Storing Bulk Food — for Neighborhood Sharing


As a matter of community food security, what if on every street, in every neighborhood, people had a cache of dried foods stored? Not just for their family, but to share with their neighbors if the trucks stopped rolling. Such sharing brings more security and community than defending with guns.

That’s the vision of our longtime friend Loraine Webb, right here in our hometown of Nevada City in the Sierra foothills. With her Neighborhood Readiness Project, she’s making it happen with two major steps. She has arranged with locally-owned markets to provide discount prices for quantity bulk foods. And she helped assemble the equipment to pack foods in nitrogen for greater longevity.

We taped a show with Loraine and equipment assembler/fabricator Jim Wray. Loraine covered her vision, and the practicalities of buying, packing, storing with more information on the website People are encouraged to buy whatever they want to have on hand, like grains, nuts, legumes, seeds.

Jim demonstrated each step of bagging food in plastic bags in which nitrogen replaces oxygen. It includes a holder for the plastic roll; a heat sealer; a small vacuum; a nitrogen tank. His simple setup is replicable by any community.

We taped the show at the recently-opened APPLE Center for Sustainable Living in historic downtown Nevada City. It’s an educational and resource hub, a project of Alliance for a Post-Petroleum Local Economy, APPLE of Nevada County, which was founded in 2005 as a response to concerns about the impacts of Peak Oil.

The APPLE Center for Sustainable Living is looking into making this equipment available to the public on an on-going basis to meet the continued long-term food storage needs of our community.

Naturally, after taping the show, we bagged up 50 pounds of winter wheat and 25 pounds each of red lentils and red quinoa. Our neighbors will know they can come here to party if the food trucks stop rolling!

Now we need to spread the word to every neighborhood across the county and the country.

Watch the show “Bag It! Packaging Bulk Foods with Nitrogen.”


  1. Local friend reminded me about bulk food storage: You can use oxygen tablets (absorbers) rather than nitrogen. I use three for a 5 gallon bucket…when I open a new bag of grain and pour it into the bucket, I put one tablet in the bottom, one in the middle, and one on top. Make sure you keep grains and beans that you want to sprout in a separate container as the oxygen tab will prevent them from sprouting. During an emergency, those sprouts may well be our best source of nutrition.

  2. Stuart M. says:

    Haiti and Chile have shown us that there are many reasons to stockpile supplies for a “rainy day,” not just impending peak oil. On a slightly more humorous note, I have been “plagued” for a long time by some dear ones who always seem to use up the last of the shampoo, conditioner, body soap, toilet paper rolls, kleenex, detergent, trashbags, etc., without telling me so I can buy some more. I usually discover this when my hair is all wet or my bottom is… well you get the picture. I have started to buy two of everything so I will always have at least one backup to tide me over until I can go to the grocery store. This policy has worked great so far and I assume if there is an earthquake in the neighborhood, this “one extra of everything” stockpiling will serve us well until the disaster relief people get up to speed.

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