Friday, May 01, 2009

Pantry Talk - Ponderings about the pandemic

Old habits from my former Internet life as an emergency preparedness site administrator has had me at my computer reading websites, blogs, and listening to the national news.

I've been puzzled by what the government has been saying and why this is now a level 5 (out of 6) pandemic. I know we're not to panic but is there something going on here we're not getting?

I've been doing some web surfing, it reminds me of the old days when I did this regularly for the website. It was this kind of research that had me borrowing Stephanie's laptop in the 1990s and later getting online myself.

I was once again enthralled with the search for Truth, the different opinions, and the arguments going on in the comments sections on some sites... some of which are hysterical, some obscene, and others downright scary.

I'm attempting to find the sane and knowledgeable Truth in the midst of speculation and finger pointing.

I learned that the book The Great Influenza has an account of the early stages of the 1918 flu pandemic that sounds an awful lot like what is going on today. In that case, the flu started out mild in the spring and the worst part of it came back in the fall (after being dormant all summer). Then on Thursday, I heard a report from the Mexican government saying they expect to see the end of the flu this spring and have it return in the fall... but they plan to have a vaccine by then. Let us hope.

It turns out, one of the best things we can do to prepare for a pandemic is exactly what we've been chatting about already... deepening the pantry. Mexico has already shut down businesses, schools, etc. and is asking people to stay inside. If we have on hand needed food, water, toiletries, medicines, baby needs, etc. then we could stay home should our government issue such a warning.

To make it more easily available, I've moved the "Deepening the Pantry" links higher up on the sidebar. The links toward the bottom of the list are all articles which can be quickly read for those who have no time (or desire) to do a lot of research. I just added another wonderful post from the Down-to-earth blog, a new Hillbilly Housewife post about emergency preparedness for pandemics, a link to a series from the Honey Hill Farm blog, and another great post from Casaubon's Book blog which is specifically about the swine flu pandemic.

The only thing I can add is a reminder to make an "emergency list" which I've talked about at another time. I got the idea for this list from reading a book written in the 1970s where the author was shocked to hear the government tell citizens to stock up on food due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Of course, many items were already sold out. Since that time, his family had kept a deep pantry.

That book made me think of what I'd purchase if I had to make a last minute emergency trip to the grocery store. I've kept a written list (and rewritten as I think of it off and on) and have it in a place where I can quickly find it should it be necessary. It could even be taped inside a kitchen cabinet one doesn't use very often. My good friend, BB, keeps a similar list of things to pack when they have a hurricane warning after having gone through it... forgetting essential items and taking things with them they ended up not needing.

We can't be like the ostrich, hiding our head in the sand. There is so much happening in our world today which is completely out of our hands. However, whether there is a job loss or we have to stay inside our home for weeks due to a pandemic... there is something we can do instead of wringing our hands in worry.

What an opportunity for ministry if you have the room and financial ability to stock up a little extra in case neighbors would be in need... perhaps giving them welcome food along with favorite Bible passages typed out and enclosed in a sack or your favorite inspirational book... feeding the body and soul.

Am I worried? Not at all. I work as if it was up to me to take care of my family but I pray as if it is God's work (as it is). If we prepare for anything, we are less likely to panic. If we pray, we can keep our head about us and stay calm in the midst of any crisis. God is still in control.

What a light shining in the darkness is a person who can face a crisis (pandemic, job loss, economic uncertainty, natural disaster, etc.) remaining calm and faithful through it all.

As for me and my house:

-- We're stocking up as we can given a very, very small budget. We can't do a lot but we can do a little each month and it adds up with time. Meijer's had my favorite Progresso soup for $1.00 a can a couple months ago (the chicken noodle soup I heat up when I'm sick) and that kind of sale makes it possible to stock up even on my budget. Mostly I still stay with the basics...

-- We're putting in a garden, using the money my husband will receive for the week he works at the bookstore to build a raised bed garden and plant some veggies (slightly late but still within the planting season). We planted the rhubarb yesterday, which won't be available for a couple of years but it is in the ground. :)

-- I'm continuing to look through cookbooks and recipes... those that are old family favorites and new possibilities... using food from the pantry, the garden, etc. I'm also making more simple recipes from pantry items like beans now to find what the family enjoys.

-- I am trying a few convenience foods that would be easy to prepare on days I'm not feeling well. For instance, we just had pancakes yesterday made with Krusteaz Wheat & Honey pancake mix. They were delicious!

I have two really good "scratch" recipes for pancakes on my recipe blog but these are just mixed with water and they're ready to go... great for a pantry item that is reasonable (especially when they are on sale). I'm keeping an eye out for even more inexpensive, quick, easy, and nutritious pantry foods.

-- I'm planning on making jams and jellies this year as well as doing some other canning.

-- We've decided to take extra Vitamin C (my husband already does but my son and I don't) and research other ways to naturally increase the immune system.

-- I have received extra insulin from my doctor's office, as well as filling my thyroid medicine for two months at a time.

-- I learned long ago to set back extra books, games, etc. for those times one can't leave home much or TV is not an option (during our two different "years with no income"). The library book sales, thrift stores, garage sales, and friends are great resources for these.

As I continue on this journey of "deepening the pantry" on a budget, I'll share what I'm learning along the way. I'll also add to the side bar links when I find great websites and blog posts.



Arden said...

Great ideas Brenda. I have also wondered about all the excitement about the swine flu. Time will tell.
I wanted to point out a site that I really like. The Prudent Homemaker dot com. It is worth a visit just to drool over her pantry.

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

I'm assuming it level 5 because it's not in every country yet - which I believe is level 6.

People should just wash their hands and stay home if they feel sick that would go a long way to stopping the spread of any flu. The one case we have in Georgia she went to Cancun and was really sick, went home to Kentucky, came to Atlanta to shop and then went to a wedding all the time feeling really really sick!


Mrs. Rabe said...


These are great thoughts and ideas. I was having a very similar conversation with my husband yesterday about the pandemic and the stocked pantry...thank you for the links and encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brenda for doing all the research for those of us who would like to know more about this but are not able to devote the time to research. I apprciate it!

Bonnie said...

I was waiting for you to comment on this! I am so glad that you did. I began researching the flu pandemic several years ago while I was doing genealogy and discovered that an uncle of mine died from the flu of 1918. I have come to the conclusion that the current pandemic is of great concern as the virus is entrenching itself everywhere, and while it is mild now, it could mutate into a deadlier version, and return in the fall or winter. So, I, too have returned to some sites that I discovered furing my initial research and am now in the process of stocking up. I am sending my my favorite link which has some additional lists of items one might not consider at first. It is: Thanks for your blog. I read it every day. Bonnie

scrappy quilter said...

Another great post. I love the paragraph where you said Am I worried. Wise words!!

We are doing much of the same thing. I've been slowly working on my pantry, we are gardening as usual, we've been taking Vitamin C and multi vitamins all year and we pray.

Hope you have a wonderful day.

Vee said...

Crazy times we live in...

Thank you for your most reasoned approach.

Packrat said...

My grandmother told horror stories of what happened in her tiny home town in the winter of 1919(?). I won't go into that here because it isn't pretty. But, Grandma did say she was sure that the reason everyone in her family lived was because her mother (and probably her grandmother) stood at the stove for hours frying onions for making hot onion and mustard packs to put on everyone's chests. G-Grandma did that until everyone in the house was well again.

Letters From Midlife said...

It's always good to be prepared, but when you look at the actual numbers about the swine flu, over 99.9% of Americans don't have it and probably won't. This past flu season there were 12,000 flu related deaths that didn't make the news. Take a breath and don't worry. It's called a "pandemic" because cases are showing up in several countries around the world, not just one, and most of them are quite mild. There's one case in my state and the person has already recovered from it. The media likes to make everything a crisis.

Nancy said...

In regard to deepening the pantry on a small income, check out Money Saving Mom blog. It is amazing what one can get for next to nothing if you practice what she and some of her followers do.
Today, I went to Target, equipped with the information I gleaned at the site, and coupons that were available to print from the internet.
I got five boxes of Special K cereal for 29 cents a box, after the Target $5.00 gift card that you get, this week, for purchasing five boxes of Special K. I also got deodorant, bath gel, apples and two 20 oz bottles of Vitamin Water free, after using the coupons you are directed to.

Cami @ Creating Myself said...

This whole flu thing scares the heck out of me. Fort Worth has closed all schools for over a week! That's a whole lot of revenue they are losing out they are taking it VERY seruiously.

Thanks for the sympathies on the loss of my Gizzy. He was a wonderful little dog & will always be missed but Cutie Rudy is helping me to deal w/ it.

Shan said...

Dearest Brenda,

Thank you so much for this post. I too am puzzled with the media frenzy...but anymore, they like to make everything into a large catasrophe!

I saw a short clip from Ron Paul just yesterday and he urged calm and common sense...always a wise course.

Your link to my blog was so lovely, thank you. I will be linking to your site at the end of my series as a place where those that really want to research deepening their pantry, can find abundant resources and wisdom.

I hope you have a lovely day!

Yours kindredly,
Honey Hill Farm

~~Deby said...

Brenda, think this has been on many of our hearts....
I too posted on this....
I do find it *ironic* that a week after *O* leaves Mexico we have a pandemic..hmmmmmm???? Just thinking out loud...maybe a way to push his health care thing through...hmmmmmm.....
God is still in control...

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that there is so much hype over the "Swine Flu" which has been re-named to its scientific name to reduce the possibility of people not eating pig products. The truth is that 5% of people with this strain of flu die, about the same as any other strain of flu. It's just as contagious as any other. I don't see the point of the media inciting panic in to the public and allowing it to go on. If you aren't worried, don't feel like you have to stock up. If you are feeling vulnerable, stock up a little, like for a fortnight, don't go overboard. Fear is the absense of faith.