When we get prepared for emergencies, whatever flavor of emergencies they may be, we increase our choices. In fact, we may be able to increase our choices to the point that, in some cases, we won't have to choose at all. In a good way, of course.
If your children, or children that you have known, are like my children, you may have noticed something that happens when you offer them a choice when they are particularly young. The other day I had a couple of pieces of candy available that I was offering to my youngest child. I held one candy in one hand and one in the other, expecting a choice to be made. The child promptly grabbed both pieces and walked away. The same phenomenon occurs (at least in my family) if you hold out a handful of oh, say, M&Ms, to a child of similar age, expecting to share a few candies---you end up with a happy child and an empty palm. This latest experience got me thinking about how this applies to food storage.
Obviously, the more supplies you have, the more choices you have in terms of what to eat, wear, inhabit, etc. Then there are the not so obvious areas when you move beyond basic needs--what spices do you have so that you have choices in flavors? What recipes do you have (on hand, in ink, the old-fashioned way, that you won't have to look up on the computer, which won't be available if there are outages) so that you have choices in how you prepare your rice/beans/wheat/name your favorite staple? What seeds do you have stored, so that you have choices in fresh produce when you grow a garden? What skills have you acquired so that you have choices and options when it comes to bartering skills, should that be necessary? Where will you go if an emergency requires an evacuation, and what preparations have you made so that you have the most options available to you? What are your first, second, third, options when it comes to fuel for cooking and heating? I could go on--it's hard to mention everything, much less prepare for everything. But the fact remains that the more preparation that we do, the more options we will have.
Perhaps you have continued reading because of the statement in the first paragraph, where I mentioned that if we increase our choices enough, maybe we won't have to choose at all. There is the easier application of this principle: if we store both rice and beans, we don't have to choose between rice and beans, we can eat both, and figuratively walk away with both hands full, as my child did. Then there is a more sobering example, found in this article. The article is about a person in Ethiopia, whose brother's family is starving because of the conditions there. Her brother has nine children. She could only choose one to help, because her circumstances are also difficult. She may not be able to even help that one for much longer. It is a truly heartbreaking situation. There is discussion in the article about how the government is dealing with the situation in terms of choices as well, but I am thinking more about our preparation on a personal level, rather than a governmental one.
We are fortunate in the United States that conditions are much better than they are in some other areas of the world. We still have time to prepare, in many cases. I realize that not everyone has the means to prepare, and that there are many facing their own personal emergencies even as I write. However, in many cases, there is something that we can do, even if we are facing hard times right now. We can store seeds (hopefully non-hybrid, which will give us future seeds, and spare us future expense) and learn about gardening in preparation for next summer, or even learn about winter crops and act accordingly now. We can pick up an extra can of soup/bag of rice/bag of beans/name your needed storage item each shopping trip and put it on the shelf for a rainy day, instead of waiting for the time when we can afford to buy huge amounts in bulk. It will add up--and if the time comes when you can afford to buy a 6-gallon bucket for all of those bags, do so, fill it up, prepare it properly for storage, and start saving up again. The same principles for gradually saving up can be applied in many areas.
So how does this apply to the unfortunate family in Ethiopia? Well, if circumstances arise in our own families or communities that make it necessary for us to provide for other people, wouldn't it be better to have enough supplies stored that you could help as many people as possible? Whether it be one or two people, or even nine or ten, wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to help whoever needed assistance, and not have to choose at all?