How to avoid starvation and eat real food. For the first week or so, it was like there was a neighborhood party every night. People were clearing out their refrigerators and freezers, trying to get everything cooked on the grill before it went bad. Some had more and some had less, but everyone had at least something they could contribute to the get-togethers.
Today, we’d give almost anything to have a fraction of what was eaten at just one of those impromptu backyard feasts. The thought of biting into a juicy cheeseburger or tucking into a plate of barbecued chicken wings is, at times, almost sexual in its urgency, in its lust. We aren’t starving, not in a Third World sense at least, but we’ve all lost a fair amount of weight. Granted, for many of us that haven’t been all bad, as we had a bit extra around the middle in the first place.
We’re now limited
Rather than the wide range of food we once enjoyed, we’re now limited to whatever was picked or caught that day for dinner that night. Few of us have much left in the way of packaged foods, though I suspect a couple of the families have much larger pantries than they are letting on. Can’t say I blame them for not opening their doors and letting folks have free rein. Still, it would be nice if they’d share a little with the rest of us.
Most of us are just now starting to see some results from the makeshift gardens we put in a few months back. Not a lot but enough to keep us from eating shoe-leather soup. I’m not sure what we’re going to do through the winter, though.
Food is vital, avoid starvation
Without fuel, your body won’t function properly, if at all. Unlike water, the odds of food falling from the sky are pretty darn remote. But the thought of trying to stockpile enough food to feed just one person for a year or more, let alone an entire family, is just not feasible nor practical for most folks. Even if you could afford the expense, where would you keep it all? Sure, you can mitigate part of the storage problem by investing in a few pallets of freeze-dried food. It’s a great way to cram a lot of calories into a small space. But here’s something you’ll never see mentioned in the catalogs or on the websites of companies who sell freeze-dried foods: A steady diet of that stuff will wreak havoc on your digestive tract.
Not to mention the high sodium content in many of them will increase your blood pressure and have other nasty effects. Your belly will be full, but the rest of you will be falling apart. As with most other things, you’ll be best served by not putting all your eggs into one basket (no pun intended) and by diversifying your food plans. The options include food storage, growing and raising food, and finding natural sources of food through scrounging, hunting, fishing, and trapping, all to avoid starvation. We’ll explore each of these options, along with food preservation and cooking methods, in a bit more detail.
Earlier, I said that storing enough food for a year isn’t practical for most folks. While true, you should still have at least some amount of food squirreled away for an emergency. When preparing for long-term events, your minimum goal for food storage should be three months. Supplemented with wild edibles, garden produce, and other items, this stockpile should be able to stretch to six months or more. The idea behind having some amount of stored food is to give you a cushion. If the garden doesn’t produce enough due to weather issues, or the local pond gets fished out quickly, you have something to fall back on until you can get over the proverbial hump. Stored food should include a combination of canned or boxed goods as well as dry grains, pasta, and legumes. You want a wide variety of foods, if at all possible. You should also concentrate on the foods your family enjoys eating.
Here are a few examples of storing food and avoid starvation:
- RICE: Do not store the long-grain or wild varieties as the oils in the husks will go rancid.
- BEANS: These are a great protein source when meat isn’t an option.
- CANNED AND POUCH MEATS: When the hunting and trapping isn’t going well, you can still put together a decent meal.
- DRY PASTA: Kept dry, this lasts just about forever. It’s a great filler, too.
- CANNED VEGETABLES AND FRUITS: While not as good as fresh, they’ll still provide necessary vitamins and nutrients. Most canned goods will store well for at least a year or more, provided they are kept cool and dry. This is why you should store only the foods your family currently eats, as you’ll want to rotate out the canned goods before they reach their expiration dates. Any cans you pull from the pantry that are bulging or rusted should be tossed.
- SOUPS AND STEWS: Odds are pretty good you’ll be making a lot of soups and stews due to their simplicity. Basically, you add whatever food you have to a pot of water and let it cook down a bit. Bouillon cubes will help dramatically with making your soups more flavorful. Dehydrated soup mixes, the type that are sold in pouches, are another excellent option. They will keep just about forever and, provided you have the water needed to cook, make quite a bit. My family particularly likes the Shore Lunch soup mixes. One pouch will make, on average, about eight cups of soup.
- BAKING MIXES: Don’t forget to add baking mixes to your storage. Look for the varieties that require only the addition of water, as opposed to milk, eggs, and shortening. A hearty bean stew coupled with a plate of hot biscuits makes for a great meal.
- COOKING OILS: Stick with the vegetable oils rather than lard or shortening as they will store longer. Oils will provide necessary fats in your diet.
- SPROUTS: These are incredibly high in nutrients and easy to grow. Although you can sprout a variety of seeds and beans, the milder flavors come from mung beans, alfalfa, and clover. Rinse the seeds in clean water, then put them in a clear jar and soak overnight. Drain the water (reusing it in the garden rather than wasting it) and then keep the seeds moist by rinsing and draining them two or three times a day. In three to five days, you’ll have a new crop of sprouts to add to salads or to eat as a side dish. You can get the appropriate seeds or beans at health food stores. They should come with any special instructions that might apply. HERBS AND SPICES: In addition to storing foods, don’t forget about things like herbs, spices, and gravy mixes that will all help with making the food more palatable. If you aren’t very experienced with cooking from scratch, take the time to learn now, rather than having to puzzle it out while your hungry family is staring at you, hoping for something that is at least somewhat edible. You don’t want to die from starvation.
Go to Part 2: Growing, Raising & Gathering Food