Switzerland, more than most countries, lives by Joseph's advice to Pharaoh in the Bible: stock up the storehouses against bad times. Since World War II, the country has maintained a strategic stockpile of food, medicine and fuel, held by 300 companies designated by the Federal Office for National Economic Supply.
But the job isn't left to the national plan: Switzerland also has an emergency supply list for what every Swiss household should have on hand for emergencies, warning that “We must be aware that the global economy is becoming increasingly interconnected. This means that complexity increases and the dependencies increase. Switzerland has practically no natural resources. This makes it all the more dependent on uninterrupted access to resources such as oil or food.”
So what's on the printed checklist distributed to every Swiss household? Right up on the list are water, coffee, chocolate, cheese and painkillers. The list also includes dried bread, jam, rice, cooking oil, pet food, honey or sugar and much more. The list suggests quantities for three days or in some cases a week. Not surprisingly, given recent panic-induced shortages, toilet paper is on the list, along with batteries and muesli.
And don't think the Swiss take their emergency supplies lightly: Two years ago the National Economic Supply office attempted to remove coffee from the national stockpile on grounds it is not "essential for life." It only took days to learn that Switzerland firmly believes it is!