Many of my friends roll their eyes at my insistence on healthy food, preferably organic. I rarely consume food with additives or preservatives. I used to think that stockpiling food and eating clean, organic and healthy were mutually exclusive, or at the least, prohibitively expensive. However, I’ve discovered a few methods that seem to accommodate my need for healthy food and my budget at the same time.
1.) Garden: This is a no-brainer. Anyone who is interested in organic food OR prepping is likely to have at least a few pots of herbs. I paid someone to rototill my entire city backyard this year so that I could dedicate the space to growing food. Now, the amount that I will harvest this year likely would not support us for more than a month or two but it’s a start and it is a great boost to the learning curve. I’ve attempted to use as much space as I can, including the front flower bed (peas) and a two foot wide sunny spot between my deck and the neighbor’s fence (tomatoes).
2.) Sprout: Spend the time now to learn how to sprout. This way you can have fresh produce indoors, year around, no matter what your climate is like or if there are air issues like fallout or ash.
3.) Can: This is my biggie – my secret weapon. I’ve spent time and money this year learning to preserve my food by canning. I’m using two different tactics to acquire the food I can inexpensively:
a.) I buy my meats from an all-natural Mennonite butcher store. I’ve ordered a half a cow for the fall. Initially it will go into my freezer, but as quickly as I can, I intend to process and can chilli, beef stew, beef in broth, Bolognese sauce, and taco filling. If I can find a source of chicken inexpensively I’ll do the same thing with chicken dishes. (Note: a pressure canner is a necessity for canning meats or other low acid foods).
b.) I go to the farmer’s market each week and see the same two farmers. I buy a bushel of whatever is fresh that week and can it. Because I always see the same two people, they give me better deals – they might throw in a couple of extra apples or a few heads of garlic and I can negotiate a little bit. This way I have locally farmed low-chemical foods like green beans, tomato sauce, peas, applesauce, peach slices, jam, pickles, and whatever else I can get my hands on at a good price.
4.) Dehydrate: For foods that I may not have in enough of an amount to can, I use my dehydrator. I don’t have one of the fancy ones, just a simple countertop model. I’ve dried bell peppers, carrots, onions, kale, spinach leaves, strawberries, blueberries and apple slices. They rehydrate very nicely in a soup or moist dish and add a burst of vitamins. After I dry the kale and spinach I crumble it into tiny pieces. When I add them to food it looks like parsley, which can help you slide the veggies past finicky eaters.
5.) Vitamins: Stockpile a supply of vitamins and supplements. You want good quality multivitamins, minerals like zinc and iron, vitamins like C, D, B-complex, and E, as well as any other vitamins that might be helpful for concerns specific to your family.
When we preserve our own foods we can be absolutely sure that the produce was cleaned well, removing any residue from pesticides. We also know that unhealthy additives like MSG or High Fructose Corn Syrup have not been included. We can opt for fresher foods, organic foods, and antibiotic-free meats.
By making careful choices now about what we stockpile, we can ensure that the food we eat during a catastrophe truly nourishes our bodies. This will allow us to work harder, stay healthier and thrive, instead of merely subsisting.