Being self sufficient has many facets, I live in an energy efficient dome home and eat good organic food, I am also on a budget as I work toward being self sustaining. Many years ago while working as a cook in a lumber camp I discovered the cost savings and convenience of bulk buying. As you know we grossly overpay for our food at grocery stores and are in no way assured of quality of freshness. Though the price of organic produce has been coming down, most organic products come at a premium. When we buy our beans, rice and grains from the grocery store we not only pay a premium for small quantities, we have no idea how it was stored, its age or the quality of the source.
What if I told you there is a far better way to buy organic foods; it is possible to get the freshest best sourced product for far less. Start by registering a wholesale buying club composed of six to eight members and approach a local bulk and organic food wholesaler. The next step is to find a reputable wholesaler that deals in bulk organics and get their catalogue, these are often available online. We used Dandy Foods in Richmond, BC. Check to find out what their minimum order is and be prepared to rent a sizable truck for pick up. They will deliver to a wholesaler near you if they have a warehouse in the area that they supply but even then you must be prepared to pick it up when it arrives. Dried goods come in 10 to 50 kilo sacks arranged on skids, they will forklift them onto your truck at source but be prepared to hump them if you pick up elsewhere.
When ordering you can agree with others in the group to split quantities, storing your supplies to ensure freshness and longevity is simple using a method developed by the Hutterites. Huterites have long had a tradition of buying and storing bulk goods to share in the community. The process requires a number of 5 gallon buckets with rubber gasket lids and a supply of wax paper, birthday candles and ice. A fifty lb bag of kidney beans will fill three buckets while a fifty lb. Bag of rice will fill two. Depending on what you order $1500.00 will fill 30 to 35 buckets. Wash all buckets and lids in a hot bath with detergent and one half cup of bleach, rinse and dry. To line the buckets with wax paper use three long sheets that go from rim to rim across the bottom of the bucket. Pour or scoop the dried goods into the bucket leaving enough room at the top to create a concavity (a cone shaped dip in the center of the contents). Place a birthday candle in the center of the dip, light it and secure the lid, immediately hold ice on center top of lid to keep candle from melting through. The birthday candle consumes the oxygen in the bucket leaving only nitric oxide and goes out surprisingly fast, your food is now in stasis for up to ten years. I like to fill a large pickle jar for immediate use, I fill and label each jar with whatever I`m storing giving me a two month on hand supply.
When the pickle jar is empty I simply open the bucket, refill and reseal, I can often use the same birthday candle two or three times so little of it burns. I am awed by how fresh and vital the food remains using this simple method, I have easily sprouted mung beans that have been stored this way for over five years! With the ever increasing price of foods like rice, beans and grains this strategy allows you to afford good organic product at reasonable cost and helps to hedge against rising prices. In 2008 I approached my local organic market about buying their organic quinoa in bulk; they sold it by the pound for $2.69 which according to my research was a good price. It was shipped to them in ten kilo sacks from Bolivia and I ordered a sack of red as well as white quinoa. When I went to pick up my order the market sold it to me for $1.69 a pound, an excellent deal. The ten kilo sacks filled my buckets just over half full as it is a small tight grain, I did not want to mix the red and white together so decided to order another sack of each. The second order was perfect as it filled both buckets and a large pickle jar of each. The quinoa in the pickle jars lasted me almost two years and within that two years quinoa had risen from $2.69 to $5.69 per pound. Last year as I refilled my jars again the price of quinoa was $7.69 per pound. I will be able to refill my jars another three or four times from these buckets, I find it convenient to always have a supply on hand and the savings are obvious.
Whole foods store beautifully with this method and can provide your family with a great degree of food security. A five gallon bucket each of rice and beans (which form a whole protein) can sustain a family of five for months. The power of group buying saves you money and can also expand your diet to include such yummy grains as millet, spelt and wheat which I sprout, it’s excellent. Get inspired, this method offers a practical, economical way to store good organic foods at a reasonable cost. Get together with your friends, make a weekend of it, sure its work but you will love the quality, the price and the convenience of having the supplies on hand. Stretch beyond the conditioning of the market place, save your families future while enjoying future savings.
You may not have plans to build a dome home but with the rapid advance of GMO round up ready seeds and continuing environmental crisis it may be time to secure your food supply.