In the fall of 2008 I was producing my own cooking series for television, with a full crew and a major corporate sponsor. When the banking collapse came, our sponsor told us no more payments would be coming, as all expenditures were frozen. I froze, too, as I could no longer pay the six people working for me.
I was scared spitless. I had a HUGE mortgage and a baby coming in less than six months, and that was on top of the business expenses. I got to thinking about my responsibility to feed my family, and I realized I had little of lasting substance in my pantry or freezer. It was all fresh, fancy foods, like expensive cheeses and meats. I had never even heard the word “prepper”.
The penny dropped hard, and in a panic I turned to the internet (never a great place to go if you’re already in a panic). One day I stumbled on a YouTube video of Judge Andrew Napolitano interviewing a self-described modern survivalist named Jack Spirko. I started listening to Jack’s Survival Podcast where he talked about storing food and other crazy stuff like guns, home security, water, precious metals, generators, alternative energy, permaculture, raising ducks, etc. And he was talking about all this in positive terms, as a way to improve your quality of life, if times get tough or even if they didn’t.
As a proponent of the local food movement, our family was already gardening, raising dairy goats, using raw milk, making cheese, canning vegetables, etc. But my dive into the internet launched my journey into prepping. I had a lot to learn, and storing food was a logical next step.
Soon after that, I embarked on a national tour to promote my Harvest Eating Cookbook. The long trips away from home scared me even more. What if the collapse hit while I was away? What would my family eat? How would my wife and kids get by? Mulling over these questions made me even more determined to proactively build security into our lives, from food security, to home defense, and beyond. I knew that living sustainably needed to be built into our lives from the ground up. And that’s why we moved across the country to rural Montana.
My audience at the Harvest Eating site and podcast already included a lot of homesteaders, so it was natural to begin sharing our family’s new direction towards preparedness, and as a result, my audience grew. I knew I was onto something that a lot of people cared about.
Even though we socked away a lot of dried food in buckets, I didn’t really integrate it into our daily diet, and I knew that just having it wasn’t enough. I felt uneasy every time I walked past the stacks of buckets in our pantry and wondered what I would actually make with all those dry ingredients. It’s one thing to come up with a single meal on the fly, but another thing entirely to scramble for enough new recipes for a whole week of lights-out.
In April of 2016, I decided to put an end to my near-daily runs to the grocery store, and try to cut down our grocery bill, which was then almost $2000/month. I began cooking every day with the bulk commodity foods that we stored.
They say small is beautiful, and less is more, but I still wondered if my skills would be up for the challenge. How many great meals could I really make from prison-food ingredients?
If I missed a beat, my wife and my kids (14, 10, and 6) didn’t notice. They loved the simple, hearty, delicious meals coming out of our kitchen. I loved the food, too, and found that eating less meat and more low-fat carbs started making a big difference in how I felt. And, our grocery bill plummeted by half.
I had two decades as a successful chef under my belt, including a great deal of recipe development. Even so, I was apprehensive when I ventured into cooking with storage food. I imagined how completely unprepared folks in my audience might feel when opening a bucket of dry beans in the middle of a crisis. I knew I had to dive into help them… and my own family, too.
And thus, Food Storage Feast was born.
I had already written one book, and learned that I strongly prefer making videos and podcasts to writing books. But Food Storage Feast needed to be a full-featured book as well as an online course. My wife suggested calling one of our off-the-grid Montana neighbors, Noah “Darco”, since he comes from a long line of pen-wielding misfits, and has proved himself handy with a typewriter before.
Here’s his story.
Noah Darco says:
I was a globe-trotting tech guy trying to get off the road and spend more time on the land with my kids.
Homeschooled from a time when most people thought it was illegal, I grew up in the sprawling southern countryside and amidst my parents’ equally sprawling library, including their set of The Mother Earth News, dating back to issue #1, when it was an endearingly scruffy, self-published affair. At 17, wanting a term to describe my career plans, I came up with “stealth peasant”.
I later married a farm girl from Southeast Asia, who turned out to be a culinary genius. Several children later, we moved to Montana for reasons much like the Snows’, and when we met these new neighbors, our families became fast friends. My wife taught Keith some Thai dishes, and many great meals were shared around our tables.
In his podcast, Keith once made passing reference to me as the guy who “can’t even boil water.” Yep, I’m that guy. My family had, however, been experimenting with different ways to keep some extra food for emergencies, and I figured that if I couldn’t compete with my wife’s cooking on quality, I could at least find some creative ways to use our storage food.
So when Keith approached me about co-writing this course, I knew that I could sincerely bring the perspective of you – the person who wants to store food, but lacks the cooking skills that are just as important as the buckets of beans.