Disclaimer: this is not a politically charged post nor is it some “tinfoil-hat-wearing” doomsday post. This post does however contain high doses of common sense blended with concern and lightly salted with sarcasm. Consider yourself warned. (Oh, and there may be an affiliate link from which I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
If the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Never before have we experienced a time when store shelves full of masks, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and disinfecting products were emptied by anxious consumers faster than a sneeze through a screen door.
I remember my first excursion into our nearby grocery store after receiving the news of the outbreak arriving here in the US; to say I was flabbergasted was an understatement. I went home and told my husband “apparently no one knows how to cook anymore.” The items on my list such as produce, cheese, and fresh meat were largely still available, while the convenience food sections… well… they were completely ravaged. All the ice cream and frozen pizzas were gone. The Hungryman meals had vanished. The bread and snack aisles were depleted. Later on, people realized they may not be able to get to the grocery to buy bread anymore so they started learning to bake their own and flour, yeast, and sugar disappeared as well. Maybe this is partially to blame for so many people picking up the “C*vid 19” as opposed to the “Freshman 15.” But I digress.
What happens if the empty shelves become evident in more than just the convenience food and paper product aisles? Can it happen here, in the land of plenty?
You better believe it can.
The news cycle in this country has been somewhat quiet regarding the issue of food stockpiling and food security, except on the off-handed occasion where preparedness minded people are portrayed as hoarders, or as being the reason that food prices are skyrocketing and we can’t keep TP stocked on the shelves yet again. Other nations are urging, and in fact imploring, their citizens to “stockpile” food and supplies for winter. “Families are encouraged to store a certain amount of daily necessities to meet the needs of daily life and emergencies.” In the UK, schools are being advised to stock up on food items that can be stored long-term in order to keep their students fed in a “worst case scenario” this winter.
We all hope and pray that the “worst case scenario” doesn’t manifest itself, here or abroad.
I’m not writing today to discuss the reasons why such a “worst case scenario” could occur, but I am sharing with you some small changes that every household can implement today to be more prepared for the uncertain times to ahead. Even if you aren’t a homesteader or a “prepper.”
Those of us that do focus on self-reliance and preparedness aren’t all doomsday-bunker-dwelling hermits despite being depicted as such at times. We are not necessarily uneducated backwoods folks, nor are we Amish. (Although the Amish are definitely self-reliant and prepared in many ways.) We are people from all walks of life that choose this lifestyle of gardening, farming, and raising our own livestock because it bring us immense joy to do so. Our land and our animals are treated with dignity and respect. As we try our best to be responsible stewards, we preserve and store away the excess of our harvests year after year; not as a panic response, but as a simple way of life. Many of us raise own food to ensure it is of the highest quality and that our livestock are humanely reared. Others do it for sustainability and frugality. Some folks just find it enjoyable. Many of us resemble all of the above. It is immensely satisfying to look at a larder bulging with food that you grew, harvested, and stored with your own two hands. Nothing can compare. “Prepping” to some degree is ingrained into us homesteaders, farmers, hunters, and gardeners by default; we always strive to be ready for whatever a rough winter or other unforeseen events may bring.
So you may not have a backyard, let alone any acreage to plant a garden or raise your own livestock. Even if you did have the means to grow a small garden, winter is swiftly approaching. You may find yourself wondering, “What can be done? How can I be prepared and have a sense of security if, and when, I find myself in lean times? Is it too late to start storing up food and supplies?”
The simple answer is NO, it is not too late. While we do find ourselves amidst supply chain disruptions, food shortages, and ever increasing prices, there is no better time than right now to start storing up for our families. (“Storing up” and “stockpiling” are NOT synonymous with “hoarding.” Let me make that abundantly clear.) We can’t make everyone see the importance of having an ample supply of food and supplies tucked away, and that’s understandable. After all, we Americans are accustomed to instant gratification with very minimal effort involved. We find ourselves in a society where having to wait for more than 1 or 2 minutes for a low quality cheeseburger in a greasy paper sack to be thrown through your car window is considered inexcusable. Planning ahead and being prepared doesn’t come naturally to many in this day and time. But if you are concerned about your level of “readiness,” you can start doing something to change your situation today.
Stocking up for lean times; whether or not things get “really bad,” is always a wise decision. Start by purchasing nutritious foods in bulk that will store well for a relatively long time. Think about what your family actually enjoys eating: items such as potatoes, rice, oats, dried beans, dry pasta, and canned meats, fruits, and vegetables; build a “deep pantry,” adding a little more to it every time you visit the grocery. Purchase ingredients instead of ready-made meal options. Consider buying fresh produce, meat, eggs, and milk (check your state and local laws) from a local farmer. Try supporting your nearest family-owned butcher shop if you can’t raise or hunt your own meat. Buy toilet paper and paper towels in larger amounts, like our parents used to do when a winter storm was likely to snow us in for a few weeks. (When I was growing up, no one in our house was very fond of using coffee filters in lieu of the VIP paper… so we stayed stocked up!) Don’t forget about bottled water, cleaning and laundry supplies, and basic personal care and first aid items.
There are resources available online to help you calculate the items and quantities you should consider holding on to for your household such as this list of non-food items to stockpile for emergencies. You can also try this handy food storage calculator. Any step that you take toward preparedness is a step in the right direction.
Other things to consider as we approach the winter months are alternative light and heat sources. Having grown up in a rural area, we often lost power during the most frigid months and had to rely for many hours on kerosene heaters, flashlights, and antique oil lamps to heat and light our old, poorly insulated farmhouse. (Some of my most memorable meals were prepared in a cast iron skillet on a white gas camping stove and were eaten by lamplight. Talk about nostalgia!) Have winter layering clothes readily available as well as candles, matches, and flashlights at the very least.
Make these emergency prep purchases now while they’re available to you.
If things improve with the supply chain and other underlying issues, all is well. You won’t have to go shopping for beans and rice for a while and you’ll be ready for the next foul-weather induced power outage. On the flip side if things do not improve, or in fact decline, you will have a better sense of security for you and your loved ones because you took a few small steps to plan ahead.
We here on the Homestead will keep on doing what we do, which in essence is the same thing our ancestors had been doing before us for generations (with a few modern modifications.) We will grow and harvest our own fruits and vegetables, buying and bartering with other local growers what we can’t grow for ourselves. We will can and freeze dry the abundance. We will hunt, fish, and raise our own meat and eggs. We will purchase dry goods in bulk. And we suggest that you do the same as much as you are able.
Stocking up on food and basic supplies in a sensible manner is a wise and prudent decision. Act not out of fear, but out of wisdom and discretion. Let the great toilet paper apocalypse of 2020 be a lesson to us all. You never know what you have until it’s gone. And you don’t want to be caught with your pants down.
Thank you for your support and we trust that you won’t be fearful in these trying times; but rather be filled with hope and a new found determination to not only survive, but to thrive, in the midst of the chaos. We have a hope and a peace that surpasses this world of trouble, and we encourage you to find the same for yourself.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
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