In the ramp-up to the pandemic crisis and shutdown, we watched scores of videos of people panic purchasing rice, beans, and canned chili. We read countless accounts of rapidly depleting stocks of freeze-dried goods among internet suppliers and other long-term food storage sources being entirely wiped out. More experienced individuals cautioned the nouveau panic preppers about the need to store a much wider variety of foods to have food choices because they would get tired of the same rice and beans and canned goods. Most of these warnings were entirely dismissed. After all, “If people are hungry, they will be grateful to eat anything.”
However, we are Americans. We’ve been blessed to live in a time of unprecedented prosperity, with a vast array of food choices to fit every palate, and often ready-to-eat within just a few minutes. But with shortages in stores and difficulties in manufacturing and shipping, not to mention reduced shopping opportunities, options become more limited.
Several weeks into eating rice, beans, and Spam, or if luckier, lots of freeze-dried meals, these panic preppers came to recognize the folly of their thinking. They wished they’d stored a greater variety of foods, and especially that they’d given more thought to comfort food choices. Transitioning from the great variety of a modern American diet to the more common staples of our predecessors is a bit of a shock to the system.
Still, after my family’s experience, it was no surprise.
Planting Your Fruit and Vegetable Choices Wisely
Several years ago, when my family and I lived on three acres on the outskirts of Kansas City, we felt the need to expand the size of our garden to nearly 1/4 acre. The lot fell to me to inform my sixteen-year-old son, the CROO (chief rototiller operating officer), of the decision. He was pretty well aware of events in our country and world at the time and supportive of our efforts to prepare. Still, he was sixteen and not exactly pleased about tilling up more land. (He did at least get his picture taken and could look at himself on Google earth, operating the rototiller, for a few years.)
While he recognized the need to prepare and learn while times were good, he wasn’t excited. So he insisted that if he was doing all this work, we were going to be planting a whole lot more corn and watermelon. (That’s it? I couldn’t believe I was getting off so easily!) “Done!” We did indeed plant a whole lot more corn and watermelon, several varieties in fact, in different sizes and colors.
Food Choices Are Necessary, Even When Times are Good!
It was a fantastic year for gardens, and we had boatloads of corn and watermelon, and everything else. So with dinner each night–and the menu changed from day to day, we also had corn and watermelon. After about three weeks of this, Luke voiced something of an objection. Not strong, mind you, just a little bit of a complaint about corn and watermelon every night, even though the rest of dinner varied.
Quite surprised, I asked Luke, “Don’t you remember insisting that we plant more corn and watermelon this year?” That classic deer-in-the-headlights look appeared on his face.
“Would you have done anything differently in my situation? If your hard-working children insisted on planting their favorites–corn and watermelon–would you have done it?”
“Would you have been really surprised when they got tired of eating it?”
We also grew a lot of potatoes that year, and baked potatoes were frequently on the dinner menu. They’re easy, filling, and everyone likes them. We had all the usual condiments–ketchup for some of the kids, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. Sometimes we added green onions or shredded cheese. And yet, after a month of having baked potatoes twice a week, the kids were getting a little tired. So I decided to add some bacon bits to the topping choices.
It was like they had died and gone to heaven.
Lessons Learned and Future Changes to the Stockpile
Both of these experiences were great lessons for everyone in the family. No matter what our favorites are, we absolutely have to have variety. Flavor fatigue is real, and that was at a time with lots of other fresh produce and everything we could possibly want from the store, without any other outside stresses. We can’t entirely prevent economic, political, or societal upheavals from affecting our families. However, we can greatly mitigate the stress they feel by having a wide variety of good food to feed them.
Jennifer Rader writes the Prep School Daily blog six days a week and is the author of “Bring Your Own Bandages: Medicines and Supplies to Have on Hand Before Disaster Strikes”. She and her family live a prepared life in Northern Nevada.
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