In light of the recent hurricane AND earthquake that occurred in my state last week, I would like to dedicate my next “Strange Mormon Customs” post to the overwhelmingly strong urge most Mormons have to store vast quantities of food.
We do this for many reasons: to prepare against natural disasters, job loss, disability, and…dare I say…Armageddon.
I myself have a small cache of wheat under my house. As well as black beans, corn, freeze-dried meat, dried fruit and potato flakes.
In my kitchen I have canned fruit, powdered milk and even this strange egg-powder stuff that I am afraid of.
Some of the can labels claim the food inside will stay “fresh” for 25 years. I could buy it now and still eat it when I am 58.
But even if that is the case, they say that you are supposed to do your best to actively use it, and rotate it, for two reasons: 1. so you know how to use it (after all, you have to grind the wheat before you can make bread, and you have to soak the beans before you can make soup) and 2. so your family can get accustomed to the taste.
I heard of one experiment where they had families live off their food storage for a month and they all had to go to the hospital with intestinal problems since their stomach wasn’t used to the foods.
My favorite (and most inspiring) food storage experiment was done by my aunt. She surprised all her adult children with a challenge: live off your food storage for two weeks, starting TODAY. Ready, set, go! (well, they had a little time to prepare...) You can read about it on her daughter’s blog. (Click on the link and then scroll down to "14 day challenge.")
Perhaps you are impressed with my food storage. But let me tell you a secret, sister, I am just a baby in the food storage world. There are Mormon women out there who could feed entire states from their basements. And not because they have tons of food…but because they know how to use it.
For instance, my sister regularly cooks dutch oven meals for her family and can make a baking oven out of an apple box that gets hot enough to make muffins—without electricity. Every year she plants a garden and cans everything in bottles, including salsa and her own grape juice. Not only does she have a year’s supply of food, she also has a year supply of fuel with everything from charcoal bricketts to propane tanks. I will not tell you where she lives for fear you might mob her after the next natural disaster. Besides…I’ve got to get there first.
This is water to help our toilets flush just in case the electricity goes out.
I think I have enough here for about two and a half flushes.
You know you are really prepared when you have the gadgets to go along with the food: the food dehyderator, the water purifiers and all the canning paraphernalia.
My most high-tech food storage gadget is my wheat grinder that hooks on to my Kitchen Aid, modeled here by my daughter:
It is the best thing in the world. I can grind wheat just like the Little Red Hen. Two days ago I ground my own corn and made corn muffins. It is kind of scary that I get a “high” from grinding my own grains. I even have a recipe to make my own tortillas, if there was someone in my family who would eat them besides me. There is only one problem with my grinder: it needs electricity. And in an emergency that is the first thing to go. My next food storage gadget will have to be a generator.
Obtaining this much food is difficult. Storing it is even harder. A simple pantry is not enough, so we have to improvise. I knew a woman who used 5 gallon buckets filled with sugar and flour as dining room chairs. Many of us have constructed nightstands with boxes of canned food, concealing it all under a lacey tablecloths. I have even heard of women who have false walls in their homes, just for cans. I want one of those.
I hope you appreciate how revealing it is for me to show you my food storage on line like this. It is like a woman sharing her how much she weighs. In a way it shows how prepared/obedient or unprepared/slacker I am….of course, it is all relative compared to how much YOU have stored.
By the way, I weigh 485 pounds.
Once upon a time it was asked that LDS church members store a year supply of food. Do you know how much a year supply is? That is a TON of food. Literally.
Then a few years ago the church revised their recommendations. They are as follows:
1. Gradually build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet until it is sufficient for three months
2. Store drinking water
3. Establish a financial reserve by setting aside a little money each week, and gradually increase it to a reasonable amount.
4. Once families have achieved the first three objectives, they are counseled to expand their efforts, as circumstances allow, into a supply of long-term basic foods such as grains, legumes, and other staples.
May we all be prepared. Consider yourself warned.
If you want to read more about food storage you can go to http://lds.org/ensign/2009/03/family-home-storage-a-new-message?lang=eng&query=food+storage