Food storage today a byproduct of Mormonsí pioneer past


After two wars, numerous natural disasters and an economic downturn, Americans suddenly have a voracious appetite for survival skills.

Theyíre researching underground bunkers, buying freeze-dried food and watching television reality shows like "Doomsday Preppers."

But long before "prepping" became popular, faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had mastered the art of food storage and emergency preparedness.

Itís a skill passed down from their pioneer ancestors, says Steven Peterson, managing director of welfare services for the Utah-based LDS Church.

The practice continues in modern times with LDS leaders encouraging members to put aside at least a three-month supply of food, water and money for the unexpected, whether thatís unemployment, sickness or natural disasters.

Not the apocalypse, said Peterson. "We try not to teach that the world is ending."

But for food storage to work, he added, it has to be more than "store and ignore."

That may be one reason food storage also has become a growing business in Utah, with several companies manufacturing, packaging and selling dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.

"Itís one of the hottest-growing categories" in the market, said Mark Hyland, CEO of Daily Bread.

The Kaysville company, which specializes in freeze-dried or just-add-water packets, had more than $300 million in sales last year. And officials expect that number to increase between 5 percent and 10 percent.

Other Utah food-storage companies include Augason Farms in Salt Lake City, Nuvona Premium Foods in Orem and Wise Food Storage in Centerville.

"Putting something away for a rainy day," Hyland said, "goes back to the Depression."

Black Blade: Just common sense to prepare for the uncertainties of life. That is lost on this generation. Our fathers and grandfathers endured the Great Depression during a time when many Americans still lived on farms and ranchs. Today such an event will have people living on welfare, food stamps and charities and few living off the land. The economy isn't getting much better no matter what the government and Wall Street "used car salesmen" brokers say.