8 Steps to Family Food Security

1. Grow some of your own food. Plant fruit and nut trees, herbs, berry bushes, and other perennial food crops. Preserve heirloom varieties of plants and animals. Encourage schools and churches to start gardens. Grow greens and vegetables by your back door where they can be easily picked and brought inside the house.

2. Make your own snacks and cook your meals from basic ingredients. Avoid store-bought mixes and prepared/processed foods. Start by saving money in the over-priced junk food section. If you want comfort food, try chocolate pancakes with whipped cream and chocolate sauce that you make yourself. Junk food is trash food, make your own treats and you will save money AND have better tasting and more nutritious treats!

3. Eat with the season and buy as much of your food locally as is practical for your situation. Don't eat the same boring foods every day, 365 days a year. Experience the varied and changing tastes of the seasonal foods available here in Oklahoma. Changing the way you do food as described above can cut your grocery bill, thus allowing you to spend a little more for quality, healthier ingredients like olive oil, butter, locally grown meats and eggs, & locally grown organic produce. Supporting local food production is an essential aspect of community food security and the best way to do that is to buy food directly from farmers..Fresh produce imported to Oklahoma from Texas, California, Mexico, Chile and etc during our winter is grown with environmentally damaging practices, consumes massive amounts of fossil fuel, and involves the exploitation of migrant workers. These are grave human and environmental costs which must eventually be paid by somebody, even if it doesn't show up in the cheap globalized supermarket price.

4. Keep some of your household savings in the form of food. The less income a family has, the more important it is to keep some of the family's savings in the form of food. We recommend that people keep at least 1 month's supply of the regular foods their family eats and 2 or 3 months worth of basic staples such as rice, beans, pasta, canned tomato sauce, and other food items that are inexpensive and easy to store. Store what you eat, and eat what you store. Family food storage will: (1) increase the safety and security of your family, (2) help you be more in control of your circumstances, (3) make you less vulnerable to crisis and hard times, (4) increase the quality of your life, (5) provide great meals for your family, (6) save you money and time. It's like having your own in-home grocery store. If hard times come your way -- if you get fired, get sick, there's a blizzard, your utility bills are too high, whatever the crisis, with food in the pantry, hard times are less hard. This nation has been attacked by terrorists, and we never know when we may be attacked again. Terrorist attacks or natural calamities can interfere with the regular supply of food in grocery stores, as recent events (4 hurricanes in Florida) have so plainly illustrated. Family food storage is family peace of mind. Do your part to support community food security by ensuring that your family will have enough to eat in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster that impacts the food supply in grocery stores.

5. Buy directly from farmers. Look for farmers markets & roadside stands and stores that sell food grown in your area. Look for cooperatives that have local products. Get together with friends and buy a steer, or a pig, from a local farmer and have it processed at a custom butcher. Do your part to help build a local food system.

6. Learn to process foods to preserve them for eating later. Here there are many choices: freezing, dehydrating, pressure and boiling water canning, brining, pickling, salting, candying. Buy larger amounts of produce when it is in season and preserve it for when its not in season. Freezing is very easy. The best jelly is the jar you make yourself. And your homemade pickles will be the best. Brew your own beer, wine, and soft drinks too. Invest in some equipment, (check thrift stores and garage sales for good deals). For about $200, you could get everything you need brand new to grind wheat and corn into flour and meal (grain grinder), make noodles (pasta maker), dehydrate foods (food dehydrator), and make your own jams, jellies, and tomato sauce (boiling water canner, jars, and lids).

7. Work together with neighbors & friends. Tell friends & family about the importance of family and community food security. Many food security activities are easier to do with a group. Neighbors, friends, families, or even churches could share the cost & use of processing equipment. For about $1,500, a church or neighborhood association could get an electric grain mill, large pressure canner, large boiling water canner, noodle maker, oat roller, food mill and other infrastructure items useful for neighborhood food production & preservation activities. Promote solidarity & cooperation Don't leave the anybody behind for the wolves to devour.

8. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. And don't procrastinate! We start small or we don't start at all. A journey of a thousand miles begins with only one step, but that step is just the beginning. Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Make a small amount of progress each month and you can build a secure and safe future for your family.

Robert Waldrop

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