Day Eight – Canned Food


I have been married for 20+ years and have four children.  One of the roles that I take seriously is as the provider and protector of my family.  In simple times, this can be done by exercising the virtue of hard work.  The sweat of the brow puts meat on the table, pays the rent, and keeps the utilities running. Locked doors, good neighbors, and the ability to call the police is enough to provide security.  But times are not always simple.  And I’m not talking about the zombie apocalypse.  Things happen and our usual routines break down.  

Here in southern New England, these things include natural events like blizzards and hurricanes and man-made ones like unemployment and municipal bankruptcy.  Most things still work most of the time, but it’s irresponsible not to plan for disruptions.  It is irresponsible not to be a “prepper.”  Up until our grandparents time, everyone was a because disruptions where part of the normal routine.  They kept a well-stocked pantry and root cellar and  were ready to defend their homes and those of their neighbors in the likely even the police could not handle things in time.

In Antifragile, Nicholas Taleb makes the point that having enough of everything you need set aside to get through some tough times is one of the very best investments you can make.  It protects you from disaster so you can focus all your attention on getting things done.  It is unfortunate that the main stream media portrays preppers as conspiracy theorists, just looking for things to worry about and justify their obsession.  This is a temptation (if you don’t believe me, listen to Alex Jones or read Prison Planet for a week!), but the great thing about having the goods and skills needed to survive disasters is that it frees you up to worry less:

  • I don’t worry about unemployment because I have developed talents that people are willing to pay for and have enough in savings (3-6 months is the minimum) and the like to get us through until I can find such people.
  • I don’t worry about natural disasters because we have enough food, water, heat, and electricity stored by to make it through short and medium term disruptions in the supply system.
  • I don’t worry about short term breakdowns in law and order because the adult members of my family have the skills we need to provide our own security (both my wife and I served in the army).

John Steinbeck put it well in Tortilla Flat;

When you have four hundred pounds of beans in the house, you need have no fear of starvation.  Other things, delicacies such as sugar, tomatoes, peppers, coffee, fish, or meat, may come
sometimes miraculously, through the intercession of the Virgin, sometimes through industry or  cleverness; but your beans are there, and you are safe. Beans are a roof over your stomach. Beans are a warm cloak against economic cold.

A #10 can of black beans costs about $15 and has 42 servings.  Better yet, a 5 gallon bucket costs about $75 and has almost 500 servings.  Match a couple of those with few 5 gallon buckets of white rice ($50, 400 servings), some bottled water and a water purifier, and you know that you can keep your family fed for a while if things get really bad.  Throw in a generator (and gas), a grill (and propane), and some way to keep things warm when the grid is down, and you can let go of all your “what-ifs.”  Throw in some really good pepper spray (or some such), basic security upgrades (a dog is a really good one; an NRA sticker is another), and CONGRATULATIONS! you have finally gotten to the place that every responsible family was before we lost our collective minds.

Theological implication.  At the very least, the Life in Christ is the spiritual equivalent of Steinbeck’s “bag of beans.”  When you have it, you don’t have to worry about all the other details in life – you are protected against the worst that the world can throw against you.  In Christ, you are finally free to live the life of love that He Himself lived.