How to Prepare for a Food Shortage
From a global pandemic to ever-increasing geopolitical instability worldwide, the world has changed and disrupted many lives. Just a few short years ago, almost no one would have predicted a global food shortage in 2022, yet with the year halfway over, it is looking like there will not be enough food to feed every mouth around the world.
While the bountiful, fertile land and strong agricultural industry of the United States will save this country from the worst of it, the interconnected global food supply chain could potentially lead to empty shelves in grocery stores. Feeding your family must be your priority. Preparation is key to staying safe, fed, and stable during this time of uncertainty.
Preparing for a food shortage is difficult because many foods are perishable. However, there are steps you can take and foodstuffs you can buy in advance that can keep your family fed and secure while giving you peace of mind while the world stumbles.
How to Prepare for a Food Shortage
The past few months have seen increasingly dire predictions for the second half of 2022, which begs the question: is a food shortage coming soon? Food security experts have begun to sound alarms, warning that the current food stocks are insufficient to feed the world's population.
If the crisis is as serious as predicted, do you have a plan to adapt? Are you prepared if shelves are empty and food becomes hard to find?
First, you need to understand your food needs. Adult men need between 2,000-3,000 calories per day to stay in good health, women need between 1,600-2,400, and children need between 1,200 and 1,800, depending on their age. Of this, at least 500 calories must be from nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, or meat.
You should prepare at least three days of emergency food supply for everyone in your family, though more is recommended. A food shortage may result in a limited supply of only certain goods. If this is the case, keeping a one-month supply of foods like rice, beans, and dry noodles ensures you have some staples. Frozen fruits, vegetables, and meat are excellent options if you have freezer space.
Remember that food is more than just the basics, stock up on salt, spices, cooking oil, and other ingredients you like to add to your food. Many of these ingredients have a long shelf life, so buy in bulk to be prepared.
Consider growing a garden if you have free space in your yard and live in a temperate climate. Learning to can and preserve seasonal fruits and veggies from your garden and the supermarket can help add nutrition and taste to your prepared food.
Why is there a food shortage in 2022?
There are several reasons we are facing a food crisis in 2022. Before you begin preparing, it is essential to understand the underlying causes behind the issues.
The shortages began at the height of the pandemic when China, the world’s largest nitrogen fertilizer producer, decided to ban fertilizer exports. China does not produce enough food to feed itself, and due to environmental degradation, domestic farming is very fertilizer intensive.
Due to harsh COVID-19 lockdowns, China closed its ports for lengthy periods causing supply chain backups on all goods, which had a knock-on effect on the agricultural sector.
The crisis spiraled when war broke out in Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are huge food exporters, and the war and subsequent port blockage and international sanctions have largely cut them out of global food supply chains.
Russia and Belarus, both heavily sanctioned countries, are the world’s second and third largest producers of potash fertilizer.
The absence of Ukraine and Russia is a massive problem for food supplies, but they could normally be supplemented by two Southern Hemisphere giants: Argentina and Brazil. However, the Argentine agricultural belt is enduring a 13-year mega-drought, lowering crop yields and rising prices. Brazilian farming is some of the most fertilizer intensive in the world and is acutely affected by global shortages.
This unfortunate connection of factors has led to an acute global food crisis, from Egypt, where 75% of their food came from Ukraine and Russia to Sri Lanka, whose government has depleted all of its foreign reserves just to ward off famine.
How bad will the food shortage get?
The exact impact of the food shortages is still unknown, but it seems that the worst-hit areas will be in the developing world and non-agricultural countries, particularly in Europe, Africa, and Asia. While the United States is perhaps the best-positioned country to ride out this period of uncertainty, there is still a possibility that food shortages will have a profound and potentially devastating effect.
Even if you live in the States, there is a chance you will be affected, and you must prepare in advance for whatever the coming months have in store. Shortages and price spikes can send people to stores in droves, panic buying all they can. Rather than fighting to buy what’s left, it is far better to be at home with a pre-purchased supply.
How to survive a food shortage
Food is critical for your survival. If you do not consume enough calories or nutrients each day, you can suffer from malnutrition which can cause numerous health complications from anemia to respiratory distress.
To ensure that you and your family have a diverse range of food to meet your nutritional needs, you need to create a preparedness plan, including a food shortage preparation list.
Your plan should be tailored to your region and family’s dietary needs. For example, if you have an infant, you should prioritize sourcing baby formula or ingredients for safe emergency formula recipes.
If you have family members with gluten allergies, focus on stocking up on gluten-free staples like rice, oats, and corn. For pet owners, ensure that you secure a month’s worth of dry and wet food for your pets to manage future shortages in pet food supplies.
Water should also be a critical part of your preparedness plan—stock enough potable water to supply one gallon per day per family member for at least three days.
Your preparedness checklist should consist primarily of shelf-stable pantry staples like beans, lentils, rice, and flour. Shop in bulk and store your supplies in air-tight, pest-proof containers to prevent spoilage. Keep your supplies organized using a first-in, first-out inventory management style, ensuring that the oldest products are eaten first to minimize wastage.
If your household eats meat, consider buying an extra-large chest freezer to store a 6-month supply of meat. You can source meat in bulk by buying directly from ranchers, farmers, or wholesalers like Costco. This can also help you save money on food costs and ensure that your meat is at peak freshness before you freeze it.
Supplement fresh and frozen goods with long-term foods like MREs or food storage buckets. A 3-day survival kit can give you the food and basic medical supplies you need for emergencies. A 120-serving emergency food supply can supplement your diet with nutritious food in times of a shortage.
It is essential to choose the right food for you and your family and keep it ready for emergencies. Periodically check all expiration dates to ensure everything is ready at a moment’s notice, and keep a survival backpack or a bug-out bag prepared for whatever situation arises.
What to buy in a food shortage
Understanding how to prepare for global food shortage can help you and your family survive the worst of the crisis.
The best way to survive a food shortage is to stock up on food while it is still plentiful and prepare whatever supplies you need well in advance. It looks like the worst of the crisis will hit America later in 2022, so it is crucial you begin stocking up now. Several food types look to be the worst hit in the upcoming shortage:
- Meat and poultry (especially pork and pork-based products)
- Wheat (and wheat-based products like bread and pasta)
- Canned goods
- Pet food
- Baby formula
Paper products like toilet paper, kitchen towels, and tissues are also likely to be in short supply due to shortages of pulp supplies from the ongoing Ukraine-Russian war.
Not sure how much food you need to store? Check out our article here to get an idea.
When will the food shortage end?
Due to the interconnectedness of the food supply chain and the ongoing social and political situations in Europe, China, and southern Asia, the food shortage looks set to worsen through to the end of 2022.
The World Bank recently released a $30 billion plan as part of a global response to the ongoing food security crisis over the next 15 months. The plan includes:
- Support programs for producers by removing input trade barriers and developing more efficient use of fertilizers
- Boosting trade increases by avoiding export restrictions that increase global food prices and import restrictions that reduce production in developing countries
- Scaling up nutrition-sensitive social protection programs for vulnerable households
Tough Times Require Preparation
If food shortages are as dire as some economists predict, they could devastate every corner of the globe, America included. It is essential to understand how to prepare for food shortage in 2022, so you have a well-stocked supply of food for your family. This will insulate you from shortages of specific materials and save your wallet from potential price spikes.
And it never hurts to have an 72-hour food supply in your bugout bag.
Uncertain times call for decisive action, and you should prepare to keep your family safe, and well-fed no matter the circumstances.