Friday, June 27, 2008

Short but sweet

Here's another reason to stock up on the food reserves. I heard about this problem with the bees a while ago, but the article linked here talks about the continued effects of not having enough bees for food production. For me, the possibility of no food being available at all is a lot scarier than the rising food prices, which are scary enough by themselves. Lack of bees affects large crops and backyard gardens alike.
Fewer bees means less honey by association, and honey is an excellent food storage item. If you store it correctly--cool enough conditions--it can last for years. It's about 1 and 1/2 times sweeter than sugar. Hey, it can't hurt to have your food storage taste good, right? :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

An inexpensive alternative to oxygen packets

In my previous post I mentioned storing my wheat with oxygen packets, which are expensive. My best source (Mom) told me a much less expensive way to make your food "storage-ready"--by using dry ice. One thing about it that I particularly like is the fact that it continues to help preserve your food even after you open your buckets (I sure hope that 5 or 6 gallon buckets of food will last awhile) as long as you don't tip it, as mentioned. I haven't tried it yet, but as I continue to accumulate food storage, this will come in handy. I have lifted the following information directly from an e-mail that she sent me because I wanted directions written down so I wouldn't mess it up. :) I now share it with you:

I have had several people express concern about long term storage of grains purchased in bags.

I have stored mine using the following method and they have kept for years. The goal is to keep the food dry and oxygen free. When you succeed in this no insects can survive or hatch and spoil your food. The heavy buckets keep rodents out and the food moisture free.

Line all of your empty 5 or 6 gallon buckets up with lids by them.

Fill to top with grain or beans.

Place a small piece of aluminum foil in center for you to place a chunk of dry ice. The dry ice will probably have some condensation around it and the foil will keep the moisture from the food you are storing. I use a chunk of ice about the size of a 4-5 year olds fist.( Really scientific!)

As it evaporates the carbon dioxide sinks to the bottom and forces the rest of the air out. Place the lid lightly on the top after most of the ice has evaporated. The carbon dioxide will "pop" the lid when it has over filled the bucket.

When the ice is gone remove the foil and put the lid on tight without tipping the bucket. If you tip it the CO2 will "pour" out and room air will get in and you will have O2 present again.

This will keep your food insect free indefinitely as long as it is sealed or not tipped after you open it. I just remove the lid and dip out my wheat or rice or beans and the CO2 is still in there.

Can I guarantee this will work? No, but it has for me for my storage items in every part of the country under humid or dry climates thru our many relocations over 35 years! I don't recall if I read this somewhere or if an "old timer" taught me. Now I am the "old timer" when it comes to food storage and this tip is for you to take for what you think it is worth!

Good luck in your storage.

I obviously couldn't say it better myself, and I, too, wish you good luck in your storage.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Something to look out for...

This may not be news to you, but this practice of giving you smaller amounts of product for the same amount of money is happening more and more, even if it is not a new practice. If you don't notice the difference, or don't pay attention to the ratio of food-money when it comes to your food storage budget, it may make a big difference when you have to start using it as a main resource.
For instance, we have bought some wheat for our food storage. When we went to the emergency preparedness store a while ago, we had the choice of buying the wheat in packaging that I would call "storage ready," locked into a white six-gallon bucket with oxygen packets already included, or buying wheat in fifty lb. bags, then buying the buckets and oxygen packets to get the wheat "storage ready" ourselves. This is based on memory, so excuse any mistakes, but the ready-to-store buckets were priced around $31.00, and contained about 44 lbs. of wheat. The bags of wheat ran about $25.00 or $26.00, but the six-gallon buckets cost $8.00 or $8.50 apiece, and a package of oxygen packets, with 24 to a package, was about $8.00 as well. The nice lady helping us indicated that sure, we could pack our own wheat, but that in order to store it well, we would need to store 3 oxygen packets per bucket, and that the way to do that properly would be to line up all of the buckets we were preparing in a row, lids ready, and drop the oxygen packets on top of the wheat and then quickly put the lids in place. (If you are not familiar with the white buckets of which I am writing, their lids need to basically be hammered into place). This would need to be done quickly, or the oxygen packets would quickly be basically good for nothing. So, if I have my math done correctly, we would need to have at least eight buckets and wheat enough to fill them in order to make maximum use of the oxygen packets. (To be fair, I don't remember if smaller packages of oxygen packets were available, but I would be surprised if they weren't.)
So the question becomes, which method is more economical? We bought some wheat from another location, so we needed some buckets and oxygen packets to properly store what we already had. We also bought some of the wheat that was ready-to- store, because we needed it. If you look back at my previous post in May, you will see how much wheat to store for one individual for a year. We have more than one person to provide for, and when you start to multiply the numbers, they add up quite quickly. We were also worried that the price of wheat would just continue to go through the roof, and we wanted to buy some while we could still afford it.
So what is my point? The packaging and lbs. were different--there are also different size white buckets, though we opted for the six-gallon variety. You may end up with less lbs, but properly stored food, or you might want to go the "self-storage"route and get it ready yourself. But please pay attention to how much you are actually storing, how far that will stretch for your family, and what is best in terms of the storage space that you have available to you.
On a side note, we went to a bulk grocery chain store recently to evaluate whether it would be cost-efficient for us to buy a membership and to see if there were things to buy there that would make such a membership worthwhile. There were buckets of wheat there (sorry, I don't know what size) storage-ready, that were between $18-$19.00, and if memory serves, each held about 37 lbs. Not as close to 50 lbs as some might like, but considerably more than 25 lbs. There are different sources available for storage items, with different prices and different products (i.e. red wheat vs. white wheat). Starting to store before you actually need to survive on those products has to be easier than looking for it during an emergency, when nearly everyone else will be looking for it as well.
The jury is still out for us on the subject of the grocery store membership. It may not be the best option for us. The price of the membership has to be added into the food cost--but if buying in bulk would help you to get more in storage quickly, you might want to look into it. Just check on the amounts per package in the bulk section too.... :)

Another successful recipe

Well, until my latest attempt, my success-failure rate using dry beans was running pretty evenly. However, here is the original recipe that inspired what I eventually actually did.
First, I soaked the beans overnight, to help ensure that I wouldn't have to cook the beans a lot longer than indicated on the recipe, although the recipe only says to rinse the beans. I used onion powder in place of the fresh onion, used a 7-oz can of mild green chilies in place of the jalapeno pepper, used only about 3 teaspoons of salt, and did not add the (optional) cumin. I added a little water in the middle of cooking, but not much, and when time came to check out the finished product, the consistency was just right for tostadas with no need to add anything.
Although my children ate them, the only thing I would change is to use less chilies, and perhaps substitute a 4-oz can for the 7-oz can--there just seemed like there was a little too much in this batch.
One of the things I like about the recipe is that it is made in a slow cooker. If you look here, and enter solar oven in the search box, you will find directions on how to build one. A solar oven apparently works much like a crock pot. I haven't tried this yet, but the knowledge of how to put a solar oven together with such basic materials that are inexpensive could prove truly priceless in an emergency.
To recap: Beans: 1 Me: 2. Hey, at least my statistics are getting better. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Since time is of the essence...

I did not know until fairly recently that the seeds normally for sale, that are hybrid seeds, will not produce fruits/vegetables with seeds that will then be usable for another crop. With hybrid seeds, it is a one-shot deal, and this could be a problem if you are expecting to grow your own food, and then plant seeds from that food to produce more food. It is my understanding that it just won't happen. Unfortunate but true. So I have seen two solutions offered to overcome the problem of a continuing garden:
1) Get many, many, many hybrid seeds. The good thing about seeds is that it is my understanding that they will last up to ten years if you keep them dry and cold.
2) Get non-hybrid seeds that will continue to give you seeds that will be useful in the future. They are out there. My best source (Mom) sent me information on a one-day half-off sale here, but the thing is it is June 17th only, and there is a code needed--let me know if you want it. I'm going in on an order with my best source, who sent an e-mail indicating that the code is for everyone to use--it came in an ad and use is not restricted.
I personally was shocked to learn about hybrid seeds--I had assumed that if you planted something and were able to get seeds from the produce in your garden, that you could turn around and use those seeds for another crop. I don't know why these hybrids are so prevalent-- perhaps the hybrids are immune to certain problems, or maybe it is something else. Whatever it is, I hope that those who plan on growing their own food are aware of this and plan accordingly.
I just wanted to note that there was opportunity for a sale on seeds--but wherever you get them, please think about how many hybrid or non-hybrid seeds you would need to keep a garden going.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Yet another reason to do something...

Well, look here for more reasons to get something in storage. We already have the prices of both food and fuel, but there have always been the weather reasons to store wisely. The article linked here talks about the flooding in the Midwest, but there is also drought other places, and where I live personally it has been cold--so cold that my husband just planted the corn, etc. in the garden last night. I was worried about the raspberries, but apparently some look like they are on the way.
There was a magpie outside our door this past week just screeching and screeching. It was probably our cat that bothered it, but whatever the reason, it was in the front yard basically yelling its head off. I looked outside to see what the commotion was, but that was the extent of my involvement. I just turned around and went about my business.
Sometimes I feel like I come across like that magpie. This blog has been all about "Get food storage! Get food storage!" over and over again. Maybe I haven't come across the right equivalent of the "cat" for a reader (if there are any readers of this blog :) )---the problem that would cause him/her to get excited about the problem and see the danger of not having food storage and do something rather than just turn around and just go about his/her business. I guess worrying about that is something that motivates me to continue posting articles and reasons, in hopes that more people, or maybe just one person, gets prepared and suffers less because of it.
I am seriously concerned about the food situation in our country. We got a letter recently from the state food bank asking for donations, but they weren't really asking. They were really pushy, from my point of view, but they asked for a summer donation, with a really high (at least for us) minimum donation to start. There was nothing along the lines of "we would appreciate anything you would be willing to give...", (although there was a space marked "other" after the high amounts) but there were 3 envelopes for the months of June, July, and August, and the "invitation" to make a certain donation each month, or just one huge (again, huge to us) donation all at once. The thing is, I can kind of understand why they are being so demanding (my word). The demand for help is increasing, and the donations of help are declining. I would assume that the people that sent the "request" for help (with something to the effect of "Please reply by June 30" splashed across the front) are probably the ones who have to send people away with less food or none at all, according to the supplies.
If you haven't started basic food storage at all, please start with my posts in May, where I list the bare minimums to start from scratch --I am no expert on this subject, but I try to follow and source those who are. There are so many good sources on the internet. Please start your food storage, so that you or you and your family will not be one of those that finds yourselves without. (Maybe I should rename this blog the magpie :).
Anyway, I don't live where some of these problems are, but they affect me. And believe me, when people go hungry, we will all be affected. My best source (Mom) always says to store a little extra to share, because there will people that will not be prepared. I hope that people will always find themselves with a little extra to share rather than with a little too little to eat.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Something else to think about

Well, we recently went to the store/supermarket again, and their bakery French bread loaves had gone up 53 cents! They had been 88 cents for a long time, and then they were suddenly (at least it felt like "suddenly" to me) 97 cents, and now they were $1.50! Not really the kind of thing you can stock up on-- just another reason to learn how to make bread.
Another thing--when we went to get more wheat at the emergency preparedness store, my husband saw that the 55 gallon water drums were now around $60. According to my best source (Mom), they are likely to go up to $80. I realize that many people are in a more enviable position in regards to water supply, (i.e. water source on a farm, etc.) but for those like me, who just live in a neighborhood in town, it will be necessary to have usable water on hand. We already have 2 of these drums that we got somewhere around 2000, but we have added to our family since then, so we will have to "bite the bullet" and get some more for emergency storage, despite the rise in cost. I am thinking we paid around $30 when we bought the ones we have now, but that was over 8 years ago...
Yet another point--we have to make some kind of wooden platform or other structure to put these drums on, because the plastic should not be on the concrete. It is my understanding that all sorts of impurities will leak into the water if you leave it on the concrete. It seems like I knew that at one time in the past, but as I write my water supply is indeed on concrete. Fortunately, we have them stored in the laundry room at the moment, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal to drain them and refill them once we have a platform in place. So much to do, with who knows how much time in which to do it.... we just need to actually do it. :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sticker Shock

Well, before I forget, look here for yet another reason to stock up on food. It just makes sense economically.
The "sticker shock" I am referring to occurred last week. I'm used to prices going up, and I know that milk is expensive because it is a regular purchase. But last week I went in search of a brick of cheddar cheese at the local national store/supermarket in our area, and it seemed that nothing/very little was available under $7! That may not surprise some of you, but it shocked me. I actually called up my husband on the cell phone and told him that Iwas going to have to think about it. I ended up getting some cheese sticks for the kids that were still real cheese, just less expensive per package. I was told by my best source (Mom) that I really couldn't compare cheese prices unless I compared price/lb. So this week, I did.
There was a special at another store--3 one lb. bricks of cheddar cheese for $10. $3.33/lb. I bought 3 and went to another store to take advantage of different specials they had advertised. Their cheese was not on special. If you walked into the store off the street the price was about $6.50 per lb. for the same thing I had bought earlier. If you had one of the store cards that gives you a discount for mere possession of said card, the price was about $5.00/lb.
Up and up and up it goes. Sometimes I look at my blog and think the subject is not the most cheerful thing in the world to blog about. Thing is, it will still be happening whether I write about it or not. It will still be happening whether other people read about it or not. But if it helps one family to stock up on what they can (believe me, I know it is expensive) so that they and their children won't be hungry, it's worth it. No music or fancy templates, (but hey, I did find out how to link without putting down the whole address--yay!) just a hope that more people won't wait to stock up--that they'll do what they can instead of waiting until they can do it all.