My Trip To The LDS Cannery
By Vaishnava Das
As I develop and implement my own risk management strategy, I figured I would pass along anything I learn along the way. These will be tidbits that may help you in your own planning for your family and community.
Over the years, I have had a number of Mormon friends who would occasionally mention that they were going to their local cannery. I just assumed it was only for their church congregation. However, as I just discovered, non-members may access and use the canneries run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Below you will find a link to canneries across North America. They have warehouse centers in many major cities:
When I first called up the local cannery they informed me they were only open on two weekdays by appointment, but open all day Saturday without any appointment necessary. This may vary depending on your local cannery as they are staffed by volunteers. As with many LDS programs, they engage their senior and retired members to serve the community.
When I arrived on Saturday, the first mistake I made (so you don’t have to) was approaching the building through their church welfare division. When I asked inside they informed me this was only for church members. I then clarified if this was the cannery, and they told me that was next door. I quickly found that indeed the cannery was open to the public and you do not need to be a member.
I was a little nervous entering not really knowing the rules. However, once I got inside it was very easy going. There is zero preaching on their part and no pressure whatsoever. Depending on your facility they may have pre-canned foods that you can buy. You can fill out an order form listing the quantity of each item you want. While it does reference a ‘Ward’, ‘Stake’ and ‘Phone Number’, those aren’t necessary, and you can simply print your name and the date. Here is their current order form (may take a while to load):
They will have order forms on hand so you do not need to bring anything in advance. The “Starter Kits” include 6 large cans in total: 2 wheat, 2 rice, 1 pinto beans, and 1 oats. If the items are not pre-canned they will instruct you on how to can the foods yourself.
I should note the facility was brightly lit, clean, open, and there were no meat products at all. Rather, almost all of the items are dried grains (rice, oats, whole wheat), legumes (white beans, black beans), as well as other staples (nonfat powdered milk, potato flakes). The only items I was not sure would meet the devotee requirements were the canned pasta and the pancake mix. If you purchase these items check the ingredients on the cans to make sure they don’t include eggs. The only other items that would not be part of a devotee’s diet were dried onion flakes, cocoa powder, and something they call “potato pearls” which is basically dried white potato pellets with spicing (possibly including garlic). Again, each item has ingredients so you can verify on the spot.
The room had three big canning machines that sealed large (Number 10) steel cans with the ingredients along with an oxygen absorber packet to preserve the items for up to 30 years. They will instruct you on how to use the machine, and you will do all the work, unless there are pre-canned items onsite. In one corner were white boxes to carry out the canned goods, and in another corner were some pre-canned items. I did inquire if it was possible to bring items from outside to the cannery. I was thinking of canning such things as mung beans, yellow dahl etc… They said no other items are allowed to be canned on the premises, as there are certain government regulations against this.
So what are the prices like? You can review the order form above and compare to prices in your local area. I ended up buying 179 pounds of food (rice, whole wheat, pinto beans, oats, regular potato flakes, non-fat milk, sugar, white beans and black beans) at a total price of $137.75, or 77 cents a pound. I then did a comparison with the generic brands in my local national chain grocery store. The same items would have cost a total of $255.31 or $117.56 more. This is an 85% higher price at the national chain store for these basic staple items. Remember, the items I bought also include a steal can and an oxygen absorber to preserve the items for up to 30 years.
Overall it was a great deal especially if you are interested in long-term food storage for emergencies. Each can is sealed with an oxygen absorber and preserves the food for up to 30 years. You don’t have to buy the canned items if you want to buy larger quantities in bulk by the bag. The price is cheaper still but they are not canned for preservation. Many temples no doubt buy items at wholesale prices. I would recommend checking out these prices for temple communities to see where you can maximize your temple dollars. Additionally, for individuals the prices are significantly better than your local store. The prices for the whole wheat and sugar were only marginally better (10-14%) than the national chain store. However, the cost against generic rice was almost 100% more expensive at the chain store and the cost for white beans and black beans was over 165% more expensive at the chain store.
If you do purchase the whole wheat you will also need to purchase a hand mill to grind the wheat berries to flour. Here is one option you may want consider:
The Wonder Mill (www.thewondermill.com/) or on Amazon:
You should read user reviews before your purchase to make sure it will meet your expectations.
All in all this is a great resource for the community. There was no pressure and no preaching, they were only very helpful. As I left I thanked the individuals for their service to the community and for being so gracious to an outsider. The cost of food has been increasing significantly over the last couple of years. I hope this suggestion will help you, your family, and your community both with your day-to-day finances as well as with a longer-term risk management strategy.
If you found this article useful please forward along to others. Thank you.
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