Three Letters Re: Seeking Advice on Safe Food Storage, and Recommended Sources

For anyone in Northeastern Ohio, look into taking advantage of the resources in and around Amish country. Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, Ohio is an excellent place to find non-electric household and farm equipment. They do sell some bulk grains to be used with their wide variety of grain mills, but I would also suggest looking at Swiss Village Bulk Foods in Sugarcreek, Ohio. They run sales weekly, and there are often coupons and additional discounts offered in local newspapers. There are many other similar resources in the area, but these two stores are the largest, and the ones I most often shop at.

Mr. Rawles, I would like to personally thank you on behalf of my husband and myself for all the work you’ve done via SurvivalBlog and your books. While we are on a very limited budget, we are surely and steadily working ourselves out of debt and acquiring the skills and materials to better prepare ourselves. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Do you have any suggestions for newlyweds on a limited budget who are renting? Also, any prep suggestions for those who travel for a living –my husband is long haul semi driver– in a SHTF scenario?

May God bless and keep you, – Mrs. A.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to give some input regarding buying food items in bulk. For folks who live in areas where there are larger populations of Amish, often you can find bulk food stores that cater to their needs. In northeastern Ohio, I frequently shop at The Ashery Country Store, near Kidron (not too far from the Lehman’s Hardware). They also have a satellite store in Heath, Ohio, called Ashery Farm Store. I often buy items in bulk (50 pound bags) from these locations. Prices for spices are the best, too, often one-quarter of what I would pay at a grocery store.

Also, I found another source for bakery supplies. I contacted a local mom-and-pop type bakery and asked them who supplies them. They gave me the company name and phone number and this bakery supplier has been willing to sell to me and my friends. I pick up the items at the local bakery when the delivery truck arrives. I am able to buy flour, shortening, oats and other supplies for cheaper than what I would pay at the bulk food store. I also bought a 50 pound bag of baking soda (and I have been stocking up on cream of tartar) so I can make baking powder and to have on hand for cleaning.

Thanks for all you do for the preparedness community. Be blessed! – Star K.

One good source to buy bulk dried corn, wheat and other grains is at a store that sells farm supplies and animal feed in bulk. You can buy 80-100 pound sacks (save the sacks, they are very useful) and the price is low. I purchased several tons of grain years ago this way. Tell them that it is for human consumption, not for animals or seed. You don’t want it treated in any way. You can buy food grade buckets or barrels online, or find cheap or free used ones. Check bakeries, grocery store delis/bakeries, restaurants, etc. Avoid buckets that held anything like mayo or pickles, the bucket will retain the smell and your food will pick it up. Good buckets are often free, or maybe a dollar or so. Invest in a tool to open the lid (Emergency Essentials sells one). The buckets are usually clean, but clean them again to be sure. Use a screw driver to carefully pry the rubber gasket out of the lid and clean that area thoroughly. Make sure everything is dry before you fill the buckets.

You can get food grade Mylar bags from Emergency Essentials. These will be necessary if you use barrels. When you open a 55 gallon barrel you can remove one bag without exposing everything to the air, moisture, etc.. Also you can put multiple things in barrels and separate them. Full buckets will weigh 40-60 lbs, barrels can weight 450-600 lbs. You can stack buckets and barrels (loading the top barrel after stacked). You will need to invest in a hand truck if you plan to move those barrels. Whole grains should last nearly forever if stored properly. Do not buy flour unless you intend to use it within a year or two. The shelf life is short. Once wheat is ground the nutrients are lost fast. For short term use we store some flour, but our bulk supplies are whole grains. Invest in a quality grain grinder to make your own flour (Lehman’s).

You will need to pack your buckets using some dry ice. A Google search for the nearest city and dry ice should turn up a nearby dry ice company. You can learn the dry ice method by reading Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens. We have tons of self-stored grain, for over 20 years. We use some of it periodically to check it, and it is perfectly fine. A family can buy an extensive supply of bulk food this way at a very low price. Gather the buckets and barrels first and plan for some work to haul and bucket things up. Then enjoy the security and peace of mind of having all of that food. – Don in Ohio

JWR Replies: The containers to look for are 5 to 6 gallon HDPE food grade plastic buckets. If any of them come without lids, don’t worry. since you’ll surely want to have a few to equip with Gamma-Seal lids. These lids have a screw top that makes them very convenient to access the bulk grains and legumes that you use the most often. In the “Rawles Gets You Ready” family preparedness course, I describe a couple of methods for creating an oxygen-free environment for bulk storage foods in plastics. I actually prefer the dry ice method over using commercially made oxygen-absorbing packets. This is because there is no way of knowing if an O2 absorbing packet might have inadvertently been exposed to atmospheric oxygen, thereby rendering it useless. When you buy O2 absorbing packets, buy only from the most reputable dealers. Less reputable dealers have been known to repackage O2 absorbing packets that they have had on the shelf for months or years. In contrast, with the dry ice method, you know for certain that you are creating a bucket full of CO2 that critters can’t breathe.