Saturday, June 25, 2011
Food Storage Myths - What You Don't Know Could Hurt
"We are confronted today with a great variety of serious economic and social conditions. But facing periods of economic stress, even deprivation, is not new to us as a Church. Throughout their history, the Saints have more than once faced such trials. As a result, the Lord from the early days of the Church has guided his leaders to see clearly certain correct principles. We feel compelled to reaffirm these basic principles of temporal salvation.
“It has also been my intention to encourage all Latter-day Saints to review again their personal and family preparedness and to implement immediately the principles and practices that will ensure their self-sufficiency. If we will discuss these truths in our family councils and make a plan to do all in our power to live these principles, we shall all enjoy the promise of the Lord, ‘If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.’ (D&C 38:30.)
”More importantly, if we will live providentially and righteously, we will qualify for the greater promise: ’And whoso is found a faithful, a just, and a wise steward shall enter into the joy of his Lord, and shall inherit eternal life.’” (D&C 51:19.) Marion G. Romney, “Principles of Temporal Salvation,” Tambuli, Oct 1981, 1.
Today we are again facing perilous times. Church leaders have asked us to refocus our priorities and become self-reliant in our temporal affairs. Over the years our approach to self-reliance may have changed, but the counsel has remained the same. From the time of Joseph in Egypt, to the warnings of Brigham Young and others in this generation, the Lord has always warned when a day of famine and tribulation was imminent.
"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls who live under tyranny." - Thomas Jefferson
Yet despite the clarity of warnings to prepare, myths and misunderstandings abound whenever Food Storage is mentioned as the object of our focus in preparing for troubled times and events. So, to minimize some potential misunderstandings, I have ventured to identify some common Myths associated with this subject:
Myth Number One: The Church will take care of us. They will not let us go hungry.
With the growth of the Church throughout the world the physical care of the saints has become an impossible task for the Church should a large scale calamity strike. It is among the missions of the Church to provide humanitarian relief to the extent of its means in response to disasters, but it has never been the role of the Church to assume responsibility for the maintenance of every member, when it is the duty of each household to seek the means to be self-reliant. Today the church is capable of growing, canning, and/or storing more foodstuffs than ever before, but this would service only a small percentage of members and is no substitute for the prudent planning of each family to be self-sustaining in emergencies and in times of economic downturn.
"Relief Society stands for self-reliance. The best food storage is not in welfare grain elevators but in sealed cans and bottles in the homes of our people. What a gratifying thing it is to see cans of wheat and rice and beans under the beds or in the pantries of women who have taken welfare responsibility into their own hands." - Gordon B. Hinckley, “In the Arms of His Love,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 115–18.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught concerning self-reliance: “The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof. “No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able, will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else.” - Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 77.
Myth Number Two: The Church has told us what we should be storing and it is wheat, beans, powdered milk and honey.
This is not the case and it never has been.
"One night the phone rang at the home of Russell Hakes, who at the time was serving as stake president. ‘President Hakes,’ came a man’s determined voice, ‘I refuse to store powdered milk! The Church wants me to store powdered milk, and I just won’t do it!’
“President Hakes could hear the emotion in the man’s voice. He assured him that the Church did not expect him to store powdered milk if he didn’t want to. ‘You can choose any kind of storage for your year’s supply; it’s up to you,’ he said, trying to calm his caller.
“’Well, I’ll be hanged if I’ll store powdered milk!’ the man huffed, slightly appeased. ‘I have six cows!’
“We can all appreciate the humor of this situation. When our leaders urge us to be self-reliant, to manage our resources wisely, and to be prepared for emergencies, they are not advocating any specific storage item as an indispensable part of gospel living. What they are asking us to do is invite the spirit of self-reliance and provident living into our homes.” - “Catching the Vision of Self-Reliance,” Ensign, May 1986, 89
Myth Number Three: The Church tells us we should store a three month supply of the foods we eat. A year’s supply is no longer taught.
"Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet. One way to do this is to purchase a few extra items each week to build a one-week supply of food. Then you can gradually increase your supply until it is sufficient for three months. These items should be rotated regularly to avoid spoilage.
“For longer-term needs, and where permitted, gradually build a supply of food that will last a long time and that you can use to stay alive, such as wheat, white rice, and beans. These items can last 30 years or more when properly packaged and stored in a cool, dry place. A portion of these items may be rotated in your three-month supply." - All is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage
Yes, we are counseled to store a three month supply of the foods we normally eat. We are also asked to store a year’s supply of foods which will sustain life. Again, the decision as to exactly what to store is up to you. Your food storage should reflect the eating habits and preferences, dietary requirements and food allergies within your own family.
Myth Number Four: When you get hungry enough you will eat anything.
Studies of survivors of disasters have taught us many things. One of those lessons is that children and the elderly will starve to death before they eat foods they do not like or that they are unfamiliar with. As you decide which foods are appropriate for your family commit to learning to use them in various ways and to incorporate them into your daily menu.
A second thing researchers have learned is that those who are able to maintain a relatively "normal" lifestyle, make better decisions, and not only survive, but thrive during a crisis. For this reason it is important to consider the foods which are comfort foods for your family. For me it is chocolate, so there will always be brownie mix and M&Ms in my food storage.
Myth Number Five: Now that the Church has starter kits I have all I need.
There is a reason the kits are called "Starter Kits". They are a place to start. During a time of crisis, no matter the cause you will need to maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes a balanced diet to have the strength and energy you will need to deal with the added stress which a disaster brings. A starter kit does not provide those nutrients. You can have a hundred stored and you will survive but you will not thrive.
Myth Number Six: I ordered a year's supply of dehydrated or freeze dried foods so I am set.
Again, remember that during a crisis some will starve rather than eat unfamiliar foods. If you choose to store these foods you must use them in your daily menus so you are familiar with their use and your family is familiar with their taste and texture.
If your crisis would be a natural disaster, these foods will be of little use. Foods such as these need one to four times the amount of water to food to reconstitute. In other words, one cup of food can take up to four cups of water to reconstitute. During a natural disaster, no matter the cause, there is rarely drinkable water. During the fires in San Diego two years ago one mountain community was without water for eight weeks.
I know some of these foods, especially the fruits, taste great when not re-hydrated. These are dangerous to eat in large amounts. In order for the body to digest these foods they must be reconstituted. If you do not do that before you eat them, your body will draw water from your cells to aid digestion and if you continue you will become dehydrated, leading to potentially serious health problems.
Working out our temporal salvation
"Self-reliance is a product of our work and under-girds all other welfare practices. It is an essential element in our spiritual as well as our temporal well-being. Regarding this principle, President Marion G. Romney has said: “Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle. Salvation is an individual matter, and we must work out our own salvation in temporal as well as in spiritual things.” - (In Welfare Services Meeting Report, 2 Oct. 1976, p. 13.), “In the Lord’s Own Way” Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, May 1986
"There is more salvation and security in wheat than in all the political schemes of the world". - Orson Hyde J.D. 2:207
With all the economic uncertainty in the world and the increase of disasters in diverse places we do not have to look far to recognize signs of peril. Now is the day to prepare. It is the time to begin, or to update and refine our efforts.
Aristotle said, “For where it is in our power to act it is also in our power not to act.” Let us not be found as the foolish virgins – out of oil, out of money, out of time. We have the power to act so let’s act today with whatever means and time we have to strengthen our households, and be better prepared.
By Carolyn Nicholayson