As a homesteader, one of your strong points is, by far, the food you produce and stockpile. Should something major happen, you’ll be one of the “lucky” ones who will have food on your family’s table.
But what if you’ll be unable to grow that food? Maybe a volcanic eruption will hinder your gardening endeavors. Maybe people will be so hungry that they’ll ravage all gardens they can find, including yours.
What you need is a back-up plan for your food-producing homestead, and that plan is called a stockpile. Now, before you object that it’s hard to store that much food, hear me out. You don’t need to much for now, you just need to get started and grow little by little.
Do this right and you might not have to spend a penny in the beginning, because some of the foods with a long shelf life are precisely the ones you’re growing in your garden right now. It’s all a matter of knowing how to preserve and store them for the long term.
The preservation part is something you probably know already, but it doesn’t hurt to learn new skills. For example, you may be a canning master, but learning to dehydrate fruit will help you preserve apples, pears, plums and so on. Granted, dehydrated fruits and veggies have a shelf life of only 6 months to a year, but that shouldn’t be a problem so long as you rotate your stockpile.
Another thing you can do is use Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to store beans, rice, pasta and whole grains. These will last a very long time, provided you keep them in a cool, dry dark place away from rodents. If you grow beans in your garden, this is the easiest and cheapest way to grow your stockpile BY FAR.
If you have bees, you already know that this very nutritious food has an unlimited shelf life. You’ll need plenty of energy in a survival situation, and honey has it.
Speaking of high-calorie foods, how about pemmican? If honey is rich in carbohydrates, pemmican is rich in protein and fats, and all 3 macro-nutrients are needed for your body and mind to properly function in stressful situations. Pemmican is said to last a very long time, up to 50 years according to some sources.
Take Canning to the Next Level
If you’re already good at canning, how about taking your skill to the next level and learn to can other things like cheese, bacon, mushrooms and even nuts?
If you haven’t explored the possibility of growing medical herbs in your garden, it’s about time you should. You have a vast array of plants to choose from: green burdock, marshmallow, aloe vera, lavender, marigold and so on.
Other Cheap Ways to Grow Your Stockpile
In fact, you can take variety to the next level by storing things such as salt, sugar and spices. No one will wonder why you have so much because these are things everyone has in their pantries.
Once you’ve taken care of the staples, added some variety and things to make your meals taste better: stock up on comfort foods. Honey is such an example, but when things have gone down south, you may want to ease the pain by smoking a cigarette or talking with your friend Jack.
Granted, these are things you may want to buy, but keep in mind tobacco growing is a perfectly viable option. It’s also clear that cigarettes are worth a lot in SHTF situations, when they’re hard to find.
Also, don’t shy away from pre-packed emergency food if you get a good deal (using coupons, waiting for Black Friday etc.) There are plenty of brands out there that are worth it.
Fighting the Food Storage Enemies
As a homesteader, you already have a pantry, a basement or a root cellar to store your food. As your stockpile grows, you not only need more space but you’ll also have to be careful about the things that could affect it. Oxygen, light, humidity, temperature, temperature variations, flood and pests (rats, mice, deer and even your dog) can destroy hundreds of pounds of food in a matter of minutes.
As we saw, removing oxygen does wonders in increasing shelf life. So long as you leave those mylar bags alone, there shouldn’t be a problem with their contents. You will have to inspect your cans for bulging though. If air went inside, you’ll have no choice but to throw it away.
Light is easy to take care of, however keeping a low and constant temperature could mean you have to install air conditioning. If you have a basement, you might also have to ensure proper ventilation to avoid humidity and the formation of mold. Floods can also be a problem. If you keep all your food in a root cellar and it gets flooded, good luck saving it. You may need to properly insulate your basement or cellar, and even if you do that, you should never keep all your eggs in one basket. Store food in other places too, such as a pantry inside your home or your safe room.
There is much to be said about food stockpiling but, hopefully, this will at least point you in the right direction. The main takeaway is that you should have 2-3 weeks’ worth of food ASAP, preferably food that you already consume on a weekly basis.