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For preppers, Food Storage > Food Production

I'm going to have to be careful here, as I have learned that "food production" is a sensitive point for many people.

For those who are preparing for disasters, troubled times and outright TEOTWAWKI, focus on food storage before you venture into growing your food. Once you get squared away with food storage then you can venture into food production, if it makes sense for you. Read my previous post on the opportunity costs of self sufficiency before you do.

Why do I say to focus on food storage first? Here's a few points:
  • Food storage requires minimal extra effort, water and energy...prepare food and eat. Gardening requires lots of energy, water, and man-hours to get food.
  • You can be certain of the amount of food storage you have on hand; yields from gardens can vary wildly.
  • Food storage is durable. Gardens and backyard farms can easily be destroyed/trashed by weather, invading animals, etc.
  • Food storage is available whenever, no matter what time of year/season. Growing food, you need to be in-season, though green houses are an option. 
  • Growing may not be possible at all in extreme scenarios.
  • Food storage is stealthy; you can hide away and eat in safety, without attracting undue attention. A big garden in your yard and starving neighbors...not a good mix.
  • Food storage is mobile (sort of), gardens/farms are definitely not.
  • Food storage works for anyone with some storage space. Food production doesn't work for as many people--not everyone has the time, living arrangements, etc. to make food production work now (don't count on starting post-SHTF).
While preppers/survivalists should focus first on food storage, they should be aware that it is certainly not a permanent solution--unless you don't plan to live any longer than your food storage will last. Food storage is a stop-gap between either a return of markets where you can buy/barter for the food you need, or until you can become food self sufficient (production, hunting/gathering). And food storage does have its failings--if you have to bail and leave it all behind, it gets destroyed in a fire, confiscated by gestapo, etc.

You should, therefore, have other options for feeding yourself. I like "Ragnar's Rule of Threes", which says that when you really want something done, have three ways of doing it. Following that thinking, you would have stored food and two backups. The options for backups that come to mind include having a robust garden/backyard farm, hunting/fishing/trapping/gathering, backup caches of foods, or a plan to barter for food. Each of these backups have their own risks and trade-offs associated with them that you should be aware of before going in. They may work for you, they may not. I'll probably talk more about those risks and trade-offs in future posts.

Of these backups, growing-it-yourself is the one that you have the most direct control over, and, unlike food storage, it CAN be a permanent solution. Food storage, a good garden/small farm to supplement and replace that food storage, and being squared away in one or more of the other backups (skilled at trapping, knowledgeable in wild edibles, etc.) would be the ideal place to be.

That's my take. Comment away!