Mahatma Gandhi survived 21 days of starvation at 74 years old with only sips of water. Evidence of how long a person can survive without food has many different factors to consider and documentation of starvation incidence has been poorly documented. Famines and concentration camps have proven that humans can survive for years but the exact caloric intake is not clearly understood. The length of time a person can survive without food is influenced by body weight, genetics, and hydration. Starvation itself is not the only factor to consider when storing food. We must also examine the type of nutrition we are putting into our bodies. Beans and rice alone will sure fill you up but if you are not getting the proper nutrition you need your body will become prone to disease often time causing dehydration that will eventually kill you.
While I cannot cover every aspect to consider when preparing your food preps here, I would like to cover some of the basics. First to consider is where to locate your storage. Do not limit yourself to one location. A well-stocked pantry is a good place to start. Then maybe you store some food in a couple of closets and/or in the basement. If you are storing food in the basement be sure to take proper precautions regarding flooding and humidity. The basic idea is redundancy. If your roof was to start leaking or a tornado ripped out the wall to your only storage spot you may find yourself at the mercy of FEMA and that’s not a good place to be. In your locations it is a good idea to keep things organized with shelves or racks. This will help you keep it clean and rodent free as well as insuring room for proper rotation. I also like to store some food in totes and buckets. Although a little cumbersome they are easy to grab in a hurry.
Set a goal. In the beginning, 2 weeks is a reasonable amount of time to prepare for. Once you achieve that goal start working on a 3 month supply then a 6 month and so on and so forth.
When beginning your food preparations it is important not to get overwhelmed by all the ads for huge amounts of freeze-dried food. While these are a great option I don’t want you to turn away from the idea, as they do tend to get quite pricey. The way I began was grabbing a few extras of the things we normally eat. Can goods, beans, rice, and pastas are all still fairly cheap. If you are shopping for three cans of green beans grab four or five. When you get home set these things aside. Every time you shop take your new items and rotate with the old. This way you are always eating your food before it expires.
When shopping for items to store it is important to look for goods that do not require refrigeration, have high caloric and nutrition content, and a long shelf life. Also look for those sales. When you see something you want to store on sale, its time to stock up. Its not a bad idea to put some focuses on things that are pre-cooked. You never know if you will have the means or time to cook it in the future.
When deciding on what to buy focus first on what you normally eat. If you don’t like Top Raman don’t buy it. If you buy things you don’t normally it won’ get rotated and may make life a little more miserable if you are forced to eat it.
If you are looking for something cheap to greatly increase your stock look into grains, beans, and rice. You can buy them all in 25 lb bags from most anywhere. Wal-Mart Sams Club etc. Before you purchase something this extensive have a good idea what you will do with it. If you leave a bag of rice on the shelf long enough you will eventually get bugs. I don’t care how clean you think you are. One way that I use to store these items is in a mylar bag inside a food grade bucket with oxygen absorbers or dry ice to pull out the oxygen. A 25 lb bag of beans, rice, or wheat fits quite nicely in a 5 gallon bucket. You can find these buckets used at bakeries. I purchased mine at a doughnut shop for a dollar a piece. I do not recommend storing large amounts of flour for long periods of time because it tends to go rancid. If you do store any flour keep it refrigerated and rotate often. If you would like to store anything for bread baking store whole wheat berries. They will keep for upwards of 20 years unground. Just be sure and have yourself a grain mill. I use one from Back to Basics that I purchased for $50 on Ebay. You can spend upwards of $450 for a Country Living grain mill. They are very nice but a little bit out of my budget.
Next to these basic items you may want to consider your baking items like sugar, oil, salt, powdered milk, yeast, vinegar, and peanut butter. Of these I want to mention the importance of an abundance of salt. Not only is salt extremely important in our diets but it is needed in many different forms of food preparation and storage such as biltong.
I urge everyone right now if you haven’t already. Start a freakin garden! This is one of the best ways to increase your vegetable and fruit storage. Also a garden is an excellent way of supplementing your food intake if you must rely on your storage and it’s a skill that takes years to master. Through canning and dehydrating you can put away tons of food for next to nothing. While lower in calories vegetables and fruit are extremely important in maintaining a healthy immune system. Remember if you are not getting all the vitamins and minerals you need you are asking to get sick and in a world without immediate medical help you or a love one may stand to lose your life. If you have never canned before don’t let it scare you. It’s a little complicated it the beginning but if you practice it often you will acquire an understanding for the basics quite quickly. Keep your eyes out at garage sales for canners. I purchased mine for $9. I just had to buy a new weight.
Consider also storing some comfort foods as well. Spices, candy, chocolate, or whatever it is that you enjoy for a treat. Though they may not necessarily keep you alive they may help you keep your sanity. Children may not understand why they cannot have the treats they are used to and having a few snacks may help take some of the stress off everyone.
Hunting and wildcrafting can be very important if you are hungry. It is important to practice these techniques now. There is more information on hunting than I could every mention here. If you hunt good for you. If you don’t I encourage you to get with someone who does and start learning to hunt for small game. During the crises in Argentina in 2001, people where even eating birds and dogs. Be sure to fully understand all laws pertaining to the style you are hunting and teach yourself how to properly gut and clean as well as cook your harvest. I am by no means an expert on hunting or wildcrafting but have been exploring both worlds for a few years now and I suggest you do the same.
Just as you may diversify your investments I want you to diversify your ability to put food on the table. Hunting, fishing, wildcrafting, gardening, and even food storage are all practices that take years or even a lifetime to master so please begin now. A little bit every day will take you a long way. Store what you eat and eat what you store. It all begins with that first can of green beans so please do something today to improve your food preps.