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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Sustenance Food and Complementary Food

Another way of looking at food storage is by the types of food that we store. Sustenance food is what will sustain you, keep you alive. Complementary food enriches the diet and helps keep you happy.

Sustenance food is generally our long-term storage food. When most people begin to panic about food shortages, they panic-buy sustenance foods such as rice, pasta, and beans. Their panic focus is on the bare-bones building blocks of meals that will quickly and cheaply fill a belly. The next thing the panic buyers turned to was bread-making ingredients--wheat, flour, yeast, and other baking essentials such as sugar, baking powder, and baking soda as well as cooking oils.

Sustenance foods provide most of the carbohydrates and much of the protein, and some of the fat in our diet, as they have for millennia. Sustenance food is generally more difficult and labor-intensive to grow and requires much more land to do so. A postage-stamp-sized backyard in suburban America is not going to yield enough sustenance food to feed a family. Because these foods--grains, beans, oils, sugars, salt, and milk are labor- and land-intensive, they are the foods a family needs to store in abundance. They form the basis of a healthy diet. These foods alone can sustain individuals over the long-term. Some of these sustenance foods are short-term storage foods we can raise easily ourselves, like potatoes.

Complementary food is what we use to enrich the sustenance diet. In general, complementary food provides some carbohydrates and protein, but little in the way of fat. What it's most nutritionally valuable for is the vitamins and minerals, as well as variety in the diet. It will not sustain individuals for the long-term without a lot of effort and without at least a little acreage. Complementary food consists of the garden produce, canned, freeze-dried, dehydrated fruits, vegetables, and meats, herbs and spices. It includes the dairy, eggs, and meat we hope to raise or barter for. Some of these complementary foods can be long-term storage foods as well, particularly the freeze-dried options. Garden seeds packaged for long-term storage should also be part of the plan.

Some people get caught up in pursuing only one of these two aspects of food storage. They focus only on the sustenance foods because they are inexpensive and store well for decades. Others emphasize the complementary foods because they like eating fruits and vegetables and raising them in the garden. They're also sustainable and can be raised in the backyard, unlike the sustenance foods which require some serious acreage and labor.

When planning your food storage, it's important to keep both of these foods in mind. The goal will generally be to grow as much complementary food as possible each season so that the long-term sustenance stores are used as little as possible. There are strategies to increase garden yields, sprout grains and beans to yield more food and nutrition, and dehydrate to fit more food in less space.

At the same time, one should also be prepared for disasters, whether personal (like everyone in the family gets sick at once) or regional, like an earthquake just took out the power and water. In either of these situations, cooking from scratch is not desirable. Having some just-add-water or heat-and-eat foods should be part of any family's plans.

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