For I was an hungered, and ye shot me

Cynthia’s thread reminded me that the dinner conversation after the leadership training session at my stake conference was one of the highlights of my weekend. It was one of those great discussions you get to have with other Mormons where well thought-out interpretation of doctrine and teachings, heartfelt emotion and a willingness to make oneself vulnerable are all present. As transplants from the U.S., Switzerland and several Canadians gathered around a table and shared a meal, we hashed out the issue of whether food storage is worth killing or dying for. One person said that if anyone tried to take their food that the lawn would be littered with bodies, while another said that they would rather die themselves than not share what little food they had. Not surprisingly topics covered included: What of the Saviour’s injunction to care for the poor and needy? How would you feel if your children went hungry because you gave your food to another who had not prepared or did not know to prepare? What level of sacrifice is necessary to enter the kingdom of Heaven? Is food storage about obedience to counsel, being comfortable with a full pantry or neither?

Notably, adherents to various positions did not break down along stereotypical nationalistic lines. I think we all went away feeling challenged and introspective about the needs of individuals and communities and strangely enough, well-fed.

[poll id=”124″]


  1. I voted no, but then I thought about it, but then I thought about it, and if someone broke into my home, and I was afraid for my kids and I had a gun, then yes, I would shoot them. But I don’t have a gun, so no, I wouldn’t. I guess I’d have to stab them with my butcher knife.

    However, I think one of the purposes of having a years supply of food, as opposed to less, is to have an abundance in order to be able to be generous in times of need.

  2. Maybe just in the knee, Jack Bauer-style.


  3. Ha! *Awesome* thread, Kris. Food storage defense is one of the main reasons Brother Blah 2 kept citing as a reason he wanted a gun. I don’t know if that’s because it’s really one of his main reasons, or just the one he figured would make the most compelling argument. I tend to be on the side of wanting to share my food storage rather than kill people over it, though I admit that having kids complicates that calculation somewhat.

  4. Ok, Matt W. I’ve amended the poll to account for other weapons.

  5. I’m taking careful note of those that announce their unwillingness to shoot to protect their food storage.

  6. I would kill to protect my food storage. But I have a lot of kids, so I might let people eat one of my kids.

  7. X (Adam Greenwood, his mark) says:

    It depends on whether I had a years supply of ammo. Otherwise I’d have to saber them.

    Note: pollsters might argue that the title tends to bias the poll results. Meddling pollsters; shoot ’em, I say.

  8. It depends on the situation…which is why I am NOT voting.

    Look, if I am in a situation where they are stealing my food storage, threatening me and it’s a matter of them taking all I have at threat of violence and I have an opportunity to protect myself and family–then yes.

    On the other hand…if I am well-prepared and I happen to have food (plus extra), and a family approaches and asks for some food, I will politely share a meal (or two), give them a few supplies as I can, then direct them to a storehouse if there is one. I will also inform them that unfortunately I cannot help them indefinitely (if that is indeed the case).

    Right now though? More likely I’ll be the one out looking for food. I have no food storage, so if disaster hits tomorrow and we all have to live on food storage, I’m in heaps of trouble. Please don’t shoot me when I come by to ask for a couple pounds of wheat to make bread and chili (yes, wheat chili–like beans but without the gas) for a week. I’ll share it back. I can cook real good.

  9. I can just imagine the novel/movie that would be inspired by # 6: “GST’s Choice”

  10. I suspect that the middle one is tender and nicely marbled.

  11. I am willing to do violence to protect myself from immediate harm, as in a violent attempt to rob me of my three jars of peanut butter and the can of tuna, but I’m not willing to do violence merely to protect food storage — no deadly booby traps to guard the house while I’m away, for instance.

    LONG before conditions got to the point where someone came to rob for food, I would already have shared whatever I have with people I care about and there would be nothing left for people I don’t care for. I want to be the one the Lord sends someone to for help because He knows I’m willing to share, not the one with the we’re-all-in-this-alone mentality.

  12. If I think about neighbors and random people starving to death, I conclude that I would share my food storage. However, after watching the roving gangs of armed thugs running around New Orleans after Katrina, I realized that there are some people I would shoot dead if the situation arose. As Matt and ben o said.

    gst, I hope you are feeding your kids lots of corn, because I prefer the taste of corn-fed kids.

  13. X (Adam Greenwood, his mark) says:

    For I was a feckless pacifist, and you took my food storage at gunpoint so you could protect it from scavengers, and share some of it back with me, so I wouldn’t totally starve, though I notice you kept all my peanut butter.

  14. I would shoot someone to protect my kids, but the situation would have to be extreme for me to harm someone over my food storage.

  15. You’re an ass, Adam. Are you even edible?

  16. X (Adam Greenwood, his mark) says:

    Only feckless pacifists eat donkey meat, AEP.

  17. X (Adam Greenwood, his mark) says:

    So I take it, Tracy M., your kids aren’t your food storage?

  18. I hope to be holed up in a remote cabin or some such in case there is ever a problem requiring the protection of food storage. Truly though, if it ever comes to a point where it was difficult to find food, i’m sure there would be an endless supply of cats from which to harvest food from.

  19. I’m with Ardis on this one. Long before it came to people robbing my house because of hunger, I would have shared it with my friends and neighbors and I’d be in the same boat. But if it came to that kind of long term survival, I would have organized the neighborhood to start producing our own on HOA land. Maybe I’d have to defend that, though. I guess that means I should buy a gun. Can you believe I live in rural Tennessee and I don’t own a gun (yet)?

  20. X (Adam Greenwood, his mark) says:

    What kind of fiend would steal food from cats?

  21. As PR person for my Branch, I arranged for the local newspaper to do an interview with several members about food storage and preparedness. Afterwards, I became concerned that I might have put their lives at risk in an emergency situation because everyone who read the paper would know that they had food. wonderful world we live live in, eh?

  22. Max Seawright says:

    Effectively, some situations may force a family to share food storage for their own safety. Given a catastrophic disaster, the starving masses would smell those solar-oven-roasted funeral potatoes from miles away!

  23. LOL re: gst’s choice.

  24. I’m not against having a gun, and I’m not against shooting people, but over the food storage? Not likely.

  25. My wife and I came up with a new plan for food storage. We’ve been stowing away nothing but diet coke and chocolate. When the end times come I am predicting we can get barrels of wheat for a 64 oz container of coke and all the beans we can handle for the chocolate.

  26. They can have the food, but they’ll have to pry the cases of Diet Coke out of my cold, dead, hands.

  27. From Vaughn J. Featherstone, April 1976 General Conference:

    I should like to address a few remarks to those who ask, “Do I share with my neighbors who have not followed the counsel? And what about the nonmembers who do not have a year’s supply? Do we have to share with them?” No, we don’t have to share—we get to share! Let us not be concerned about silly thoughts of whether we would share or not. Of course we would share! What would Jesus do? I could not possibly eat food and see my neighbors starving. And if you starve to death after sharing, “greater love hath no man than this …” (John 15:13.)

    Now what about those who would plunder and break in and take that which we have stored for our families’ needs? Don’t give this one more idle thought. There is a God in heaven whom we have obeyed. Do you suppose he would abandon those who have kept his commandments? He said, “If ye are prepared, ye need not fear.” (D&C 38:30.)

    I figure I’d treat it like God treats war in the Doctrine and Covenants. You’d trust in Zion and God to protect you after doing all you can to prepare, and hope and pray that God would provide a non-violent solution.

  28. Wow, Steve, that’s a little creepy that we were typing those comments at the same time.

  29. First Cynthia, now Kris? Well, I have to commend BCC on its spirited (if a little unusual) commemoration of Veterans Day.

    (What’s up next? A post from Sam or J. honoring veterans of the Battle of Crooked River?)

  30. I’ve got a friend in my ward that swears that the best food storage plan is liquor and cigarettes. You can trade for anything else you want with that, but I also suspect that the stakes for defense might be higher.

    But as for me an my house, I traded my Utah deer hunting rifle for an acoustic guitar, so I’m not shooting anybody. I will play Stairway to Heaven until they scream for mercy. And then I’ll share some of our dried carrots. My wife loves them, but me, not so much.

  31. In Sunday School one week, a wealthy brother emphatically stated that now is the time to prepare food storage. He went on to say that, should hard times befall us, he would watch those who had not prepared their food storage starve. A rather poor sister immediately popped up and said, “Well, anyone who needs food is welcome at my house. We’ll through a big party and then starve together.”

  32. #31 – Er, “throw,” not “through.”

  33. Larry the cable guy says:

    My family’s food storage has already inflicted more than it’s fair share of maimed fingers and strained backs as it has traveled up and down several sets of basement stairs.

    Death or dismemberment is the next logical step.

  34. I’ve been thinking a lot about buying a gun lately in the event that our economy continues to crumble and chaos ensues. That being said, I wouldn’t use it unless some armed person(s) were breaking down my door demanding my food. Excepting that situation, I think the Featherstone quote ends any ambivalence I might have had about sharing my storage with others.

    Nevertheless I feel, for the first time in a long time, that things can improve now that Obama is our president. Sorry to make this political, but it’s my honest opinion.

  35. I also LOVE the liquor and cigarrette’s idea.

  36. I would give food to someone who asked nicely. If they didn’t say “Please” and “Thank you,” though, I would shoot them.

  37. And spices for personal use and for trade.

  38. Do you think that civil law would totally break down and allow people to shoot each other? Roaming bands of brigands?

    After WWII in Austria, according to one who was there, people starved to death. Typically they died in their apartments being unable to obtain food and unwilling to beg, steal or borrow.

    Why do you assume an apocalyptic ending with a bang rather than a whimper?

    What would happen if your neighbor were starving and you had food? Would you share? If multiple neighbors were starving? Let us assume they just stood there looking at your house with sad, hungry eyes instead of rifles.

  39. I’m planning to actually know how to cook with wheat and beans. Then I’ll trade my services as a personal chef for someone’s (otherwise worthless) food storage.

  40. I suspect we’ll all be called to bring our food to the stake center, and the stake president will give direction for its use in the community.

  41. Stake president will probably tell us not to share with gays.

  42. Kevin Barney says:

    Great idea for a post, and I loved the title!

    I solved this problem by not having much food storage to begin with. I would be like the Pianist, counting out nine beans to boil for my dinner.

  43. #30, I’ve heard a (probably apocryphal) story about Sheri Dew saying her food storage is diapers and chocolate, and she’ll trade for anything she needs. I guess it depends on where you live.

  44. Someone once told me that having food storage buys you the right to be the last to die. As I would much rather my friends morn my death than have to morn theirs, I would probably be the person who is shot while stealing other people’s food. And I would not shoot someone who tried to steal my food, mostly because I would never have food.

  45. Jeremiah J. says:

    “I’ve got a friend in my ward that swears that the best food storage plan is liquor and cigarettes.”

    I’ve always said bullets and gasoline. I also recommend using lethal force, not just against the platoons of starving people on my lawn (“Eat one blade of that grass and you’re history, buddy! The littered bodies you can take.”), but in other food storage-y situations. Say threats of unemployment, mounting medical bills, high food prices at the supermarket (“*now* how much is this pot roast?”), the disability of a bread winner due to an accident on the job, etc.

    In all seriousness, though, I now a Mormon who has had nightmares about hordes of the unprepared coming to violently deprive them of their impressive food storage. They’re ultra-prepared, and very fearful.

  46. I always thought the counsel for a years supply of food storage was in case the government laid seige to Utah County as the last place holding out against SSM. Out here in the mission field, who needs it?

  47. I voted ‘Yes,’ but I’d like to amend that I wouldn’t shoot just anyone who tried to steal the grub; only those who I accesse would use deadly force to get it. How would I determine this so quickly? By using a potent cocktail of rapid cognition (see “Blink”)and the Holy Ghost, naturally. Of course this would require a prerequisite of rapid cognition/Holy Ghost exercises with my gun. Which, besides being necessary, is a lot of fun.

  48. *access… not “accesse”.

  49. Question for all you who (facetiously, I know, but still — ) claim that you or people you know are storing liquor and other stuff you have no use for yourselves, with the idea that you could barter it for more valuable things in an emergency:

    What makes you think that people who are so desperate for tobacco that they would starve rather than go without their vices have enough foresight to store food to barter with you?

  50. #48, I think you actually mean “assess” not access or accesse.

  51. Dang Amelia! You are so right. Thank you for that.

  52. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, thanks for ruining my apocalypse.

  53. Yeah, Ardis. You really know how to suck the fun out of total Armageddon.

  54. Ardis,

    My friend really has not stocked up on Marlboro’s and Jack Daniels, but the evidence of several wars and numerous post-apocalyptic science fiction novels all lend credence to the viability of cigarettes as a fungible commodity.

    In reality, I do think there would be wisdom in stocking some basic spices for their barter value, and to make all those dried beans, rice, and whole wheat dishes taste a little better. I’d store cheese, if I could. Everything tastes better with cheese on it.

  55. Re: 49

    They’re ultra-prepared, and very fearful

    That is quite ironic considering the oft-quoted verse “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”

  56. Note to BobW, if all my hungry wide-eyed neighbors lined up in my yard, I’d tell them “I’ve seen worse from my kids on a 14 hour road trip than this. You’ve got to do better”.

    Then I would share with them anyway. After all, I don’t have a gun, just guitars. And though Pete Townshend knows how to use a guitar as a weapon, I’m not likely to sacrifice mine.

  57. Kevinf:
    A local grocery store recently demoed canned cheese from New Zealand. It was soft and even spreadable and was quite good. I can’t remember the shelf life for sure, but it was several years. The brand name is Red Feather. The also have canned butter with a long shelf life. I should get a commission for this ad…

  58. Researcher says:

    After reading 54, I was wondering if the use of cigarettes as commodities hadn’t been covered somewhere recently.


  59. Hey Kevinf:

    We had a post about cheese at our food storage blog a few weeks ago. Our family stored a block of cheese in the basement over the winter. After 6 months, it had gotten sharper (yummier, in our opinion) but it was otherwise the same. It didn’t do as well in the summer though.

  60. My food storage is gst’s kids. I prefer the smaller, leaner ones.

  61. We turned our food storage room into a music studio. When the end comes, we’ll be able to barter cover tapes of Foghat for anything we want.

  62. Yeah, I’d shoot over cheese.

  63. MCQ,
    If by “barter” you mean saying, “Give us food or we’ll play our Foghat cover tapes!”

  64. Maybe putting together and maintaining the food storage is not the Abrahamic challenge; maybe a post-crisis admonition from Church leaders to share it with those in need (including those Mormons who were not as righteous as you and did not adequately prepare themselves or their families) will be.

  65. When the zombies rise up and come for my supply of brains I will say “no you may not” and then send them to the Stake canning center.

  66. That or I’d give them all those old cans in my food storage that I always wonder why I bought and whether they are still good.

  67. Clark, the more relevant question on the zombies is whether they’re the slow kind, ala Night of the Living Dead, or the fast kind, ala I Am Legend. If they’re the latter, you’ll have no chance of stopping them without my Foghat tapes. Foghat stops anything.

  68. 58: You’ll note that what the Sardinians bartered was labor which was otherwise idle, and bricks which otherwise had no market because shipping was too dangerous. Not survival food.

    But hey, if we’re living in Water World or beyond Thunderdome, some of you be sure to stock up on poultry and fish flavored cat food. I’m sure I’d be rash enough to trade my peanut butter for it.

    And don’t nobody crack wise about eating my little darling. I’m armed.

  69. “Foghat stops anything.”

    It certainly has done wonders to limit my interest in this thread…

  70. #54 – “Everything tastes better with cheese on it.”

    I didn’t know you’d met my sons.

  71. cantinflas says:

    So you WOULD protect your food storage with force, then Ardis!

    I voted yes, but would share. However, it is conceivable that there are situations where I would shoot to protect food storage.

  72. Steve, I understand, Canadians have always been jealous of Foghat.

  73. Rameumptom says:

    Easy answer: I turn all my storage over to the bishop and his storehouse, so I have nothing to steal!

    Defending my family is one thing. Defending my storage is another.

    Having said that, wouldn’t it then be fun to just take a few potshots at the mobs trying to break into your neighbor’s home? ;-)

  74. Rameumptom says:

    BTW, I have a friend who packages salt into small 1 ounce paper containers for future barter. Salt never goes bad, and will be a necessary commodity for trade in that apocalyptic time frame.

    He will smile and pat a large bag of salt and say, “this is my future Cadillac.”

  75. Latter-day Guy says:

    If it would cause the death/suffering of my kids, hell yeah. If they were just stealing food, no that’s not worth killing over.

  76. The sub-thread of guitars,tapes and the survival value of music brought to mind a classic short story on the subject of sharing v. warring over possessions in a bomb shelter after a nuclear disaster: “The Portable Phonograph,” by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, author of The Oxbow Incident. A couple of excerpts might work well in a class discussion on “Would You Share or Shoot?”

    On a related tack: Would your pets have the same priority as other family members and starving neighbors, or not?

  77. Rameumptom says:

    This ain’t Austria. We’re talking cowboys and rednecks roaming the American countryside with their favorite hunting dog and rifle at their side.

    When we have a nation that has ever growing violent groups of inner-city gangs, skin heads, environmentalists, and Prop 8 antagonists, there’s going to be crazy groups wandering from house to house doing bad things.

  78. You ask for food, you get food. You break in to steal, you will get shot. Not risking my family’s security. I will defend my family unto bloodshed.

  79. Why shoot ’em? Just let them eat the stuff–that’ll kill them soon enough.

  80. Eric Chambers says:

    I’ll only shoot them if they are black-robed luddites with extreme light sensitivity and they are making too much of a ruckus with their chanting and moaning. Otherwise they are welcome to share our food.

    Of course, I might not make the best host at that point in time as I would most likely spend most of the evening talking to a bust of Julius Ceasar.

    Robert Neville

  81. Elouise,

    Good memory on that Clark story.

    Would your pets have the same priority as other family members and starving neighbors, or not?

    I can only say that my neighbors are welcome to my pets as long as they will share theirs. They have big dogs, and I only have my son’s rat terrier, which is all skinny and bony.

  82. If Jesus could feed the five thousand with some fish and loaves of bread, then surely I can feed the hungry who come my way.

  83. Brad (#64), brilliant.

  84. Latter-day Guy

    If it would cause the death/suffering of my kids, hell yeah. If they were just stealing food, no that’s not worth killing over.

    Uh, I think the point of the hypothetical is that after they “just” steal your food, your children will suffer and die of starvation.

  85. One answer to this question is found in the Book of Mormon.

    And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.

    Alma 43:47

  86. You guys are scary. You’re going to run out of ammo before they do. Assuming people are looting their neighbors food supply–anarchy, Rome, shortly after it fell–I suggest you buy a tank. But even that won’t help.

  87. Would your pets have the same priority as other family members and starving neighbors, or not?

    My dog will absolutely eat his share of gst’s kids. He’ll also eat anyone who tries to steal my Foghat tapes. And he especially loves to eat Canadians.

  88. Mark Chapman says:

    I recall an address by President Spencer W. Kimball on this subject, but can’t find the reference right away. President Kimball indicated that by following the counsel on family preparedness, we would be showing obedience to the Lord, and could expect his blessings. He also recommended that we divide our food storage with those in need, and added something along the lines of, “Do you think the Lord has forgotten how to make manna?”

  89. I don’t store food. When MadMaxLand comes I’ll just (shoot, stab, injure, maim) you and eat your food storage. That’s the beauty of jus gladii.

  90. Latter-day Guy says:

    84, All I meant was that the circumstances of the thieving really make all the difference. If they steal my food storage tomorrow, big deal. If we’re discussing an emergency/apocalyptic scenario then the gloves come off. In the list of questions in the post itself, the possibility of starvation is just one of the scenarios.

  91. We already ate our food storage. But our neighbors have a stockpile and we have the extra key to their house. Suckers.

  92. Thomas Parkin says:

    This has been a very good week for BCC. ~

  93. “liquor & cigarettes”

    I know of a family who decided the currency of the new world order would be feminine hygiene products and had several Cosco sized cases in their basement.

  94. Spencer W. Kimball*, date unknown:

    Do you think the Lord has forgotten how to make manna?

    MCQ, one month after Armageddon:

    Do you think gst has forgotten how to make children?


  95. I am forced to confess that I giggle every time I read the title of this post.

  96. MikeInWeHo says:

    When your survivalist supplies are exhausted, I will invite you all over for fabulous hors d’oeuvres made from Soylent Green.


  98. #95–TOTALLY, Ben. Kris wins “best blog post title ever” award methinks.

  99. wow, some of these posts make me very sad. If you are hungry, come to my house, apocolypse or not. I would rather face my maker saying that we starved, but did our best to help our fellow man, than to say well, my family was prepared and okay, sorry to all the other suckers. And yes, I do have a child.

  100. Maren, there’s no point in being sad during the apocalypse. You gotta laugh! At least that is, I take it, the lesson of The Road.

  101. Latter-day Guy, Ah, I get it. So in the MadMax scenario, you *would* shoot. Thanks for the clarification.

  102. StillConfused says:

    I said no because I just don’t see it getting to that point.

  103. molly bennion says:

    I fear when the intruders open the decades old wheat cannisters, they will leave them for us.

  104. Actually, when I think about my wheat, I have no wheat grinder, which means that I’ll be grinding wheat between two old bricks to try and make flour. So if someone wants my wheat, they can have half of it if they’ll grind the other half for me.

  105. Im would protect my family with force. The food ehhh, not so much. –

  106. kevinf,

    We have a grinder, but no wheat. Maybe we could work a deal.

  107. Love the humor. My serious side is thinking that the higher law would be for each individual to follow the spirit to serve those in need. I would rather share what I have of my own accord than to turn everything over to the Bishops storehouse and have it distributed from there.

  108. In regard to #54, my ward’s first Preparedness fireside (of an ongoing series) featured a sister explaining how she canned meat bought on sale from the supermarket. I found it interesting, but never persued it myself. Now that I have recently found out that you can can cheese, I may actually get a home canner.

    In regards to barter, I remember reading how in Castro’s Cuba in the ’60’s, after the US trade embargo began to take effect, that TP (yes, good old toilet paper) was in extremely high demand, and that a roll of TP could get you just about anything that was still available on the island (whether legit and moral or not).

    As for grinding wheat, putting an inch or so of wheat into the bottom of a metal coffee can or similar metal can, and than pounding it with three pieces of steel pipe (or even PVC pipe) taped together, is supposed to be an effective, if time consuming way of grinding your wheat (from the book, now online, “Nuclear War Survival Skills”). If someone wants me to share my wheat, the price will be having to take their turn pounding the can with the pipes.

  109. In regard to #54, my ward’s first Preparedness fireside (of an ongoing series) featured a sister explaining how she canned meat bought on sale from the supermarket. I found it interesting, but never persued it myself. Now that I have recently found out that you can can cheese, I may actually get a home canner.

    In regards to barter, I remember reading how in Castro’s Cuba in the ’60’s, after the US trade embargo began to take effect, that TP (yes, good old toilet paper) was in extremely high demand, and that a roll of TP could get you just about anything that was still available on the island (whether legit and moral or not).

    As for grinding wheat, putting an inch or so of wheat into the bottom of a metal coffee can or similar metal can, and than pounding it with three pieces of steel pipe (or even PVC pipe) taped together, is supposed to be an effective, if time consuming way of grinding your wheat (from the book, now online, “Nuclear War Survival Skills”). If someone wants me to share my wheat, the price will be having to take their turn pounding the can with the pipes.

  110. Oops, sorry for the double post.


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