For the most part I am a huge fan of the Church’s counsel regarding finances, preparedness, and self-reliance. I love the counsel to stay out of debt and live within our means, and I need a steady diet of it. (From what I can tell you do too.) However, I find myself somewhat at odds with the counsel to keep a year’s supply of food.
If I were revising the counsel, I would tell everyone to store:
1. A one-month supply of food
2. A one-year supply of money
The purpose of food storage is to prepare us for the calamities that come along during life. Such calamities include: loss of employment, loss of income, a trucker strike, economic recession, economic depression, and the total collapse of our economic system with accompanying meltdown of society leading to the post-apocalyptic world of movies on the SciFi channel. If we had statistics on the actual occurrences of such calamities since the counsel on food storage became official in 1936, I think it is obvious that the vast majority of the calamities would fall in categories at the beginning of that list.
The beauty of money (as opposed to food) is that it is, well, money and not food. It is not perishable and it can be used to buy whatever you actually need for whatever crisis actually hits. If the calamity is a blown head-gasket in my car, money helps me out whereas my barrels of weevils and grain do not.
I am always hearing testimonials about the time someone’s family lost their job and had to live off that year’s supply of food. Such examples are wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but I have to bite my tongue to keep from pointing out that I would much rather have a year’s supply of money in such a situation. First, it could buy a kind of food my kids actually eat. Second, it could help to pay my mortgage while I’m unemployed. Third, back during the good times while I was waiting for the calamity to hit, it would have been earning interest instead of nourishing weevils.
Before anyone gets too upset with me, it is worth knowing a bit of history about the origin of the year’s supply counsel. Of course, self-sufficiency and food storage were taught going back to Brigham Young’s time. However, the current counsel dates back more specifically to the Great Depression. During the years immediately following the stock market crash in 1929 and the resulting depression, the Church took a number of steps in response. Most significantly, in 1935, Harold B. Lee (then Stake President) was called to formulate a Church-wide welfare program, which was launched the following year (1936) in April Conference. In 1937, J. Reuben Clark gave a talk in which he challenged the Saints to store a year’s supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel. That counsel is still in effect today. Ezra Taft Benson wrote in his book Come Unto Christ: “As families, we must strive to be self-reliant. Since 1936, members of the Church have been instructed to have in storage a one-year supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel. This enables one to survive loss of employment, loss of income, or even calamity, as spoken of in the revelations.”
It is worth noting that the counsel was formulated during the Great Depression when thousands of banks had failed and fortunes had been lost in the stock market. It is no surprise that the focus would be on food instead of money. However, as President Benson said, the purpose of food storage is to prepare against all types of calamity, not just worldwide disasters, and personal disasters are much much more common.
By the way, am I the only one who noticed that part about a year’s supply of fuel? Can I get a raise of hands on who has a year’s supply of fuel? As for the year’s supply of clothes, my wife has that covered for the whole ward, so don’t worry about that. If you’re in my ward, you are covered.
So what do you think, who’s ready to stuff some of those wheat barrels with some cold hard cash?
[Associated radio.blog song: Echo and the Bunnymen – Stormy Weather]