Food shortages in America are a real possibility in the near future as our economy continues to crumble under the weight of economic turmoil, political uncertainty, and Covid-19.
Most people don’t believe there could be a food shortage in America. After all, there are still 15 types of colorfully boxed Cheerios packing the isles, which gives them the illusion of abundance. Despite their rosy beliefs, America is already experiencing food shortages in some sectors and the situation could get worse very quickly.
The dollar is quickly losing value and we’re seeing grocery bills rising faster than most people’s incomes. Prices for wheat, corn, soybeans, bread, apples, beef, chicken, eggs, and milk: are shooting up by double-digit percentages. And, with energy prices also rising, more Americans are feeling the pinch in their grocery budget.
We are currently facing regional meat shortages due to COVID-19 wreaking havoc on meat processing plants and slaughterhouses. With many plants closed, farmers are unable to get meat processed and are having to euthanize pigs and chickens.
As we learned with Covid-19, there will be little time to react. Because of the inventory methods used today, your local store shelves have three days or less of food available. Should the supply chain be disrupted, shelves would be empty in three days and millions of Americans would be left to fend for themselves.
The supply chain has still not recovered from the first wave of COVID-19; however, grocery stores learned major lessons from the first run on supplies. Currently, grocery stores are stocking what is being called “pandemic pallets.” Pandemic pallets are wooden structures that are stockpiled with items grocery stores fear may run low during a second wave in the holiday season. They are stored in warehouses where they can be retrieved if there is a run on pandemic supplies. Grocery stores are also stocking for months at a time rather than weeks at a time.
Those who are awake to the economic and political conditions in America are preparing for food shortages.
Here are 7 simple ways to begin to prepare for food shortages in your household:
Stay aware so you can prepare. While you don’t need to hoard toilet paper, it is wise to have an idea of needed supplies that are dwindling. For example, experts are expecting shortages for staple medicines. Stat News reports, “The problem is likely to be exacerbated by the vagaries of the global pharmaceutical supply chain, which is heavily dependent on China for active pharmaceutical ingredients and on manufacturers based in India. As of now, 43% — or 67 of 156 — of acute care medicines used to treat various illnesses are running low. This group includes such staples as antibiotics, blood thinners, and sedatives.” Keep getting your prescriptions refilled so you don’t face shortages.
Create a Food Bank
Everybody should have a back-up to the everyday food pantry. Instead of saving your money in the bank earning .25%, a better investment would be storable food. You could start by picking up some extra canned goods, dried foods, and other essentials for storage each time you go to the store. Devise a plan for FIFO (first in, first out) rotation for your food bank. You might want to acquire food-grade buckets to store your bulk dried foods, and be sure to label and date everything. I’ve been getting these kinds of buckets at my local grocery store for free – ask the bakery department for empty frosting buckets. Besides the obvious storable foods like rice and beans, or canned goods, some other important items to hoard are salt, peanut butter, cooking oils, sugar, coffee, and powdered milk. It’s recommended, too, that you store the kinds of foods that you are now eating… store what you eat, eat what you store.
Produce Your Own Food
It would be wise to have the ability to produce your own food should the food system crumble. If you don’t know much about gardening, then start small with a few garden boxes for tomatoes, herbs, or sprouts and keep expanding to the limits of your garden. If possible, get some chickens. They are an easy animal to maintain and have endless benefits from providing eggs and meat, to eating bugs and producing rich manure. Five laying hens can ensure good cheap protein for your entire family. If you have limited growing space, there are brilliant aquaculture systems that can produce an abundance of fish and vegetables in a small area. Set high goals for independent food production, but start with what’s manageable now..
Learn Food Preservation
Food preservation comes in a variety of forms such as canning, pickling, and dehydrating. If you can afford it, a dehydrator is a good way to go and usually comes with a preparation guide for most foods. Another option to add months, if not years, to many food items is a vacuum sealer. Once commonly used by previous generations is canning..
You might want to take a hint from the government and the elite that have seed banks … so should you. Seeds have been a viable currency in many civilizations past and present. Beware of GMO seeds from commercial seed giants like Monsanto. What you want are heirloom seed banks that allow you to save seeds from each harvest.
When you go shopping, think long-term. Anticipate shortages. What items can you stock long-term that may be difficult to find in the future? These are the items that you should prioritize.
Join or Start a Local Co-Op
Joining local cooperatives is very important, especially when food shortages occur. You may not be able to provide for yourself completely, especially in terms of variety, so having a community mechanism to spread the burden and share the spoils will be important. Check around your local farmers market or search the directory at LocalHarvest.org to see if there is a local food cooperative in your area. If your area doesn’t have a co-op, then start one, perhaps with friends, neighbors, or co-workers.