In the preparedness community there are lots of discussions about stocking food. Most of us, worldwide are observing an increase in food prices, and most of us would like to stock ahead somewhat if simply to avoid paying a substantial amount more for food in the next month or year. There are also enough natural disasters in many places that most reasonable people see the need to stock some extra food for emergencies, just as our grandparents did. There are laws in most places in the world now, which prohibit "food hoarding". Where does food storage end, and hoarding begin ?
First we should examine what our local and federal laws say with regard to food storage. A friend of ours in Belgium tried to buy a large sack of grains this week, and he was provided with a large amount of paperwork. His government now tracks those who buy in excess of what the new government considers "normal amounts". Our friends declined to complete their purchase, and will not simply buy more often, rather than large amounts. Here in the US, in a sense our information is tracked when we buy from a "big box store" such as Sam's Club or Costco. Our purchases made with our club card are logged presumably in order to notify us of recalls in our purchases, but without our being aware, they also, through using this information, could calculate our food stores, and add this information to a database.
It's important to say here that we are not in the business of hoarding food to sell to others during a crisis or an emergency of some kind. I am in the business of meeting the basic needs of my family in all weathers, just as my parents did, and just as their parents did before them. I have no intention of breaking any laws or of attracting any attention whatsoever, and so I purchase what I can in sensible amounts, for cash whenever possible, from a wide variety of sellers, and then I rotate that stock as I use it. I have no particular religious reason for doing so. I simply believe that buying items on sale and stocking them, is a more solid family business practice than paying the maximal price when the item is desperately needed.
If you're starting to stock a food supply at home, a lot of variables impact what you should have there. If you have babies and small children, then food for them is going to impact what you stock, and I have no infant formula or anything of that type in mine, for example. If you have a gluten intolerant person, what you stock will have to reflect their needs. If you begin food storage, then you need a clean area which will allow you to stock and rotate your food stores. Most people should start with building a week of extra supplies you could draw upon in an emergency. Most people expand that, over time to a month. Some keep three months ahead. Depending upon your location, you might stock as much as a year of food in advance. If that sounds excessive, then keep in mind that there are many families in the US who have lost jobs in the past year, and are only able to feed their families now because they stocked their own emergency food pantry in better times. The advent of freeze dried food for sale by companies like Augason Farms, and Emergency Essentials, make the storage of staple foods possible in much less space than would be conventionally possible. Some of their containers will last for as long as 30 years. This of course, makes possible the storage of emergency food for multiple years possible. In my house we always seek balance, and since my most important job is the education and example setting for our kids, albeit almost all adults now, I try to use everything available to me. I keep a few freeze dried sources of things, some packages of flour and powdered mashed potatoes, canned vegetables, canned fruits, etc. and I try to rotate these so everything stays fresh. We also add our own eggs to our diets from our own chickens, and I grow a few things in the garden and on fruit trees each year. Fresh food is important to eat whenever you can get it. I differ from the picture above in terms of ketchup and mayonnaise, because we don't use a lot of mayonnaise, and because I could make my own. I don't buy smaller bottles of ketchup, but one large container we use primarily to add a half a cup to a large meatloaf I make periodically. I also don't buy soda. My kids love soda, but it's not something we stock in the house, and they have it, if they go out to dinner or something. I do also have a soda machine (Sodastream) I have as yet, never used, but bought as a Christmas present this past year.
Putting away supplies of emergency food for winter or emergencies need not cost a fortune. It is a gradual reasonable progression, which does not have to be excessive or a singular devotion. In all things, we should seek balance and moderation.