FOOD MATTERS: Having a plan for stored food leads to less waste overall

NANAIMO – Author prepared for coming rise in food prices.

I’m not half way through Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation and I can see that this is a book I will keep handy.

Author Sharon Astyk answers questions about the difference between storage and hoarding and provides answers from a life experience that has uniquely prepared her for the coming rise in food prices and the end of what she calls the “just-in-time” supermarket system (goods sold as soon as they are delivered). Astyk taught herself sustainability skills when she experienced “a terrible and scary sort of poverty” as a college student. Today she manages with her husband and family on much less money than many of us would consider adequate. She explains why eating locally is not out of reach for the poor and shares her common-sense approach to building food stores which, incidentally, will also insulate her family from disaster shortages.

As I was appreciating her approach to “pantry eating,” I was reminded of something I learned from my oldest child. She would find food stashed in my fridge which I was saving for no good reason and bring it out to be eaten. In fact, when she and her sister were studying at different universities not far from each other in Ontario, inhabitants of student residences would start asking No. 2 daughter, “When is your sister coming over?” because they knew that fridges would be emptied and good food would be cooked for everyone to share.

I discovered that we eat better when I don’t waste food by leaving it until it is no good. Supplies left over from one meal go to build a new meal with no pretence of “saving.” Macaroni casserole leads to minestrone, extra fish goes into fish cakes, roasts lead to curries. Vegetables from the garden get used at the peak of their nutritional value.

Astyk’s forthright rationale for eating stored supplies and then replenishing her stores delivers independence from the supermarket while reducing costs by using a variety of acquisition methods.

There are good recipes and excellent check lists – and no smugness in this book. Astyk knows the psychological obstacles and organized her advice to ease people into her $5-a-month plan to build three months of storage and other strategies to escape industrial food systems.


Marjorie Stewart is board chairwoman of Nanaimo Foodshare Society. She can be reached at: