When the Food Runs Out
Remember Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy; Oklahoma tornadoes in April 2013; and Colorado floods in September 2013?
For those of us in regions where snowfalls can drop 4-12 inches at a time, we have seen how spastic people get for bread, milk and toilet paper. Can you imagine how they would react if all food deliveries, to stores, were interrupted for an extended period of time? An EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) can stop trucks, cars, aircraft and watercraft engines from running, delivery truck hijackings can occur and disasters and riots can close travel routes. If this happened, and the people panicked (guaranteed), how long do you think it would take for stores to become void of food and then streets to become unsafe to travel? Have you been to a grocery store after an announcement of potential inclement weather? Estimates are 3 days for stores to be empty of food and a week for people taking to the streets to get food from other sources (including those who have prepared for this event).
No refrigeration: Most likely, in the event of an environmental emergency, electricity may be sporatic or gone completely and so goes electrical refrigeration methods. Ice (dry or water) may also be at a premium in such circumstances. While there are generators and 12 volt (battery operated) refrigeration products available, the emergency food plan should not rely on such things. Naturally, if such an event occurred during cold environmental temperatures, storing perishables outside (and out of sight) is an option. Root cellars or areas deeper underground could also keep foods cool but the kind of cool that keeps refrigerated items at the right temperature or frozen ?; not likely unless way deep underground. Bottom line; plan with foods that do not need refrigeration.
Enemies of food are Heat, Air, Moisture and Light. Emergency, long-term food items should (ideally) be vacuum-packed and stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Reducing or eliminating these enemies, helps maintain, or increases, the shelf life of the food.
Unlike some of my acquaintances who live to eat, I eat to live. I don't care so much about WHAT I eat as THAT I eat. So, I stock up on long-term storage, freeze-dried foods and water storage to re-hydrate them.
Starting my stash on a shoestring: I buy the bulk "emergency foods" when the money is available but I started out, and continue to increase, my stash with non-perishables (dried pasta, rice, beans, peas, oatmeal, dry breakfast cereals, powdered milk, etc.) a little bit with each visit to the grocery store. Because of my living quarters, it helps that these kinds of foods weigh less and compact easily to use very little storage space.
Hunting, Fishing, Trapping, Farming and Planting: Meat Eater or Vegetarian, by far, the road to self-sufficiency begins with hunting, gathering, raising and preparing your own food. With these skills, you will provide food sources for as long as you live. Indoor and outdoor options are available for growing fruits and vegetables, livestock and fish. If you have never participated in these activities, cultivating a friendship with someone who has, and learning from them, could be a life saving relationship. Growing vegetables and fruits that produce their own seeds (open-pollinated or heirloom) insures seeds for subsequent plantings.
Bugs - The Food the West Forgot
Wild Edible Plants
Canning and Dehydration of surplus foods are excellent options for preparing for a food shortage event. Both options require research for proper food preparation and storage and it's important to know and record/label the shelf life of the foods prepared using these techniques. For those of us who do not have a farm nor the back yard to plant a garden, joining a Farm Share (CSA) or Garden Sharing arrangement are good alternatives if you truly want to learn the canning process of fruits, vegetables and meats. If the farm/garden scene is not for you, purchasing a food dehydrator may be more appealing with foods from the grocery store. If electricity is not available, dehydrating, using the sun, is an option and "canning" can still be accomplished as long as there is sanitation, a source of high heat and proper containers.
Determining the number of portions needed is a bit perplexing when calculating the amount of food available divided by the number of people who will be relying on the emergency food supply. There are many things to consider including the age, size and weight of the individuals and the weight and calories of the food. As a general rule, "portions" are calculated by the number of calories needed per average person per the type of "food group". 2500 calories per day (+/-), per person is an overall average. To research this further, please google.
- Survivability - Is emergency food in a location, and packaged, to withstand a significant environmental disaster? Locate close to the center, and lower, areas of the dwelling and package so glass doesn't break or water doesn't leak in.
- Portability - If necessary to bug out, can the emergency food be moved and relocated easily and quickly? Storage in reasonably-sized (based on weight), easily-transportable containers (like milk crates) should be light enough for one person to carry. Dehydrated foods weigh less and compact better to get more in small spaces.
- Shelf Life vs. Life Sustaining - Food can be eaten well (years) beyond the shelf life. While it may not look or taste its best, proper cooking and preparation of expired foods can still sustain life. Labeling food and water with "use by" dates can help with developing a recycle plan to use what is near end of shelf life and replenish with new. Reviewing the food stash before each grocery store visit can help with your recycling plan.
- Cooking - Heating and cooking foods helps with hydrating, mixing and decontamination was well as providing a sense of comfort. Under adverse conditions, the normal heating/cooking methods may not be available so applying alternative cooking methods may be necessary.
- Contamination - Caution and cleanliness is paramount when it comes to food storage and preparation. Not only can food spoil in storage but, handled and prepared improperly, can cause illness or death to those who eat it. Additionally, if a nuclear event is part of the emergency situation, it will be helpful if preventive measures, specific to a nuclear event, are built into the emergency food plan.
- Food and water can always be used for bartering. Having more than necessary may help acquire other necessities. Planning for more food and water could mean medicine, tools and even developing cooperative friendships.
- Pets - If you have them, include them in the equation.
- In my case, I have found that the amount of water recommended to re-hydrate the contents of a commercial long-term storage food product makes more of a soup than a dish so I usually use less water than recommended.
- "They" say that raw eggs (in the shell) can last up to 12 months when their shells are coated in a thin layer of Mineral Oil. Research further before trying. There is more to it than just dipping eggs in mineral oil.
With all food preparation activities, cultivate safe food handling practices and research further before trying.
Check this out: 37 Foods To Hoard Before A Crisis
When the food runs out, those who have not prepared will be searching for those who have. So, preparing for a food shortage not only means stockpiling an emergency supply of food but, also, protecting what you have stockpiled with a personal defense strategy.
Don't forget to consider that, if a public emergency lingers, your own food stores may be depleted so you should always be prepared for the basic survival techniques to kick in.
Produce Drinking Water from the Air, Ground and Undrinkable Water
Replenishable Water and Food Sources