Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Now I’ve gotten to one of the least important things for short term survival, and the most indispensable thing for long-term survival: food.
For temporary emergencies, other than giving you something to chew on while you think and plan, food isn’t much help. A few protein and granola bars, a package of beef jerky, and a few packets of cocoa, coffee, tea, and soup are more than enough to see you safely through a few days.

But if things are going to be primitive for awhile, food necessities break down, again into threes, to food you store, food you grow, and food you acquire.
Food you store is just that: the stuff you’ve socked away for just-in-case. My parents, having gone through the Great Depression, Always had at least a month’s canned good stuffed in pantry cabinets. Not that they planned it, it just worked out that way. I suppose when you’ve grown up with occasional dinners of One Potato & One Onion Soup, you don’t take food for granted. But that’s a distant memory for the few still alive who were there. Most folks practice just-in-time shopping. That is stupid beyond description. The shortest “good by” dates on canned goods are 2 years out, and most are at three to five. That means for simply the money, the space, and the effort to tote it home, you could provide yourself with the exact same food you’re eating right now, for three years. Obviously, most people don’t have the means to buy it all at once, but you could is the point. If every week you just doubled up, next New Year’s Day, you could be sitting on a spare year’s food, just adding an extra week every week. Most folks, unless they have 4 growing kids, could work on that without breaking a sweat, although some would have to cut out frivolous spending. That’s where it gets hard.

Besides canned goods, staples, like dried corn, whole wheat, sugar, salt, beans, and rice, can be stored in 5 gallon pails with CO2 and oxygen absorbers, sealed in mylar, and the stuff will last decades without a thought.
Whatever your situation, I challenge you to not let this year go to waste without bulking up your food back-up. Not having to scavenge during a pandemic, civil unrest, or after a local/regional disaster keeps you off the road, out of refugee bread lines, and out of sight, and could quite literally save your life in troubled days. We may be facing those again rather sooner than later.

Then there’s food you grow. Whether you have some small planting pots on a patio, or a suburban side or back yard, or more, by planting your stored (heirloom, not hybridized, and hence not able to be reproduced from saved seeds of the first crop) seed. Any number of survival sellers online sell a #10 can of veggie seeds. Once your canned goods and staple foods run out, you’ll need something to eat. When you’re facing starvation is no time to learn how to grow food, and mistakes then can cost your life; start learning now. You can sprout seeds in a sunny window year-round. Come this spring, get out and plant a little something, or a lot of something. It’ll do you good, it tastes great, there’ll be no mystery additives, and the skills and experience you gain could save your life someday, and those you care about. Having the know how to grow food could also make you a precious commodity in lean times. If you have the space and inclination, try your hand at rabbits or chickens. Most cities, even in densely populated areas, allow you half a dozen or more chickens. You can have more eggs than you want for the price of feed and water, and the occasional fresh chicken from your extra. As a side benefit, the chickens will eat a lot of the bugs and things that would be eating your garden if you let them. Why not turn those pest bugs into meat and eggs, and save yourself from eating chemicals and pesticide?
Books and magazines on hobby farming and turning your suburban lawn into a suburban farm abound. Start where your interest is, and expand. Extra food that’s fresh can always be bartered for other necessities, or given to friends and neighbors who’re needier.

Acquired food: Game that you hunt or trap, fish that you catch, and other items that you forage. It bears a historical reminder that until relatively recently (Napoleon’s time, specifically) all armies throughout history foraged for their food and subsisted off the land and and its inhabitants. Lacking an army, let alone a supply chain, you may have to survive in similar fashion.
If bodies of water are in the area you are, fishing gear should be included. An assortment of hooks, weights, and swivels, plus a couple of lengths of suitable line can be fitted into a spool of thread-sized container. Bait can be as simple as finding some of the local bugs and worms. Every fly and lure is no more than an artificial attempt to recreate the critters that fish eat. You can catch yourself a lot of tasty meals with just crickets and worms.

Traps and snares are also a possibility. In survival courses in the military, they cover the idea, but you’re seldom in a position to make use of it. First of all, you don’t want A trap, or A snare. You want dozens of them. Hoping your one lone snare wire will catch you a rabbit or squirrel is a good way to starve hopefully. Setting 20 snares and a whole line of traps, if there’s anything to be caught, can mean you’ll not just survive, but thrive. A good knife, the know how (Hint – AGAIN: Practice now.) to carve sticks into traps and twist wire into snares, and the effort to make 15 or 20 at a time can make a forest or field your grocery store. Set the traps, and check them at least daily. Same with snares.
(Caveat: There are game laws in every state and province. Breaking them can lead to big fines or worse. You’ll also piss off your neighbor if you snare and strangle their cat. So don’t get caught breaking laws, and don’t get stupid. But learn what you’re doing while life is comfortable, and your belly is full. Starvation may concentrate your mind, but mistakes can get permanent then as well. Make your mistakes now, when your future to be isn’t riding on how well you place the trigger on a deadfall or Figure 4. And as a rule, you should know your state’s game hunting, trapping, and fishing regs anyways, because when your life is at stake, those rules go out the window, and most of the things they tell you not to do are the things that will keep you alive long enough to get back to the land of Game Wardens. Given how some folks think wardens pop out of trees, if you’re lost and starving, maybe a game warden will pop out and rescue you right after you set that illegal trap. It beats starving.)

And get the books and field guides, and learn from someone local, what plants grow around you that you can harvest to cook, or eat raw. And learn what there is that’ll kill you deader than canned tuna; you’ll be amazed how much suburban agriculture resembles more the poison lab of the Borgias than the Garden of Eden.
As with the other systems that meet your vital needs, there’s no one thing you can pack away to solve the food problem, or any other problem. Have a Plan B. And a Plan C. Two is one, and one is none, when something your continued survival depends on gets lost or broken. Or just doesn’t work out like you assumed it would. Mother Nature can be a biotch. So make provision in all of the ways above, and in the other threads, and let the Grim Reaper collect up those other poor, lazy, and stupid folks who weren’t as smart as you.

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