Food security - emergency supplies

14 October 2013
Wiki defines food security as: the availability of food and one's access to it. 

Food security is being able to access enough food to feed yourself and your family. The lower your income, the more you're at risk of not being food secure and while you would think the higher one's income is the less likely they'd be threatened, that's not the case. If there was a food emergency, war, national disaster or weather catastrophe, the rich and the poor would suffer. The people who would have the least concern are those who produced their own food or prepared enough food to live through the disaster. No matter what group you fall into, planning for food security is an important task that we should all take seriously, particularly those of us who are homemakers, mothers, fathers or caregivers. If one of your responsibilities is to provide food for yourself and others, you need to think about this.

When thinking about your own personal food security, the first thing you have to know is how many people are you feeding on a regular basis and, if there was a food shortage in the shops for any reason, would that number of people change. None of us know whether we'll be lucky enough to never experience food shortages so you'll have to work on guesstimates and the likelihood of you having to provide for more people.  I look at it this way. We have Kerry, Sunny, Jamie, Jens and Cathy living within a 15 minute drive from us. If something happened to the food chain, I know we'd pool our resources. Don't think about food only. You also have to consider water, for drinking and personal hygiene. We are fortunate to have tanks that hold 15,000 litres of fresh rain water, but a catastrophe could happen at any time and if it happened during a dry season, we wouldn't have very much water in the tanks. So not only should you consider what would happen if disaster strikes and you're fully prepared with ample water and food, you also need to think about what happens if you're not so fully resourced when the disaster happens.

I doubt it's possible to write a guide that would suit the wide variations in lifestyle, climate and ability of the people who read here. All I can do is to write about what we do, it will be similar for many of you, and encourage you to think about your own situation and work out a plan.

We've all seen it. On trips to the supermarket to stock up, more and more food is being imported from foreign countries. When food comes from a place far away I believe there are two main problems. One, you have no idea how that food was grown and even if our laws prohibit certain practises, our laws don't apply in any other country. Two, we have no control over the food until we buy it. The supply of food could stop at any moment and for a variety of reasons such as weather problems - either drought or floods, war,  or political reasons.

Our solution to both those problems is to grow as much fresh food as we can here and get whatever else we need from local markets. Of the products that come from from further away - olive oil, salt, rice, spices etc, we keep backups. It's worthwhile to work out where all your food comes from so you have something to work with when any of your products are in short supply or stop. We can buy local beef, chicken, pork and fish. Our lamb comes from Victoria. If the supply chain was compromised, we'd stop eating lamb.

We get our milk from the local dairy, and from that milk I've taught myself to make cheese. I don't make cheese often because we have many local cheese makers, but I know how to do it if I need to. In an emergency situation, if there was a problem keeping up the supply of milk, or if the power went off and we couldn't store it, I'd make cheese. That's one of the things you need to think about too - what could you live without? We could live without lamb long-term, but not milk, therefore I've made sure that I could make cheese. We also have backups in the cupboard in the form of powdered milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk.

Today I've written about emergency food supplies. I know there are many of you who have huge food stocks in case of an emergency. I would use my stockpile as our emergency food, along with any food we had growing at that time and what was in the freezer. I tend to think of emergency food in terms of the nutrients they contain. So instead of thinking I have 50 jars of beans, I think of the food pyramid instead and make sure I have protein, carbohydrates and fats - the ingredients to make nourishing food. It's not enough to have the ingredients though, you also have to know how to cook it and you'll need somewhere to cook if the gas and electricity are out - so have means to start a fire and cook on it.

Know where you can forage for food too. In most areas there are local foods growing that are there for the picking. Here where I live avocados, macadamias and mangos are often grown in parks or along the street. I know that at certain times of the year, I can go and pick them. I know there are wild apple trees and blackberries growing on the outskirts of Armidale. I live 15 minutes away from the Pacific Ocean. We have fishing lines. These are the things you should think about in your own area - what is available for the taking? If you don't know, ask around. One day, it might save your life.

I hope this has encouraged you to think about your emergency food supplies and if you have none, to start thinking about who you need to feed and how to do it in an emergency. If an emergency doesn't happen, you can keep the food rotating by using it as you would your stockpiled food. Keep adding to it at the back and take it from the front. Later in the week I want to write about day-to-day food, about growing food to eat fresh, and how to store food to eat later.  I'd love to know what you're doing with your emergency food. Do you have any, what is it, where is it and how do you rotate it so it doesn't go off after a few years?

My thanks to Lorraine at Cool Knits for telling me about Beautiful Chickens at Samford. I contacted Kate and we'll be going to choose some new chooks tomorrow. It's very exciting. I'll take my camera. : - )