Planning for a food shortage will require you to have a good understanding of what causes a food shortage. The average meal that you eat each night at your dinner table travels about 1500 miles to get to your grocery store. There is only about a three day supply of food on hand in any given area, so any disruption in this supply chain can lead to a shortage.
Short-term food shortages often happen as the results of weather or other natural disasters. Over the past few months, there have been several blizzards which have paralyzed many large cities. Thousands of people across the country have experienced being trapped in their homes and many without food or power. Even when people could get to the store, many stores were out of food because the trucks couldn’t get there.
Floods or earthquakes can cause long-term food shortages. But there are many potential causes. High inflation can lead to high prices or price controls that limit the availability of food. A disruption of fuel from the Middle East would limit transportation – both shipping and trucking – that we rely on to move our food supply. Or it could just be the simple math that the world’s population is increasing faster than its food supply.
How much food do you really need? It comes down to understanding calories. Gender, age, and the amount of energy you are expending will determine the amount of calories you will need per day. On average a woman will need approximately 2000 calories per day. A man needs about 2500 calories per day. For a table that breaks down estimated calories needed by gender, age, and activity level, you can view this document from the USDA.
We recommend that your emergency food preparedness consist of three areas:
We recommend buying up to a 6 month supply of long shelf life food, for your family a month at a time. Take a look at the amount of calories that you would want for each person per day. Once you know that number you can start moving forward with your food insurance plan. Buy a little each month until you reach your goal.
100 years ago, you could get food from people who raised, grew, or caught it locally. These days, many people live in urban or suburban areas where local farms have disappeared. Fortunately, we each have the ability to grow our own food. Starting a garden now would be ideal. If not, it takes very little space to keep a supply of vital seeds that you can plant when needed. Most of the seeds sold at retail are hybrid seeds. Many hybrid seeds produce healthy plants – but not seeds that you can re-plant for your next crop. Buy non-hybrid seeds that will allow you to harvest seeds to keep your garden growing forever.
Clearly it is up to each of us to come up with a useful plan that gives us a good comfort feeling about being prepared. Your emergency food supply is your food insurance. You can start small by adding a few extra cans to your weekly shopping. Growing your supply gradually is an affordable way to steadily increase your preparedness.