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I rely on whole foods as much as possible, but I do have a dirty little secret lurking in my pantry…and it’s not just about Spam…
I’m not the greatest organic/whole foods provider for my family, but I try to the best of our ability and budget to do so. We don’t spend money on tv dinners, prepared meals or meals in a can. In my pantry, you might find some cans of soup and beans for quick hummus and a box of mac’n’cheese for emergency meals (those days when I need the boys to fix quick meals without me, or the husband was left to his own devices to provide without going to a fast food join!), but I strive for whole foods and am trying to rely less on foods that someone else prepared for me.
And while I don’t completely aschew those things of the canned nature, I’ve tried to stay far away from them as much as possible….. Until now.
The movement away from GMO-laden, chemically treated foods is a necessity. As a nation, we’re sicker than ever even though we’re living longer lives. Our food is no longer our own to control. Growing our own food is a must for keeping ourselves healthy. Unfortunately, our culture has turned away from the farm to table life into an urban wasteland of anything green that isn’t fed huge amounts of chemicals and then mowed down in punishment (i.e. lawns).
The hope for me is that our family is able to convert our yard space into that which will sustain us for as long as we can live here. We hope our neighbors can grasp that concept as well! That is our hope and that is our goal.
But I had to be realistic about our food storage
But the practical side of me says…you’re not there, yet. You couldn’t sustain your family on what’s growing out in the backyard right now. We have a few garden plots full of vegetables and herbs, and we plan on putting in a few fruit trees (and hopefully a nut, too). But what happens if our garden fails that first year? What happens if it produces less than we need the 2nd year? What happens if…?
Mom, put aside the guilt and be prepared!
Yes, we should stock as much produce as we possibly can by canning, dehydrating and even freezing (though the freezer should not be our primary source of stored foods). Yes, we should rely on locally grown, grass-fed beef, non antibiotic-laden, free range chickens, and the list goes on. Your pantry and storage should reflect that lifestyle if you embrace the idea that food should be whole, not chemical laden, and produced with as little harm to the environment as possible. That is our goal for a self-sufficient lifestyle.
But be realistic. Are you able to raise your own cow and make your own cheese? Then you’re going to have to purchase milk from someone. Are you able to raise all of your own meat in a backyard in the middle of HMO Suburbia? No? Then you’re going to have to buy your meat elsewhere, etc. Make the best choices for your family that you can do in your budget, but be realistic about what you can accomplish. Shoot for the very best that you can.
How can you make better food pantry long-term storage choices?
- Make food storage choices from companies like Thrive or Preparewise;
- Store whole food ingredients and learn to make your own food. Even if this means storing canned vegetables until you’ve been able to grow your own, or canned meats that you can integrate with healthier ingredients;
- Purchase produce and meats from the local area and can or dehydrate them yourself. Even if you have to purchase non-organic and gmo foods, the closer you can get it to ‘whole food’ the better.
- Learn to cook from scratch. Even if you are using products that aren’t on the “best mom in the world ingredient list”, learn to cook for yourself. You’ll be able to build a better food storage pantry from those ingredients that will serve you better.
But what happens if?
This is where I do turn now as I prepare my family’s food supply. This is completely up to me. I have to do what I feel is best for our family for times of crisis, and that means I stock up on canned proteins <SHOCK>(tuna, mainstream peanut butter, other canned fish & chicken), canned vegetables & fruit <GASP>, ramen meals <ACK>, freeze dried food purchased from vendors, a few MRE’s, and yes, even a few cans of pork-like product in a can. I know, you must hate me now.
Yes, we eat the crap … occasionally.
And yes, we do cycle through those foods to keep them from going bad, but they are never the mainstay of our diet – they are our backup, our just in case. Do I feel guilty when I do a quick grilled spam sandwich for a weekend lunch? Yes, a little. Do I hate it? Nope. I know that those foods are what I can rely upon until we are able to process and grow our own foods completely.
Resources you need to own
- The Encyclopedia of Country Living
- The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook
- The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Canning)
- Food Storage for Self Sufficiency and Survival
I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to accomplish that on our land, but that’s my hope. Until that day, though, I make sure I keep a stock of food in our larder that will keep my family going when there’s nothing else available. Even if it means I have some foods that I’m relying on for calories. Even if that means hiding a can of spam in the bottom of my shopping cart and hoping no one sees it.
Tip: The main mantra I give for food storage is “Store what you eat, eat what you store.” However, if you can’t stomach the idea of actually putting some of the canned meals into your food rotation, but you know you would eat them in a time of need, consider donating them to your local food pantry. They are always desperate for food for families who just do not have enough.
I have a dream
One day, I do hope to be somewhere where I can raise my own food, barter for what I can’t raise, produce wholesome nutritious foods for my family all of the time, that I can then preserve to keep our larder full of such produce. People did it for centuries before the mid 1800’s. But I have to be realistic. I don’t have all of the skills necessary. I’m learning, as fast as I can, but I still have holes. And I’ll fill those holes the best I can to make sure that if ever the dam threatened to break, we’re okay. And I’m okay with that.