I know a lot of people are looking at the price of gold at it’s all time high and rushing to put in an order. I just bought more wheat. It may be a failure of imagination on my part but I don’t get the fascination with precious metals. For me, a tangible is something I can eat, wear, plant or keep warm with.

This next part of managing your personal food supply has to do with grains and legumes. Both are vital for a varied diet  but I have some caveats before suggesting anyone go purchase 700 pounds of wheat. First, know how and where you will store it. It will take up some space and grains are susceptible to infestation by bugs and spoilage due to mold if the conditions are not right. Next, know how you will prepare it. Wheat without a grain grinder does not translate into bread. Finally, get your family used to eating it. There is a huge difference between a loaf of whole wheat bread and a loaf of that cheap, fluffy white stuff from the supermarket. Kids who have never had anything but Wonder Bread are going to balk when presented with the real staff of life. When I started baking with whole wheat, I began with a 1:6 ratio of whole wheat to white flour. I am now at 1:1 unless I am using white whole wheat which is more palatable to most kids. Then I use all whole wheat.

Wheat is cheap when bought in 50 pound sacks. If you don’t live near a place that sells it in bulk you will have to order it from a co-op or bulk supplier. Even with shipping, wheat remains a bargain. It’s the accoutrements that will break the bank. A good grain grinder is expensive. Food grade plastic buckets with gamma lids are expensive. The real estate necessary for storage is expensive. It may seem easier to just buy the whole grain flour but ground whole wheat loses a good deal of the nutrients that make it a valuable food in the first 6 weeks of room temperature storage. By the time you purchase ww flour from the market it’s already deteriorated.

I think we may need to get over the idea of private ownership of some big ticket items like grinders in the coming hard times. A church group or family center could chose to buy a grinder cooperatively and purchase grain in bulk. It would save everybody money while providing better nutrition. It could also be the cohesive force in a group, offering opportunities for shared meals, trainings and the development of further shared community resources. I know someone who has fashioned a pedal powered grain grinder from an old exercise bike. I hope she will do some demonstrations and teach the wider community how it was done. Excercise bikes are available for next to nothing at tag sales every weekend.

Wheat is not the only grain to store. Oats, barley, corn and rice are also important. All require proper storage to keep them in prime condition but all are inexpensive in bulk. For the cost of a one of those exercise bikes that are generally used to hang coats on after the first few week, you can supply a small family with a year’s worth of many grains.

I have to make a confession about beans. I love them and use a lot in my everyday cooking but I am always forgetting to soak them the night before. I often end up going to my cans of beans when it’s 5:00 and everybody is hungry. I know I could save money if I just got better organized. I think the only option for me is to dedicate a day to cooking and canning beans myself. If you don’t rotate your dried beans you may well end up with insect problems. They also require longer cooking as they get older. If you end up with dried beans you aren’t eating you can grind them and add to flour for a nutritional boost or make into a soup base.

When storing grains and legumes, don’t forget the add-ons like yeast, sweetners and spices. Plain beans are about as bland as a food can be although I should add that my girls will eat a whole can of rinsed, drained garbanzo beans as a snack. Spices can be stored for longer than you might think if stored in an air-tight container and away from moisture, light and heat. I put spice mixes in vacuumed sealed mason jars and have always been satisfied with the potency.

I made a breakfast for the girls last week of 1 cups of rice simmered in 2 cups of milk. I added some raisins and honey and they loved it.