Guest Article: Another Good Reason to Can, Process, Preserve, and Repackage Your Produce, by R.W.

As if you have not heard enough great reasons to process, can, and preserve your own foods, here is more food for thought (pun intended).

I cannot speak to every state in the union, but as for the state I live in there are some very strict rules about what foods can be placed in an “official, non-profit Food Pantry”– a charity often run by a church or other non-profit organization that hands out food to those in need.

Here are a few of the draconian rules that apply to organizations that are trying to get food (mostly non-perishables) to the less fortunate:

  • No food may be given away that is beyond the expiration date, recommended by the processor, as stated by the date stamp on the package.
  • No food may be given away that does not have proper labeling, as designated by the FDA (contents and nutritional factoids). (Most of the additives on these labels are dubious for our health and are often unrecognizable and unpronounceable by the average person on the street. My wife would say, “These processed foods are not nice for us.”)
  • No foods may be given away or distributed (for free) that has damaged packaging, such as torn wrappers, dinted cans over ¼ inch deep, open or missing factory containers, or otherwise adulterated in any way.

On top of all of this, you have to have a license to distribute any bulk foods in smaller containers, and you are subject to FDA as well as state inspections and having the Department of Agriculture come by and check scales and container volumes, if you are distributing bulk materials that are not in their original packaging.

Any mass distributed, home processed foods require health-inspected kitchens, FDA labeling, and a manufacturers license to make and distribute, even if you are giving them away.

This has not stopped many local farmers markets, where you can buy produce, but it does mean that if the Department of Agriculture, the FDA, or the local Health Department comes calling, you may be subject to loss of the ability to distribute, fines, or penalties depending upon: what products you are selling, what type of scales or containers you are using (scales must be certified accurate, containers must be new or certified sterile), and other intrusive regulations precluding your ability to sell or distribute home grown products. In other words, at any given farmers market, on any given day, you may be subject to fines, impoundment, or confiscation, even as we speak.

Why am I telling all of you this great trivia? Well, basically I am trying to get you to think about the ramifications or benefits of this type of government oversight that is currently in force for food distribution, even when food is being given away. As it says in the “Good Book”, “My people parish from lack of knowledge!” Knowledge is power and in times of ever-increasing risk of redistribution, confiscation, and “fair re-allocations of assets”– all even more probable during times of disaster or martial law, what guidelines will the government follow if they come to your home for food seizures, confiscations, and redistribution of assets? What can you expect when your rich “uncle” decides it is necessary to come and take food and provisions from those who have been preparing and give them to the “less fortunate” or less informed?

IF you think our government is not capable of or unwilling to do such things, just ask anyone who ran an aid station, food pantry, or shelter during the “government occupation” of the southern states affected by Hurricane Katrina. (I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I have had personal conversations with aid workers and read several first-hand accounts of the type of treatment local non-profits suffered during the aftermath of the carnage we call Katrina.) Guns were not the only thing the government commandeered or appropriated, without reimbursement or receipts. Farm equipment, construction equipment, supplies, and other personal property were illegally taken by the Alphabet agencies sent to help the population in need of asset redistribution. We do not hear so much about the type of “legal looting” the government is capable of.

Say it isn’t so! But I digress!

What I believe each of you should know and understand is that it might be to our benefit to have a large percentage of the preps we have set aside NOT be store bought, neatly packaged, well organized, categorized, and documented for anyone and everyone to see. Not only can they not take what they do not see (read alternative cashes), they will probably not remand non-compliant produce that is not processed, manufactured, and labeled for the entire world to see. Am I saying it is wrong to purchase, inventory, rotate, and organize canned, dried, or pre-packaged foods or MREs? No! These items are all great for being ready for possible difficult times.

What I am saying is that there may be others interested in your inventories, and we need to make our inventories as uninteresting and undesirable as we can, as much as we can and as best we can. Put most of your bulk food stuffs (beans, rice, grains, flour, sugar, popcorn, et cetera) in different, hand-labeled cartons, bags, baggies, jars, canisters, hoppers, buckets, tins, and the like. Hand labels are wonderful, containing dates, quantities, product names and even a portion of your cans can be so modified as to make them unappealing for the food, redistribution police.

If you are not skilled in home food preservation, get educated, read, watch, participate, join in, grow, process, dry, can, freeze, and maybe even remove a label or two, or dent a few cans, and repackage stuff so it is less appealing to the government or others to commandeer.

I am convinced that there are those the Lord may ask us to help or send our way during lean or difficult times. If they try and take by force, they are not welcome, but if they come in humility, we will try and help with the assistance that we have at our disposal. My wife and I have hearts to help as many as we can, as safely as we can, and as wisely as we can. If the redistributors come to check on our goods, we have made them as unappealing as possible to prevent them from being taken from us. If all is taken from us, we definitely will not be able to help ourselves or offer help to others. I, for one, believe in options and choices, and I am trying to increase the odds by making confiscation a less appealing proposition.

Remember, there are lots of great reasons to be self-sufficient and process as much of your own food as possible, and how you store and organize your nonperishable does make a difference in your options.

May God bless, guide, and protect you as you navigate these potentially difficult times. I believe He is our best option in any circumstance. He may send a life boat or He may ask us to swim, but He will never leave us or forsake us in times of trouble.

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