Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Survival 101: Put together a basic food stockpile

Dry Organic Whole  Wheat Pasta, 99.9% Ethanol and a Super Cat Stove.
Food is critical for survival. That’s no secret. Air, water, food and shelter, those are the rules. Although air related preps do exist (respirators) and are critical (try not breathing for a few minutes see how that works out for you) its pretty much all around you all the time. Shelter is key as well. Exposure kills, but we have evolved a good bit and its not as hard to find adequate clothing and shelter although both are vast survival topics. Something similar goes on with water. Yes, water is essential and water purification itself is tremendously important. I’ve been without running water and its no fun. Far worse than not having power.
Now food. Food’s the thing. You need air every few seconds, you need water every few hours, and food too you need every day. But the thing about food is that even today it’s a) not as plentiful, not when compared to water let alone air b) Its far more expensive.
Lack of food is the thing that has killed millions throughout history. It still does. Its easy today to lose perspective of how important it is but in places like Venezuela where most barely have a couple servings of food in storage, they know the truth.
I never went through anything quite that bad but got a bit of a taste of it myself in Argentina, especially right after the economic collapse. All of a sudden all prices doubled, then tripled, then quadrupled. Suddenly it became damn hard to buy anything. Its ok if you have a hard time buying a new phone of stupid crap like that but having a hard time buying enough food to keep you going is serious business. What are you going to do? Ask friends and family? (Who happen to be going through the same thing themselves)? Beg? Eat out of the trash? Oh wait, you’ll grow your own right. That’s nice, and by all means do, but let me tell you one thing: When things are SO bad that a country can’t get its act together to keep rice and oil stocked, then finding seeds/fertilizer/supplies/tools and the long etc needed for gardening is almost impossible. If anything having a garden helps, but it not a solution to the food problem. There’s a reason why when famines occur millions die. Very few people are truly self-reliant food wise, and even those that are they need a good amount of supplies and infrastructure to keep their operation running long term. Now if you’re one of those fully self-sufficient persons in all aspects of survival including food production then more power to you. If you’re just another mere mortal wondering how to tackle this issue in a simple manner keep reading.

Lentils, Canned Olive oil and whole Grain Rice
Crunching numbers…
I’m no cook. I’m no Mr. Pantry either. Some people love the food and cooking side of prepping but that aint me. Like any Argentine worth his salt I can cook any dead animal with charcoal or firewood and I make a mean pizza, but other than that and a handful of basic recipes that it. This is more about having calories to keep you alive. So with that in mind here’s the idea: Stores are closing, there wont be any power, what do you stock up today to keep you alive? Oh, to make things interesting, its just one food item you can pick. The rest you will have to pick yourself, grow, trade for /work for or buy later down the road. Now some folks with go for bulk red winter wheat and that’s fine, but I’ll go with this: dry pasta. Its basically the same thing as flour, only that already processed into a form that is easy to cook. Its cheap, lasts for years, cooks in 5 minutes and keeps you alive. A pack of pasta can cost about .50 cents. Around here you can get somewhat nicer organic whole grain pasta made in Italy for 1.50. This may not be the cheapest, but its affordable and good quality. Each pack has 500gr of pasta, enough for four servings. For 60 servings, enough for two months, that’s 15 pack of pasta or 7.5 kilos, which costs 22.5 Euros (roughly the same in dollars in USA). Caloric wise 100gr of pasta gives you 350 calories, which means 875 calories worth of pasta per day which isnt even close to the 2000 calories you need per day. You either need to have either four servings rather than just two per day, or (more likely ) complement your diet with something else. Rice and lentils would be my suggestion (they will need more fuel for cooking though), and plenty olive oil over whatever fresh vegetables you manage to procure. Realistically speaking though two servings of pasta per day makes sense to crunch the numbers for a basic staple that will be supplemented with other food, but a pack of 500gr a day per person is doable and this gives you either food to eat four meal of a day, or more clever, eat two and trade the other two for something else so as to vary your diet. A pack of 500gr a day per person costs 45 bucks a month, still very doable, and where using the more expensive type of pasta that costs twice as much compared to the cheaper store brand. In most American Walmart you have Great value spaghetti going for $2.07 for 908gr. (2lbs). Buying 17 packs per person should be enough for a month (eating or trading) which is just 35.19USD a month. I get it, you wont eat pasta all day for the rest of your life, but at this rate a year supply of pasta is $422.28, 1800 calories a day. In case youre wondering, you can live on that. Thin, but alive. Throw in some fruit, vegetables or multivitamins to cover vitamin C requirements and avoid scurvy and you’ll be better than you imagine. With pasta as your main staple and little else to round up a more balanced nutritional diet a dollar a day per person is possible when buying bulk.
So pasta rocks. It keeps you alive, its dirt cheap, lasts for years (decades if stored away from bugs and humidity in a sealed container) and it cooks fast. Now if the world is ending, or a bit less tragic if you go Venezuela, how are you going to cook it if you don’t have electricity? A Super Cat stove and alcohol is a viable solution. Lets crunch those numbers then. You need 50ml of alcohol to get a pot of water boiling for 5-6 minutes. If you do this twice a day that’s 100ml per day, or 3 litres per month. Around here a bottle of 250 ml of 99.9% ethanol costs 0.7 cents, so its 2.8 Euros per liter. 8.4 Euros of fuel per month, 100.8 Euros a year.
This is of course and oversimplification of a topic that is pretty complex but having food in your belly makes all the difference in the world. With a dollar a day per person and 110 USD worth of fuel for cooking having 6 to 12 months worth of food really isnt as hard as some people believe it to be.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.


Anonymous said...

As far as cooking goes you can soak the lentils and they will soften, you can save fuel this way. You will have to plan ahead, but if you are low on fuel or can't have a fire this will work. Also in parts of the USA we have a plant called worm seed. It is full of vitamin c, it was used to help keep scurvy away. Plus some pine needles can be chewed or made into a tea. Everyone should learn about a few native plants. You can't live off of plants only but they have many uses and can be used as a filler also.

Anonymous said...

Great article - thank you. With teenagers to feed, I always have pasta stored. I also purchased dry pasta packed for long-term storage from the LDS online store. It's important to store what you already eat and what your family likes, and this way you never waste food that you've stored. You rotate it into your regular meals. It's not "weird" storage food.

In the US, pasta is available at almost any store, and even places like gas station stores. Where I live, it's about $1 US per pound (454 g.) I looked at a package of spaghetti and the whole one pound package is 1680 calories, but elbow macaroni was 1600 calories per one pound box. I'm not sure why it's different for the same weight of a different pasta shape.

Also, it's important to note that pasta is enriched with nutrients (at least, the Great Value Wal-Mart brand). This is in addition to the carbs, protein and fiber from the wheat. The enrichment could be important if you're eating it long-term. The spaghetti I have contains added Iron, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), and Folic Acid (B9). Research has shown that women need Folic Acid if they become pregnant (right before and during early pregnancy), because it prevents a type of birth defect.

I also store spaghetti sauce, and I prefer to store the ones in jars. You can also make spaghetti with oil and garlic (and broccoli), with butter and parmesan, served with chili and cheese on top (Cincinnati-style), or with a can of cream-of-mushroom soup. Some people use tomato soup instead of spaghetti sauce, and some used crushed tomatoes. Add whatever vegetables and meat you want.

When in a hurry, I have broken the spaghetti noodles in half and then added them (dry and uncooked) to a pan of sauce, adding extra water as needed. Simmer, stir often and add water a little at a time. The pasta turns out a bit different, but it's still good.

Finally, I've seen a suggestion online to pre-soak your pasta for about 30 minutes before cooking. I haven't tried it yet. Supposedly, it will then cook much faster and use less fuel.

Anonymous said...

The reason most pasta is 'enriched' is because most pasta is made with only the wheat starch. It has had all of its germ and bran removed. That means it has no fiber and is lacking in many important nutrients. US law requires all highly processed wheat flour (e.g., white flour and the durum flour used in pasta) to be processed to be 'enriched' with some of the nutrients lost when the bran and germ are removed. But here's the thing -- the 'enrichment' does *not* restore as much as was lost. Whole wheat pasta includes all of the germ and bran and is *much* better for you. It includes the vital nutrients from the germ and the fiber from the bran. If you can, it is much better to buy only whole wheat and other whole grain foods.

Anonymous said...

50 mL of alcohol to heat a pot of water using a SuperCat for 5-6 minutes, sure, if it's a mere TWO CUPS OF WATER inside the pot!

http://supercatstove.com/makeSupercat.php : "Heat until desired. Two cupes of water will typically boil in 5-6 minutes, depending on temperature, altitude, etc."

Have fun cooking your pasta with only that much water each meal...