How long would your home's food supply last if you had to rely on it?

ice storm Toronto
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter/ Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Remember Y2K? Computers were all going to fail, planes were going to fall out of the sky, the food system was going to break down. I remember checking my supply of dehydrated camping food and was relieved to find that I still had a good supply of it, left over from a trip in 1997. I didn't need it when the ice storm hit Toronto in 2013; there was about a week's supply of food in the cupboards and the gas stove still worked. In 2014 when I renovated my house, I no longer had room for it and finally threw it out. Perhaps I should have cooked it up to see if it was still good after 17 years.

Over at the Resilient Design Institute, Alex Wilson makes the case that we all should have an emergency supply of food. He doesn't go as far as the Mormons do; they recommend a full year of food and emergency supplies, just in case we have a little run of "famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes."

Alex Wilson worries about drought in California, which produces a quarter of America's food, and in the midwest breadbasket. And unlike my lame attempts at preparation, he tells us that we need a system to prevent waste and spoilage.

RDI [Resilient Design Institute] recommends keeping at least a six-week supply of non-perishable foods in your larder—but doing so in a way that avoids waste. Develop a system for rotating food stock. For example, keep two large containers of rice. When one is empty, fill it and store that container behind the one being used. Use containers that are airtight, insect-proof, and rodent-proof. Glass is perfect with tight-fitting lids.

I wonder. I can see a city being knocked out by a Superstorm Sandy or an ice storm and having to have food for a week, but if the system collapses such that we need six weeks of supplies, we are going to be worrying about a lot more than just food and toilet paper. I would imagine it is a total breakdown of society as we know it.

I suggested to Alex that people living in the city, as I do, are probably going to be short on storage and be able to walk to stores; he responded that perhaps under such circumstances three weeks would be a good compromise.

What do you think?

Tags: resilience | survey

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