Saturday, January 7, 2012

Feeding My Family Makes me a Terrorist?

According to Senator Rand Paul (and rampant internet rumor), "someone who has more than seven days of food in their house can be considered a potential terrorist."  Because of this, a lot of people have expressed concern that I might be considered a possible terrorist because I am (quite publicly) trying to get a year's supply of food stored for my family's use.  Am I worried?  No.

First off, I don't think someone that was amassing a supply of food for nefarious purposes would be so open and public about it.  Secondly, all one has to do is look at my background to see why I might be doing a little stockplin'.  And, no, I'm not talking about my white, middle-class, good girl, nice college educated background, although that probably wouldn't hurt.  I'm talking about my adult life where things haven't gone so well, despite that quality, yet strangely worthless, college education.  The adult life where there have been times that I've had $5 or less to feed my family for a month and relied heavily on foraging, since I didn't know how to garden yet and didn't have a good place to do it in our apartment.  Or the aspect of the adult life where we had to live with my husband's mom for seven years before we could get a place of our own.  The adult life where my husband was injured on the job and couldn't work for nearly a year, then let go from that job about a year and a half later.  In other words, we've struggled.  A lot.  Money is constantly uncertain and, for many of these times, food was very uncertain as well.  These are the reasons I learned to forage, to garden, and to cook so darn well.  No, I'm not sitting around feeling sorry for me or my family, I'm just explaining why, other than terrorism, someone might gather an extensive supply of food while they have the means to do so.

While stories like that of my family may not be that uncommon (or maybe it is, since I think a lot of people would have just given up by now instead of keep getting back up for more), there are bunches of other reasons I can think of that someone may amass enough food to last months or even years:
  • Gardeners: while many may see us as a sick bunch with our dedication to making green things grow, we like our homegrown goodies and try to make them last, so we preserve them, if we can, to last through the off season
  • Canners: also a twisted group of souls (which of course, I wouldn't say unless I was part of this group), we love the sound of the pop when a jar seals and the corresponding pop when it is opened.  Because of this goofy obsession (if you don't think it is goofy, just look at the expression on a canner's face when either pop sounds), we want to make the fun last throughout the year.
  • Hunters: without this group, there would be a lot more starving beasties and more car/deer collisions throughout the year, but I don't know of any family that can eat an entire deer in a week or less.
  • Extreme couponers:   a group considered by many to be at least slightly crazy, but not dangerous (unless maybe you get in their way of a deal), they get stuff when the stars, or at least the sales and coupons, align right.  Since that doesn't happen for every item every week, they get the mass quantities when they can.
  • Mormons: it's a religious imperative to have a year's supply of food.  I'm not sure why, because I've never really looked into their beliefs, just the great lists of what one should have for such a supply, but I'm fairly certain Mormons are not known for terrorist activities.
  • Elderly people: anyone that lived through the Great Depression or WWII is likely to have tendencies to get the goods when they can (I remember seeing my grandma's pantry after she moved on, with its approximate bagillion cans, especially kidney beans.  She had about a googolplex cans of kidney beans for some reason).  Even as this generation dies off, their influence continues on with younger people that learned from them.
  • People who live in the country: Gas is expensive.  When the nearest store is in a neighborhood far, far away, it doesn't make sense to get groceries every few days or even every week.  Limiting the trips to the store can save a lot of money.
  • People who only get paid every couple weeks or even less often:  if you get paid less often than once a week, but are living paycheck to paycheck, sometimes that money can seem to evaporate pretty quickly!  Many, many people will buy their groceries for the entire payperiod, at least the bulk of them, in one trip, so they don't end up short on food at the same time as they are short on funds.
  • People who live in disaster prone areas: I don't know how many stories I've heard in my life, usually from people in hurricane prone areas, of the stores being closed for at least a week, sometimes as long as a month, after a storm.  If you only have a week of food at a time, you'd have to wait until the last minute before the storm hits in order to have enough food to possibly be okay until the supply chain reopens.
  • Anyone that listens to the CDC: the CDC recommends a minimum two week supply of food be maintained in the home.  From their website: "Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supplies for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply that will last that long."  FEMA and the American Red Cross concur, strangely enough using the exact same language in this document on emergency preparedness.  While I'm sure there are some people that would disagree, I'm pretty sure the US government wouldn't consider the CDC, FEMA, or the Red Cross to be organizations engaged in or encouraging terrorist activity.
So whether your reasons be religious like the Mormons, following the government's own recommendations, practical like the people who buy groceries when they get paid, or common-sensical, like elderly people or people in hurricane or winter weather zones,  or other one of the other crazy reasons I listed, I really think, if the only "suspicious" activity one is engaged in is having a larger than average supply of food on hand, you probably don't have anything to worry about.  Come to think of it, I bet when you consider all these different groups, having more than a week of food in your house is probably downright normal!

How long could you go without buying food, if you needed to?  Do you fall into one or more of the categories I mentioned if you do have more than a week's worth, or do you have reasons I may not have thought of?

This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #10.


  1. I posted on this very subject earlier this week... We live on an island dependent on shipments of food from mainland Britain but as an island nation we also have the goal of attaining food self-sufficiency. However, due to delayed or cancelled ferries this week, our weaknesses in self-reliance were displayed by the lack of certain essentials which we produce on-island. These continued cancellations have already led to panic buying and even a bit of hysteria in the last six weeks.

    So I agree with you that keeping a good stock of food for the case of ANY kind of emergency or shortage is a wise thing to do.

    PS - This link explains why Mormons store food

  2. I am on the fringes of the "prepper" community, groups of people who believe the world is going to h*ll in a handbasket There's been a LOT of talk about the list of things that can peg you as a suspected terrorist. The food thing is just one, but it really is there. I don't have the original document on hand, but I went and read the whole stupid bill, some thousand pages of b.s. from the government, and lordy it was there. It's stupid, and as you say, I doubt that's something the gov't is going to use against us under normal circumstances. However... it does get touchy.

    Somewhere out in AZ, they arrested a guy for "hoarding" because he had stored up food, ammo, and (non-weapon/survival style) military gear for his own use. He didn't have a huge cache of guns (a couple of hunting rifles and a handgun, small beans in the prepper world). They claim that his "hoarding" caused hardship for others in his community, because in an emergency he would have more than they did. I was like... um, what?? But that's how the gov't is thinking right now.

    Just be wary. In a real emergency, your neighbors will turn to you because they know you have food. Don't let that turn into the gov't taking away half or more of it because it's "unfair to the others in your community." :(

    1. Which bill would this be and where would I find it?

  3. If more people thought in any way like we do,there would be a lot less dependence both on the grocery store,and on emergency services like FEMA when something does happen.

    Yes,I have quite a well stocked pantry...yes I garden,can,and preserve...yes we are working on lessening our need for grocery store foods.

    I had to purchase a second freezer because my garden did so well...does that make me a terrorist or just a lucky gardener?

  4. One of the hurricanes I lived through taught me how important it is to have more than a week's worth of food at home. All of the stores and restaurants had to close as soon as the electricity went out, and it stayed out for 5 days. Also, there was a 'boil water' requirement because the treatment plants were without power also. People with electric stoves had no means to boil their water and some people had no water at all. FEMA sent in trucks full of ice and bottled water, but the county commissioners, who were mostly Cuban, decided to send all of it to the few cities and neighborhoods which had almost exclusively Cuban residents. The rest of us received nothing. To make matters worse, many roads were closed and travel lmited due to downed power lines and trees. So many people were stuck where they were, with only the provisions in their own cupboards and without a working stove, for 5 days.

  5. I'm not too worried about people thinking I have more than they do in an emergency either. My next door neighbor is known by the area to be an extreme couponer (and I'm sure she's not the only one around here) and hunters are common here. There are BUNCHES of people here in the trailer park who would have just as much as me, or possibly even more!

  6. This entire terrorist thing is just crazy!!! I'm LDS (Mormon) so I can tell you we believe in having a years' supply of food(and have a savings acct, and keep some gallons of water on hand) because "be prepared" is just a good motto for boy scouts and everyone else. Eventually, most everyone has a rough time (although you have had wayyy more than your share) and it is a comfort to know if income is lost then you have a way to feed your family until you can recover. If you can't meet basic needs then it is hard to focus on anything else. Maybe a month comes along when you need your grocery money for a medical expense or something--if you have food in the house you can get by. Life happens. Just the other day our water was off all day when a water main burst. I was happy to have water on hand to wash hands, brush teeth, drink and use to cook throughout the day.

  7. Count me in on the possible terrorist list, lol. I fit quite a few of those people on the list including gardener, canner and couponer. I've tailored and scaled back and worked on donating surplus we won't use quickly, but if push came to shove we'd be able to eat a good amount of calories for weeks.

    Living in New England I am in good company as many people understand the benefits of a stocked larder and emergency supplies.

  8. Awesome Chris!!! I'm posting to the wall of my fb page:) Thank you for sharing on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways!

  9. Maybe this is only because I come from a Mormon perspective on the issue, but I find Senator Rand Paul's comment more harmful than the hopeful majority who keep more than a weeks supply in their home at all times. A one week supply really isn't very much. I enjoy your frankness. I fit into at least four of those categories and can totally relate. While I recently decided to switch to buying my fresh vegetables in smaller quantities and more often so I can have them fresher and more delicious, I am never without at least a month supply of any number of things. A year only something I dream about right now. I found your link through Frugally Sustaineable and I'll be back. Thank You
    -Andrea @

  10. I almost sounds as if you are saying this is what Ran Paul said...if you listen to what he said he was repeating what the Govt. said and letting others know as a warning.

  11. Yup! We're gardeners, canners, bulk shoppers, and have months and months of food on hand! Back when I was a single mom with two little toddlers and ran out of money I was sure glad for that!!! I lived out of my pantry for months :)

    On top of that we're public about it! In fact just today I posted about how to start buying in bulk without breaking the bank!

    We're all set for the apocolypse, but maybe not the preceding government crack-down.

  12. Hi,

    Stocking up food for at least seven days doesn't make you a terrorist it just makes you a better prepared person. I have to agree with a previous post though, Rand Paul doesn't believe your a terrorist. He is repeating what our government believes and is warning us about the foolishness of it all!

  13. I wanted to chime in and agree with anon. regarding Senator Paul. Guys, I'm with you, I'm trying to be frugal and stockpile food and ammo, and be as self-sufficient and sustainable as possible. But you are misunderstanding what Sen. Paul said. He is arguing IN YOUR FAVOR. His statement was a narrative telling you what that the government has laws that categorize people who may be terrorists, including people who have guns, more than 7 days of food, weatherproofing, etc. These people may be suspected terrorists and can be detained by the government indefinitely without trial if this National Defense Authorization bill passes. We're talking about American citizens here who are supposed to be protected by the 4th amendment. If you watch this clip from C-SPAN of Sen. Paul speaking about this, you will notice around 1:12 he is saying that he wants to "strike these detainee provisions from the bill."

    I'm not trying to be argumentative, I just want y'all to know that he is one of the few senators actually fighting for our liberty, unlike some other democrats and RINO republicans who want to get around the constitution and support this bill allowing Americans to be detained on suspicions without reasonable proof of any wrongdoing.

  14. Just to clarify, I never said Rand Paul was for or against the statement he made. I just said that he said it, which is true. I know it wasn't his idea or something he supports, but I wasn't able to find any other reputable source for that information, so he was my source for that quote.

  15. Using only what we have on hand I'm pretty sure we could go 2-3 months at least. Of course we may need to get a bit creative but it's easily do-able

  16. I just read your article. Really wanted to comment that I admire you greatly! I have not been stocking up but I would love to get started by growing a garden and canning. I say you are one of the wisest women on the planet and you are making or by now have made a huge headway towards being able to be self-sufficient in these trying times and being able to feed your family on a shoestring budget. On a side note, I love the fact that you are a Zumba instructor!