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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Year’s Supply of food for $58.81?

The following story was shared with permission from a handout entitled “Food Storage…On The Path to Preparedness” written by Debbie Kent. Debbie is a food storage expert. The original author of the story is Nola Carlson of Chicago, Illinois. It originally appeared in the July 1982 Ensign, pg. 63. It shares how a large Mormon family of 15 members was able to store up a one-year supply of food for the unbelievably low amount of just $58.81. It is an endearing story of persistence and creativity.

We have a large family, and feeding them is a challenge. Seven of our thirteen are foster children, so we have inherited all kinds of appetites. Most of them are teenagers and seem to inhale food as easily as air; so when my husband came home and proudly announced that ‘we were going to can and store enough food for one year,’ we all were more than a little skeptical.

“We can do it,” he said. “We can do anything the Prophet has told us to.”

“It seems to me,” he continued, “the answer is simple enough. We know we are always short on money, so we must do it with a minimum of cost. I have figured out that we have $58.81 to spend. Now, what shall we spend it on?”

“Well,” said our little oriental foster daughter, “we need jars and lids if we are going to can.”

“Good point,” said sixteen-year-old Missy. “What about sugar? We can‘t can without that.”

“Yes we can,” I answered.

“Your grandmother used to do it all the time when I was a kid. We never had sugar, but mom used to say if the fruit was ripe and in good condition, the sweetness of the natural fruit would come out. I have canned like that for years.’

After an evening of discussion, the jars and lids for home canning won.

The girls began an earnest search for inexpensive jars. We haunted yard sales in our area and found a sale on lids at our local flea market. Before long we had over a thousand jars to fill for storage. The boys‘ job was to locate fruit and vegetables for canning. William, our eleven-year-old, found four cherry trees; the man who owned them was getting old, and each year the fruit went to waste. It fell to me to ask for the cherries.

“Mom”, William said, “just tell him we can‘t pay for them but maybe we can clean up the alley in back of his garage instead.”

This approach has turned out to be the key. We have pulled weeds for rhubarb, painted fences for strawberries, cut wood for raspberries, hauled paper for peaches, and raked leaves for apples. One night my husband came home and informed us that we would have the privilege of gleaning a potato patch in the morning before work. “It‘s simple enough,” he said. “We leave home at 5:00 a.m. and pick until 8:00. We ought to be able to pick enough to carry us through the winter.”

There were groans when morning came, but with all of us working as fast as we could (that was the only way to keep warm), we were finished by 7:30. And we had enough potatoes to keep us through the winter.

Onions, peas, tomatoes, and any vegetables that we could find went into our storage. All were bought with work as we expanded our food storage for the coming year. One truck farmer, after hearing a report of the frost warning, called us and told us that if we would come and pick his produce that night, we could have as much as we could pick, because by morning it would all be frozen.

So, bundled against the cold, and by the beam of our car‘s headlights, the whole family picked most of the night. We picked squash, cabbage, and a variety of other produce. It was hard work, but we laughed and sang until we were giddy. It was a night we still talk about.

When we made our fall survey, we found that we had canned 1,500 quarts of fruit and vegetables and had enough potatoes, turnips, and root vegetables to see us through the full year. We have continued this method of acquiring necessary storage items each year.

Our son Marty‘s observation sums up the family‘s experience: “If you‘re really willing to work together, you can accomplish anything, even a year‘s supply for $58.81”

Note: Adjusting for inflation in 2007 it would have been $129.46, a very small amount for a family of 15.

Two years later, today in 2009, this overall amount would be a little higher, probably closer to around $150.00, but you get the idea and can see the message of this story - it is possible to build a years supply of food with very little money, using a little bit of courtesy, open eyes to constantly be looking for opportunities, and sometimes a little bit of extra hard work.

Gleaning fields and local produce companies; CO-OP’s and food stores (as a gleaner) in Washington State can help you fill your pantry cupboards full of freshly canned produce. We have orchards and neighbors everywhere in this state that let fruit drop to the ground rather than harvest it. We also have friends and neighbors who have gardens who are willing to trade and share their abundance with others. No one should have difficulty in obtaining food if they are resourceful enough.

Personally I love apples and apple juice. I would guess that at least 75 percent or more of my apples are obtained for free every year, just by going up to peoples homes and asking politely. I buy my jars at thrift stores and yard sales also for next to nothing. I too offer to rake lawns, or gather all of the ‘falls’ into bags for the owners, sometimes to be fed to their farm animals, sometimes to go into a compost pile. Most people are willing to share when you offer your services for free. Some appreciate some apple juice back in return…

Great positive information!


tweell said...

I get lots of citrus down here just by asking, as most of the residential trees are not harvested. I bring in bags to work, to shelters and juice what I can, and there's much more available.

Stephanie Lee Candles said...

Great article! :)

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