The Mormon Index

A comprehensive bibliography? A portfolio of LDS-owned companies? No, it’s a measure of food-storage activity by preparedness-minded Mormons, as revealed in a feature at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “The Mormon Index is a rising sign of troubled economy.”

The article profiles activity at a Bishop’s Storehouse and a cannery (now apparently termed a “family home storage center”). It quotes several individuals who work at the facility and testify to the importance of food storage, which is sort of like asking workers in the family history department whether geneaology is important. I wonder, does the average Mormon really derive a sense of temporal security from cans and boxes of food they’ll never use stacked up somewhere out in the garage? For more on the role of the disaster meme in Mormonism, see “If We Are Preparing, Shouldn’t We Still Fear?: Fear-Mongering in the LDS Preparedness Culture,” an article in the new LDS online journal Square Two.

The article does make reference to the temporary assistance role of the storehouse/cannery complex. Providing food and other necessities to Latter-day Saints who fall on hard times seems like a much more effective use of the huge investment in “temporal welfare” facilities undertaken over the years by the Church. As one person interviewed in the story notes, “It’s wonderful to have it when you need it.” So here’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of home preparedness: When the Mormon Index is rising, more people who need it are getting assistance.

And if, like me, you’re one of those who doesn’t feel sufficiently motivated to stock your shelves with sealed silver cans of grain, legumes, and an off-white powdery substance that bears some distant relation to milk, try humming this tune once or twice each day for a week or two and see if anything changes.

I see a bad moon a-rising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin’.
I see bad times today.

13 comments for “The Mormon Index

  1. Kylie Turley
    January 30, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I don’t know if I’m “average,” but, yes, I do feel a strange sense of relief knowing that there are piles of #10 cans out in the garage. And, before you can ask further questions: yes, I know how to cook with it; no, I don’t rotate very well.

  2. Researcher
    January 30, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Not to be petty, but genealogy only has one “o.”

    Yes, food storage (to some extent) is security. Having six months’ worth of operating budget in the bank seems like a better form of security. (Assuming the bank doesn’t go belly up and tie up the funds.) Being out of debt is security.

    If you don’t mind skim milk, the church’s powdered milk is actually quite good. It’s much better than anything you can buy in the grocery store. I wouldn’t drink it unless absolutely necessary, but it’s great in baking. You know … things like powdermilk biscuits (heavens they’re tasty and expeditious).

    By the way, I do find it peculiar that when commodity prices go up (rice, recently, anyone?) people rush to the food storage center to buy at greatly increased prices. Isn’t that what we’re trying to avoid?

  3. Adam Greenwood
    January 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I take pleasure in my vicarious association with an obscure but influential leading economic indicator.

  4. mentat
    January 30, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Yes, there is piece of mind associated with knowing that if “it” happens anytime soon, my family and I have a stash sufficient to keep us alive and in good health until we come up with a plan. Based on the crash the economy took recently, it seems like “it” can come out of seemingly nowhere and be worse than we expect. Or perhaps I just read too much apocalyptic science fiction.

  5. Steve Evans
    January 30, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Just keep enough of the spice to stay alive, Mentat, and you will endure the coming of the God Emperor of Dune.

  6. Paul S
    January 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    He who controls the Spice, controls the universe!

  7. Steve Evans
    January 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm


  8. January 30, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    One “huge investment in ‘temporal welfare’ facilities undertaken over the years by the Church” that I was unaware of until a stake leadership meeting earlier this month is over the past decade, the Church on has spent half a billion dollars on setting up, staffing, and running some 300 employment centers around the world.

    As for living off of food storage, my own family experienced it first hand 20 years ago, when I got caught in the First Tech Crash (1988-90), and I went through extended un- and under-employment for about 18 months. There were many weeks where my wife and had $20 to $40 to buy groceries for nine people for a week — we used to buy hamburger one-half pound at a time — and the rest of our food came out of food storage. I still remember that when, like today, I run down to the grocery store to buy a few items for my wife and me and drop $60 doing so. ..bruce..

  9. January 30, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Having just discovered how much relatively young rice I do have as part of a kitchen clearout, and remembering how little it seemed when there were 8 of us here to eat that much, I felt suddenly much more secure than I had a little while before. Then I found the weevils in the beans. Not just a few dozen, I mean millions of dead and decayed weevils and ammoniated sludge in the bottom of a big glass jar I hadn’t seen for quite some time, and I didn’t feel so secure anymore. The wheat’s fine, so I felt better. And then I remembered another part of this clearout – the decluttering you do to sell a house, particularly if it’s the wrong time to try and sell a house but you have to. My son insisted on taking all those carefully stored [well, yes, many in full view in the dining room, I admit it] and already recycled water bottles to the recycling depot. It broke my heart to see him empty each carefully bleach-dropped 2-litre bottle, and crush each one and fill bag after bag of them, because I’m downsizing and will have even less space for them. Then the temperature dropped below freezing and I thought maybe I should have hidden a few somewhere. I have begun a secret water stash anew and feel indescribably more secure for an extra day’s drink. I guess I’m pretty well socialized in the self-sufficiency culture.

  10. Carborendum
    January 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    I had recently been told by LDS members of my family that I’m blowing things out of proportion. This makes me feel like I’m on the right track. Now, I’ve just got to get more water.

  11. January 30, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    I found a website with a HUGE variety of storeable foods, the usual dry foods, along with canned meats, canned cheese and canned butter.

    It’s at http:/


  12. dajjal
    January 31, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    yes cans of foodstuffs in the garage put me at ease. the prophets past and present have told us to do this and i have faith that it will help…just like ive been promised. period.

  13. Mark in MA
    February 3, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Having a rotating food supply is simply good economics.

    Most people agree that living paycheck to paycheck is not a great way to live.

    Why live from “shopping cart to shopping cart”? Think of a rotating food supply as having a ready inventory of food.

    Just a few of the advantages I’ve enjoyed are:
    1. Rarely do we need to “rush to the store” for a forgotten or out-of-stock item.
    2. We usually are able to pay low prices for food. (With plenty already in stock, we can wait and buy staples when they are on sale or already low-priced.)
    3. If prices suddenly jump (like this past year), you are still eating food that you bought for much less.

    A system like this doesn’t need to be “weird”. It makes great sense even if no disaster occurs.

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