Coffee, my goodness I tried a small packet of coffee from the dollar store and it was truly vile. Tasted like a combination of old cinnamon and ground dirt. I’m not a coffee snob, Maxwell House or Fred Meyer’s store brand dark roasts are fine for me. I don’t seem to affected by caffeine headaches via withdrawal so I could get by without storing coffee if needed, but I don’t want too because I like coffee. Roasted coffee, whole bean or ground has a short shelf life of 2-3 years. But green(unroasted coffee beans) have a good shelf life in the 10 year + range and are moisture resistant. If you have a heat source that can maintain about 200-250 degrees F you can roast your own coffee. Only one state has a good climate for growing coffee beans that is Hawaii almost all coffee we have in the USA is produced internationally. If the US economy collapses any imported good will skyrocket in price from OPEC oil to cheap plastic razors from China and coffee.
While the USA could produce more oil, coal and Nat. gas. Eventually we could manufacture plastics, steel and silicon CPUs. We can’t grow coffee in the USA . While central and south america do grow good coffee I think we may see those prices go up quite a lot. Coffee is an import good, no matter what as it must travel across an international border or across the sea. Now think about what you need daily and where it comes from…. Is it imported? as most things are from yarn to TVs. Where does your food come from? How about your bullets, primers and gun powder if you reload. This is panic shortage that caught the ammo and gun makers off guard and is totally man made. It’s not like the drought in the midwest though the corn grain shortage is mostly government made via burning ethanol in cars rather than feeding people or animals. You can’t beat “Mama nature” you got to work with her not against her.
Don’t say it won’t happen in the USA because it has happened in the past. Ask the Sandy victims about getting hit with dying hurricane and less than 3 months later a snow storm that dropped snow not measured in inches but in feet. How are the costs for food and energy shaping up for your budget? I know that the basics are costing me a lot more money at the store and gas station.
After you have covered your basic needs and a few wants and everything over that is simple. We have seen time and again that in a disaster bread, milk and eggs are gone quickly, who knew that French Toast is the “perfect” survival food in a disaster :) Beer and wine is also cleaned out, the freezer section and the meat aisles are often emptied but bulk goods like sugar, salt, flour beans and rice or canned food aisles might not be emptied. I think it’s because so few people know how to cook real food. If it can’t go in the microwave somehow it will be impossible for a lot of people to cook a meal just using the basic staples. Even the much derided ramen noodles can be a great little barter item. If you understand that most people couldn’t cook real beans and rice if you handed them a five pound bag of each and would feed them for a couple of weeks. A loaf of bread could become a great barter item, but flour, yeast, sugar, oil and salt individually not so much.
So a few ideas to keep in mind when you are filling your barter box:
- Is this something I need or would trade for? There is nothing wrong with starting your barter box with things you want and use like toothbrushes, toothpaste and other items once you reach your storage goals. Who knows how long a disaster may last but it always seems to take longer to recover than most people think it should.
- Never underestimate people being stupid or short sighted. Booze, tobacco, chocolate, coffee, soda and a lot of other goods that are not a need are very much in demand and are great barter items.
- Value added items such as homemade bread or canned vegetables or fruit might be the only thing for some people because they have don’t have the skills needed to make food to eat.
- Basics like seeds, tools, planters, buckets, traps, fishing poles/nets. Things that can help a person survive and make and catch food. Hooks, safety pins, needles, fabric and duct tape. Band aids, Gauze, aspirin, heat rubs and cough drops.
- Books, cards,dice, puzzles, games and small radios I think will be a great barter item as folks have to learn to entertain themselves. Musical instruments might be included but since I can’t carry a tune in a bucket I don’t store these items. I read about the Weimar Republic’s inflation and farmers often ended up trading food for grand pianos so it is an idea to keep in mind.
- Stoves, heaters, candles, lighters, flashlight and fuel. I don’t know what you bought first when you started prepping but one of my big items was having a source of light, then a start of food and water and a way to heat the food and water. You can make rocket stoves from leftover cans as well as 100 hour paraffin oil lamps from used canning jars. This will reduce waste and you will have a great little item made basically from stuff you would normally just throw away in the trash. I have seen the sterno cans at the dollar stores and I was very surprised that I could buy a set of 4 butane cans at Cash & Carry for $6.67 add a few little butane stoves and you have a great little item for barter or friends and family to cook if the power goes off.
- Storing some basic goods that can be used by the experts. While you might not know how to knit or sew you could store some thread and yarn and you might be able to trade unfinished goods for a finished product. A doctor or dentist might have all the skill in the world but without the tools of the trade there is very little they can accomplish. Same for a carpenter, mechanic or bricklayer. While you may not have some skills that does not mean you can’t store some tools of of the trade and use that as barter to get things done. I get quite a lot of work done by sharing tools. I have had folks cleanup my yard just so they can use some of my tools to clean up their yard.
I’m just want to spark a few ideas for you and some of the things I have stored. I always look for something I will use to make my life easier. That might sound selfish and it is, but unless I take care of myself first, I cannot take care of anyone else. Next I try to think of my family and friends that don’t prepare and what they might need to survive and then I look at the greater community. You can’t provide for everyone so even in barter you have set goals that are realistic and that you can accomplish.