COVID-19 has dramatically changed life around the world, impacting the way we learn, work, socialize and more. Since the pandemic began, lockdowns and desire to social distance have also changed how we shop. Problems with the consumer goods and food supply chain have occurred since the start of the pandemic, shining a light on just how important it is to be prepared in times of crisis. Read on to learn how to stock up on food, so that your family can be prepared for disruptions in the supply chain and natural disasters.
What Is Food Security?
Food security is the term for having adequate access to enough food to meet a person's dietary needs and keep the body and mind thriving at all times. The more than 800 million people around the world suffering from hunger are food insecure. Most often, the cause for food insecurity is economic. People living in poverty may simply lack the ability to purchase food, and government and charitable programs that feed the hungry may not provide enough support to fully meet their needs.
Physical barriers can also lead to food insecurity. These include disruptions in the supply chain, severe weather conditions that destroy crops and natural disasters that make it impossible to go to stores and buy food. The physical barriers to food insecurity can happen without warning and can affect anyone regardless of their finances.
What Is the Global Supply Chain?
The global supply chain refers to how raw materials and manufactured products move throughout the world. With produce, it refers to the process of moving harvested crops from the farms where it is grown to wholesalers and distributors and then finally to grocery stores and restaurants. With processed foods, the supply chain includes transporting raw ingredients to factories and processing centers and then to stores where they can be purchased. Supply chains include shipments transported via truck, boat, airplane and train.
Why Were There Supply Chain Issues in 2021?
A number of factors contributed to the supply chain problems of 2021, including:
- Shutdowns of factories and food processing centers due to COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns
- Increased demand for key goods
- Difficulty transporting raw materials to factories for production
- Backups at ports, meaning goods are waiting in boats
- Shipping containers used to transport goods are located in the wrong locations or are filled with products
- Disruptions to the work patterns of migrational laborers who harvest crops around the world
Supply Chain Problems and Food Security Issues
When grocery stores are unable to get the products that they need to fill their shelves, the customers that they serve can face temporary food security problems. People seeing mostly empty shelves can spark panic, leading people to hoard food and other goods. This only exacerbates the situation.
What Does All of This Mean for You?
Given the disruptions the worldwide supply chain is experiencing, it’s imperative to think about the needs that you and your family may have in order to plan ahead during these uncertain times. While nobody anticipates the problem becoming dire to the point that individuals in the United States are broadly food insecure or experience what the most unfortunate individuals around the world experience, having a plan in place for your family (as well as your friends and neighbors) is always a good idea.
Foods to Stock Up on for Emergency Situations
Creating an emergency food supply will make your family more likely to enjoy food security during times of crisis. Here are some foods to stock up on:
- Dried and canned beans
- Rice and grains like farro, barley and bulgur
- Onions and garlic, which have long shelf lives
- Root vegetables like potatoes and carrots that you can store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area
- Stocks and broths to enjoy alone and use in recipes
- Canned or jarred tuna or salmon
- Canned vegetables
- Canned soups
- Pasta and jars of pasta sauce
- Non-dairy or dairy canned milk
- Tea bags
- Frozen vegetables and fruits
- Frozen bread
- Hard cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan and Swiss
- Crackers, rice cakes and crispbreads
- Nut butters
- Fruit leathers
- Dark chocolate
- Cottage cheese
For food preparation:
- Cooking oil
- Your favorite condiments and spices
- All-purpose flour
- bread flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
The key to putting together an emergency food supply is to shop gradually. Don't wipe out the entire shelf of canned goods at the grocery store and cause food insecurity issues for others. Simply add one or two extras to your list each time that you shop or take advantage of warehouse stores and websites that allow you to buy in bulk.
In Addition to Rice and Dry Beans, Don't Forget About Supplements
When food security issues occur, supplements can help you bridge the diet gap and avoid nutritional deficiencies. In these scenarios, it is not always easy to maintain an optimally healthy diet. Make sure that you have multivitamins on hand. Keep in mind that children have unique nutritional needs, so it's important that you purchase a kid-friendly option if you have little ones at home.
In addition to multivitamins, you may also wish to stock up on immune support supplements. Disruptions to your diet can impact your immune system's ability to fight off germs, and stress also impairs immunity. The right supplement can help support the activities of your immune system.