Emergency Food on a Budget
by David Sims
MY PATRIOT Supply Co. is possibly the least expensive source of prepackaged emergency food. But it is still about five times more expensive than what you can provide yourself with by smart shopping. You can, for example, buy white rice for 43 cents per pound. You can buy parbroiled rice for 64 cents per pound. You can buy green split peas for $1.02 per pound.
The shipping will be free if you buy more than $35 in the same order.
One five-gallon food-grade plastic bucket costs about $13. It will hold 37.5 pounds of rice or quinoa, or 40 pounds of split peas or lentils, or 32.5 pounds of whole wheat or dark rye flour.
There are 640 calories in a cup of rice (volume when dry). There are 480 calories in a cup of split peas (volume when dry). There are about 2.5 cups per pound of either.
Let’s assume, as My Patriot Supply does, that you will eat 2000 calories per day during a food shortage emergency.
If you get half of those calories from white rice and half from green split peas, then you will use 0.625 pounds of rice and 0.833 pounds of split peas each day (weights before cooking, i.e. when dry). Your daily cost for food will be 27 cents for the rice and 85 cents for the split peas, for a total of $1.12. So a four-week supply of this kind of food, for one person, would cost $31.36.
What does My Patriot Supply want for the same amount of food? A lot more than that!
The five-gallon bucket of rice will feed you (at the 1000 calories per day rate) for 60 days. The five-gallon bucket of split peas will feed you (at the 1000 calories per day rate) for 45 days. Let’s assume that you eat more rice so that both buckets reach empty at the same time, so what you really eat is 1000 calories of split peas with about 1333 calories of rice as your daily ration. The cost of the rice becomes 36 cents per day, raising your total food cost to $1.21 per day.
How many buckets do you need to feed yourself for one year? 365 divided by 45 is about eight. So 8 five-gallon buckets of rice and 8 five-gallon buckets of split peas, including the cost of the 16 buckets, costing in total $649.65.
What does My Patriot Supply charge for a year’s supply of food? When I checked, just now, it was $3297, which is five times higher than the cost of the same amount of food obtained through smart shopping.
Despite what My Patriot Supply and the other, even more expensive, vendors of emergency food say, they aren’t a good deal. They do offer variety, but if you are buying in volume then you can shop smart on many things besides rice and split peas. You can get good deals on lentils, on whole wheat flour, on coconut oil, and lots of other things. I focused on split peas and rice because these are the least expensive of the dietary mainstays. You can, if you need to, get by on them (and an occasional vitamin C tablet) alone.
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