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Y2K provided inspiration
to follow up on beliefs

From left, Doris Wilson, Pat Smith and Debbie Krantz take a break from packaging.

  From left are the people at Swan Valley Centre behind the "back to basics" movement: Debbie Krantz, Mike Smith, Pat Smith, and Doris Wilson.

Seeley Swan Pathfinder
April 1, 1999
by Suzanne Vernon

From left are the people at Swan Valley Centre behind the "back to basics" movement: Debbie Krantz, Mike Smith, Pat Smith, and Doris Wilson.

Y2K, with its emphasis on self sufficiency and survival basics for a prolonged possible crisis, has stimulated a Condon couple to follow up on interests they've held for several years.

The new Swan Valley Buying Club, started by Mike and Pat Smith of the Swan Valley Centre, will save people money on everything from groceries and medicinal herbs to small kitchen appliances.

In addition, the Swan Valley Centre is now offering packaging for bulk foods that need to be stored for longer periods of time. The Smiths recently purchased a commercial sealer, which seals foods in 7-mil thick mylar bags, complete with nitrogen packs to absorb oxygen in the containers.

Pat Smith has been considering the idea of a community buying club for several years.

"It's definitely cheaper than retail," she said during a recent interview. But that isn't her only reason for starting the new cooperative.

"I am having fun helping people to save money, and to feel better," she explained.

Smith first became interested in using whole foods and natural herbs about ten years ago, when health problems forced her to examine her lifestyle.

"I learned all of this for health reasons," she explained.

Smith also believes that people become more self-sufficient when they prepare for unforeseen events such as unemployment, medical problems or natural disasters.

She has observed that because of Condon's remote location, most local residents embrace the idea of being self-sufficient. Since homesteaders first began arriving here in the early 1900s, local grocery stores, including the Swan Valley Centre, have catered to people with a keen interest in being prepared.

"It's good for people to be prepared. This is what our ancestors did. What if there is a little glitch in the supply system and you can't get (groceries) for a few days?" she said.

Smith has researched dozens of wholesale suppliers to find the best deals on a large variety of products. For example, in the bulk foods department she offers everything from grains such as wheat, corn and millet, to dehydrated foods such as non-instant milk powder, cheese powder and dehydrated butter and eggs.

Herbs and spices are also available in bulk. For example, spices that might cost $3 an ounce at the retail level, may cost only $3 per pound through the buying club.

Smith recognizes that cooking with whole foods is not something that everybody has learned to do. For that reason, she offers to help people learn how to cook with whole grains. She schedules bread making classes once a week and teaches people how to grind their own wheat and make their own whole-wheat, low-fat bread from scratch.

Smith also sells a variety of medicinal herb products at the Swan Valley Centre. Herbal remedies help a variety of ailments, she said. She has studied under various herbalists over the years, and feels confident that she can help people stock their medicine cabinets for emergencies.

The Swan Valley Centre can also order wheat grinders, mixers and dehydrators and alternative energy gadgets such as hand crank radios and solar flashlights for customers interested in those items.

Smith will also be marketing pre-packaged whole food items to stores elsewhere in the Northwest.

"There's a lot of people who don't do this kind of thing because they don't know how," she said. "It's just getting back to basics."

The Swan Valley Buying Club catalog is available at the Swan Valley Centre in Condon.

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