Mesa - Come what may, Donna and Aaron Bradshaw expect their spacious food pantry and emergency plan will carry them through.
Shelves and shelves of home-canned vegetables and meats, dried grains, an electric generator and stored water promise reasonable sustainability for the Mormon family in Gilbert in a world where food riots, starvation and disaster-related food shortages are becoming a kind of norm. There are threats of a U.S. trucking shutdown over high fuel costs that could lead to empty grocery-store shelves.
But the sharp spike in prices of staples such as bread, eggs, flour and milk at supermarkets has folks looking for options in food purchases and storage.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has historically impressed on its members to build at least a three-month storehouse of food, store ample water and set aside money for a crisis.
"We have had some relatively new instructions from Salt Lake (City)," the church headquarters, Aaron Bradshaw said. "It used to be we saved a year's supply in an emergency kind of fashion where you would have a bunch of wheat, beans and rice, and maybe you knew how to use it." But because no emergencies came along, people got lax, he said.
But now with so many forces fighting for the global food supplies, church members are being asked to take food storage more seriously, he said.
"The first stage is to have a three-month supply of stuff you are really going to eat," said Bradshaw, a counselor in the Gilbert-Higley Stake. "Some of us are more comfortable with a year's supply, rotating things in and out. We have always saved stuff we are going to eat."
The church lays out detailed storage instructions (online at www.providentliving.org) and presents new Brigham Young University scientific research that "properly packaged, low-moisture foods, stored at room temperature or cooler (75 degrees or lower), remain nutritious and edible much longer than previously thought."
"We are kind of specialists," said Bradshaw, noting that he and Donna came from families that had big gardens. "We raised pigs and chickens all the time we were growing up. So we are comfortable with canning and picking your own stuff."
Only one of their five children is still home, and, on Sundays, their offspring and 10 grandchildren are on hand to share in the bounty.
"They have all got their gardens in the backyard, and some of them are doing better than us because they have a little more time to fiddle with it," he said.
Don Evans, the church's Arizona spokesman, said church members "hopefully are being smart and stocking up."
Mike Cooley is a stake president responsible for the bishop's storehouse in Mesa where church families can purchase foods and the members in economic need can get food assistance. The center includes a cannery that packs vegetables, grains and other foods dry and in water to prolong their storage life.
Cooley said that in a major emergency, the Mormon Church's 138 storehouses and 24 processing facilities are not equipped to feed the church's 13 million members worldwide. "If there was complete chaos and a falling out of grocery stores, there would be few supplies here," he said. "That is why the church has asked that each home do the best they can to meet those needs, instead of relying on the church as a whole."
The Bradshaws' 8-by-10-foot pantry is a veritable food warehouse, and their freezer is full.
At least 1,000 pounds of wheat are on hand, some canned, some in buckets.
"It just depends on when we got it and when we intend to use it," Aaron Bradshaw said.
The Bradshaws keep a tank filled with 125 gallons of water, and periodically drain and refill it.
Preparedness is a constant matter of discussion by the church, Bradshaw said.
"We talk about trucker strikes. If they go nuts on this trucker thing and quit bringing us food, then what do we do? If you don't have vehicle gas, you hunker down at home and eat on your year's supply until they resolve the strike. You don't run into the hills."
With a propane tank, an electric generator and other emergency equipment, Bradshaw said he could keep his freezer going, use his microwave three times a day and hold out until trouble passed.