Letter Re: Bugs in the Pantry

Mr. Rawles,
I’m new to prepping. But for some time now, when I go to Costco, I pick up peanut butter, a bag of rice, or a bag of beans to toss in the closet. I really like storing wheat, because it seems to have a much longer shelf life, but it is a little harder to find than rice. I figure I’ve probably got about nine months to a year worth of food for myself now. I know that the bugs will get into it eventually, and I’ll throw a bunch out and start over. I’ve been examining rice in the super markets for years, and I can tell you that a lot of it has bugs in it before you even bring it home. The trick is to use it before they “blossom.”

What happens if there is a crisis and I go to my closet, and I find out the bugs have blossomed? I figure this sort of thing must happen in the Third World all the time, and I have a very hard time believing the locals just throw it out. Is it okay to just wash it and cook it? I’ve noticed that most of the bugs float to the top and can easily be removed. But what about the bug excrement?

I tried a little experiment yesterday, and boiled some wheat to make soup. It had been stored for at least ten years, maybe fifteen. It was just starting to show bugs, so I washed it about 5 times, and then boiled it, seasoned it with some mushrooms, dried broth, and a can of diced tomatoes and ate it. It tasted fine, and now about 28 hours later, I’m showing no ill effects.

I’m guessing that after the TSHTF, a lot of us are going to have the opportunity of eating a lot of food that bugs and maybe rats have sampled before us. Any advice? Also, do you know of any good places to buy bulk foods (say 25 lb.or 50 lb. bags) of less common staples, like lentils, barley, or beans other than pinto beans? – Jonathan Z.

JWR Replies: Things might not be too bad now, but once your pantry starts to develop a bug infestation, you’ll be will be in an escalating war that you will lose. Trust me, without better packaging, the bugs will win.

Read the SurvivalBlog archives about how to prepare rice, grains, and legumes for storage, using CO2 in food grade HDPE plastic buckets. Bugs (and their larvae) can’t breathe CO2. There are also details on this my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course–including a very simple CO2 displacement method using dry ice.

A wide variety of staple foods in bulk are available from Walton Feed, in Montpelier, Idaho. Order them in six-gallon Super Pails.