Stocking Up on Bulk Food for Your Homestead

A Costal British Columbian couple shares what bulk foods they purchase and how to use their basic food staples in breads, soups, desserts and more.

| November/December 1974

  • Grain Sacks
    A surplus of legumes are just the type of bulk food you need to get through the winter.

  • Grain Sacks

Here we are, in the middle of our third winter in the woods of coastal British Columbia. We're living on our boat while we wait for three and a half feet of snow to melt so that we can begin building our cabin and clearing ground for the garden.

The nearest town — or person for that matter — is 15 miles away across open water that's pretty vicious most of the winter. It isn't safe for us to travel much. So we three — man, woman and baby-child — are a very isolated unit . . . one warm pocket of a home in a great area of trees and rocks and ocean. And we're sufficient unto ourselves, because we plan it that way: We have the warmth of two wood stoves, lots of food and our own sources of amusement.

To judge from Positions and Situations, there are many people who "just gotta get away" . . . who are considering a life like ours, and will one day find themselves likewise in total isolation, dependent on their own resources. I'm writing this report for them, based on the knowledge I've gained from three years in the bush.

To prevent starvation — or, at the very least, loss of morale — it's most important to be like the squirrels in autumn and lay up enough food to last extended periods of time. Presumably you won't be able to go shopping every week once you're "back of beyond" . . . and if you're really trying to get away from civilization, you won't want to. So . . . before you enter upon your life in the woods, you get yourself a bunch of supplies.

Here's how we manage the business of stocking up. Each year we work for a short time (six weeks last summer) and buy the following:

Our Basic Staples

80 pounds large-flake slow-cooking oats
150 pounds whole wheat (we have a grinder)
10 pounds cornmeal
10 pounds assorted grains (millet, rye, etc.)
100 pounds brown rice
40 pounds whole-wheat pasta (too much, actually)
50 pounds (approximately) assorted legumes: split peas, black-eyed peas, lentils, kidney, navy, lima and garbanzo beans, etc.
150 pounds non-instant powdered skim milk
32 pounds margarine (one case)
100 pounds brown sugar
30 pounds honey
7 gallons cooking oil
10 100-fluid-ounce cans tomato paste
25-pound bucket peanut butter
12 pounds cheese
5 pounds yeast
10 pounds baking powder, potatoes, carrots, cabbages, turnips

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