Recipes for the Collapse – part 3: Food Supply
Just in the news this evening: 410,000 people are out of power in the mid-west due to ice storms. I wonder how many of them are going hungry tonight. Short term power outages due to unforeseen circumstances such as storms or floods, fires, and accidents can jam you up real quickly if you don’t have backups for cooking and some food on hand. At the very least you should be able to haul out a camp stove or a BBQ grill to cook on. That means you need to have charcoal or propane ready to fuel the stoves as well. Even simpler would be a cast iron pot with a wood stove or camp fire. However, cooking over a camp fire during an ice storm sounds pretty miserable to me. You may have to forego cooking and just break out the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and share a bag of M&M’s or something for dessert. Just about everybody has enough in the cupboard to tide them over for a couple of days. Heck, when I was working in a newspaper office, we probably could have fed us all for about three days just with the snacks stashed in the drawers of our desks.
Short-term emergencies require quick alternatives for food, heat, and water. Keep peanut butter, trail mix, jerky, tuna, crackers, nuts, cereal, dried fruits, etc. on hand that are easy to prepare with little or no cooking. Save your energy for keeping warm, a roof over your head and your water pipes from freezing. Highways may be washed away, and trucks may not be running for awhile. The average town has about 3 days worth of food on hand in the stores. But you might not even be able to get to a store. So, have lamps, batteries, candles, flashlights, a battery or crank powered radio, and an emergency first aid kit handy. This is just what everyone should do from the minute they first live on their own. If you don’t have most of this stuff already collected for a 3 day emergency, you better reduce your medication and start dealing with reality.
Forgive me, that wasn’t very charitable. I am just being churlish for no good reason. Probably every person looking in on this site is exceptionally well prepared and not only thinking about providing for themselves, but their neighbors as well. I just get cranky contemplating those who are completely clueless.
The longer emergency is the one that I mostly worry about. The one that could happen as a result of the investment class panicking when they snap out of their coma and notice that the stock market is a big fat ponzi scheme. Or, the one that could happen if the value of the dollar drops by forty (or ninety) percent all of a sudden. Or, maybe a virus disrupts whole regional areas for months at a time. Or, a war breaks out and there is devastation and death on our own soil like the kind we have been exporting for so long to other countries. Those situations would be known collectively as the Hard Crash. For that type of scenario, it would probably be a good idea to have some hard-core survivalist supplies. LATOC has good links, as does Survival Acres, SurvivalBlog, After Armageddon, and other survivalist, military surplus, and camping sites for supplies that are light, portable, and durable for the long term. These are bomb shelter type of supplies. You might not need them for years. But, when you do need them, they will be there. And, if you have to run, you can take them with you. They are light, dehydrated, or nitrogen-packed. Pricey, though.
The Soft Crash would be the foreseeable future increasingly squeezed by inflation and scarcity: higher and higher gasoline, food and utility prices, more and more people losing their homes and jobs, crumbling infra-structure. Resources like crude oil, top-soil, fresh water, fish and meat become acutely scarce or prohibitively expensive. Climate change leads to famine, natural disasters, and cookbooks with ingredients like rabbit and squirrel. Governments become unable to keep up with services, more wars break out over natural resources, and things just continue to get more and more grim…
But, wait a minute! “This might all be good,” the New Age part of my brain informs me. Let’s look on the bright side! When the policies of the global corporate death culture prove themselves to be the most hideous invention that our flawed species has yet come up with, we may just invent a new way to live that will be reasonable and harmonious with the planet. There might be a substantial number of other species that will thrive after the human die-off culls the majority of us from the planet. Creative minds might come up with excellent inventions that will enable us to live comfortably without ruining what is left. Warehouses full of reversed engineered alien technology might be waiting to be deployed. We might be on the cusp of a great transformation that will have us evolving into something better than we have ever imagined. Butterflies might start blooming in our footsteps…
… Or not. The bad guys might win. Our children and most of the rest of the living beings on this planet might suffer under a one world totalitarian state that leaves most of us dead or starving and the rest serving the overlords and speaking Chinese. Who the hell knows? Not me, for sure.
Whatever. So, we’ve just been stocking up on food and supplies with the rationale that inflation is happening now and doesn’t look as if it’s going to get better anytime soon. In our experience, things never have gotten either as good or as bad as we have imagined they would. So how much do we need? Well, ideally, it would be good to have enough to get you through until you could cultivate or produce food to either eat, sell, or barter for more. Bread flour, corn meal, rice, dried beans, flax seeds, wheat germ, oat bran, sugar, oil, yeast, baking soda, baking powder, and salt are all staples that can be combined to make meals that are diverse, filling, and nutritious. Figure out how many loaves of bread you need per week. Two pounds of flour per loaf, say, two loaves per week. That’s four pounds per week. Add another pound for making pasta, pizza, or whatever. So, say five pounds of flour per week. Fifty-two weeks times five pounds is 260 pounds of flour to feed two people for a year. Probably at least a hundred pounds of sugar. Figure generously, because you know that you are going to have friends or relatives at your table as well.
Of course, you can’t live on bread, but it’s a start. You are going to want to round things out with canned vegetables (until you can grow and put up your own), mushrooms, canned tomatoes and soups for sauces, spices, maybe cake mixes, pasta, soup bases, evaporated milk for cooking, and protein such as tuna, canned beef, chicken, salmon or sardines. Legumes and grains provide protein as well. So do nuts. Dried or canned fruits are important too, and lend themselves to making comfort foods, like pie. Who wants a transformation without pie? Gotta have pie.
Keep in mind that scarcity and lack are normal for many of the beings on this planet right now and for most of our collective history. So what’s been keeping them coming home all this time?
Peasant food is comfort food – always has been. Warm bread right out of the oven. Corn bread, spaghetti, tortillas and beans, chicken soup, pancakes, chicken and dumplings, stir-fried noodles, BBQ ribs and sweet potato pie. Good old homemade food made from scratch from every conceivable country and ethnic group or tribe there is. Stock up for now, but begin to learn to grow vegetables in gardens, maybe raise chickens, rabbits, goats, or sheep. Learn permaculture so that the land will provide edible fruits, nuts, grasses, roots, etc. that will thrive with little human intervention for you and for your animals to feed on.
It’s going to take teamwork and time to learn how to cook and bake and preserve the old fashioned way. Our kids will need to put down the soccer ball and the iPod for awhile and learn how to make jam or plant peas. It’s going to require a sense of purpose. It is a challenge. As you get it done, you will begin to feel more secure and confident. Now that Murph and I are in the stage of having a pretty productive greenhouse and garden, we found we had to purchase a freezer for storing veggies. The chickens provide a steady supply of eggs that we gift to people and they gift back when they have extra wild game or rhubarb, or whatever. We dug a hole and mostly buried a garbage can to store squash and garlic and onions in a make shift root cellar. Little by little it builds to a comforting level of cushion against the tide of lack and fear. Now we get to learn what real abundance is about. One thing that is clear to me: abundance should be centered in the home, not in the mall.