Some Thoughts On Food…
I just want to start by saying thanks for all the comments and suggestions on my recent question about ‘what Do You Think’. I’m going to go through the comments and choose some questions to answer in these coming weeks. I will highlight (as some people said in the comments) that a LOT of these questions are already answered, in a LOT of detail in my online courses.
I have two separate courses. ‘One Year in Hell’ which goes in to a lot of detail about how I survived in my city during war, and ‘Survival Bootcamp’ which is a great step by step guide in getting prepared. Both courses are popular, informative and unrivaled and, as always, I am giving it to you for the most affordable price I can. You can see more details of the courses and join here:
OK, today I’m going to look at something very specific. As you know I like looking at the aspects of survival mindset, and I find it most important when it comes to surviving hard situations in longer or shorter periods of time, but yes, I agree that you may have the mindset of a warrior or really hard survivalist but still some basics need to be covered.
Basics like food.
Food is something that you cannot live without, and just like about any other basic survival topic a whole bunch of books are being written about it, what and how to store, prepare etc.
While I am not going to write book about food, I will mention few basic things that you need to consider, based on my SHTF experience.
Have What You Like to Eat?
Yes, it make sense to store food that you kinda like to eat. But on the other hand if you hate canned tuna, for example, and there is sudden huge discount of canned tuna why not buy it and store it, you can trade it, or simply (trust me) you will eat it if you have to.
Do not miss a great deal just because you do not like some food (or you think you do not like it)
Other point here is that SHTF is stress for your body (and mind), huge stress.
Your body will need food that is balanced and good (healthy) for you more then ever. So if you have wrong eating habits, eat too much unhealthy food, maybe it is about time to change your habits, learn some stuff, start to eat good food, and start to store it.
When SHTF you will need your maximum strength, and since you ‘are what you eat’ you can conclude that stuff in your pantry will have a big role in how tough you are going to be when SHTF.
It is matter of being practical, or having common sense (again).
You are storing food for SHTF, so it make sense to think about few things that food needs to “cover”:
1. It needs to be in amounts big enough to cover your or your family needs over a certain period of time, so do some calculations in order to have clear picture what amount of food will get you through how long a period of time
2. Needs to be packaged in a way that gives you options to move it quickly or hide it in different places (small packaging, cans, vacuum sealed, MREs, sealed buckets, small packages of sugar,and similar packaging is preferable), that also gives you less chances of spoiling whole storage if something goes wrong (water, infestation etc.)
3. Preparation of the stored food preferably needs to be as simple as possible, not time consuming, and need to have as little impact as possible on your other resources (for example if you store food that needs a lot of time to be prepared and lot of wood to burn in order to make it ready for eating you are doing something wrong). MRE’s are a good example of foods that require ‘minimum’ preparation.
In lot of cases you will have just enough time to eat something quickly, not to spend a couple of hours to make complicated meals.
Yes and no. If you are preparing on a budget then forget about fancy items, stuff like junk food items, useless candy stuff and similar.
On the other hand if you covered your basics really good then why not. Have things that you can use for trade, because in any situation there are always going to be people with extra money (or resources) who will want to spend it on “fancy” things.
Also think about items that may be kind of “comfort food” for you and have some of that stored too. There will be days when piece of food like that will make a huge difference for you.
I just want to be clear, make sure you have all of the ‘basics’ well covered before you worry about adding ‘fancy’ items to your food supplies.
“It Is All In Your Head”
But still, do not forget about mental aspect of everything.
Here is one small memory from the war, from the first period of “adapting” to it, it is not a pleasant memory, but I cannot erase it, let s try to use it here in order to make my point more understandable for you:
I was visiting my buddy, his father had broken ribs as a result of being partially buried under the rubble after shell hit house.
After checking his ribs, and giving some advice, they offered me meal, and of course I took it.
Me and my buddy went out at the yard with two bowls of macaroni, we sit down in pitch dark with our backs to the house wall and we ate and look at the city with sporadic explosions and fires in it.
At the moment we had Czech 22 sniper rifle so we were trying to see something in dark, hopeless, but we simply were eating in the dark, chatting, scoping… some kind of weird SHTF break I guess.
It was hot summer weather, and when you close eyes and “catch” break between explosions and gunfire you could almost imagine barbecue and beer.
And then I felt something weird in my mouth, I was paralyzed for a second, then I moved to the corner of the yard in order not be visible when I lit my lighter, and I checked what exactly is in the bowl.
Bowl was almost empty, some macaroni were left there in water, but also together with that there were bunch of worms floating there.
I checked again, yes-bunch of small grey worms, was not sure but I could swear that some of them was still alive.
I felt immediate urge to throw up. I close my eyes and remembered that I did not eat whole day, that macaroni was my first and only meal that day, and I started to repeat to my self: “do not throw up, do not throw up, I need that full stomach, do not throw up…”
And in next second I throw up everything.
I walk to my friend and ask him “what the f… you gave me to eat, it is full of worms”?
He answered me:” I know man, all what I have is infested with it, it is like that for weeks, I do not mind, and I thought you not gonna notice it in a dark”
I was angry, for a moment, I felt urge to shoot him in the face, then I was angry at myself because I did not check the food.
And then minute later I was angry because I saw warms, I checked it, and now my stomach is empty.
Biggest “highlight” was that my stomach is empty.
It was in the let’s say “adapting” period of SHTF.
Later, I have learned to eat what was available. Expired food, infested food, raw food, weird food.
Over the time you simply want to fill your stomach with something, hunger gets into your pores somehow and you do not mind for some things.
Often I would intentionally go into the dark with my bowl, just not to check too much is there anything else inside.
I assure you, as the situation deteriorate, you will eat lot of stuff that you would not usually eat.
This Article and your detailing a (what became), normal situation during SHTF is why I cherish your counsel Selco! You’re a walking “FIELD MANUAL” on “The How TOs” OF SURVIVAL; UNDER SEVER CIRCUMSATNCES”!…the GOOD, the BAD…& the UGLY!
We NEED to KNOW it ALL, and get our minds filled, so that we’re not overcome…since we ARE the “PAMPERED CITIZENS of the LAND OF MUCH TOO MUCH PLENTY”….And SOON, will be the starving, in the land of destruction!
SO! We NEED your input, no matter how gross!
I’ve read ALL of your first Diary notes, and STILL remember MUCH of what you said, described, and warned about! AND! Your notes have given me a “mindset” that is MUCH more willing to be SENSIBLE under stress, and RELIABLE under dangerous conditions, because I’ll not EXPECTING the GOOD…and therefore will be THANKFUL when there IS GOOD!
Also, I’ve established arms that WE can USE effectively, and PLENTY of ammo…(there’s NEVER too much), AND we’re choosing our friends CAREFULLY, “vetting them” quietly & cautiously…I’ve also minimized my “Tac vest” & knifes, (one large, 3 small, [two on my “Letherman” — multi-tool], one in my pocket…a “camelbac” water system.
Also, I’ve set durable working pants & shirts aside; and some tough military “pocket pants” and a good poncho / rain “system” aside.
I’ve gotten an “ammo belt”, [have a WWII Gerand M1 Carbine, [.30 Cal], and 9 round .22 cal pistol. We also have special barter items, (that you described), and other utility items that we’ll need. Not so much that we can’t carry it tho! All small backpacs…probably 3 of us moving to the others. IF we can use the VAN, then we’ll have better choices of clothes, and food stuffs…(we’ve got Mormon Survival canned food)…SO! ALL THIS to say, You’ve been a MARVELOUS HELP! thanks & may God MIGHTILY BLESS YOU! Follow Jesus Selco, and HIS Spirit’s guidance!
I put away flour, rice, beans, pastas and cereals after freezing them for at least a week before transferring from the store packaging to 3 liter glass jars or smaller. Sometimes I use the freezer and sometimes in the winter I use the cold outside temperatures. I feel this kills the worm eggs because I never have had trouble as I did in the states (I got worms in my cayenne pepper of all things). When prices drop I dehydrate carrots, onions and potatoes; all having to be blanched before dehydrating. I label the dates and rotate either annually or periodically and am doing my own research as to how long things will last down in my dark, cool cellar. .Some jars get oxygen absorbers (or I use soon to expire hand warmers which are the same thing).
Completely disagree on “useless candy”. hard candies when packaged properly will last 100 years and hard candy would be worth quite a bit trading as sugar addiction is as strong as a nicotine addiction. Now useless like chocolate candy bars and twinkies that will mold over in months? yes. but hard individually wrapped candy, it would be worth more than gold after SHTF. even just as a concentrated calorie source that is very easy to carry.
Hello Carl, thanks for commenting.
Just like I said:”On the other hand if you covered your basics really good then why not. Have things that you can use for trade, because in any situation there are always going to be people with extra money (or resources) who will want to spend it on “fancy” things.”
If you cover basics then of course it make sense to have chocolates bars and similar, because you can trade it or use it as a comfort food.
But basics first.
Worms=Protein. Chew well. They are better for you than white (GMO) flour pasta. Many places I have traveled eat insects on a daily basis as a food source. Only first world countries turn up their noses at this viable food source. Most of any insect is edible (except possibility the exo skeleton). Enjoy the new foodie experience.
I developed a storage system for dry bulk foods by taking the widely used Mylar bad and o2 absorbers storage system, then I add food grade diatomaceous earth to kill any possible infestation.
Live insects are a bit more of a problem, as I found out eating ants once. Insects can have other parasites in them that can infect you if you don’t cook/process them properly. Same goes for plants. I ate a lot of grass shoots and ants in survival training. We caught an armadillo but had no way to dress him (and didn’t have a lot of knowledge back then either), so we spit roasted him whole. I hadn’t eaten real food in almost two weeks. But even so, I had to hold my nose to take a bite, and could only get two bites of him down before I started gagging on the third bite. Like the gamiest/nastiest piece of pork; you can’t imagine how bad he tasted, and I will never be able to forget it.
Later on after training we were fed flattened oily peanut butter sandwiches and luke warm reconstituted non-fat milk. My mouth was salivating so bad at the sight of that meal I couldn’t open it to say thank you.
Once again, the Papillon effect.
Selco, what was the longest you went without a meal during the hard time? What do you think about the situation in Venezuela with the people eating garbage now?
Couple of days without any food-several times, but often week or so with just one “soup”( boiled grass) per day or similar substitute for food.
It is bad situation there of course, without going into reasons for that. It is simple, as your situation goes down you simply lower your reasoning and “threshold”. It is survival, you can do a lot in order to survive-or simply you can forget a lot.
Yes, just like Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 that crashed in the Andes in ’72; hunger/survival takes over, and most passengers were willing to eat their dead friends. The one’s who couldn’t/didn’t have that strong will to fight simply died, and became food for the living…
Interesting story about the armadillo. You must be in the southern US like I am. I’ve eaten armadillo twice in my life. Once was on a survival hike when I was 13 in the boy scouts. One of the country boy scouts killed it with a shovel and only a few of us were “brave” enough to eat it. I really liked it, other than the sand from where they washed it in the river. The next time was on a hunting trip a few years later. We brought it home and cooked it. Fantastic! It’s quite a delicacy south of the border. No accounting for taste, I guess. I would not eat armadillo again though unless I was really hungry. They are known to carry Leprosy. Not worth taking the chance.
The armadillos along the Gulf coast are known to carry the mycobacterium leprae organism that causes leprosy. It’s possible that proper cooking might kill the bacteria, but I sure wouldn’t take the chance. When I lived in that area, we would shoot them, but not eat them.
Ramen noodles works pretty well for us in the desert southwest. The salty flavor helps maintain stamina in desert heat, while in the cold, the warmed water helps keep core warm. Very versatile with added proteins / vegetables. To keep salt level low, I use one package for at least two / three meals, keeping the packets for future use. Have used the broth alone in the cold for a warm drink. Inexpensive, long shelf life, can even be eaten raw.
A ‘for whatever it’s worth’ statement: years ago I had a ‘small IRS problem’ which worked out in my favor after two years. I learned after losing my bank account and having half my gross wages garnished to eat on very little but very well. Once chicken weekly (whole but I cut it up), ramen noodles (soup) daily, a bit of green onions, a piece of roasted chicken and home made stock with crackers (home made of course). Coupled with a bowl of cereal in the AM and a small salad in the late PM, I ate for about $20.00 weekly for two years. Granted this was no SHTF/war situation but just saying that it is possible if your mind ‘is in the right place’ (a ton of gratitude goes a long way in these cases) one can do wonders in a tight situation. All this was coupled with a daily two-three hour work out (I worked a late shift at my place of employment).
Yeah, turns out Armadillo, like most varmints, don’t taste so good when you have to roast it whole without being able to gut it and dress it out proper. I suspect what tainted it was when we pushed the skewer through and gored it’s paunch. It surely did stink once we got it opened up after cooking it for a couple hours. We didn’t know at the time about the leprosy issue, but I reckon if we were exposed I’d have found out by now. That was over 30 years ago. I still remember that taste like it was yesterday. Even with my nose plugged tight, it still got to me.
For eating on the cheap, I was brought up on cornbread and beans. You could eat for a month on $20 worth of pintos, cornmeal, and shortening. It wasn’t good eating, but the belly stayed full enough. I also learned you could eat all of the apple, including the core. You can also eat peanuts without shelling them first. I also recall regularly walking out of fast food restaurants with my pockets full of condiment packs. A single packet of Taco Bell hot sauce goes a long way towards curbing hunger. In high school I got a job working at a smorgasbord as a dishwasher. That way I could collect up whatever food came in from off the line (I’d toss the scraps in a bin in the cooler till shift was done) and eat well for a couple days. Or I’d work in the fields picking fruit and vegetables and eat what I could then. When you are hungry, you do whatever to fill the hole.
Great stuff as always Selco. I especially appreciated the paragraph “Have What You Like to Eat?”. As I’m sure you know, the internet is full of “experts” that scoff at the idea of someone storing any food that doesn’t have their “expert” seal of approval. Hopefully your real life experience will provide folks with a reality check.
Food is important, but water is CRITICAL. Stay hydrated, whatever you do.
As for mylar and oxygen packets, they’re OK for emergency situations, but when using and rotating food, an investment in one of the better vacuum packers is well worth it (we use a FoodSaver). We also got a large-mouth canning jar adapter, and use ½ gallon canning jars for storage of a lot of things (they also takes care of the “critter” problems). Currently (7 Mar 2017) the best deal on the internet appears to actually be on the company web site. Look under “Deals” and take a look at the model V2866 – it has a 5-year warranty:
If you purchase freeze dried or dehydrated bulk foods (we do) in #10 cans, be certain to repack (vacuum) what you don’t use after opening. That is particularly critical with things like meat – which re-absorbs moisture out of the air fairly quickly, and it can go bad almost as quickly as leaving meat sitting out on the kitchen counter, once it’s gotten enough moisture absorbed back into it. I’ve checked with two different food storage companies, and they both say that the 20 year (or more) life is only deteriorated by a year or two once opened – IF the remaining product is almost immediately repackaged and vacuum packed. One vacuum packing machine becomes a whole lot less expensive than mylar bags and oxygen absorbers over time.
While #10 cans aren’t convenient if movement is required in a SHTF situation, you can still get them so as to have a source of high quality food initially, repackage them into smaller containers (yes, glass can break fairly easily, but for normal use canning jars are pretty sturdy), and then put SOME of them in mylar bags with oxygen packets. And the vacuum packer will reseal mylar bags nicely, too.
I remember a situation kind of like the bowl of macaroni.. I was enjoying a bowl of cereal, seen the cereal moving. It was meal worms infested. I finshed the bowl. Added protein. I had been eating the cereal days already.
Fwiw…. I have recently been using up old stuff or cleaning it out, like cans that are 2 years out of date.
And have eaten cans of beans and veg and even hash that are 2 years out date recently too, Made sure no bulges or any of that on them. Because you gotta know if you can use/survive them or not right? And I can tell you you can. No worries. Cook em real good and down the hatch. Taste like any other new can and no issues.
I suggest you all take a hard look and put some work into guerilla gardening. Fertilize your garden plots. Ask friends if you can plant a few things at their places. Plant regular crops now and grow them. Look now (in the northern hemisphere) for where there are edible plants most people don’t know about, don’t recognize, or look in those spots. Make a sketch to remind you of where they are. Plant things like potatos and beets that will grow now, and the tops die back. Mulch them over in the fall. Learn what flowers have edible bulbs then plant some of those or note where they are in neighbors yards or other places [peopel don’t really go, like houses where no one is liing. Divert the rain spouts on the empty houses or buildings so rain water will irrigate the crops without you ever going there. Make a map showing where untreated dandelions and plantain or other edibles are. Get a book of the plants you can forage and go out and look for them. Find out where cattails are. Wade out and dig some up. Try eating them now for rehearsal. Takes the cattails and introduce them where they can start growing this spring- in ditches or pond edges where you know the water is pretty clean now during peaceful time. Best wishes to you all.
Have the right chemical Pepto Bis~~~ for all the experimental meals/foods you’ll have to try also activated Charcoal stock up now–I also found this one supplement that the Solgar company makes called COMFORT ZONE Digestive Complex Helps Break down difficult to digest foods 11 High Activity Enzymes—stuff really works. Also stash some ginger if you can for making a tea for upset guts. I’ll eat squirrel and pigeons tonight if I had to rats and mice the night, dogs and cats the last night. As far as bugs GRASSHOPPERS outside of that I have no desire at the present. Keep some honey around (pounds of the stuff) for making candy grasshoppers.
I haven’t bought Ramen noodles for a long time, that last time I bought a bulk pack of them, every sealed package was full of webs from the worms that were in each package of Ramen noodles. To this day I don’t
think I would want to eat them again. The other item I ran into was boxed macaroni and cheese. When I opened the box and dumped it in the water, lots and lots of small dead gray bugs floated to the top of the water.