Though reasons vary by state, we can expect food shortages and higher prices this year. It is more important than ever to consider new food habits. Here are some possibilities.
- Don’t throw away food.that is still edible. The US has been wasting about 40% of the food it produces. If food is on the verge of going bad, you can eat it before it goes bad, cook it to sterilize it (e.g., in a soup), freeze it, give it away, or add it to a smoothie.
- Eat local food, especially from your own garden. If you have no land, try sprouting seeds. Consider helping a friend in their garden in return for some of what is produced. Join a community garden and have your own plot. There are many options. After you experience growing food, food prices will seem low instead of high.
- Pay attention to expiration dates but don’t assume that the food cannot be eaten if the date has passed. While testing is done by the manufacturer in setting a date, they err on the side of safety and product quality. Further, your storage conditions may be better than their test conditions, in which case the food will last longer. Note also that manufacturers sell more product if they are cautious in setting an expiration date. There is no mechanism in the can, jar, box, or bag that makes food good one day and inedible the next. For more: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/trash-it-or-eat-it-the-truth-about-expiration-dates/
- If a can is bulging, don’t eat the contents. In figuring out if food might be unsafe, consider what kind of food it is. Botulism and other types of spoilage affect meats or high protein foods, as well as preserved or fermented low-acid vegetables. Spoilage is dangerous, especially when it has little or no impact on flavor or odor. Don’t leave prepared food (meat, high protein, or low acid) unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. The meat with the shortest shelf life is turkey. Most things smell bad if they have become dangerous. In addition to smelling it, look at it. Is there mold or discoloration? If it smells and looks OK, taste it. If it tastes OK, it is most likely safe.
- There is currently high demand for seeds. If you are a beginner, you can buy seedlings at many hardware stores and garden stores to save time. You will also conserve seeds. Toward the end of their life cycle, plants produce hardy seeds that can be planted next year. Save “heirloom” (not hybrid) seeds and share them next year. Dry the seeds at room temperature and store in a sealed container in a cool, dark place. The hard-to-reach sections of a refrigerator are great for storage. (Moths will eat seeds.)
- While chemical fertilizers will give you bigger plants and higher yields, it is better to use compost made from leaves or a waste-based product such as PittMoss to promote growth. Such natural products hold water in the soil and feed soil microorganisms that feed the plants.
- If you can collect rain water, do – your plants will be happier. Fluoride stunts their growth.
- Know which weeds (for example, dandelion, garlic mustard, ragweed) and ornamentals (hostas, day lilies, violets, nasturtium, purslane) are edible. Some weeds, lambs quarters, are high in oxalic acid and should be cooked and rinsed before eating.
- There are several forms of sorrel, all high in vitamin C, that grow as weeds or can be purchased. Wood sorrel is the most tender and has a leaf shaped similar to that of clover. The leaves are uniform in color, the stems longer, and the flowers smaller than clover. Parsley is also high in vitamin C, an important nutrient in preventing scurvy.
- Beans and peas and Asian yams have edible greens.
- If you have mice or rats in your neighborhood, consider dusting tempting areas with cayenne powder and scattering thorny branches.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The contents of this post are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.