I imagine after the last few weeks, the idea of storing food isn’t seeming quite so crazy to a lot of folks in the country, but still, I hear all the time “I want to start building up a reserve but my husband/sister/mother in law thinks this is nuts.” So I thought I would repost this piece, on how to get your family on board (and what not to say).
Ok, I’ve convinced you – you need a reserve of food, you want to learn to can and dehydrate, you want to start eating more local foods. But you haven’t done anything yet, because, well, the rest of your household isn’t on board. Before you go there, you need to convince them. So I offer up this handy guide of answers to common protests about food storage and preservation. I also offer up some suggestions on what not to say, just in case you need them, mostly because that part was fun for me to write .
Protest #1: It will be too expensive! We can’t afford extra food.
Bad answer: “But honey, the world is going to come to an end soon, and male life expectancy is going to drop into the 50s, so you won’t need your retirement savings anyway. Let’s spend it on food so I have something to eat in my old age.”
Good answer: “I’m glad you are so concerned about our finances, and I share your concern. I think in the longer term this will save us money, allowing us to buy food at lower bulk prices and when it is at its cheapest and on sale, and thus will insulate us from rising prices. But let’s sit down and make a budget for what we think it is appropriate to spend on food storage.”
Protest #2: No one has time to can and preserve food anymore! Isn’t that a leftover form the bad old days?
Bad answer: “Of course you’ll have time to do it, sweetie – can’t you get up before the kids do to make pickles? You already get 5 hours of sleep a night, so what’s the problem? Here, read this woman’s blog and you’ll start feeling guilty that you don’t love the kids enough to make your own salsa.”
Good answer: “What I think will end up happening is that we’ll save time later from effort spent now – and we’ll know that our food supply is nutritious and safe – I don’t feel good giving the kids processed foods with all the recalls and contaminations. But let’s definitely start slowly – I’ll make some sauerkraut, and then if you think we should, we’ll look into plans for a dehydrator. But we’ll do it together.
Protest #3: Where are we going to put all that stuff? There’s no way it will fit!
Bad answer: “On those shelves where you keep all your old vinyl records, silly. As soon as I get that stuff out to the trash, we’ll be ready to build our pantry.”
Good answer: “I think there’s some unused space in that guest room, and if I clean out this closet, I know we could put shelves up and store some food. I guess I should think about cleaning out some of my junk, right?”
Protest #4: Storing food is for wacko-survivalist types – that’s not us.
Bad answer: “Oh, didn’t you read that stuff by Nostradamus that I gave you? Oh, and do you know how to use an uzi?”
Good answer: “No, storing food is what my grandmother did to get through the great depression. Nothing really awful has to happen for us to need it – we could just have a bad storm or one of us could lose our job. It is pretty normal, actually – so normal that FEMA and the American Red Cross recommend that every American store two weeks worth of food.”
Protest #5: Nobody in our house is going to eat Garbanzo beans. I’m certainly not going to – they make we want to puke!
Bad answer:”Oh, you’ll eat those beans, young lady, or you’ll spend the rest of your life in your room!”
Good answer: “Ok, you don’t like chickpeas. That’s ok – what would you suggest we get instead? Would you like to come with me to the bulk store and help me pick out some storage food? It needs to be about 1/3 protein sources to grains – what would you suggest?”
Protest #6: I don’t want to think about bad stuff that might happen, or be reminded of it!
Bad answer: “Ok, you don’t have to. But we’re all gonna die!
Good Answer: “But remember, we’re not just storing food for bad times, we’re storing food so that we can save money, go shopping less, have more time for each other, and so we have to worry less about money.”
Protest #7: Things will never get bad enough that we need our stored food, so what’s the point?
Bad Answer: “I expect things to get so bad that we seriously consider whether or not to eat the hamsters – probably by next Friday. After Pookie and Herman, the neighbors will be next.”
Good Answer: “Well, this is really about a whole way of eating – not just storing food for an emergency. So no matter what happens, we come out ahead – we have the food, and it will get eaten.
Protest #8: Ok, I’m willing to think about some food storage, but storing water? That’s for whack jobs.
Bad Answer: “Ok, well, I’m storing water for me, and if anything bad happens, I’m just going to sit there watching you shrivel up.”
Good Answer: “Remember the floods in the midwest two years ago? A lot of areas had contaminated water, and I don’t really want to go for days with no water to wash hands in or to cook with. All we’ve got to do is take these recycled soda bottles and fill them with water and a couple of drops of bleach, to know that we won’t be in that position.”
Protest #9: Home preserved food isn’t safe – I heard about someone who died from eating home canned food.
Bad Answer: “Oh, you are right. Let’s only eat industrially packaged food with lots of ecoli and melamine in it.”
Good Answer: “It is true that unsafe canning practices occasionally result in home canned food hurting or killing someone. But think of all the trouble we’ve had with the industrial food system – the melamine in dog food, botulism in canned chili, salmonella and ecoli on tons of things. I agree we have to be very careful, especially when pressure canning, and I plan to be. But we can preserve our own in lots of ways that are completely safe, not just canning, and when we do can, we’ll do it right.
Protest #10: There are so many things about this that are hard – it takes time, energy, new tools, money. It may be a good idea, but why would you want to take it on?
Bad Answer: “Because Sharon (yes, that woman on the blog you call “the nutjob”) says I should – she fed me the zombie paste, and now I have no will of my own.”
Good Answer: “Because I think we deserve better food than we’re getting. I want it to taste better, I want the money we spend to help do things we’re proud of. I want to depend on ourselves more and on corporations less. I want us to be healthier, and I want us to work together on this as a family. I want us to feel like when we are eating, we’re doing something good – for us and the world.”
Best of luck on this!