Food Shortage Preparation: Causes, and 3 Ways To Prepare

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By Bryan Lynch •  8 min read

It can sometimes be difficult to think about a food shortage when many countries have an excess of food at their disposal. 

Food Shortage Preparation

But believe it or not, you have probably experienced a food shortage to some degree at some point in your life. You go to the grocery store and notice a specific produce item is not on the shelf due to a recall or some disease that was spread and wiped out a season’s crops. These are shortages on a small scale and by in large, not being able to purchase one or two items does not wholly affect the consumer. 

With the world population growing more and more every day and weather becoming increasingly severe, food shortages have the potential of becoming more common and more widespread. But what other factors can create food shortages and is there anything we can do about it?

If you are in a hurry though, there is a great guide and video that can be found here, that teaches you how to prep for food shortages.

First, let us take a quick look at some of the factors that can create a food shortage.  

Factors that can create a food shortage

Mother Nature

Nature is a pretty powerful force that we tend to underestimate. From earthquakes, droughts, tornados, hurricanes, too few insects, or too many insects, and diseases, there are several ways in which nature can affect our food supply. 

Unless the food is being grown indoors, weather plays a huge role in the production and availability of crops. Too much or too little of any kind of weather can harm crops. Too much sun, not enough sun. Too much rain, not enough rain. 

While modern irrigation methods allow some fields to be less dependent on rainwater, the water that is being used in those fields is pumped in from somewhere. A drought that is widespread enough will eventually affect even these fields. 

Weather patterns have become more unpredictable and are delivering stronger storms. Storms that were once thought of as “hundred-year storms,” meaning very large and severe storms that only happened once in a hundred years, are happening more frequently. Storms of this magnitude can damage a region’s food production or make it difficult to even get food to the affected area. Look at some of the recent hurricanes, like Katrina for example. It took quite a while to get supplies and food to the people that needed it because of the devastation in that area.  


Our large population is sustained through the modernization of our infrastructure. Planes, ships, trains, and trucks shuffle supplies around 24/7 to fill the food demand of our growing population. Most food stores are largely dependent on regular (almost daily) deliveries to keep shelves stocked. Any disruption to that supply chain can have devastating effects down the line.

Anything that can affect the power grid or a computer system will impact everything. A computer virus, an EMP, a CME, or physical attacks, either by nature or people, on the infrastructure, will grind this process to a halt.  

Best Way to Prepare For Food Shortages

As with most situations, the best way to deal with a food shortage is by taking proper precautions beforehand. 

Storing enough fresh produce and refrigerated items are going to be hard due to their short shelf life. The exception being items that can be frozen. Of course, ample freezer space will need to be available to accommodate enough food to last you through the shortage. 

1. Canning and Canned Foods


Canned goods are an all-around great food source to stockpile. They can remain good for several years, even past their expiration date. They do not need to be cooked for consumption And a variety of options are available such as fruit, vegetables, meats, and soups. All of these characteristics are hard to find while remaining so cost-effective. 

Set up a dedicated area for storing canned items in a dry, cool location. Be sure to rotate the oldest cans out by placing the newest cans to the rear. If you have space and budget consider purchasing a can rotation system.

You may not think you need it but it is always good practice to have several manual can openers on hand. 

2. Grow Your Own Food

Food Shortage Preparation

Building a garden or raising livestock will give you the most control over the quality and availability of fresh food. 

Depending on the amount of food that grown, it would be worth wild to learn about canning preservation methods. Canning is a wonderful way of being able to preserve excess food for months and months. It does require a start-up cost but many of the items used in canning are reusable. 

Growing or raising food is going to require space, time, commitment, and money. But for those that can, this is probably one of the best ways to deal with a food shortage because they are renewable sources. 

Tip: Again, this is not easy, takes time to get right, and requires effort. If you want all the garden info jam-packed, there is a great guide and video that can be found here.

3. Wild Edibles 

A short course in wild edibles will amaze you in how much food there is around us that we never consider eating. This would be a great way to supplement your diet during a food shortage. 

However, if you truly want to learn about wild edibles, it is best to find a local person who is knowledgeable about the subject. Have them teach you as much as possible. Field guides are fine and everyone should have one for reference, but plenty of poisonous plants closely resemble edible plants.  

When a Food Shortage Hits…

Food Shortage

When a food shortage hits most people tend to gravitate towards items that have a short shelf life, bread, milk, eggs, etc. While they are focused on those items, your best move is to pick up dry goods and goods that have a longer shelf life. Such as canned goods, pasta, rice, dried beans, and ingredients such as flour, yeast, powdered or evaporated milk, etc. 

If your knowledge of the shortage is confident and you believe it could be long-lasting, you will have to decide about shifting funds away from certain areas. This will allow you to purchase more food and early on.

Purchasing items early on is key. Again, depending on the severity of the shortage stores may institute a policy limiting the quantities of items that can be bought. 


This is a topic that most people do not like to think about, and it is especially hard to consider when other family members are being looked after. 

Now, I am not telling you how many calories to consume or how many meals to limit your daily menu. But there may come a time when figuring out how to stretch out your food supply becomes a reality. It is best to figure this out as early as possible in order to make the food last the longest that it possibly can. So, as much as you may dislike it, this is something that will have to be thought about at some point. 

Tools of the Trade

If a food shortage occurs long enough then you may have to venture out into nature to put food on the table. Hunting tools such as firearms, bows and arrows, snares, traps, and fishing supplies are all items you should have and know how to use them. Stock up on game loads, bowstrings, arrows, wire snares, and plenty of fishing lines and hooks

Check out our guide on the best survival rifles.

However, a few items should be kept in mind. First, realize that in this type of situation, you will not be the only one with the idea to go hunting or fishing. Many more people than just you will be having the same idea. This means your chances of obtaining any wild game will be reduced and your personal safety, especially if you are carrying any wild game or fish, could become a concern. 

Secondly, I would highly caution against loosely assuming that you can hunt or fish on any land that you happen to wander on. During normal times, landowners have a terrible outlook on trespassers (and I don’t blame them) But in a survival situation, to put it simply, landowners who have their own to protect, will not tolerate trespassers. So, either get permission first or stay on public land.   

The last thing that I wanted to mention about hunting is that you will be better off concentrating on small to medium game. Everyone that I have talked to thinks they are going to go out and get a deer, or an elk or some other kind of large game. But the problem with that is that large game is more difficult to hunt, they will be the first animals hunted by everyone, their population numbers are lower, and there is a lot more meat you need to know how to process and preserve.

Wrap Up 

At the end of the day, there are a number of steps that you can take before and during a food shortage. But however or whenever it happens, it is up to you to take the first step in dealing with a food shortage. 

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.