Ever have one of those days when you wonder if you did, indeed, just fall off the turnip truck? When you come across something so completely foreign to you, but presented so matter-of-factly, that you wonder in paranoia if you are the only one on the planet who had never considered it?
Welcome to my Saturday morning.
I was innocently browsing the Costco “Online-Only Offers” sales flyer that came in yesterday’s mail, when I stumbled across this product:
4-Person 1-Year Food Storage
30,144 total servings of vital nutrients. Including grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein, baking essentials, and drinks. Up to a 25-year shelf life. $3,499.99 delivered after $500 off.
I’m not totally naïve. We get ice storms and the occasional hurricane here in Virginia…it’s very possible we could be stuck without power for a couple days. Nor am I totally unprepared; we have some basic emergency supplies, and I even know where most of them are. But our food rations, when they haven’t been raided because I’m too lazy to go to the store, consist of a case of bottled water, a Costco-sized multi-pack of canned tuna, some sliced peaches in light syrup, a jar of Jif, and a mega-box of granola bars. Stockpiling a year’s worth of food never, ever, not once crossed my mind.
Is this for real? Do people really do this? Judging by the nine product reviews on the Costco website (seven of which actually seemed legit) people really do. Browsing the site for more info only led to more questions.
Why? Why would anyone hoard a year’s worth of food? Nuclear attack? Asteroid impact? Alien invasion? Zombie apocalypse?
What will the neighbors think when the UPS man rolls up your drive and stacks 63 boxes on the front porch? Apparently, UPS is not involved—it seems that a private shipper, in a truck much larger than the standard brown UPS van, delivers a pallet, which is discretely wrapped in black plastic to hide its contents from the prying eyes of neighbors.
Why the need to hide this delivery from the neighbors? A couple guesses here. One, so that they won’t be able to confirm that you are indeed the paranoid doomsday adherent they’ve always suspected you to be. Two, so that when the end does come, you won’t have to defend your stash from hordes of ravenous neighbors who know that back in 2013 you alone on the block prepared for this very scenario.
Where does one store this kind of cache? The shipment consists of 378 #10 (one gallon) cans of food. At an average of 4.5 pounds per can (dependent upon contents), that’s 1710 pounds of food that needs a home. I’ve never seen a pantry designed for that sort of storage. Shelves would buckle, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the floor wouldn’t follow suit. Even in our house, where our “safe room” is a concrete floored, windowless storage room tucked in the back corner of the lower level, stockpiling that much food would be a logistical nightmare.
How does the manufacturer ensure a 25-year shelf life (on selected products)? I slice a banana onto a scoop of vanilla ice cream to make a banana split, and the fruit is turning brown before I get downstairs and settle on the couch to eat it. What in God’s name does one do to banana slices (two cans are included) to make them last for 25 YEARS??
What should one do with all this food In the event that the end of the world as we know it does not come before the food’s expiration date? At $3499.99, I certainly can’t, in good conscience, just send it to the landfill. On the eve of their 20-year expiration, do I donate 27 pounds of fudge brownies to the local elementary school’s bake sale? Do I throw a party in year 10, and try to slip 18 pounds of canned sausage into some creative hors d’oeuvre? As for the 42 cans of hard white winter wheat, I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea where to start, short of chucking it out the back door for the birds.
Photo courtesy of Grain Inspection, Packers
and Stockyards Administration, USDA.
After a whole day of pondering these imponderables, I’m exhausted. Regardless of how irresponsible it makes me seem, I can’t see myself purchasing a year’s worth of food to be delivered on a shrink-wrapped pallet. If the world ends and we run out of tuna and peanut butter, perhaps someone better prepared than I will share a can or two of taco TVP*.
*TVP = textured vegetable protein