste on fast food or takeaway and buy some food for a rainy day - Emergencies DON'T book an appointment with you they just happen!! - WILL YOU BE CAUGHT OUT? OR WILL YOU BE PREPARED?
I HOPE THIS GUIDE WILL GET YOU THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT FOOD STORAGE IN THESE INCREASING CHALLENGING TIMES.