If you haven't heard about the massive drought in California, well, you probably should have. And since California is where a lot of food is grown that feeds the people of the United States, this is something to worry about. Add to that the fact that food prices keep rising. The price of meat, for example, has risen exponentially over the past couple of years ($8 for a single chicken??? Some years back I was paying 39 cents a pound for chicken!). Here are 10 things to consider about the current food situation:
- Start a food garden. Even if all you have is a window sill where you can grow herbs, being able to produce any sort of food for yourself is liberating. Planting a flower pot of lettuce and a couple of tomato plants is even better. Obviously I don't expect that many people will have the space/inclination to grow the majority of their produce but growing a few things is better than nothing.
- Fill up your freezer. Whenever I find loss leaders or sale meat, I always plan for the future and buy as much as we can reasonably consume within a year or so. Needless to say, the freezer is full of meat and vegetables.
- Ditto for your pantry. While there are a lot of sale items at the grocery store that we simply don't buy no matter how low the price (processed anything basically), there are times, such as when stores have case lot sales and such, that we make a haul and fill the pantry with canned soup/vegetables/fish/etc.
- Hit up the $1 store and 99 cent store. There are some items in these stores that you can find cheaper elsewhere but there are usually plenty of items that are a bargain for $1 and deserve to be bought in bulk.
- Canning, freezing, dehydrating, smoking, etc. Buy a giant, cheap, box of something and experiment. A friend delivered a huge box of bananas that he got on sale for a couple of bucks and said "what can you do with these?" What we did: canned banana baby food. Froze most of the bananas for smoothies and banana bread. You don't want to spend a fortune on something to experiment with but you can often find cheap items that are worth trying to process for your future food needs. FWIW smoked fish is tasty and has along shelf life. Also, canning and jelly making isn't as hard as it seems.
- Learn how to procure your own food. Hunting and fishing are fun hobbies which also provide you with a lot of protein for little more than the cost of a license and a bit of your time once you have the necessary equipment and knowledge.
- Learn how to forage. Have you ever eaten a cattail? These plants are prolific in some areas and were once a staple food for many Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest. There are literally dozens and dozens of edibles that grow wild that can be had for just the effort needed to gather them (warning: know what it is you are harvesting, take a class to learn if necessary and/or go with someone who knows what they are doing until you know what you are doing).
- Procure seasonally. Old timers probably remember that food used to be seasonal. There was no such thing as a watermelon in January or a fresh tomato in February. You can still flow with the seasons, however, and get dirt cheap prices on food just by buying or harvesting when items are in season (wild berries in late summer, mushrooms in the fall, smelt when they are running, super cheap watermelon at the grocery store in summer, etc).
- Buy grains in bulk. Dried grains (oats, rice, wheat, etc) tend to have a long shelf life, are easy to store, are cheap to buy (ie: a bag of dried beans are much cheaper than the same amount of beans in canned form), and are endlessly useful.
- When you do buy/grow/harvest food items to last for a long time (unlike just buying enough groceries to tide you over for a week), learn how to safely and effectively store them for the duration (the LDS folks are genius at this, info here) so you don't waste your time, money, and most importantly the food.
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