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“On a warm spring night, after eating dinner with friends and deciding to do a little late-night dancing, a young lady walks across the top floor of a well-lit parking garage.  She’s tired, worn out from the night of dancing and to help combat her fatigue, one hand is carrying a latte from the local late-night coffee joint down the road while her other hand fumbles in her purse.

Since it’s the top floor of the garage, there are few really good places to mount a security camera, so the ones that do exist are not able to capture much outside of the fact that behind her, a black-clad man with his hood up approaches her from behind as she unlocks her car door, and attacks.  Within seconds, he slams the back of her head, knocking her unconscious with his blow, if not with the ricochet of her head against the roof of the car.  Picking up her keys off the ground, throwing her inside the car bodily, he’s driving off through the garage, and is out of camera range very quickly to do…well, just about anything he wants.”

While this is a fictional situation, it’s the kind of thing that I’m starting to think about now that my daughter is going to be attending college in the big city.  She has basic skills in martial arts, an interest based on an activity that I required of her when she was a young teen, but doesn’t have a firearm and doesn’t carry any weapons in her purse.  What can she do to prevent this kind of attack?

3 Ways to Discourage Street Attacks

#1 – Situational Awareness & Mindfulness

Millennials often get a bad rap for being too tied into their phone, but it’s not only them. People of every age do it and they need to beware of the risks of making their way through life oblivious to those around them.  In a world where any kind of media is immediately available through so many channels, it’s easy to put your headphones in and enjoy a little entertainment on those lonely walks down the streets.  I love podcasts myself, and I know how easy it is to get lost in what the hosts are discussing and become engrossed to the point of making secondary the thoughts about where you are, where you’re going, what you planned on doing, and how you’re getting there.

Situational Awareness is simply the act of being constantly aware of what is happening around you.  It is essential in any kind of potentially dangerous situation to be mindful of what is happening around you, keeping a clear head, focusing on the present situation and your present environment.  Use as many of your senses as you can – listen to the ambient sounds, notice the smells of your environment, put your eyes and your head on a swivel, looking behind you every thirty seconds or so, and more often if entering a new environment.

I used the word “mindful” in the last paragraph, because Mindfulness is becoming a part of the zeitgeist of modern life as well.  This age-old concept is very simply a set of techniques designed to help you focus on the present moment, and what is happening around you – very similar to situational awareness.  Looking up some simple mindfulness exercises like “leaves on a stream” or even practicing basic meditation is a good way to help build your tolerance for long periods of being in the moment.

In the above situation, the young lady who was attacked likely had no idea that there was someone else on the roof of the parking garage, much less that he was following her, even as closely as he would have had to in order to attack so quickly.  Having no situational awareness, and likely being lost in a world of her own thoughts or in cell phone music or audio programs was her first big mistake.  Had she been looking around, aware of her situation, and perhaps even made eye contact with the attacker on her way towards her car, she may have done enough to encourage him to choose a different target.

#2 – Providing Disinformation

If you were an attacker who wanted to prey on someone, would you choose a man or a woman to attack?  Young or middle aged?

Almost everyone would choose a young female. The reasons are simple – she’s less likely to have any interest in martial arts or combat sports, she’s probably smaller and less muscular than her male counterparts, she likely carries more cash or valuable jewelry, and is stereotyped as being more naïve by the media and society at large.  Whether any specific female fits those categories is unimportant, its true that the simple act of being a female makes you a bigger target.

Being a young female isn’t something you can control.  Or is it?

No transgender stuff here.  But it’s possible, highly likely even, that the attacker in the above situation has done at least a small amount of research on this car he found on the top floor of a parking garage late at night, and it’s surprising what you can figure out about someone based on their car.

Does she have custom vanity license plates?  If so, those are generally a strong indicator that this is a female, unless the plates say something decidedly masculine like “GUNDUDE8” or “PREP MAN”.  If he peeks inside and sees custom leopard print seat covers, a steering wheel cover, or fuzzy dice on the rearview mirror, then assumptions can easily be made.   Other information can be gleanes as well.  If he sees a Victoria’s Secrets bag in your passenger seat, then what’s he going to assume?  The contents of your backseat can tell a lot about a person.  Makeup bags, the presence of an infant car seat or a booster, bumper stickers – all of these things say something about you, and help attackers decide if you’re a good target. While they don’t all “scream” female, they do all scream “unfocused” or having their concentration distracted by errands, a child, whatever. We are all guilty of this, especially in places we have frequented where “nothing has ever happened.” Reality is it only has to happen once to be life altering.

The worst offenders of the car customization market are the stick figures that populate the back windows of far too many cars.  Sure, they’re kind of cute, but they give way too much information about who you are, who is in your family, their ages and their interests.  If you have a single woman with two children on there, chances are that you’re coming out to your car either alone, or with two little ankle biters who are occupying all of your attention.

The best tip I’ve heard for single young women who are at risk for being attacked near their car is to give would-be attackers plenty of disinformation designed to encourage them to choose a different target.  A big, well-worn pair of men’s athletic shoes in the back seat, or a duffel bag covered in visible weight-lifting patches and karate logos will go a long way towards indicating to any smart criminals that the person who owns this vehicle is not to be trifled with.

Bumper stickers are also a good way to dissuade people.  Pro-gun bumper stickers, particularly if they endorse concealed carry, are a good place to start, as are indicators that you’re interested in things like MMA, wrestling, martial arts, or bodybuilding, whether you are or not. I have heard the counter-argument, that people “looking for guns to steal” look for cars with an NRA sticker (USMC emblem, etc.) The normal pattern of such a person is to follow you home to see what house to target for a robbery, when they observe you have left the premises. Yes, most people like this have gun safes – do you put your bedside go-to weapon in your gun safe every time you leave your house?

Spiked dog collars are also a simple thing to throw in the backseat.  While that might not be something that will dissuade an attacker in the aforementioned situation, it will work wonders for dissuading attackers spying on your car in a park, forest preserve or who might be looking at your home as a potential target.

Use your normal routine and patterns to decide what kinds of things you want to decorate with, or stash in your car. Understanding the places where you’re likely to be attacked will provide the best understanding of what will work best for you.

#3 – Just do it

People who prey on others are often quite a bit smarter than you might think.  Most have done their homework, and having looked inside your car to find evidence that you may be a very strong male or have a very large dog, might be smart enough to avoid you as a potential attackee.  Despite this, an often cited fact about criminals shows that most crimes that are committed in the US are crimes not borne from passion or careful thinking, but simply crimes of opportunity.

The attacker in the situation above may have been in line behind her in the coffee shop and noticed a $100 bill in her wallet, and taken the chance to follow her.  He may have just been a normal guy walking to his own car when he had a desperate feeling that he could get something from her.  Sometimes, the criminals will ignore any evidence of misinformation you provide, or maybe they’ve cased your car before and seen through your deception.

Sometimes, you just have to fight.  Or at least look like you’re ready for a fight.

Many will advise keeping some kind of weapon in the purse, and it’s hard to deny that this would be a good idea, but I would advocate that, if not well trained in the use of a knife, pepper spray, a pistol, or whatever weapon might make sense for a young lady to carry, that weapon will be useless.  It might also function as a distraction – it’s mere existence forcing the attacked person to spend valuable reaction time digging around for the weapon instead of running, adopting a defensive posture, striking back, finding some other form of help, or doing almost anything else that may be more productive in helping the situation.

Instead, the simple act of looking ready for a fight is good enough.  Stand up straighter when you walk, turn your head when you look, not just your eyes.  Proactively say hi to people on the street to indicate that you notice them, as this can unnerve criminals who are doing their best to avoid notice.

Remember that if the need arises to defend yourself, it is nearly impossible to do so without a free hand.  If you carry a purse, consider keeping your hand inside it as you walk, not fishing for anything, but as if you’re holding onto something.  The fear of the unknown weapon in your hand may do enough to scare someone off.

Anyone, female or not, would also do well to consider what kinds of objects that you keep on your person and how they may be used as a weapon.  Pocket knives are an obvious choice, but making a fist around your car keys creates a deadly combination of striking and slashing weapons that can do serious damage.  Aerosol deodorant or hair spray is not a great choice, but it can certainly burn the eyes of an attacker if you get lucky.  Using the small, rounded edge of a hairbrush as a striking tool can be helpful to those who don’t have a lot of experience using their fists to punch, and it will likely cause more damage if you don’t already have any martial arts training.

Before exiting the stairwell or elevator, this young women should have had her keys ready in her dominant hand, with the key poking out through her middle and index finger, her hand in a fist.  Even with an improper strike, this will cause damage to any attacker.  That’s a nice easy weapon to carry that will do the damage, doesn’t require specific training, and will help you stay safe out there in the big bad city. And for those of us with “electronic key bobs”, consider investing in some sharp jewelry/bottle-opener thingy’s to add to the key ring. Also, never forget your extended thumb forward when making a fist as this can be devastating to an eye, a throat, even a kidney. Then again, there is this.

"On a warm spring night, after eating dinner with friends and deciding to do a little late-night dancing, a young lady walks across the top floor of a well-lit parking

When we sit down with the goal to be prepared and self-sufficient, we have to balance a lot. We already walk tightropes between work and home life in many cases. Adding a pursuit that could really be its own full-time job only makes things harder. The self-sufficiency arm alone could occupy a full work week, and for some, the future looms as a period when we may have to increase our physical vigilance on top of producing our own food, medicine, and supplies.

There are methods we can use to make gardens maintenance friendly, and plant selections can ease it further. In some cases, there are plants that grow with few inputs and are specific to our regions. In other cases, we can also decrease our labors in a work-heavy and typically strength-sapping hot season by making selections that ease the other side of growing and harvesting.

Processing & Storage

Whether it’s annuals, an annual veggie garden, or perennials, whatever methods for production we choose takes time away from our daily lives. Then our produce needs to be processed, one way or another.

Even now when most lives are relatively easy due to power tools, refrigeration, and transportation, we tend to be pretty busy. I think most of us expect that even without the tug of paying jobs and some of the extracurricular activities that suck up our time, a life “after” will be just as busy and in some or many cases, even more labor intensive.

When we examine that “labor” word in regards to processing food, don’t forget that it’s not only the physical act of shelling beans and field peas, and our chosen method for threshing and winnowing grains or stripping corn cobs, or stewing tomatoes and slicing up zucchini. Most storage methods – even the truly historic methods – call for supplies: canners, jars, copious lids, a dehydrator or outdoor netted racks of some sort (and cooperative weather), a cold smoker, or things like salt, sugar, pectin and rennet we either have to stock or figure out how to produce.

When we process something, we also regularly have to provide fuel. Besides water and gardening, I think fuel consumption for household processes is one of the most underrated and underestimated aspects for preppers.

If we can eliminate some of the burden of processing foods for storage, we can eliminate not only some of the draw on our valuable time, but also limit some of the constant drains on supplies, and give us at least a little bit of backup in case our supplies are damaged or consumed.

Happily, we can create those backups pretty easily, by adding traditional storage or “cellar” crops https://morningchores.com/root-cellars/ to our garden and orchard plans. They basically go from field to storage, poof, done.

I’ll skip over beans and cereals this time, because they really need their own articles. Instead, I’ll stick with the veggies and fruits that are easiest to store without much if any processing.

Squashes

Squashes are among the best-known storage crops. Autumn or winter squashes are the longer-growing, thicker-skinned cucurbits. It’s those tough hides we have to work through that let us sit them on a shelf and walk away, for weeks or months on end. There’s a long, long list from all climates that includes kabocha, spaghetti, kuri, Hubbard squashes, the gourds, and pumpkins.

Squash are ready for storage when the rinds darken, and you can’t punch a fingernail through them. The plants sometimes cue us that they’re ready by yellowing and dying back a bit, and in many cases the vines will go woody. We then cut them off with a stub of stem attached, brush any soil or debris loose, and let those thick skins toughen up more with a 1-2 week cure in a 75-80 warm, somewhat dry space, up off the ground. They can be cured in the field, propped up, but there are risks there that a barn or crib can help eliminate.

Then they go into a slightly humid space – the average basement, household pantry, spare bedroom or office, and dry cellar is fine. Some will store for 6-8 weeks even at 60-75 degrees, while others will only store that long even at the ideal 45-60 degrees. Some like Hopi and fully-matured tromboncino will store for a full year or longer.

The downside to the winter squashes is that they tend to take a full season to grow, and only produce a few to a handful of fruits per plant, compared to the tender summer squashes that can be producing in 55-65 days and readily fill a laundry basket when they’re picked often and early.

Humid Sand-Box Crops

Some of our storage crops like it damp. It keeps them from shriveling up and browning, or wilting into rot. We can create humidity with damp sand or sawdust, layering in root veggies like rutabaga/sweedes, turnips, beets, parsnips, carrots, and celeriac. The root veggies are also ideal candidates for burying in a wooden crate outside once temperatures drop.

We can also use damp boxes to store cabbage, celery and leeks.

For them, shallower trays work well, because we’re going to cut them with a section of their stems still attached, and “plant” those stems into the sand or sawdust. The veggies will then wick up moisture that lets them be stored for weeks or months.

They’ll store longer if we can keep them between about 35 and 45 degrees, but even 55-60 degrees can significantly extend their shelf lives. If we can’t come up with a damp box or pit for them, we can also individually wrap them in plastic to help hold in moisture. (And now you have a justification for keeping every plastic grocery bag that crosses your path.)

Tree Fruits

Nuts have to be the next-best known storage crops, and right there with them are apples and pears.

Modern supermarket apple varieties don’t store quite as long or as well in many cases, with the exception of Granny Smith that will sit on a counter for weeks and extend into a month and longer if we drop the temperatures.

There are still storage apples out there although we have to work harder to find them. Braeburn and Pippin are examples of surviving apples that were actually intended to sit around in storage for a while, sweetening and softening over time . We can also turn to the harder baking, cider and applesauce apples like Winesap.

We’ll have better luck storing the tart apples than the sweets, and the firm-crisp apples and pears over softer varieties. Mid-and late-season varieties are also more storage friendly, usually, and can provide us with fresh fruit later in the season.

Apples will do best in a cool, 40-65 degree storage space, and will do better yet if we save some newspaper and phone book pages to wrap them in and stick them on racks with 0.5-1” of air space between each fruit and each layer.

Pears will be even happier if they’re given the same treatment but an even colder space – just above freezing up to about 50 degrees. Pears will also commonly benefit from a cure period after they’re harvested.

Both pears and apples like storage with some humidity, which makes them good candidates for storage above some of our damp boxes, but only the leafy veg boxes. The root veggies are pretty sensitive to the ethylene released by fruits.

Medlars that “blat” (rot) are another example of a tree fruit that we don’t have to rush around processing during some of the busiest times of the year. It’s an acquired taste and texture, ever so slightly reminiscent of apple butter, but especially if we want to keep our food production hidden in plain sight, medlars may be a nice choice for us.

Nuts are pretty easy, even soft-shelled peanuts. Pick, brush, stack in a dry place, move on.

One thing to note is that walnuts that are removed from their husks will be less tart/bitter than those that aren’t processed at all. On the other hand, one of the “cheat” ways to remove that husk is to just stack them up in a bag until it rots and can just be scrubbed, or to leave them in water until the husk rots and drops away.

Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes and sweet potatoes need to make it through our winters and in many cases all the way through the earliest parts of spring, so we have even more reason to start practicing with them as soon as possible. See, they’re not really flowering seed producers at this stage in evolution, and it takes a while for seed starts to get going, just like tomatoes. We’re going to have to cut potatoes and let them callous, and-or grow starts from them if we want to continue reaping potatoes and sweet potatoes in a world without Tractor Supply and Baker Creek.

After harvest, both sweet potatoes and true potatoes are brushed off, then cured.

Potatoes cure best at 50-60 degrees for 2-4 weeks. To be at all soft and palatable, sweets need to cure in a warm but not too hot space, 80-85 degrees, and usually don’t need more than two weeks.

That’s similar with Asian and African yams for the most part, although some of those need a little longer or will tolerate hotter cure temps.

We’re typically harvesting sweets and yams when it’s still pretty warm, but if we need to heat space for them, we can use coolers or insulate small pantries or closets, and rotate in jugs and pots of hot water. We can also potentially use our vehicles or camper shells as a hot zone for curing sweets and yams, but we need to monitor the temps and be able to provide ventilation if it gets too hot during the day, and keep the temperatures up at night.

Once they’re cured, potatoes and sweet potatoes like the same moderate humidity we can find in most household basements, pantries, and spare rooms. Sweet potatoes really want to stay at 50-60 degrees for their storage, but potatoes will handle a dug-in pit that only gets as low as 45 or so, or can sometimes be stored in rooms adjacent to barns, greenhouses, or coops – reaping the body heat but not too much of it.

Storage Crops

Spring, summer, and autumn are already pretty busy seasons for a lot of us. Family obligations and things like fishing and hunting are already in competition with our gardens, orchards, crops, any livestock we own or other projects. They’re also the seasons we need to get buildings and power sources repaired, and wood cut and stocked.

Summer, and in many places autumn as well, are also our drought seasons, which means unless we have reliable water sources and backups for them, we can expect to do some heavy hauling – and some of us may already be filling barrels and buckets and tanks to haul for livestock and gardens.

Add in the mega-disasters and regional or wide-scale hungers some expect, or even the increased risks of garden and livestock threats from desperate humans a la Great Depression, Venezuela, and some of the dissolution and wars that have faced Europeans in the last century, and we can expect to spend more time on defense, as well.

Those are all factors that makes it worthwhile to consider crops that don’t need much processing. Autumn squashes, apples, carrots, nuts, and potatoes that need minimal work before being crated or stacked on shelves can save us valuable time. Maybe that’s time we’re harvesting livestock and grains, or maybe that’s time we’re shelling green peas, peeling tomatoes, and slicing crookneck for the dehydrator or pressure canner.

Even if our storage conditions aren’t ideal, the ability to produce crops that can sit for even just a few weeks can buy us time to get in precious hay and straw, and deal with the more perishable yields of our gardens and orchards.

While there are some drawbacks to various storage crops, there are also a lot of benefits – both now and “if/when”.

When we sit down with the goal to be prepared and self-sufficient, we have to balance a lot. We already walk tightropes between work and home life in many cases.

Sometimes, you have to think outside of the freeze-dried food paradigm. You may find yourself in the woods forced to run from your home or camp because of marauders with nothing to eat. Fortunately, there are many edible plants that can save your life if you know what they are, how to identify them and are comfortable with preparing them.

I don’t personally think that I will love eating a bunch of weeds to survive, but I will if needed. In a long-term disaster, I would certainly consider them vital to preserving life and the right edible plants could augment your gardens and food stores. I wanted to write up this list of 20 edible plants that are found mostly in the temperate region. There are certainly others you could find growing near you, but this is a good start. If I am able to master 20 edible plants in the area where I live, I would consider that a huge benefit to my prepping needs.

There are a lot of very recognizable plants you can eat like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and so on, but I didn’t want to add those to the list.

Plants to avoid

Before you grab a good book on edible plants and run out into the woods with a bowl and a fork, you should practice some caution with this process. Not all plants are edible and knowing what not to eat is just as important as knowing what to eat. Before you forage, here are some simple rules to follow when you are trying to identify a plant.

Do not eat any plants that have the following traits

  • Milky or discolored sap
  • Grain heads with purple/pink or black spurs
  • Beans, bulbs or seeds inside pods
  • Yellow, white or red berries
  • Soapy or bitter taste
  • Never eat plants with thorns.
  • Steer clear of plants with shiny leaves.
  • Don’t eat mushrooms. Many are safe to eat, but many are highly toxic and even deadly, so it’s not worth the risk.
  • Umbrella-shaped flowers are a bad sign. Stay away from these plants.
  • Avoid anything that smells like almonds.
  • Same as poison ivy, stay away from plants with leaves in groups of three.

Related – The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

In addition to avoiding all of those traits, you want to forage for wild edible plants in areas that are less likely to have toxins. Plants growing near homes could have been sprayed many times with chemicals. Plants in water that is contaminated will likely hold that same contamination. Plants by the road will have picked up many harmful chemicals and pollution.

Before eating, use the Universal Edibility Test

Before taking the test, you need to fast for 8 hours. If you are desperate enough to need to find edible plants, this might be already the case.

  1. Test only one part of a potential food plant at a time.
  2. Separate the plant into its basic components – leaves, stems, roots, buds and flowers
  3. Smell the food for strong or acid odors. Remember, smell alone does not indicate if a plant is edible or not.
  4. During the 8 hours you are fasting, test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant part you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. Usually 15 minutes is enough time to get a reaction if there is going to be one.
  5. During the test period, take nothing by mouth except purified water and that plant part you are testing.
  6. Select a small portion of a single part and prepare it the way you plan to eat it.
  7. Before placing the prepared plant part in your mouth, touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of your lip to test for burning or itching.
  8. If after 3 minutes there is no reaction on your lip, place the plant part on your tongue and hold it there for 15 minutes. DO NOT SWALLOW.
  9. If there is no burning, itching, numbing, stinging , or any other irritation, swallow the plant part.
  10. Wait 8 hours. If any ill effects occur during this period, induce vomiting and drink a lot of water.
  11. If no ill effects occur, each ¼ cup of the same plant part prepared the same way. Wait another 8 hours. If everything is still good after all of these steps, the plant is considered edible.

Note: Just because the part you tested is edible, that doesn’t mean the entire plant is edible. Test all parts the same way before eating them.

Related – 4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

List of Edible Plants

Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus and other species)

Amaranth is an edible weed found almost everywhere. You can eat all parts of the plant but some leaves contain spines. Boil the leaves to remove the oxalic acid and nitrates.

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Wild Asparagus grows in most of Europe and North America. This looks different than the fatter stalks you normally eat but can be eaten raw or boiled. Add a little butter and salt.

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Young plant roots and stems can be cooked by boiling for about 20 minutes, then season to taste. Before cooking however, the stems should be peeled, and roots scrubbed in order to remove the bitter rind.

Related – Even SWAT Teams are helpless against THIS

Cattail (Typha species)

The lower parts of the leaves can be used in a salad; the young stems can be eaten raw or boiled; the young flowers (cattails) can be roasted.

Clover (Trifolium)

I have never been able to find a four-leaf clover but you can’t walk out in my back yard without stepping on this plant. You can eat the leaves raw or boil them.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Leaves and root. Although the flower is edible, it is very bitter.

Chickweed (Stekkarua media)

Chickweed is a very nutritious herb, containing Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E along with Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous, Potassium, Selenium, Silicon, Sodium, Sulfur and Zinc plus essential fatty acids. It can be eaten as a salad vegetable or cooked and eaten like cabbage.

Related – Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion leaves can be added to a salad or cooked. They can also be dried and stored for the winter or blanched and frozen.

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Persimmons are rich in vitamins A and B, and are a good source of fiber. To get the most nutritional value from persimmons, it’s best to eat them raw.

Plantain (Plantago species)

The leaves can be eaten raw or steamed for a spinach substitute, and are awesome raw in salads and blended into green smoothies, especially the younger ones as the mature leaves may taste slightly bitter.

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

Pokeweed can be poisonous if not prepared carefully. You have to ensure you don’t get the roots and the shoots aren’t too long.  Make sure you learn more about the proper cultivation and preparation of this plant before eating it.

Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia species)

Both the pads and the fruit of the prickly pear cactus are edible.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

The moisture-rich leaves are cucumber-crisp, and have a tart, almost lemony tang with a peppery kick.

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

The leaves of Sassafras texture and can be used raw or cooked in salads or eaten right off the plant, unlike the berries, the leaves have a mild pleasant taste.

Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella)

You can use the leaves in salad, or make into soup.

Thistle (Cirsium species)

Flower head shown: Just strip the green off the leaf leaving the very edible midrib. Rub the “wool” off and enjoy, raw or cooked.

Water lily and lotus (Nuphar, Nelumbo, and other species)

Leaves gathered anytime during the growing season (although, again, early spring growth is best of all) make good greens. Chop the pads into noodle-like strips and boil them in one change of water. The addition of a little bacon doesn’t hurt a thing.

Wild onion and garlic (Allium species)

All parts of this particular Wild Onion are edible, the underground bulbs, the long and thin leaves.

Wild rose (Rosa species)

Petals can be added to salads , desserts, beverages, used to make jelly or jam and be candied

Wood sorrel (Oxalis species)

The leaves, flowers, green seed pods, and roots are all edible, raw or cooked. It can be eaten straight out of the ground, added to soups, made into a sauce, or used as a seasoning. As a seasoning, it provides a lemony/vinegary taste to whatever it’s added to.

Now that you have some more information about the edible plants near you, why don’t you try eating some of these varieties the next time you go for a hike in the woods. Any wild edible plants that you eat that didn’t make the list?

 


Other Self-sufficiency and Preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

 

Remember, before eating these plants, use the Universal Edibility Test. Details inside.

One of the central pillars of preparedness is being able to feed yourself. Preppers focus some of their attention on stockpiling food as well as creating renewable sources like gardens or livestock (chickens and rabbits) as protection against the possibility that the local grocery store is no longer able to provide something to eat. The average person it has been said only has about 3 days’ worth of food in their homes and if that is true, feeding your family in certain disasters could prove to be possibly your biggest problem.

We have already seen time and time again, scenes of grocery store shelves stripped clean anytime there is a concern in the public. Greece was just the most recent example of this behavior preppers warn against. Starvation would surely be a horrible way to die and it seems as though collectively we all consider this a threat that must be dealt with to ensure the safety of our loved ones. The question is how you will deal with the risk of not being able to feed your family. Will you stock up on food now while you are able, or will you try to swim through the crowd of potentially thousands of other people raiding the local grocery store in the hopes that you can secure enough food to last your family though whatever disaster you are facing?

For many preppers, this may not be as grave of a concern from your perspective. If you have been diligently preparing, you may already have quite a large supply of food that would conceivably last you and anyone else in your home a long time. You might have plenty of food stocked already so you plan to sit back in the safety of your home while everyone else goes crazy; fighting over the last can of olives. But as you are sitting back feeling confidently comfortable, gazing at your fully pantry, those 5 gallon buckets of Winter Wheat and metric tons of beans, have you ever considered how long that food will actually last you when you start needing to eat it?

Determining how long your food storage will last

The default amount of calories we consider to be recommended for an adult is approximately 2,000 calories per person. I know there are differences with age, activity level and gender, but for simplicity sake let’s just take that amount as our baseline. For general health, each member of your survival group will need to consume on average 2,000 calories per day to simply maintain a “healthy” weight.

Rice and beans are a great long-term stable food supply for preppers. They have an impressive storage life as long as they are kept cool and dry and they are very cost-effective as well. You can purchase a 50 pound bag of rice for around $20. Rice and Beans together give you carbohydrates and protein. Each 50 pound bag of rice has approximately 500 servings and there really isn’t anything like the satisfaction you can get from staring at a shelf full of rice and beans. But how long will that last your family?

A 50 pound bag of rice has about 500 servings.

Each serving (1 cup) of rice is 206 calories

Each serving of pinto beans has 245 calories

If you ate three meals of Rice and Beans in a day you would consume only 1353 calories. (451 X 3). If you had a family of 4, that 50 pound bag would last you about 41 days but that isn’t all the calories you would need. To just stay healthy and not lose any weight you would need to come up with another 700 calories per person, per day.

Calories are more important to measure than servings

Well, you could supplement that rice and beans with the wild game you plan on hunting, right? Did you know , a 0.5-1 pound roast venison tenderloin has a whopping 127 calories. That doesn’t get you much further toward your calorie targets does it? What about chicken? One grilled chicken breast has only 141 calories.

Now let’s take the assumption that life without grocery stores is going to require more work out of you. Possibly much more work. So, the 2,000 calorie per day amount isn’t likely to be a realistic count of the number of calories you will actually need. You might be digging latrines to deal with sanitation, hunting for food or foraging in the forest all day. You could be patrolling your neighborhood or lugging water from a mile away. You would be washing clothes by hand, chopping wood; building fires and the 2,000 calorie amount would likely be more like 3,000 or 4,000 for some people just to maintain their weight. How long will your food last now?

To really get a good idea for how much food you have, you need to look at how many calories that food you plan on eating is going to give you. You can’t simply look at serving amounts and call it done because a serving of a fruit roll-up might make you think you will get a meal out of it, but they won’t come anywhere near close to what you need.

In addition to food make sure you plan on a good source of vitamins to augment austere eating conditions. This won’t be as good as the real thing, but could help stave off some health effects of a less than ideal diet.You should take the time to conduct at least a cursory inventory of your food stockpiles, check the serving size and calorie amounts. You can get really detailed and put this into a food storage spreadsheet if you like, but that will give you a true picture of the amount of time your food will last the number of people you have. Instead of looking at this from a poundage viewpoint you consider calorie counts. That way it will be easier to forecast how long your food will last and adjust for different people in your care.

What happens when we start to starve?

The more food you have, the better off you will be in a collapse scenario where we have no hope of the lights coming back on. Gardens and livestock greatly add to this cumulative total you have, but unless you have a very productive garden or a large supply of animals, the food you have on hand is likely to start running out. At some point in time, if the supply of food is interrupted, rationing might be a consideration you need to make.

Another consideration is the needs of the various people in your group. You may find you have hard choices to make. Someone who is old for example, who is less active may not get the same share of food as a younger person who is working outside all day. You may have to choose between roles and which people in which roles are given extra allotments of food. What if someone is out digging graves all day? Do you believe that someone who is sitting inside or not working as hard should get the same ration of food or the same dispensation of calories? If so, how long before the person who is working physically harder starts to decline in health? How long could you shovel or defend your home in a starvation state?

We talk about food storage as a solution to the grocery stores closing, but that will only buy us time in a true collapse. Yes, it will help your family tremendously to have additional food stocked up, but it will run out if the crisis lasts long enough. When calories are seriously limited, health starts to decline.

When we don’t get enough calories for a long enough time, our organs begin to shrink and gradually start to lose function. We can have bouts of chronic diarrhea, anemia, reduction in muscle mass and the weakness that goes with that.

We have all seen images of refugees on TV. Poor children covered in flies with distended bellies staring blankly at the camera might elicit a sense of guilt in us today as we sit on the sofa and flip through the channels. In Haiti, there are areas where people make and sell mud pies for people to eat because there is no other food and the worms in their stomachs would rob the person of any nutritional value from real food before it could help them.

What will you do when these poor souls are your children?

Kwashiorkor and Marasmus

Kwashiorkor and Marasmus are two conditions that are seen with acute malnutrition. It causes the swollen bellies you see on TV and I can see this appearing in our country were we to go through some horrible SHTF event. The pictures you see on TV could be not from around the world, but in your own back yard.

As in other places in the world, this will lead to violence and death as everyone fights for food resources to fend off dying.

“Kwashiorkor is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in developing countries. It is a form of malnutrition caused by not getting enough protein in your diet. Foods that contain protein include meat, milk, cheese, fish, eggs, soy, beans, nuts, seeds, and some types of grains like quinoa.”

Children who are deprived of calories for long enough will never reach their full potential for height and growth. These two conditions are treated in the beginning with simply getting more food with a healthy balance of protein. In more severe cases, you can’t just give a starving person a cheeseburger. You will have to introduce food slowly and something like powdered milk is good (reconstituted of course) to start them out until strength has increased and more food can be slowly added to their diet.

Anyone who has children will tell you that they will do anything to take care of their family. This manifests itself in a lot of imaginative ways, some violent. Before you have to get to that place where you are thinking of doing whatever is necessary to feed your family, make plans now to have as much food security as possible. A good strategy of food storage to include foods you eat every day, long-term store-able food and renewable sources will put you in a better position to provide for your family. Think about this now so you have to worry about this less when it actually is an issue.

What are your food storage plans and how long will your food hold out?

 

 


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One of the central pillars of preparedness is being able to feed yourself. Preppers focus some of their attention on stockpiling food as well as creating renewable sources like gardens

Sure, shovelling a couple of tin cans and ready-to-eat packs inside a pantry or emergency household kit may be a no-brainer, but what happens when a real emergency blows your way and you’ll need to eat those stuff to stay alive? More than that, are you really sure that everything stays fresh until the time of unboxing comes? There are a lot of things to consider when creating a long-term food stockpile: shelf life, type of food, the very environment where you choose to store the food, and, the containers themselves.

As you know, emergency food should be stored in a cool and dark environment to keep them from getting rotten. Still, that leaves you to deal with other unforeseen dangers such as rodents clawing your way into your food stash, insects, and, of course, indirect environmental factors that can make long-term storage food stored in metal cans to go bad. Last, but not least, moisture can severely affect your food, even if it’s neatly wrapped in packages.

What I like to do in this case is to take the original pack and to place it inside individual zip-lock bags before placing them inside airtight plastic containers.

You can even throw in a couple of desiccant silica gel packs to remove any moisture remaining inside. For a while, I thought long and hard about finding a more permanent solution to the excess moisture issue inside the pantry I use to store my food and I eventually ended up buying a dehumidifier. It works very well, and mine takes triple-A batteries (you can switch them with rechargeable power cells).

Now, regarding today’s topic, some foods are more endearing than others. For instance, lentils can be stored for at least 5 years. On the other hand, rice, if deposited in a proper environment, can last for 30 years if not more. This is why I’ve always pushed for smart stockpiling, aka buying only those stuff with a very long shelf life that could, theoretically, last forever.

This is not something new under the sun. In fact, if you remember your history lessons when Carter and Lord Carnarvon popped open Tut’s tomb, they found perfectly edible food stored inside wax-sealed angoras. And it’s not the only example – the Chinese did and even the Mayans. So, what are these wonder-foods that can be kept for decades at an end in the pantry before going rotten? Stick around to find out.

  1. Carrots

Packs with flavonoids and tons of other nutrients, carrots are excellent for stews, broths, and even by themselves. What most people don’t know is that those bright-orange wonders can be stored for decades. Dehydrated carrots have a shelf life of 25 years or even more. The trick is to place them in air-tight containers right after removing all the water as to minimize the contact with the air. I recently found out that it’s way easier to remove the water if you chop them into small pieces.

To whip up a quick batch of dried carrots:

  • Peel them off.
  • Wash and rinse.
  • Blanch them in a pot.
  • Put them on a tray.
  • Preheat the over to 125.
  • Place the carrots inside and allow them to dry. It takes about 4 to 5 hours depending on your oven.

Don’t forget to still every hour. Take them out of the oven and allow them to dry before tossing them inside a zip-lock bag.

2. Pasta

Mamma mia! Who doesn’t adore a plateful of pasta with meatballs? I, for one, am very much in love with pasta. It’s the type of food that can be cooked in every way imaginable. Even better, pasta, especially the deep-frozen variety, has a very long shelf life (at least 20 years).

Still, if you store them in a moist-free environment, you can take them out and whip up a quick pasta dinner even after 40 or 50 years. I read somewhere that pasta products can even last for a century and even more if placed special storage containers like aluminum-lined mylar bags.

3. Salt

No meal’s complete with a sprinkle and tinkle of salt. This awesome condiment, which has been around since the dawn of time, does not ever go rotten if stored in the proper conditions. You need not worry about bacteria getting inside, because salt has a way of dealing with them.

Still, the only thing you should concern yourself with is moisture. If the container isn’t properly sealed (been there, done that), then it’s bye-bye salt and hello mush. I usually keep my salt in a heavy-duty plastic container in which I throw a pack or two of desiccant silica gel wrapped in plastic just to be sure.

4. Baking soda

There’s nothing baking soda can’t do or fix – you can use it to bake delicious cookies, cakes, clean stuff around the house. Before I went to the doctor to get my molar fixed, I used to gargle baking soda in the morning before brushing my teeth (great for morning breath as well).

If you’re a computer buff, just like myself, you can use a light baking soda mixture to remove persistent stains from plastic computer cases (also works wonders on those yellow spots!). As you’ve guessed it, baking soda has no expiration date, provided that you store it in proper conditions – no moisture and sunlight.

5. Soy Sauce

Care for some Chinese? Well, if you’re a fan of Asian cuisine then you must know that no dish must be without soy sauce. Salty, smokey, flavory, it gives that sea-foody taste to each meal. Are you ready for the good news? Soy sauce never goes bad. Ever!

Since it’s packed with sodium, that stuff will never spoil due to bacteria. Watch out for moisture and exposure to sunlight though. To protect that black gold, pour the contents of a bottle in a sealable and air-tight glass jar. You can line up the jar’s mouth with aluminum foil and plastic wrap for extra protection.

6. Powdered milk

I know that nothing beats the taste of real cow’s milk, but the bacteria inside it makes it impossible to store it over long periods. On the other hand, powdered milk is not pretentious and very handy to have around the house for dishes and drinks. If stored in a moisture-free environment, powdered milk can last forever. I usually store powdered milk in a large plastic container with a couple of moisture-absorbent packs inside.

7. Instant drinks (coffee, cocoa powder, and tea)

No emergency stockpile should go without easy and quick to prepare drinks. I cannot and will not imagine a world without coffee or tea. Since they’re dehydrated, all instant drinks can last up to 10 years if you remember to store them in a moisture-free room.

 

8. Honey

Yes, dear? No, I was talking about bee honey, the one you use to make cookies or sweeten your drinks. The high sugar contents inhibit bacteria from developing. And, if store properly (lid screwed on tight, no sunlight and moisture), a jar of honey can last for 100 years or even more!

 

9. Stock and bouillon

These are great during those cold winter days when you want to whip up a bowl of soup or your favorite comfort food. Everything boiled and set to cool down before being placed in bottles or something can last for ten years or more. Funny thing happened to me the first time my wife and I prepare bouillon for our stockpile.

So, the pantry which I used to store my food had a slight designing issue – heat seeped through one of the holes in the wall. After the bottles cooled down, we placed them inside and forget about them for a couple of weeks. One night, I heard this long bang coming from the pantry. Half-asleep and almost naked, I ran up to see what the Hell was happening.

When I opened the door to peek inside it was like stumbling upon a crime scene – two of the bottles exploded and there was tomato sauce everywhere. After a while, I realized that the heat made the bouillon bottles blow up. So, make sure your pantry is insulated. Otherwise, someone might think you’ve killed someone and hid his body inside the room.

10. Sugar

Spice and everything nice – these are the ingredients to create the perfect prepper. Very much like baking soda and honey, sugar can be stored indefinitely. The only problem is that it tends to harden over time. No problem. Just place it inside a large container and use a spatula or a spoon to break down those big chunks.

 

11. Beans

Delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare, beans are the very top of the food pyramid. Although you’ll probably end up passing more gas than usual after a bean-based dish, it’s nevertheless a versatile food. More than that, if you’re careful enough to store them in proper condition, a single bag of beans can last up to 30 years. There’s one catch about beans – you will need to reseal the bag from time to time. This is why I switched aluminum-lined mylar bags instead of plastic, airtight containers.

 

12. White vinegar

What happens when the wine goes bad? You get up from the table and argue with the waiter, of course. Kidding – wine has this outstanding quality of transforming into vinegar, which is one of the most useful items found in your pantry, apart from salt and baking soda.

Vinegar can be used in salad dressings and other dishes, but it’s also a great helper around the house (my wife uses it to remove cat hair from the carpet and I use it in very small amounts to remove pigeon droppings from the car’s hood). White vinegar never goes rotten, so you can store as much as you want without a problem.

 

13. Maple Syrup

Fancy some pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast? My kids go absolutely bonkers over this dish. Can’t say that it’s really good for their teeth but, hey, try arguing with a hungry and screaming toddler. Just like honey, maple syrup has high sugar contents, which means that it can be stored for long periods of time (50 to 80 years, by some accounts).

However, you should know that there’s a huge difference between maple syrup stored in plastic and the one stored in glass bottles. The first, even unopened, has a shelf life of 5 to 18 months, while the later can last as much as half a century.

 

14. Ghee

I don’t know if most of you are familiar with this ingredient. Ghee is a type of base which is prepared from boiled butter. Basically, you get ghee by removing all the water from the butter. Great for Indian dishes and preparing low-calorie foods. If you store it in an airtight container, ghee will never go bad on you.

 

15. Corn starch

Momma always used to say that if the food looks too watery, add some corn starch to make the spoon stand up on its own. Corn starch is very useful around the house – you can cook with it, clean up stuff, and even use it in combination with water to soothe sunburns. Stock up on corn starch now because this stuff will never go bad.

Okay! To wrap this up in a neat and elegant manner, check out this small list of all the foods and their shelf-lives. Hope you’ve learned by now that smart stockpiling is all about knowing your food and not shovelling them in a pantry and throwing away the key.

Food Shelf Life (years)
Carrots (dehydrated) 25+
Pasta 20+
Salt Forever
Baking Soda Forever
Soy Sauce Forever
Powdered milk Forever
Instant drinks 10+
Honey 100+
Stock & Bouillon 10+
Sugar Forever
Beans 30+
White Vinegar Forever
Maple Syrup 50~80
Ghee Forever
Corn Starch Forever

 

There are a lot of things to consider when stockpiling. So, what are these wonder-foods that can be kept for decades at an end in the pantry before going rotten?

Imagine women giving birth centuries ago or imagine you suffer from some critical injury or serious ailment. Centuries ago, there was not the concept of technology and there certainly weren’t the advances in medical science we have today. Your best option would be to call the tribal medicine doctor or shaman. Someone who knew how to use a leaf as a bandage and how to break and pull a tooth out with a stone. Could you survive? Could you stay healthy? Could you even live long enough to see the next sunrise? Thinking of those types of situations now, it hardly seems possible, but we humans are tenacious and if it was impossible,  then how did mankind make it this far? If modern medicines and advances in science are the only reason we are combating serious diseases now, then how did we make it this far?

The answer to this question is simple – Mother Nature has her own secrets.  There are many who fear that humans won’t be able to survive without the conveniences of modern medicine. Granted, we won’t be able to save life on the scale that we can now, but there are natural options.  Humans made it pretty far along the span of history without any complicated and advanced sciences. For sure there is something much greater reserved in nature. Today we will discuss 10 must-have natural remedies that will offer comfort and healing when the possibility of modern medicine is gone.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Everything from stomach related disorders, to boosting vitality, to counteracting diseases. Taken before supper, it even assists with weight reduction! Likewise, the vinegar is one of those ‘100 uses’ wonder items. The benefits of apple cider vinegar come from its powerful healing compounds, which include acetic acid, potassium, magnesium, probiotics, and enzymes.

Honey

Yes, the gift of God, the food of heaven, honey is one of those natural remedies that you need to have around in your house. The food of God, honey is both good for medicinal purpose and equally serves as a dessert. It includes vitamins, trace enzymes, amino acids, and minerals like calcium, iron, sodium chloride, magnesium, phosphate, and potassium.

Garlic

Consuming garlic on a daily basis (in food or raw) helps to lower cholesterol levels because of the anti-oxidant properties of Allicin. It is also immensely beneficial to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels

Coconut Oil

Coconut milk and coconut oil on wooden table

To date, there are over 1,500 studies proving coconut oil to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Coconut oil benefits and uses go beyond what most people realize. Research has finally uncovered the secrets to this amazing fruit; namely healthy fats called medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), these unique fats include: Caprylic acid, Lauric acid, and Capric acid

Hydrogen Peroxide

A slightly different solution, hydrogen peroxide is good for skincare and nurturing. We’re talking about 35% FOOD grade, which is NOT the same as what you normally purchase. The 35% grade can actually burn your skin if you put too much in one spot. But you can dilute a drop or so depending upon the requirement in a glass of water and you have a prophylaxis or potential cure.

Flax

Chia seeds are viewed as the ideal natural nourishment since they contain an excessive number of advantages to list here. More to it, who might trust that what gives off an impression of being simply one more “weed” with entirely blue blooms would be a characteristic of well-being.

Steam Water – Distilled Water

The most important health benefit distilled water offers is the elimination of waterborne contaminants that may potentially be found in water. Drinking contaminated water is one of the fastest ways to spread disease, toxic metals, and industrial pollutants.

Red Chili

Red chili pepper

Looking for immediate skincare of for some nerve pain relief, the red chili is your spicy go-to product. Beware heavy eating can bring about some serious trouble. Proceed with caution.

Bergamot

Bergamot is also a good source of vitamins and is said to have super anti-oxidant and other unique properties that enhance well-being and promote anti-aging. Exemplified by all the dancing and bike riding you see 100-year-old Italians doing.

Aloe Vera

This is viewed as an attempted and demonstrated must have mending plant that as a rule is related to skin medicines, particularly consumes, yet it is much more flexible than simply that. Make ointments and medicine from a mix of coconut oil, aloe, and nectar for astounding skin revival properties.


In her work entitled The Forgotten Power of Plants, Dr. Nicole Apelian describes in more than 300-pages the most powerful medicinal plants and step-by-step instructions on how to turn them into powerful remedies.

Check out the off-grid recipe section that will give you the best natural alternatives to every pill in your medicine cabinet.

Imagine women giving birth centuries ago or imagine you suffer from some critical injury or serious ailment. Centuries ago, there was not the concept of technology and there certainly weren’t

Setting out for the frontier in the 19th century was nothing like moving to a new city today. You weren’t moving to a place with a fully developed infrastructure, where you could easily get your hands on all the essentials of day to day life from a choice of stores and service providers. The hardy pioneers who built the West had to be self-reliant, and that meant taking everything they needed with them.

We often have a mental image of those pioneers loading their chuck wagon with food and gunpowder before striking out into the new lands of the West, and that image isn’t inaccurate; they did carry these essentials, in the largest quantities they could. In fact wise settlers packed their wagons almost to overloading, and sometimes beyond. It wasn’t uncommon to see a wagon propped on crates or barrels at the side of the road, while its owners worked at repairing a broken wheel or split axle.

Pioneers didn’t just carry the things they needed. They also had to carry the tools to repair the things they needed – and then, when supplies ran out, to make more. Even the most heavily loaded wagon can carry enough to keep a family going for a few months at most. If the pioneers wanted to make a serious attempt at building a new life in the West they needed to be truly self-sufficient, and the key to that was taking the right tools with them.

If you like to be self-reliant around the house the chances are your tools massively outnumber the ones the typical pioneer family took with them – but yours will be more specialized, and aimed at fixing or maintaining modern appliances or carrying out general DIY tasks. Frontiersmen had different priorities. They didn’t just want to fix things; they had to be able to make things, so the tools they took with them were absolutely vital.

Take a look in your toolbox and you’ll probably see a load of tools for working with wood, electrical wiring and maybe plumbing. You’ll have an assortment of screwdrivers, and likely a multi-tool like a Dremel. You’re well equipped to handle any repairs or improvements around your home. But could you build a home with them?

That’s exactly what the pioneers had to do. The tools they carried had to be up to the job of harvesting natural resources and turning them into the raw materials to build a home. Then there was agriculture. The food carried in a wagon would last for a matter of weeks, half a year at the most – and while it was usually possible to buy more from enterprising traders, the cost of wagon freight made that too expensive for most people. Anyway, for most settlers the whole point of heading west was to farm their own land, and you can’t do that without tools. Often you can’t do it without the tools to make other tools.

Finally there were the small things. On the frontier you couldn’t drop in to the local outfitters and pick out clothes that fitted you. Instead, most people bought bolts of cloth and made their own. That wasn’t the only sewing that needed done either. The West was mostly powered by horses, and horses need tack. That breaks or wears out eventually, and the pioneers had to be able to fix or replace it. The same went for most of their other possessions. Sometimes there was no choice but to pay the inflated prices at the nearest general store, but wherever they could pioneers would fix or replace things themselves. Their tools had to be capable of a wide range of tasks, and they didn’t have the technology that we do. There were no power tools, just simple hand-operated ones. But those simple tools could do amazing things when used properly, and if society breaks down they’ll do just as good a job for you. Let’s look at the tools that built the West in a bit more detail.

The Basics

Knives

A knife is the most basic, essential survival tool. If you have one you can start to collect what you need to make other, more advanced tools. If you don’t have one you’re in a lot of trouble. Pioneers carried knives everywhere they went – usually a simple hunting knife on their belt, and maybe a folding pen knife as well. These would be used for dressing game – the major source of fresh meat in the early years of a move west – and for wood carving, plus many other daily tasks. More knives would be found in the kitchen; not as many as in a modern kitchen, but in a wider range of sizes. Pioneers didn’t need six different styles of small paring knife but they did need large butcher knives and cleavers.

Hammers

The first tools men made were stone hammers. Just a hard piece of rock shaped to have a comfortable grip at one end and a striking surface at the other, these were the launch pad for over 2.5 million years of technological progress. A hammer lets you apply concentrated, rapid force to something, and it opens up a world of possibilities. With a hammer you can quickly fix objects together with nails. You can shape metal. Add some wedges and you can split logs and even rock. Without a hammer, many of the jobs pioneers needed to do would have been a lot longer and more difficult. Many more wouldn’t have been possible at all.

A frontier toolkit would have contained several hammers, ranging from a standard claw hammer to heavier ones used for metalwork or breaking rocks – and probably a sledgehammer for when real power was needed.

Saws

Small bits of wood can be cut and shaped with a knife. Logs can be split with a hammer and wedge. But to cut large pieces precisely, you need a saw. Without a saw you’ll struggle to build anything better than a crude shack, and you won’t be able to make most of the advanced tools that turn life from a daily grind into something approaching comfortable. Doors that fit the frame? That needs sawn boards. Window frames? Sawn. The frame for a threshing machine or spinning wheel? Good luck shaping that with an ax.

A good tool kit needed at least two saws; a large bow saw for felling and trimming trees, and a small hand saw for precise work. Other styles were also available, but with those two a handy pioneer could manage most tasks.

Axes

An ax combines the cutting edge of a knife with a hammer’s ability to deliver concentrated force, and if you want to cut things in a hurry it’s hard to beat. Pioneers used axes to harvest timber, clear land for farming and split firewood. A hatchet is also a great tool for rough shaping of wood, and if you’re building a log cabin it’s unbeatable for getting the joints done.

Spade

Most of us think of a spade or shovel as a tool for yard work. To the pioneers it was one of the most important items they had. A spade was needed to build a new home. At minimum you’d have to dig holes for the support posts of a log cabin – but many pioneers didn’t live in log cabins. Where there was a shortage of suitable timber it was much more common to build a sod house, and that meant cutting thousands of blocks of turf. A spade was an essential tool for that.

After a pioneer family had built a home the next thing on the list was usually a vegetable patch, to start supplementing the food they’d brought with them. Again, a spade was needed to prepare the ground. Finally, almost every home had a root cellar to store food, and building that took a lot of digging.

Farming

Long-term survival on the frontier meant, for most people, starting a farm. That would provide them with food, and give them a surplus to sell. Obviously growing crops on a large scale needed some more specialized tools. A spade and hoe will do fine for a small plot of vegetables, but they aren’t up to the job of preparing a whole field. The pioneers took some agricultural equipment with them, and with their other tools they could make the rest when they arrived at their new home.

Plow


If you want a good crop you need to loosen and turn over the top layers of soil, to bring up nutrients and distribute them evenly. A small plot can be prepared with a spade, but a plow will cover large areas much more quickly and easily. Plows – first drawn by hand, and later by animals – had already been used for thousands of years, but by the time the pioneers set out West the standard was a horse-drawn moldboard plow with a cast iron blade that could turn over the virgin land and expose the rich soil. In 1837 John Deere invented a steel plow blade that was both lighter and stronger, but many pioneers couldn’t afford these. Then there was the issue of weight and bulk. A whole plow was a large, heavy item that wasn’t easy to fit in a wagon already crammed with other supplies. Many people just took the blades with them, and built the frame from local timber when they began farming their new land. Later, as local industry began to develop, a blacksmith could make iron blades to replace worn-out ones.

Harrow

A plow is very good at turning over the soil, but it usually leaves many large lumps. These make planting difficult, so a plowed field would then be worked over with a harrow to break up the clods and give a smoother surface. Modern harrows are quite sophisticated, but pioneers used much simpler – but still effective – ones. A basic harrow is simply a heavy wooden frame with rows of spikes on the bottom that’s dragged over the field by a horse. Pioneers would usually take the iron spikes with them, then build the frame themselves.

Hoe

Fertile land doesn’t just produce crops; it’s also a magnet for weeds. Plants that evolved to win the struggle for space in a forest or grassland can quickly take over a battlefield as easy as a plowed, harrowed field. Without modern, selective weedkillers, pioneers had to spend time manually weeding their fields. Instead of pulling them out one at a time a hoe was used. Its iron or steel blade, on a long handle, lets you chop the foliage away from the roots without bending down; an experienced user can clear weeds at close to normal walking pace. Without a hoe it’s almost impossible to weed a large field effectively.

As well as weeding a hoe can also shape the soil, cut shallow trenches, or replace a harrow for small plots. It’s a very versatile tool, and essential for anyone farming without modern machinery.

Scythe

The first mechanical reapers were built by the Romans, but the technology was lost for centuries after the Empire fell. It resurfaced again in England in 1814, and by the 1830s there were at least two US companies making horse-drawn mechanical reapers. Most pioneers couldn’t afford a mechanical reaper though, so they harvested their crops the old-fashioned way – with a scythe. A scythe lets you cut standing crops easily and quite quickly, and can also be used for cutting hay, clearing weeds and general control of vegetation.  A specialized type called the cradle scythe adds long “fingers” to the handle, which catch the cut stalks so they can be easily stacked or laid out, but for general work around a small farm a traditional scythe is more flexible.  A sickle is a compact option that’s easier to transport but its short handle means you need to bend or crouch to cut, and that means it’s much slower and more tiring to use.

Flail

Once grain has been harvested you need some way to separate the actual grains from the husks. Doing it by hand is far too slow, so the traditional method was to use a flail. This is simply two sticks connected by a short chain; the harvested grain was piled up, and then repeatedly hit (“threshed”) with the flail until the husks fell away. A typical flail used for threshing wheat had a handle about five feet long and slightly over an inch thick, joined by a couple of inches of chain to a second stick about three feet long.

Separating grain with a flail is a labor-intensive job, but pioneer families used flails successfully to process their wheat crops and they were still in use by some farmers in the early 20th century. Threshing machines did exist, but they were out of reach for most early settlers in the West.

Metalworking

Anvil

An anvil is a huge, heavy, awkwardly shaped lump of steel. It’s one of the most difficult things you could possibly decide to take on a long journey West along rough tracks. Nevertheless, many pioneer wagons had an anvil on board – usually slung under the chassis, between the axles, so its massive weight didn’t tip the wagon over.

With an anvil and a forge you can repair or make a whole range of metal objects. The parts of a broken tool can be heated then beaten together, repeating the process until they’re welded into a solid piece again. Metal bars can be turned into anything from horseshoes to scythe blades or knives. The conical horn of an anvil lets a good smith shape metal into complex curves. Without an anvil – or modern power tools – it’s very hard to make anything useful out of metal.

Bellows

A forge needs a way to pump air through the burning charcoal. As long as you have that it isn’t hard to build a forge – you just need a shallow pit lined with fireproof material, usually brick. Modern forges usually use an electric blower to create a draft, and some older ones used a water wheel or even a treadmill to turn a fan, but most pioneers relied on a hand-pumped bellows. This is an uncomplicated device – two flat boards with handles, hinged to a nozzle at one end, with a one-way valve in one of the boards and a leather skirt connecting the two. Moving the handles apart draws in air through the valve; pushing them together again closes the valve then blasts a stream of air out the nozzle. A pioneer smith would put his metal workpiece in the forge then pump the bellows to raise the temperature. It’s simple, but very effective.

Tongs

If you’re working with heated metal you need a way to handle it. Even a heavy leather glove won’t protect against red-hot iron for long, so any pioneer who planned on doing some blacksmithing would take at least one pair of iron tongs. These were used to move metal in and out of the forge, and to hold it in place on the anvil while it was being worked. Blacksmith’s tongs are heavy and robust, as well as simple – usually they’re just two iron bars, drilled and hinged with a single bolt or massive rivet, and curved into jaws at one end. Iron conducts heat, but the handles were long enough that they could be safely held in a gloved hand.

Hammer

Metalworking needs a hammer, but the regular claw hammer in your toolkit isn’t really up to the job – and the heat from the work piece will gradually soften its striking face, too. For smithing a heavier hammer is needed – if the job is very large, maybe even a sledgehammer. Any serious metalwork project needs specialist hammers, and pioneers who tool an anvil west with them would have carried a few.

Files

There are some metal working jobs that don’t need a forge, but most of those need a file instead. With a good file metal can be ground down or reshaped. A broken knife can be remanufactured into a shorter one, or the edge on a worn plowshare touched up. Forged parts can be filed until they fit properly together. Almost every pioneer would have taken a set of files in assorted sizes and shapes – flat, round and half-round.

Household

Washboard

It’s easy to wash clothes when you have electricity, a domestic water supply and a modern washing machine. It’s much more work without them. Today we usually only hand—wash small, delicate items. The pioneers hand-washed everything, from dirty work clothes to bedding, and it was a time-consuming job. One tool that saved them a lot of time was the simple washboard. Now these usually have a wooden frame with a corrugated steel wash surface fitted into it; in the 19th century they were literally boards, with rounded wooden strips nailed or glued on to create the ribbed surface.

Washboards have disappeared from most homes, but that’s not because they don’t work – a washing machine is just simpler and takes less time. Washboards have real advantages though. They use much less water and they’re also easier on the clothes, which was important to pioneers; replacing worn-out clothes wasn’t so easy. Even today, soldiers on long operational tours often use washboards to help them keep their uniforms clean in isolated outposts with scarce water supplies.

Spinning wheel

Westerns often focus on cattle ranching, but a lot of the livestock raised by the pioneers was sheep. These were a valuable source of meat, but they were an even more valuable source of wool – and once wool had been harvested it was a lot cheaper to spin it into fibers at home than to ship it back east then buy manufactured garments coming the other way. Poor families might have used a distaff and spindle, simple tools for spinning by hand, but the spinning wheel was far more common. The textile industry had already replaced the spinning wheel with the jenny, beginning in northern England in the 1760s, but it was still a common and familiar tool. It could also be easily made by anyone who knew how it worked and was reasonably good at woodwork. With a wheel, pioneer women could produce thread and yarn from wool, cotton and just about any other fiber – and save a fortune on expensive clothes from the local store.

Iron

We iron our clothes to make them look smart. For the pioneers that didn’t matter so much most of the time, except for special occasions and visits to church if there was one nearby. Ironing had another function, though. Parasites were much more of a hazard in the 19th century, especially if you spent a lot of time outdoors and working around animals, and there wasn’t a range of safe, easy insecticides to get rid of them with. Ironing clothes – paying special attention to the seams – would destroy any flea or louse eggs that were concealed in them, helping to avoid infestations.

Electric irons were invented in 1884 but remained a luxury for decades more. The ones available to the pioneers were heavy items of cast iron, which could either be heated in a fire before use or had a hollow interior that could be filled with burning charcoal. They were heavy and crude, but almost indestructible and pretty effective.

Needles

Most people have a packet of needles around the house somewhere, for sewing on buttons and other minor repairs. The pioneers took needles with them, too, but they took more than a single packet and there was a lot more variety in what they carried. They also used them for minor repairs, and many made their own clothes, so standard sewing needles were essential. But they also relied heavily on horses for power, and that meant they needed all the leather gear that’s needed to get work out of a horse. Saddles, bridles and stirrups were needed for riding, and then there was all the harness needed to pull a wagon or a plow. Heavy saddler’s needles were needed to repair leather or to make replacements for small items, like straps – few people had the skills to make a full saddle on their own. Needles seem small and unimpressive, but they’re not easy to make and life on the frontier would have been very difficult without them.

Shotgun

Last but not least, there’s the trusty shotgun. Despite what Hollywood shows, the most common gun in the West was a simple double-barrel 12-gauge. It was a sturdy, relatively cheap weapon that was effective at defending against predators, could hunt a wide variety of game with the right ammunition, and outranged a handgun if it ever came to a fight. Few pioneer families were without one. The frontier wasn’t anywhere near as violent as fiction portrays it, and in fact it was less violent than most of the USA is today, but a good gun was a wise investment.

Today, when many of us have an array of power tools that can carry out a range of jobs quickly and precisely, the tools the pioneers relied on seem crude. In many ways they were – but they were also durable and effective. They didn’t wear out easily and could usually be repaired if something did go wrong. They didn’t need electricity to work; at most they needed a horse, and usually manpower alone was enough. These simple tools are what made the development of the American West possible. If society was to collapse tomorrow, modern versions of them – and the skills to use them properly – would make a massive difference to your chances of survival.


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Setting out for the frontier in the 19th century was nothing like moving to a new city today. You weren’t moving to a place with a fully developed infrastructure, where you

What are you prepping for? Is it a natural disaster like a wildfire, tornado or hurricane? Those are perfect examples of common events that occur every day. Nature has a way of dealing us unexpected circumstances from time to time and we, as humans try to roll with the situation as best we can. That is one of the benefits of prepping in that you are proactively planning for events, and the fallout of events now before you find yourself possibly affected by disaster. There are large and small examples of emergencies but prepping gives you a method of working through examples and making potentially lifesaving decisions all from the comfort of your computer or as in Sideliner’s case; the easy chair.

From a big-picture perspective we can look at regions where certain types of natural disasters are more common. If you live in areas where you have identified many potential risks as part of your prepping plan, some people advocate designing your own threat matrix. A threat matrix is really just a decision-making system where you assign a level of risk and probability to each disaster. This is supposed to help you decide which disaster is more likely or impactful to your life and thus should be worked on first. For example, California has routinely seen floods, earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires and you have to throw in the risk of blackouts, riots, nuclear fallout, and most recently drought. You could line all of these threats up on a page, assign them a number and a risk and start making plans accordingly. Now that I think of it, why would anyone want to live in California anyway?

As a resident of California, this might make sense because you have seen the first-hand effects of these disasters, but what if there was a different type of emergency that we haven’t really seen in this country before? What preparations would you make if you knew now that the FEMA tents weren’t going to be popping up, truckloads of relief supplies weren’t headed your way and that sooner or later scores of news media and Red Cross volunteers weren’t going to be descending on your town to document the devastation?

What would a WROL world look like?

WROL is a term that means Without Rule of Law. I don’t know who coined it first but it seems to accurately describe the worst type of scenario preppers imagine. A WROL world could spring up spontaneously or it could grow out of some relatively common natural disaster. To imagine a WROL world you would simply have to imagine no police, fire or ambulances coming to your aid. In a WROL world, you would be on your own or left with your band of friends and neighbors to provide for yourself all of the services that are now gone.

wrol2

We have seen brief glimpses of WROL already. What if it is not ever controlled?

If you look around you might have seen glimpses of a WROL world even if they are quickly controlled. Looting is an example of WROL behavior and so are riots. The two go hand in hand but the police rely on controlling the crowd to a large extent to keep these events from growing much larger than they are. If the police are not available or are overwhelmed, what happens then? When the rioters and looters don’t have any reason to stop the spread of rage and violence, what do they move on to next?

Imagine something as benign as the power grid failing for some arbitrary period. Let’s say a fluke takes out the power for the entire eastern seaboard for one month. This could be a terrorist caused outage, solar flare or some random chain of events that causes a domino effect of failures to equipment and systems. Imagine also that this happens in August and the east coast is also experiencing warmer than usual weather.

Without power, what could possibly happen in the US? Do you think riots would break out? Could you see looting of stores? Without power there would be no way to refrigerate food. You wouldn’t be able to pump gas, run credit card machines or ATM’s, air conditioners or ice makers. Cell towers would be ineffective. Would you be able to go to work? Not likely unless your job involved something manual that was completely not reliant on electricity or fuel. My job is 100% dependent on the internet and electricity. Public transportation would be down and even government services would be unable to help. So what would millions of hot, hungry and panicked people do?

What would you have to worry about in a WROL world?

Is this all a fairytale? Maybe. There are a lot of people who believe nothing bad like this will ever happen and that our way of life will keep on chugging along in more or less the same fashion it always has. I have said many times that I hope that is our shared reality, but I am planning for the chance that it doesn’t. My own threat matrix is my gut. You will find no shortage of people who say worrying about things like this is a waste of effort.

By very definition, WROL means there is law and order so normalcy is pretty much out the window. With a failure like this, there wouldn’t be enough police, National Guard or military combined to help everyone out. All of these soldiers, police, and firemen would have their own families to watch over most likely and I could see many of them if forced to choose between going to work stopping a riot or staying at home to defend their wife and kids would choose the latter. Again, there will be those who disagree and say that the professional soldier, police officer or fireman would never abandon their post and communities will rally together to take care of one another in times of crisis. Maybe when the crisis is over, but not while everyone is going through it.

st-louis-ink-tattoo

In the Ferguson riots, two shops were ignored by the looters. Can you guess why?

What can you do now to prepare for WROL?

My WROL scenario above is relatively short-lived. There have certainly been natural disasters where the destruction caused power outages for a long time. In my example, presumably, we would have half a country that could rally to help us but assume for a second help isn’t on the way. You are on your own for a month of potential lawlessness. Imagine a month of the Purge lived out in real life?

Limit your exposure

Who makes the best target? They guy right in front of you. If there is widespread violence being carried out in the name of rage or of need, stay far away from it. You don’t want to be anywhere near the chaos that is going on and it would be better to let it burn out as much as possible before it gets to you. In this case, bugging out may be your best option so have a plan for that contingency in your back pocket. In my scenario, you would have plenty of time to make that decision, but you should have prepping supplies together before the ability to acquire them has passed. This includes everything you need for food, water, shelter, security, and hygiene for a minimum of 6 months. Start small if you have to.

Use the buddy system

If you do have to travel or bug out, you don’t want to go it alone. Someone needs to be there to watch your six and potentially pull you out of trouble. In a without rule of law world, I foresee deadly force as being much more prevalent and warranted if your life is in danger. I am not saying to go out and shoot people walking down your street, but if they are threatening your life then you have a choice to make. It is better to consider this now as opposed to in the moment even though I realize and admit that thinking about killing someone is a lot different from actually pulling the trigger.

  • Neighborhood watch on Steroids
  • Thinking of your neighborhood from a tactical perspective
  • Coordinating a neighborhood response plan

Keep an eye out

If there is a real threat of violence in your neighborhood, you won’t be able to simply lock the door and hope they will go away. If you haven’t already, post-event you should form up with your neighbors immediately to draw up plans for security and address any needs of anyone in your local group. Whatever you did or didn’t do before the event will need to go out the window if you want to survive. It takes more than one person to stand guard all night.

Arm yourself responsibly

And legally. I am a big advocate of responsible firearm ownership. This assumes you have the training and knowledge of how and when you should discharge that firearm in the course of defending your life. It has been said that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun and I believe that. Just make sure you are the good guy in this situation.

A WROL world is what I envision as a mixture of a war zone and a mad-max movie rolled all into your favorite disaster flick. Essentially, I never want to go through anything like this but if something this catastrophic comes your way, you better make sure you have a plan and you are ready to go.

What are you prepping for? Is it a natural disaster like a wildfire, tornado or hurricane? Those are perfect examples of common events that occur every day. Nature has a

There’s a reason preppers and even just people who like a well-stocked pantry purchase canned goods. They hold up for a long time, years even. They’re generally easy to prepare, many items requiring no more preparation than a quick warming in order to make sure the food is free from harmful microorganisms. Cans also come ready to store, no extra prep needed to sock them away for long-term storage.

Plenty of staples like beans, soup, veggies, fruit, and pasta are commonly found in the average family’s pantry, and found in great quantities in preppers’ stores. Those staples would get boring quickly, though. If you’re looking to add some unique and exotic foods to your food storage for either variety in your diet or for trading, read on for a look at the following canned goods you didn’t know existed.

 

1. Bread

Canned bread is totally a thing, and it’s available in several different varieties. While it’s likely more practical to store ingredients to make your own bread for the long-term, canned bread could be a tasty, quick way to a full belly and to get some carbohydrates into your system. You can find Original and Raisin Brown Bread by B & M in many stores or online.


2. Butter

Would you miss butter if you suddenly didn’t have access to the supermarket? No big deal, you can get that canned, too. There are a few brands of canned butter available, and it’s rather expensive since it’s not canned in the US. However, it’d be a lovely treat in a SHTF situation, and fat is a crucial part of the diet. For a less expensive canned butter, opt for powdered butter, instead.


3. Pudding

Canned pudding is more often found in Europe, but you can find it in stores in the US, too, as any buffet or cafeteria worker attest. Whatever your favorite type of pudding, it’s likely available in a can.




4. Cake

A pudding in the European sense that refers more to a desert dish in general, you can get canned Spotted Dick made by Simpson’s. It’s essentially a sponge cake with spices and raisins. While it doesn’t quite fit into what we think of as a cake in everyday life, I bet it’d be an incredible birthday treat in a SHTF situation.



canned bacon

5. Bacon

Very few people don’t like bacon, so it’s great that Yoder makes it in a can for long-term storage. It’s salty, fatty, and flavorful, which makes it great for spicing up boring food made from more traditional prepper food items. You don’t need much of it to transform a pot of soup or some powdered eggs.




6. Cheese

While making your own cheese isn’t rocket science, there is a lot of actual science involved, and the raw materials needed may not be easy to come by. So, there’s canned cheese. While it’s not quite like what we think of as ‘real’ cheese, canned cheese has plenty of fat and flavor to be a worthwhile addition to your prepper’s pantry. Check out Kraft’s Prepared Pasteurized Cheddar cheese or Heinz’s Macaroni Cheese for reasonably priced options.




7. Hamburger

Generally, people think of canned hamburger being home-canned. However, it’s available in cans from both Yoders and Keystone. There are even pre-seasoned canned hamburger products available, like the taco meat by Yoders.




8. Whole Chicken

Canned whole chicken, like those available from Sweet Sue, are good for more than just the meat. When the entire chicken is canned, all the gelatin and fat is preserved, allowing you to make a fantastic chicken soup.




9. Sandwiches

Also known as the Candwich, these canned sandwiches will be available in several different flavors. They haven’t quite hit the open market yet, but they’re coming! They come in a can about the size of a soda can with a peel off top. They’re perfect for on-the-go eating.




10. Potato Salad

Who knew this traditional, delicious picnic side was available in a can? Canned potato salad would be a good way to add a little flavor into your preps, and it can be eaten warm or chilled, making it a more versatile side dish than you’d possibly realized.   

                           

11. Tamales

We’re talking whole tamales here. Simply heat these canned tamales up, maybe add some fresh veggies or canned cheese to them, and voila! You’ve created an entire meal by simply opening the can. These provide a ready-made meal in a solid form, which can have profound positive psychological impacts. While canned soup is great for filling you up and providing a decent balance, it’s simply not the most satisfying food out there.




12. Cheeseburger 

Made in Switzerland, these rather expensive canned cheeseburgers aren’t very practical, but they’re a fun addition to your preps. You simply boil the whole can and open for a tasty (that’s subjective, of course) cheeseburger.


13. Escargot 

Even if you don’t care much for fancy seafood, there are plenty of canned sea food items that could be great for bartering. Apart from escargot, you can find crab, lobster, and other shellfish canned for long-term storage.




14. Duck Confit 

Popular in France, canned duck with fat doesn’t seem terribly popular in the US. However, the high fat content in this canned dish could prove to be helpful in a SHTF situation. It’s great for soups and stews, and it adds a sumptuous touch that you won’t often find in the world of canned goods.


Conclusion

Whatever you prepping goals, consider adding some non-conventional canned goods to your stores. Variety, after all, is the spice of life. We need a variety of foods to stay at our healthiest, and because of this, people generally want a bit of variety in their diet.

The humor factor that many of the above items bring to the table shouldn’t be discounted, either. Psychological health will be remarkable important if society collapses, as well, so attending to our psychological needs shouldn’t be overlooked. As is always the case with canned good storage, be sure you’re properly storing cans and rotating your stock as necessary.

 

Whatever you prepping goals, consider adding some non-conventional canned goods to your stores. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.

When you start to consider prepping, one of the first things you need to start prepping for is food. Simply put, food is one essential you need to live and your family must have a supply of food on hand regardless what the day or your situation is. Because of our just in time supply chain model, most grocery stores do not have more than 3 days’ worth of food stocked. In any type of emergency or disaster situation, the store shelves are cleaned quickly. You do not want to be one of those people who realize you have nothing in the house for dinner and a major snow storm, hurricane or  other event is imminent. You will go to the grocery store and find bare shelves like they did during hurricane Sandy. This happens in every instance where people could face the possibility of going hungry. The stores are cleaned out and the larger your city, the quicker the shelves are bare.

Not only will there be no food on the shelves, but the shelves could stay that way for a long time. What if the roads are impassable? What if there is some supply disruption. You could be out of food for a long time and this should never happen. You eat every day and so does everyone else. Running out of food should not be an option for your family at least for a reasonable amount of time.

FEMA recommends 3 days’ worth of food and water to last most common emergencies and I would say 30 days is a better goal to shoot for. If you have a month of food stored in your house you can worry about other things like getting back to your family if you are away from home or not going out in the first place to fight the lines of panicked people who waited until the last-minute.

Storing food can be complicated and costly but it is possible to start with a very simple list of items that you can purchase from your local grocery store or big-box chain like Wal-Mart, Costco or Sam’s Club. I have compiled a simple list of common foods that you can go get today that will allow you to feed a family of 4 for 30 days. If you have more or less people or giants in your family tree then you would need to adjust accordingly.

Basic FoodsEmpty-Shelves

I shop at Costco or Sam’s, but you can get all of these at your friendly neighborhood grocery store. You may have to adjust the quantities. I like Costco and Sam’s because I can buy larger containers and have to worry about fewer items, but you can also use Amazon.com. At a store, you can also throw these into your cart and nobody is going to look at you like you are a deviant. If anyone does ask you what you are doing, just tell them you are having a big Chicken Stew or some other neighborhood type of event.

  • Rice – First off, buy a 50lb. bag of rice. These contain 504 servings and I don’t know too many people who won’t eat rice. It is simple to cook and stores for years if you keep it cool and dry. This bag at Sam’s costs about $19 now.
  • Beans – Next buy a bag of dry beans. This will check off the Beans part of your Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids list. A good size bag is about $5 and makes 126 servings. Buy two if you think your family would like them.
  • Canned meat – Cans are great for fruits and vegetables and anyone can find something they will eat. For canned meat, I recommend tuna or chicken because it tastes a heck of a lot better than Spam and you can easily mix that into your rice. For the meat you will need approximately 35 cans. Each can has about 3 servings and this will be the most costly, but they last over a year usually and your family probably eats chicken or tuna on a semi-regular basis anyway so restocking this should be simple.
  • Canned Vegetables – you will need about 40 cans of vegetables and again this can be whatever your family will eat. Expect to pay around a dollar each so $40 for veggies to last your family a month.
  • Canned Fruit – again, simple fruits that your family will eat. These can even be fruit cocktail if that is the safest thing. At Costco they have the #10 cans of fruit like pears or apple slices and each of these has 25 servings. 5 of these will cost about $25 and give your family their daily dose of fruit.
  • Oatmeal – Good old-fashioned oatmeal is simple to cook and store. A normal container has 30 servings each so purchase about 4 of these and your family won’t starve for breakfast. At $2 each that is about $8 for breakfast for a month for a family of four. Could you exchange Pop-tarts? Maybe, but I find oatmeal more filling and less likely to be snacked on.
  • Honey– Honey is a miracle food really as it will never go bad if you keep it dry and cool. Honey will last you forever and Sam’s has large containers that hold 108 servings. You can use this in place of sugar to satisfy the sweet tooth. Honey even has medicinal properties and you can use this to add some flavor to your oatmeal for breakfast.
  • Salt – Same as honey, salt will never go bad if you keep it dry and helps the flavor of anything. You can buy a big box of salt for around $1 and that will last your whole family a month easily.
  • Vitamins – I recommend getting some good multivitamins to augment your nutrition in the case of a disaster or emergency. Granted, rice and beans aren’t the best and you won’t be getting as many nutrients from canned fruit and vegetables so the vitamins help to fill in the gaps and keep you healthy. One big bottle costs about $8. You will need to get a kids version too if you have children small enough that they can’t or won’t swallow a big multivitamin.

All of the list above will feed the average family of 4 for right at 30 days and makes a great start to your food preparations. The meat was the most expensive part but the bill comes to around $500 give or take but this will vary by where you live. Should you stop there? No, but this is just a good starting point and you should expand from here. I would keep all of these items in your pantry along with your regular groceries and rotate these to keep the contents fresh.

What Next?

Once you have 30 days of groceries in your pantry I would recommend looking into storing larger quantities in Mylar bags or purchasing freeze-dried foods and bulk grains to augment your supplies. You would also need to plan for basic necessities like hygiene (hello toilet paper!) and different food items.

What else should you have? I would recommend several large candles (very cheap at WalMart) or a propane powered lantern, matches or lighters, batteries for flashlights a good first aid kit, radio and plenty of water. You should also add bullion cubes and spices in to make the meals more palatable. Is this going to be as good as some toaster strudel or 3-egg omelets from your chickens in the morning? No, but this list above will keep your family alive.

Water is another post, but for a month you will need 120 gallons at a minimum. Storing this isn’t as easy as groceries but there are lots of options.

This should get you started on your food preps and you can build on from here. Let me know if you have other ideas I missed.


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Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

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Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

When you start to consider prepping, one of the first things you need to start prepping for is food. Simply put, food is one essential you need to live and

So exactly what is ‘social distance’?

It you ask the professionals in the Public Health sector, it means keeping your distance when you are sick and from people who appear to be sick. Simple, however not everyone who is sick appears to be sick. And those same Public Health professionals are in the business of being exposed to the sick. It goes with the territory.

We tend to avoid people displaying obvious symptoms of a contagion, the normal coughing, sneezing, watery red and puffy eyes, or wearing a medical mask (we don’t care it if it is for their protection more than ours, it is a symptom). We at least try and minimize our contact. The earliest references to social distancing are from the seventh century BC in the Book of Leviticus, 13:46: “And the leper in whom the plague is…he shall dwell alone; [outside] the camp shall his habitation be.”

Now if they are immediate family we have to opt for the normal precautions that apply to those same public health personnel, washing your hands often, avoid bodily fluids, stop touching your face, masks, etc.

Germs Love New Playgrounds

And they travel on a number of highways we provide them:

  • direct physical contact with others – body fluids exchanges, sneezes, coughs, touching with unwashed hands
  • couriered by a third party, pets, insects, hand-to-hand-to-hand, a food handler, someone in the supply chain of an item that comes in contact with us.

And the eyes, more than the ears, nose or throat are a primary entry point. People generally touch their faces up to 3,000 times in a day. I haven’t tried to count but wearing glasses, I rub my eyes often.

Social Distancing as A Prepper Basic

But social distancing has other applications as well. To be sure the explosion in cell phones that do so much more that just phone calls and other electronic devices has actually been an aid in minimizing the spread of germs, or so it seems to the casual observer. Who hasn’t driven past a school bus stop of grade school and older children where each is self-absorbed in their personal device as opposed to interacting with their peers? We are all now guilty of this to some extent. Walk into any Starbucks on the planet.

Social distancing in a pandemic is something that preppers need to understand as there are actually laws written on the matter and protocols to be followed.

In an off-grid situation the introduction of a virus, even a known flu can have dire consequences, especially for older members of your group or those with already sketchy immune systems.  And the delivery chain must always be suspect. Be it anything material, from food to ammunition to electronic devices to new linens for the kids beds, the number of hands that have touched it are countless, and out of our control.

In a real world disaster one of the first things in your planning should be social distancing and how to quickly achieve it. A “who is in” and “who is out” protocol with preservation of self and family your primary goal. An understanding among your group that they immediately need to isolate themselves from strangers and even friends who may be ill. And they need to be open and honest about any exposure so you can plan accordingly because suddenly you are going to be in close quarters and most likely without professional medical help available or access to medications not already in your stash.

Strangers At the Gate

Depending on the SHTF situation, your hunker-down location, the travels of the Golden Horde and other factors you need to plan for strangers showing up on your doorstep, whatever that might be.

And their outward medical condition needs to be a part of your decision making process in addressing them. If they are alone it is pretty straight forward, but if there are two and one is sick, it is a consideration that being separated, or leaving the other behind or outside, is going to bring a whole other level of complication to your decision.

There isn’t a proverb that states verbatim that “Charity Begins at Home” though it makes perfect sense to the rational person. One really must provide for ones own first and best. The notion that a man’s family should be his foremost concern is expressed in 1 Timothy 5:8, King James Bible, 1611: “But if any provide not for his own, and specifically for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Too often now we see that the good of the many is more important than the good of the few – in open immigration of the sick, we have reintroduced contagious diseases such as measles, and smallpox and tuberculosis. In that name of charity.

As a part of the many exposed for the good of the few we need to consider social distancing as a tool, not to deny friendship or help, not to marginalize others due to their circumstances, but as another arrow in our self defense quiver when we are faced with an emergency.

So exactly what is ‘social distance’? It you ask the professionals in the Public Health sector, it means keeping your distance when you are sick and from people who appear to

Yesterday I began a new series called, Back to Basics. People every day can simply look at events happening anywhere in the world and understand how taking some simple steps to ensure you can handle minor emergencies, isn’t crazy. Prepping to a certain level makes sense for everyone, regardless of where you live.

This series was designed to go back to the basics of prepping, obviously. Today I wanted to share tips for how to stockpile food for emergencies that anyone can use. I will focus on preppers who are just starting out, but I think some ideas in the topics below could be useful to anyone looking to ensure their family has food and does not go hungry. This article will also have dozens of links to other content on the subject for additional reading.

I believe there are 5 main components to survival that everyone needs to consider. They are simply Water, Food, Shelter, Security and Hygiene. Yesterday we talked about the need for water and how you can easily store water for emergencies that render your traditional methods of obtaining water impossible. Water is more important to life than food or at least you can live longer without food than you can water, but they are both important.

Why do you need to stockpile food for emergencies?

If you are new to prepping, you may have something that triggered your awareness of the subject. Preppers have many reasons for doing what they do and no two preppers are alike. Some are preparing for the end of the world, but most see situations in our daily lives that give a perfect reason to stock up supplies. You have only to look at the recent winter storm that affected large swaths of the Eastern Seaboard to have a perfect example of why you don’t want to be left without a means to feed your family.

emptystoreshelves

Greeks are finding food, medicine and fuel in short supply.

It seems almost cliché at this point, but invariably it always happens when a winter storm is forecast. Everyone rushes out to the store and certain food supplies are wiped out. Images of empty shelves are shown on practically every newscast and eventually prepper websites. Food shortages during simple storms are common if not expected. We don’t really even blink anymore because we are so used to this practice of waiting until the last-minute and then hitting the local grocery store on the way home from work to grab some basic necessities or comfort food.

Related – Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

If you can’t live for more than 3 days without going to the store, it’s time to reevaluate your family’s readiness. The statistic we hear most of the time is that the average home has only 3 days’ worth of food in it. If this is true, where would you be on day three if you had not been able to make it to the grocery store before the storm? What if instead of a snow storm, a virus outbreak had occurred and everyone was told to stay indoors to prevent infection? Each of us should have more food on hand that our families and friends will eat than is absolutely necessary to prevent surprises from leaving you hungry.

How much food do you need to store?

In the example above I used a virus outbreak as the condition that would prevent you from getting to the store. There are others though and weather could certainly be one of them. Some storms where I live have left roads impassable for upwards of a week. Could we walk to the store? Sure, but what if the stores having already been cleared of just about all of the food were closed? What if power outages prevented them from conducting any transactions? These are things you should consider.

Prepping is not something I ever consider you can accomplish. By that I mean, you are never going to be fully prepared. You may be much better prepared than some or all of the people around you, but you will never be 100% self-sufficient. Prepping should be done incrementally even if you have more money than you know what to do with because as you start to stock up food you learn lessons.

Related – The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

A good rule of thumb for me is to start small when you are beginning to stockpile food for emergencies. You don’t need a year of freeze-dried foods to start with. Try just having a week or two of extra groceries that your family already eats. This is accomplished without any exotic storage needs usually or 5 gallon buckets of grains you have to figure out how to prepare.

Premium Fresh MREs Meal with Heaters

My wife purchases the groceries and I started out by giving her extra money to simply buy more food. I did this in the beginning because she is a much better shopper than I am and will always save more money than me. This worked great because she was easily able to fill our pantry and had plenty of meals planned to last us well over 30 days. Sure, at the end of that 30 days of food we would be getting into more exotic cans of mushrooms and soups that are better left as part of a recipe as opposed to your entire meal, but we wouldn’t starve.

What are the best types of food to stockpile?

Once we had a month worth of food and water stored up, I started looking at other options. I think each person should have a layered approach to food storage. This gives you flexibility and more importantly variety that as you go out to 6 months or 1 year or 2 will be important. My own personal goal is 2 years’ worth of food stockpiled for my family but that isn’t made up of only food from our grocery store. That can certainly be done though with a very good rotation plan.

Related – 4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Food storage should ideally cover the following:

Short Term Food Storage – The best and simplest foods are like I said above, what your family eats every day. One thing to consider is that the bulk of this food should be non-perishable in case you lose power. Canned foods are great as well as pastas, drink mixes and staples. These usually last at least a year.

Medium Term Food Storage – For the 5 – 10 year range MRE’s are a great option although they are heavier and their convenience comes at a higher price. I have several boxes of these and I like MRE’s because they are self-contained and don’t really need any water. Freeze dried camping foods like Mountain House are another great option to just add hot water to. Rice and beans make great additions to this category because you don’t really have to do anything crazy to store them as long as they are kept cool and dry.

Long Term Food Storage – When you start to look at foods that will keep for many years you get into stored grains like Hard Red Winter Wheat that you store in sealed 5 gallon buckets. Freeze dried food from any one of many suppliers out there keep for 20 years usually and are individually wrapped Mylar packets. They require water to re-hydrate but the taste can be surprisingly good. Make sure you have seasonings though….

 

 

Renewable Food Storage – This is when you have to get your inner farmer working. Renewable foods are an intensive garden, small livestock like chickens or rabbits and the occasional wild game caught either through hunting or snares. In the worst disasters, your food will run out so having a plan for that ahead of time will help you prepare.

vegetables

For a well-rounded plan, growing your own food will give you the most flexibility.

How do you plan for your food eventually running out?

I have a mix of the food storage options above. We eat on our grocery store items every day, but I also have MRE’s and a pretty large amount of freeze-dried foods stored. We also have the grains I mentioned and the all-important grain mill to grind them into flour. Several hundred pounds of rice and beans round out the equation.

Stockpiling food is only the start. We have a garden and small flock of chickens. The stored food is just to get us through the worst of the disaster. Hopefully before our food runs out whatever disaster has happened will be mitigated and life will have returned to some sense of normality. If not, we have a huge leg up that will allow us to further harvest our garden to put away food like the pioneers had to do. It is an approach that gives us some sense of security and prepares us to come out on the other side still alive.

What is your plan to stockpile food for emergencies?


On a different note, here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Yesterday I began a new series called, Back to Basics. People every day can simply look at events happening anywhere in the world and understand how taking some simple steps to