|Essalunga Supermarket, Milan, Italy|
25 February 2020
Prudence prevents panic.
A Coronoviral Stitch in Time
You have likely been following the spread of COVID-19, which has to date evaded containment. Responsible agencies such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control are publicly urging citizens to prepare for a pandemic.
Standard, official containment measures include voluntary and enforced personal health measures, social distance (isolation) and travel restrictions. Quarantine is currently being enforced in Asia and Europe.
What this means is that, should we find ourselves in an area of contagion, we may be confined or confine ourselves to a limited area, and possibly our homes.
An immediate response to quarantine is panic buying of food and supplies, leading to local short-falls. In pandemic conditions, those short-falls may become widespread. Public utilities may not provide continuous service.
Panic is never helpful, but timely, prudent actions widen our options.
We urge that you strategically arrange essential water, food, supplies and medications ahead of crisis (as soon as possible), to sustain for an extended period without resupply.
A wait-and-see approach is likely to leave us unprepared for official, rapid containment responses in emerging conditions.
Last minute purchases - or at least the attempt amongst the crowd - are then the only remaining option. Goods may rapidly become wildly inflated or unavailable at any price. Panic and desperation are common consequences.
For how long is a good question. US Government sources recommend two weeks for pandemic conditions. COVID-19 quarantines in China handily exceeded this period. This does not appear to take into account possible to probable supply chain, economic or social disruptions which could extend a period of self-reliance.
We recommend three months as a working minimum, with a year preferred. Think of it as affordable, edible insurance.
Death from the virus is not likely for most of us. But reaction, over-reaction and inappropriate reactions by institutions, business and individuals may well create and extend a situation in which supplies are scarce or prices inflated. This is already the case in parts of Eurasia.
We suggest staple foods which don’t require refrigeration.
Whole grains and legumes, pastas, raw nuts, dried fruits, vegetables and spices, dry cheeses and salamis, and canned goods keep well, are (presently) inexpensive and can be used in everyday cooking (even if nothing significant happens).
Eggs keep surprisingly well (several months) if kept cool and turned once a week. Best if unwashed and never refrigerated, but even store-bought last. Consider oiling to block pores. Float and sniff test before adding to other food when getting on. Should NOT float nor smell ‘off’.
A mixture of 2 parts rice (grains) to 1 part lentils (legumes) provides a complete protein, carbohydrate food base which stores well. It can be ‘dressed up’ with spices and various ingredients for a wide range of meals.
We calculate total, dried starchy carbohydrates at ~8 pounds (~1 gallon) per person per month. That's three, four-gallon buckets per person per year.
Note: This amount of starchy carbs provides about 1/3 of the daily calories recommended for a sedentary male. Other calories would be supplied by supplemental foodstuffs, especially oils. If they are your only source of calories, consider tripling this amount.
Consider a camping stove and fuel in case deliveries are interrupted. Retained heat cookers conserve fuel. Wood / biomass burning stoves use fuel on hand.
We urge you to lay in supplies now, ahead of the arrival of COVID-19 in your area.
Wishing health and happiness to you and yourn,
Dave and Anke
In the picture of the Milanese shelves leading this post, we see that only certain shelves have been denuded, while others remain stocked. This is not yet total panic buying.
Some runs have been selective and others less so. Runs are occurring across the globe; common in outbreak areas and increasingly in advance.
What's clear is that the window for measured preparation is closing.