"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30). This advice applies both spiritually and temporally. Two temporal aspects of preparedness are food storage and having a cash reserve.
"As we have been continuously counseled for more that 60 years, let us have some food set aside that would sustain us for a time in case of need." This counsel from President Gordon B. Hinckley in the October 2001 general conference has motivated many members of the Church to re-evaluate their food storage preparations. We should remember that President Hinckley also said, " . . . let us not panic nor go to extremes. Let us be prudent in every respect." Preparedness is a process, not an event.
The Church has never adopted a set program on what to store, although many prophets have advised to start with basic commodities such as wheat or other grains, dry beans, salt, sugar or honey, shortening, oil, and nonfat dry milk. Each family is encouraged to develop a plan specific to their needs. General guidelines on food storage also can be found in the booklet "Essentials of Home Production and Storage," available from the Church Distribution Center.
As members of a worldwide church, it is important for us to realize that food storage is different from country to country. In some countries, people are doing well if they have food to eat, and if the food can be preserved until the next harvest. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to do the best they can, whatever their situation.
We will find peace as we follow President Hinckley's counsel to be more prepared and put our lives in order, including our food storage.
Following are several food storage tips:
Start with the basics: wheat or other grains, dry beans, salt, sugar or honey, shortening, oil, and nonfat dry milk. They are nutritious, space efficient, relatively inexpensive, and store fairly well. Oil and nonfat dry milk need to be rotated more frequently.
Learn to cook with your food storage. In our fast-paced world, many people are becoming so reliant on convenience foods that they have little experience with cooking. Try recipes using basic commodities and incorporate them into your diet. Be creative in using your food storage. For example, a few spoonfuls of powdered milk mixed with spaghetti sauce while cooking is a fair substitute for Parmesan cheese. When making mashed potatoes, add in some instant potatoes to soak up the excess water.
Store foods properly. Quality is best maintained by minimal exposure to light, heat, moisture and air. Food stored in a basement will last much longer than food stored in an attic or garage. Do not store food next to products that may impart an odor (i.e., laundry detergent, fuel).
After storing the basics, expand your storage — store the items you eat. Find recipes that make your basic storage taste good, and plan your expanded storage based on those recipes. Store a variety of foods for balanced nutrition and greater flexibility in cooking. Expanded storage may include foods such as pasta, flour, canned goods, dehydrated foods, yeast, baking soda, baking powder and spices.
Develop a plan to meet your needs. Write dates on everything; use older food first. Eating food storage two days per week allows complete rotation of a year's supply every three years and helps us become accustomed to eating stored food.
Store water (at least 14 gallons per person for a 2-week supply). Soda/juice bottles are recommended for water storage; larger food grade plastic containers may also be used. Check with your local water provider for instructions on treating the water prior to storage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends 4 drops of bleach per quart of water (see www.fema.gov/pte/emfdwtr.htm). Water should be replaced yearly to maintain freshness.
Store non-food items such as toiletries, soap, cleaning supplies, paper products and laundry detergent.
Do not go into debt for food storage. Set up a budget to acquire your food storage in an orderly manner. Buy in bulk; food is usually cheaper if purchased in larger quantities. When an item you use is on sale, stock up on it.
Grow a garden so you can have fresh produce. Store and rotate seeds.
Learn to preserve food. A good reference is the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, Preserving, and Freezing. For further information on food preservation and storage, see http://extension.usu.edu/publica/foodpub2.htm.
Michelle Lloyd, a member of the BYU 176th Ward, Brigham Young University 2nd Stake, is a graduate student in Food Science at BYU and supervisor of the BYU Food Quality Assurance Laboratory, which checks the quality and safety of food canned at the Church's wet-pack canneries.