According to a recent Bloomberg article, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said that diesel fuel supplies are “unacceptably low.” According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States has only enough diesel fuel to last until the Monday right before Thanksgiving day 2022 — the lowest supply since 2008 — while demand for diesel fuel is at its highest since 2007.
Now, that’s not to say that America will suddenly run out of diesel gas. Hopefully, the powers that be will figure out this situation before it gets extremely dire. But fuel shortages combined with high demand is still a recipe of economic disaster, even if the supply is not completed depleted, leading to the unavailability of food and other necessities while raising prices. We’ve already experienced both serious supply issues and inflation within the last two years. There’s no reason to believe that this winter will be any different. Quite the opposite. There’s every reason to believe that the next few months in the United States (and even more so in Europe, where the consequences of low fuel supply and high demand are already evident) are going to be a challenging — perhaps even deadly — period of time.
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Reasons to Prep
These aren’t the only problems that threaten the comfort of our lives. Even just 24 hours can drastically change life as we know it. Hurricane Ian is a recent example, as the resort town of Fort Myers Beach was practically erased from the map after the category 4 storm made landfall. Only a matter of hours before bombs started landing in Ukraine, carefree skiers were happily enjoying the Bukovel slopes and telling reporters that they didn’t think Russia would really attack their country. On May 7, 2021, a cyberattack forced the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies 45% of all the fuel consumed on the U.S. East Coast. Natural disasters, cyberattacks to utility infrastructures, and even nuclear war all precariously loom as real threats in our modern world.
The Girl Scout in me always likes to be prepared. If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s the importance of having extra of certain things on hand, always. Luckily and without any true intent, I had just loaded up on paper towels and toilet paper via Costco the weekend before everything shut down in 2020, so I was fortunate to not have to worry too much about those things, and I was never involved in the panic buying that occurred. But unexpectedly, I had a hard time finding distilled water for my CPAP machine.
Now, all the more, I like to be prepared before disasters — and accompanying panic — occur. The good news is that prepping can be done pretty easily and painlessly, too.
Building a Food Stockpile
One of the things I’ve prepped for over the last two years has been food. Initially, I bought “emergency” food. But, while emergency food has a very long shelf life (typically 25 years), there is a downside. Typically, emergency food is dehydrated. The emergency food I purchased all needs to be mixed with hot water. In certain situations, being able to do that could be difficult.
But there are easier and cheaper ways to food prep. What I’ve done lately is stockpile canned foods. They are easy to find and cheap to buy — much more so than emergency foods.
But I’ve been more specifically buying ready-to-eat soups to save. Why? Three reasons: 1) They last a long time. 2) They don’t have to be heated. 3) They provide liquid.
That third point is really important. While we all need to eat, we need to drink even more so. A human can live a week or two without food, but only about three days without water. Soup provides not only food but also liquid for hydration. Canned fruits and vegetables can serve the same purposes, as the food is packed in liquid.
Some can tops are pull-off, but others do require a can opener, which I include in the same plastic container in which I store all the cans. (Some prepping experts recommend storing two can openers, just to be on the safe side, in case one breaks.) In that same box, I also have plastic eating utensils, paper bowls and plates, paper towels, and plastic garbage bags.
Equally good to store is canned evaporated milk. Again — it’s liquid. Plus, it has the added benefit of being a protein as well.
You can easily build your stockpile by adding just a few extra cans to your grocery list every week and immediately storing them as your emergency food. Canned food is typically fine to eat beyond its “best by” date. You’ll just want to make sure the cans are not damaged in any way. If a can is damaged/leaking or if it is bulging, do not eat its contents and discard the food. You don’t want to risk a case of botulism or some other sort of food poisoning.
I also buy pouches of tuna for protein that doesn’t have to be cooked or heated. Likewise, I buy foods like Spaghettios and Beefaroni, which also provide a little liquid, carbohydrates, and protein, along with favor variety. Canned beef hash and chicken a la king, as well as cans of Spam also provide protein and some taste variety.
Dollar Tree has all of these foods for $1.25 each. You might find them even cheaper at Aldi or Walmart. Check around online and via newspaper inserts first to shop smart and not waste gas driving around. I find shopping online with Instacart to be a very smart way to shop. If you are spending hours driving and shopping, think about how much those hours and wasted gas are really worth. When you do that, you might realize it makes more sense to shop from home and have your groceries delivered than for you to do the shopping yourself.
Other Foods to Easily Add to Your Stockpile
There are some other foods you might want to keep on hand that are not canned, but also does not have to be cooked. One is peanut butter. Assuming you don’t have an allergy, peanut butter is a great food to have on hand. It’s ready to eat and can be stored without refrigeration. It’s also a great source of protein.
Boxed cereal can last up to a year and, of course, is eaten without being cooked nor does it need to be refrigerated after the box is opened.
Honey is an amazing food to stock. Its shelf-life is indefinite. It’s known to have antibacterial properties and can be used to treat wounds. It can also make a good substitute for cough syrup and to sooth sore throats. Plus, as pure sugar, it can give you a quick boost of energy and sweeten up bland foods for a bit of variety.
Of course, as already mentioned, humans depends on water. You’ll want to have several bottles of drinking water. Purified water can remain safe to drink for about two years. Store the jugs in a dry, dark environment. (We keep all of our prepped food products in a dry, dark closet in our basement, where we’d probably be heading in case of an emergency anyway). Remember that you want purified water but not distilled water. Distilled water, while good for is not a healthy choice for drinking. The mineral-free nature of distilled water makes it very acidic. It also doesn’t provide minerals the human body naturally relies upon, such as electrolytes like potassium.
When it comes to water, you can also get creative. If you can do so when an emergency arises, immediately fill a tub with water. You can use that water for drinking. Also don’t forget your water heater, where you store literally gallons of water everyday without giving it much thought. It might not be the water you’d want to drink every day, but in a pitch, it can help keep you alive.
Be sure to check all of your food items periodically for freshness and replace as necessary. Most will only have to be removed after two years. Some will last much longer.
Better Safe Than Sorry
The idea with food prepping is to be able to keep you well during an emergency. The hope is that, eventually, there’s another side where food will once again become available. How prepared you want to be is totally up to you, but the more food you can store, the more you lessen your risk of going hungry.
One of my favorite books by Laura Ingalls Wilder is “The Long Winter,” which chronicles her family’s own experiences during a harsh winter, riddled with blizzards and food shortages. While fiction, the story is built on truth, including the fact that her family came very close to starving that winter, all because a train couldn’t get through a snowbank on its rails. The family makes it through an extremely difficult time due to a lot of ingenuity and creativity — but just barely.
It could be easy to assume that this was event that couldn’t happen in modern times, but it’s that sort of assumption that could mean the difference between survival and death. If you prep and nothing happens, you lost a few bucks and time. If you don’t prep and something does happen, you’ll wish you had. Personally, I lean toward being prepared and not risking being sorry later.