Special Report: Food Storage I
Worldwide food shortages-principally grains and rice are making an impact in our community with an 8% increase in costs. Major bakeries have closed shop driving up bread prices, more so by 18%, or so says the Government. Projected fuel costs, transportation woes at the pump with increased bio-fuel development at the expense of agriculture will surely increase your expenses.
An interesting read on the climatic impact with rice and grains is: this NY Times article
The time to purchase a few hundred pounds of grain products through your local natural foods distributor is now. Specify organic-not just to be “green”, but to have on hand valued seed stock to sow grains this summer. Children will help grind the grain, and men folk will be all the happier with fresh baked bread.
Mega farm industry has shifted to corn, as an example of Genetic Modified seed for an overall increase of 13% in production. Most other grains, barley, rice, etc are rapidly becoming a GMO-Monsanto exclusive. Wheat, considering the volume of the seed stock is not yet completely GMO; however it is coming.
The grain industry already has a low-key warning published that it cannot guarantee pure seed stocks. This leads to non-GMO production with the small-scale farmer and gardener who treasure their own “heritage” seeds. Inevitably, the prices are going up, and scarcity will increase, perhaps impacting here at home.
For those dedicated readers who choose the natural, pure, organic route you are faced with storing grains, at least for the time being, and grinding your own flour. Making your own beers will become a fine art, as even this product is facing a worldwide shortage.
Since warm weather is around the corner, small seed moths will appear, hovering and eating, pooping, and otherwise making a mess of stored box cereals and grains. Whole rice is a favorite, vice: white polished rice-but everything eats, and they are looking for a place to lay eggs.
Purchasing seed moth traps is help, but the little moths will get in any unsealed container; that includes, plastic sealed, wax paper sealed, waxed boxes of anything they want. They are tenacious.
The USDA has a permissible standard of insect eggs, rat dropping, and such non-desirable addition to grains; so even if you keep the seed moths, cockroaches, silverfish and such out of the foods, many little beasties are inside the container awaiting their hatch. This is why your natural foods dealer stores grains in volume in the freezer room.
We stocked up on 200 lbs each of wheat, rice, and oats. I will have to stock up on barley too for beer making; another trip to Eats in Blacksburg.
To store all this in a large chest freezer has its merits but it is not practical, because of power outages causing moisture-mildew, and a mess with “digging into the bags. A better solution would be caned storage in five gallon pails, or smaller. I am going to take you through the early stages of my thinking which works well, and then bring you up to the present with an ideal storage system.
OLD SYSTEM: Select some dark colored 5 gallon, or smaller, new plastic buckets with matching lids. Also locate some black plastic garbage bags (clean of course). These can be found at Home Depot, Lowes, Wal*Mart, and paint stores. When you are ready line up the buckets, place the bags inside, and then on your next trip to town stop in Kroger to purchase a couple of packs of dry ice. When home, and ready to do the storage routine, put the black plastic bag inside the pail, put a chunk of dry ice in the bag. (Figure ? of a sheet of dry ice.) Pour the grain into the plastic bag. You will see the bag puff up due to the CO2 gas release. Push the bag down, use the tie ties twice and then snap on the lid. If the lid does not have a rubber seal, you could run a bead of silicone around it.
SportsmansGuide, item #8X8A-37592C, offers “Gamma Seals”, a 5-gallon bucket screw down seal for about $7.00, which provides security.
The purpose of the CO2 gas, harmless to us but lethal to hatching eggs and barrier testing seed moths will keep your grain bug free. Place the bucket, well marked with a felt tip marker with the contents, lest you forget, in the coldest dry spot in the house. I have an east side spare guest bedroom that is cold, and it keeps visits down to the 3-day limit as suggested by Ben Franklin.
IMPROVED CONTAINERS: Diane introduced me to a new storage container with the Gamma Seal, screw down bug proof lids, built in. Real heavy-duty quality. So we ordered a bunch. Although marketed for kibble, and such animal foods, we see it as ideal, especially the stackable ones; you can just dip into with ease. Just follow the above CO2 procedure but you can skip the plastic bag, as this item does not allow degrading light into the container. See this PetMountain list
ANOTHER APPROACH: Most of us have no idea the volume of food we consume, or need for a year?s time. http://www.beprepared.com/ provides nitrogen pre-packed cans, packets, and boxes of foods that may interest you, A reading will give you ideas for other long range food storages. More and more people, especially since the Katrina disaster, are becoming more prudent about emergencies by being prepared.
A good source for grain grinders is: Pleasant Hill Grain.
COPYRIGHT: 2008, Back2theLand, Mark Steel