Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is this "IT"?

"Post Collapse Food" apple pie, lentil, brown rice, summer squash dish, garden salad.... could be worse.

freeacre & ras

Ras has graciously put together a post for us regarding making food preparations for shortages that are affordable and do-able in a short amount of time. In fact, we may not have much time left to make preparations. Matt Savinar, in his comments today on LATOC, warns that this is, indeed, “IT”. Gather with your loved ones, turn away from your computer screen, go outside and enjoy the little time you have left. He thinks that the possibility of a huge methane explosion in the gulf may cascade into millions of lives being snuffed out by poisonous and flammable gasses that could blow at any minute. You probably have already traced the links that he provides. We have been talking amongst ourselves about this for weeks.

Additionally, there are the dire predictions of the sunspot cycle and the solar flares and coronal mass ejections that are speeding up. The cycle is anticipated to culminate in December of 2012, when the Earth and Hanab Ku (the Mayan term for the center of the galaxy and its transformative energy). At that point, an angry Sun could blow off the protective magnetosphere of the earth, and fry us. A shifting of the poles of the earth, the stop and then reversal of the rotation of the planet, and subsequent global tsunami, would destroy most living things. Or not. After all, pole shifts have happened regularly and things got rough. Ice Ages have happened. Weather changed dramatically. But, the human race survived. In fact, enough anomalous artifacts have been found that simply do not fit within our assorted histories that make it seem likely that destruction of Life As We Know It may have occurred repeatedly – maybe for millions of years.

Almost seeming tame in comparison is the possibility of the death of the dollar, the breakup of the European Union, war with Iran (less likely if oil shortages become acute soon), and hurricanes destroying property and spreading contamination that would lead to mass evacuations and the deaths of millions once again. Oh, yeah, then there is the bankruptcy of many of the states in the union and possible riots and revolution as people become more and more desperate and have less and less to lose. Let’s say a hurricane in the Gulf picks up mass quantities of oil and toxic chemicals from the sea and deposits them over thousands of homes, lakes, streams, cities, townships, and farms. How viable are those places going to be then? What about all those mortgages that are already upside down anyway? Would it surprise anyone if survivors just packed up, left their keys on the table and headed for Michigan or Ohio where the real estate is dirt cheap?

That would, of course, leave the banksters and the state and local governments holding the bag. The banks would fail, the derivatives would go up in flames, pensions and municipal bonds and just about every financial instrument you can think of would tank. Property taxes could not be collected to pay for municipal services. I mean, I am no financial wizard to be sure. But, it seems to me that alone would be enough to ascertain that we’d go from a “slow crash” scenario to a “fast crash.”

So, I don’t know. Prepare to survive or live each day as if it is your last? Good question. Lately, I find myself listening to favorite recording artists, re-watching my ten best movies, looking through my photo albums, remembering my best times, and being grateful for everything. But, maybe that’s because we’ve already been preparing for five years. I’d rather spend my last days visiting Crater Lake than trekking to Costco for additional gallons of olive oil.

On the other hand, I’d sure hate to check out like those delusional Hale Bot Comet numbskulls did in L.A. and maybe miss something amazing. Something wonderful might pop up like the three morel mushrooms that appeared in our backyard last week. So, let’s go with the preparation scenario. I’ll shut up now and let ras take over….

The Emergency Food Storage Plan That Could Save Your Ass If Things Go Really Wrong

Please note: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. I am NOT responsible for anything you do or do not do with it. Also please note that the elderly, the very young, and those with sensitive stomachs do not adjust well to a sudden, drastic change in diet. Also, this is not a substitute for a ‘store what you eat, eat what you store’ plan. This should be used in addition to that plan for a couple of reason. 1.) In a short-term situation, you should use those stores instead, and 2.) Even in a long term situation, you will want to shift your diet as gradually as possible.

Things are going wrong in a major way. All over the world, the excrement is hitting the fan. What happens if things get so bad that supply chains are interrupted and the grocery store shelves are bare? What if there’s a real famine? What will you do and will you and yours be okay? These once distant possibilities are becoming more real everyday and, if you’re like me, you’re increasingly worried. It’s grim out there, folks, and getting grimmer. The only way to insure your food security is by having enough food stored to get yourself through no matter what happens.
Food storage is an insurance policy. Let me repeat that: having food stored is insurance. Insurance against famine, insurance against natural disaster, insurance against civil unrest. You may never use your car insurance or your homeowners insurance, but you have it anyway. You should have food storage for the same reasons.
How much do you need? A few days, a month, three months, six months, a year? That is up to you, but I would say a month is the bare minimum and I would not be comfortable with less than six months. A year is not too much. Hell, these days two years is not too much. But storing this much food raises its own issues: spoilage, expense, and storage space. I am going to detail a simple, inexpensive way to cover your ass in the event the fan gets clogged from all the crap that’s flying at it. Whether you choose to use it or not is up to you; you may think it’s too extreme or use any number of other options. But at least you’ll have the information.
How much food do you need for 1 person for a year? There are several ways to calculate this. I like this one: The Mormons have a church law that requires them to keep a year’s worth of food on hand at all times, so as you might expect, they’ve gotten pretty good at this.
Here are the totals for one person:
Grains -300 lb
Legumes -60 lb
Fats and oils -13 lb
Sugars -60 lb
Milk and dairy -75 lb
Baking Powder and Baking Soda -1 lb each
Yeast -0.5 a pound
Salt -5 lbs
Vinegar -0.5 a gallon

Notice there’s no meat here. Beans plus whole grains (not white rice) equals a complete protein so you don’t need meat.
That’s a lot of food, and a lot of money. A years worth of grains and legumes for one person from most emergency supply stores, pre-packaged, is well north of $600, plus shipping. A family of two would pay in excess of $1200 just for rice and beans. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money for someone like me. How can you reduce the expense?
Do it yourself. You can get the food and package it on your own. Beans are available in any supermarket. Grains can be bought in bulk from health food stores or online. Or you can go to the nearest feed store and buy untreated feed grain. Yes, you read that right. If you store it right it isn’t going to go bad and you can give it to a farming friend when you rotate it. If you have to eat it, you really aren’t going to care. It’s the same thing they use for humans anyway. Fifty pounds of wheat, corn, or oats from a feed store is about $10. That means it would take you sixty bucks to get enough grain to last a year for one person. Not bad. (Don’t tell them you’re going to eat it. They won’t sell it to you.) You can also get fifty pound bags of white rice for $15, but will need to supplement the rice with more protein sources. Do NOT get more than half of your grains in wheat. A lot of people are sensitive to wheat and don’t know it until they try to eat a heavily wheat dependent diet. You don’t want to do this, have to depend on it, and then discover that you or your seven year old has a wheat allergy.
Legumes –most beans are a dollar a pound or less at the store. Split peas are $0.79 a pound. Get mostly dried and a few cans. Be sure to get multiple varieties. Each kind of bean tastes different. Sixty pounds = sixty bucks. Now we’re up to $120 for one person for a year. Still not bad.
Fat and salt –both of these are absolutely required for health. The problem with most modern diets is that we get too much of both of these for the amount of physical activity we get. Fats tend to go rancid within a year, so you’ll have to rotate these constantly. You can buy a years worth of whatever you normally use and work through it with your ‘store what you eat, eat what you store’ plan. The only exceptions to this are peanut butter and lard. Unopened peanut butter lasts for years, is cheap, and is also a really good source of protein. Lard is cheap and will last for years, but it’s also incredibly bad for you. Salt is going to be the cheapest part; you can buy 10 pounds of salt for two dollars. Put up as much as you possibly can –it is required for life, it’s a good food preservative, a good seasoning, and a trade good. So, $25 for both fat and salt brings us to $145 per person. Call it $150.
Sugar –sugar is a good sweetener and good preservative. Fifty pounds will set you back less than $25 bucks. Milk and dairy are up to you. A lot of people don’t use dairy. Add in the miscelleanous items and you’re up to $200 a person. For a year of food. Not bad for insurance. Fill in as you can afford with vegetables and so forth, but this will take care of your bulk caloric requirements. There are three other items not on the calculator that are absolutely necessary. The first is a good multivitamin. In good times or bad times you need a vitamin, but especially in the bad times. This will ensure that you’re getting all your nutritional requirements. The second is a store of seeds so that you can grow more food. The third –as many spices and seasonings as you can get your hands on.
Now for storage. You need something to put all of this food in. Go down to Home Depot and buy yourself a bunch of their orange buckets with the air tight gasket lids. These cost about $2.50 each, with tax. You can also buy brand new empty paint cans; the only requirement is that they have air tight lids. Don’t just pour the food inside; plastic imparts strange odors to food, so you need a liner. You can use a mylar bag, a paper bag, or anything else that will work. Now you need to remove the oxygen from the environment so that the food can’t degrade. You can buy oxygen absorbers online. They cost about $15.00 for a hundred of them. Or, you know those hand warming packets? They have the same chemicals in them. Activate a couple, throw them in each bucket, and put a lid on right away. Or, don’t fill the bucket quite all the way, put a tealight on top of the food, light it, and put the lid on. The candle will go out once it burns up the oxygen. You will have to look up ways to use this food if you should ever need it –cooking it is a little more complex than opening a can. If you want to be able to make flour, you’ll need to find a grain mill or something similar.
Rotation guidelines: Grains and legumes –once every ten years. Sugar –once every five. Yeast, baking soda, baking powder –use these and replace as needed. Fat –once a year. Salt –never.
All told you’re looking at about $300 a person for an insurance plan that could literally save your life. That to me is not a bad investment.
Where do you store this stuff? In closets, under the bed (in case of the paint cans), in corners, anywhere you can find. Just don’t put the food in the garage or an outbuilding –unprotected buildings cause food to degrade faster, and leave it more open to pests.
A note about pets: don’t forget them. You have to store food for them as well. Dogs are omnivores, and like humans, can eat a vegetarian diet if it’s planned right. But cats are carnivores and absolutely MUST have meat. So throw a few cases of canned cat food under your bed for your feline friend. She’ll also help feed herself on the moles and mice that will inevitably attack your garden or get into your house.

Well, that's "food for thought" for now. Next, maybe we'll list some handy gadgets and other non-edibles that are handy things to have.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What to Do Until the Apocalypse Comes

a mountain man rendezvous

By freeacre

Charles Hugh Smith had a post up this week (6/11) about envisioning collapse scenarios that are more positive than Hollywood would have us imagining. Perhaps, if the global economy as we know it disintegrates due to its own over leveraging, resource depletion, and moral rot, and we peasants are reduced to living a real life rather than going to the mall, things won’t have to look like Road Warrior after all.

If the disaster in the Gulf plays out for the next couple of years with an almost unimaginable amount of oil and toxic fumes, it would likely lead to thousands of people heading to the wastelands of Michigan and the Rust Belt. And, if by then, China will have had to increase the value of their money and ours has tanked, we will importing a LOT less stuff. So, real things that people will require to live, will begin to be made in this country by innovative neighbors and small businesses. Even if we did not import much of anything for awhile, we have lots of materials to make things out of if we simply begin to mine the land fills.

I doubt that rat-eating zombie hordes will be coming out of the woodwork when the sun goes down, or that aliens will be crawling out of holes they have been hiding in while waiting for us to go back to the gold standard. I also doubt that roving gangs of skin-heads, Latinos, Blacks, Asians, Scotch-Irish, or any other ethnically identifiable groups will be ravaging the country-side looting and pillaging. Historically, bullies can be counted on to pick on their own neighbors. They seldom leave their own neighborhoods. Once the people figure that they are on their own to defend themselves, I have a feeling that the bad guys will be taken out pretty quickly. Most people are pretty good folks who don’t want any trouble. There are many good people who have experience in the armed forces that I doubt are going to just sit around and allow friends and family to be intimidated and robbed. Right now, people are pretty much disarmed. They may have guns but they are useless unless you don’t mind going to jail for defending yourself.

When I lived in Jamaica, the poor did have a big problem with “tiefs.” Thieves would actually enter the homes of people like my housecleaner and rip them off while they pretended to sleep. But, it was illegal in Jamaica for good people to have guns. It ain’t the same here. Something tells me that the bad apples are known. And, they will get right, or they won’t be around too long. In fact, I believe that when people no longer look to the government for help, they will begin to renew fraternal organizations, build alliances, strengthen church groups, and pull together in ways that will amaze us all.

The seeds to re-create ourselves have already been planted. People are pretty sick of the greater corporate mentality already. Why do you think goofy folks in costumes are running around in the woods all over the place? Witness our mountain man friends in the top picture. Here’s another one of my brother (on the right) with his wife and his Scottish Highland buddy with their kilts at Highland Games. Think of the Renaissance Faires, Burning Man celebrations, Native American Pow-Wows, and even the Star Trek conventions. All these groups have one thing in common – people who would love to turn their backs on the soul-sucking dominant culture that we have now, and go for a simpler, more satisfying and inspiring lifestyle not centered around money and Wally World. They are all nescient intentional communities.

Our allegiance is reflected in what we wear. The banksters and Overlords wear suits and “power ties” as uniforms to inform us of their status. The hippies made an anti-war and anti-corporate statement with their long hair and bell-bottomed jeans. So do the Amish, with their colonial clothing and horse and buggies as they shun the “English”. They did not wait for their ideas to catch on before they changed their lifestyle. They changed their lifestyle and made the change happen, at least for themselves. The Mall Rats and those we think of as “sheeple” announce their compliance with the powers that be in their designer jeans and newly bought clothing and contrivances.

We don’t need to wait for pioneer or wiccan or Renaissance, or cowboy clothing to be sold at Penney’s to start to look different. Personally, I like the “ma Kent” look. I loved Superman comics as a child, and somehow got the idea that ma Kent was my ideal older woman. I’ve been wearing clothes that look like 30’s housedresses for awhile now. Soon, I am going to sew some pioneer bonnets and aprons to go with my dresses and walk around town looking like a pioneer. Why not? They are comfortable, functional, homemade, non-corporate – and fun! Shit, I’m too fat for a Na’vi, or I’d be painting myself blue and wearing a feathered headdress and dangling ear cuffs. The point is to announce the fact that you are resisting The Man and the materialistic, sick, debt serfdom that goes with it. Just as the Amish have always refused to comply with the greater culture and have demonstrated a clear alternative, we can do the same.

I say, “Go for it.” Do it now and avoid the rush. A revolution of thought and action is at hand. The dissolution of our former way of being is happening all around us, whether we like it or not. We can desperately try to hold on to business as usual and somehow pretend that we have the resources and wherewithal to extend our stranglehold on the planet and its resources. But, it will only lead to more suffering and grief and damage to the planet. And, there is going to be enough of that already.

Let’s offer ourselves and our neighbors something else. A memory or a vision of a better time in the past that can lead to a happier time in the future… simpler, friendlier, smarter, more generous, co-operative, and sustainable way of living. More free and more powerful, imaginative, and fun as well!

-- carry on the conversation from the last post, Guys. Good stuff!