© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, food storage, emergency preparedness, canned food, bottled food, Mason jar, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)
We stood in the musty basement, looking at all the bottled food that needed to be boxed in preparation for our upcoming move. “There must be tons of stuff in here,” my husband, Russ, said wearily. “Can’t we just give it away instead of trying to move it?”
I waved my hand at the metal shelves filled with items. “Give it away? I’ve spent my entire life—all twenty-nine years of it—acquiring this spacious array of food, and you want me to get rid of it now? In these perilous economic times?”
Russ picked up a Mason jar filled with dark, shriveled things, read the writing on the lid and said, “October, 1962. Do you really want to keep this?”
I thought for a second. “In an emergency, wouldn’t you rather have old food than no food at all?” Turning away, I wiped dust from a rectangular packet that sat on a shelf, and was surprised to find a rain poncho underneath—manufactured in the fashion-conscious color of Pepto-Bismol. One thing’s for sure ... come mudslides or floods, the wearer would be visible as she tumbled downstream.
Russ tapped me on the shoulder. “We weren’t even members of the LDS Church in 1962 and knew nothing about food storage. In fact, you were only a ten-year-old, so how did you manage to bottle this jar of … what are these?”
I took a swipe at the label with my dust cloth and read aloud, “Zucchini pickles.”
“They make pickles from zucchini?” Russ’s eyebrows arched in surprise. “I thought zucchini was the principal ingredient in that Ipecac stuff that makes you throw up.”
“Just because you gag on zucchini, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world does.” I handed the bottle back to Russ. “Some people actually like zucchini.”
Russ shuddered. “Not as 1962 pickles, they don’t.” He paused, turning the jar so the light made the zucchini look like a batch of toads floating in brine. “I know you didn’t bottle these, so where’d they come from?”
I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, and pondered the question. Where did we get them? “Um, I think Sister Blevins gave them to me when she moved to St. George a few years ago.”
“So …” Russ paused, as if trying to understand something even more complex than quantum mechanics physics. “We inherited a jar of zucchini?” He paused again. “Is that something we’re supposed to treasure, or what?”
“Of course not, we’re supposed to eat them in an emergency.”
Dust swirled around the bare light bulb in the basement as Russ reached for another cob-webby jar. “Tomatoes, 1970. Let me guess, you’re keeping these as seed for botulism, right?”
“Very funny. You don’t grow botulism; it grows itself.” Noticing a cellophane bag of something at the back of the shelf, I pulled it out. Just as I did, a clap of thunder resounded through the house, and the rain beat against the windows.
I sat on the only dust-free spot on a low, cement shelf nearby, and patted the space beside me so that Russ would sit down. “I just want you to know that if the rain doesn’t stop, and it becomes an emergency situation, I’d gladly share my Pepto-Bismol pink poncho with you.”
“Gee, thanks,” Russ said, grinning at the thought. “And would a flood get me out of moving all this food storage?”
“Nope. But if worse comes to worse, we’ll mix the pickles and tomatoes, and use it as a dip for these tortilla chips.” I handed him the cellophane bag. “The expiration date says 1998. I think I saw some powdered cheese from the same year. What do you say to a batch of petrified nachos?”
Russ eyed the chips and laughed. “Sounds good to me. It’ll mean that much less we’ll have to move.”
What's playing in my head: Food, Glorious Food, from the movie, Oliver.
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