Now since food preparation has implications for storage, I recommend everybody study a good Food Service Handler’s training guide like you can find here. Study it to the level that you could pass a test on it. It’s kind of implied that stored food eventually becomes consumed food. All that traffic, all the repackaging associated with bulk foods, all that represents it’s own series of threats to the whole of your stored food stocks.
Cross-contamination of foods and food preparation surfaces.
One thing the food-service-workers training teaches us is not to cross-contaminate. The scoop you use for flower should never be used for meats or wet foods. The scoop in an infected bag of grain will happily infect another. Treat your dry storage and root cellar spaces as clean or cleaner than your kitchen. I know full well in households all over America today there are cats jumping from litter boxes right onto kitchen counters. You might think your kitchen is clean but if you own household pets, your whole house is a biological disaster waiting to happen. Don’t reach into things with dirty hands. And until you disinfect them, your hands are always dirty. Don’t even walk in there with those barnyard boots fella! Learn to see YOURSELF as the number-one transporter of infection into your food storage.
Other cross-contaminators you should never, ever, ever let into your root cellar or dry storage unit:
- Animals. No cats, no dogs, no parakeets, no ferrets, park your pets outside the door, preferably far, far away.
- Kids (the other animals). Kids, especially city kids just LOVE sneaking into root cellars, smoke houses, well houses, sugar houses, cheese houses, neighbors houses, you name it. City kids associate these places with buried treasure and Harry Potter movies. Country kids know not to mess with the food production.
- City adults. Before you know it they’ll have a table set with a red checker cloth and be having tea in there with the door wide open. They think they are on a Better Homes And Gardens photo shoot. To them it’s “rustic” and to you it’s “dinner”. Don’t confuse the two. Folks generally don’t let ANYBODY into the root cellar for good reason.
- Barn boots. Don’t be tracking in fecal matter. Some folks have “cellar slippers” outside the root cellar door for this handy purpose, but overall we want to see nice clean momma dealing in the cellar while poppa deals with the dirty barn chores.
Some creatures we like in root cellars.
I guess I should touch on some creatures or peoples we traditionally like in cellars. Spiders. Pretty much good. They are our helpers, catching bugs and cleaning up the place. Silverfish are OK. They come out of the ground. Moles. Some disagreement here but moles are carnivores and they eat other bugs which are vegetarians. Snakes. Snakes are best left alone under any circumstances but they are one of the few things that can actually help you with mice. Modern science tells us the snake’s skin and droppings are just full of salmonella, but keep your containers sealed and keep good food-handling and prep practices and you should be OK. The thing with most snakes is they are there looking for mice and stuff and if they can’t find them, they move on. The mice will stay forever unless somebody or something stops them. The battle here is traditional ways against science. The medicine tradition states that snakes, spiders and amphibians are “old magic” and their purposes are often remote from our understanding. Their great power can hurt us or help us, but it’s best to appreciate them from some distance and simply not trouble with them. The Way is to be at peace with them. I just leave them dwell in peace.