There are a number of occurrences which could lead to the need for long term emergency preparations. Some examples are
- Long term effects of natural or manmade disasters
- Nationwide or worldwide economic collapse (similar to the Great Depression)
- Acts of war or terrorism
- EMP attack (electromagnetic pulse)
Watching the news we see natural disasters, tensions between nations and massive national debt. Inflation could bring on hard times and massive deflation could have even greater effects. Your life could dramatically change, seemingly overnight. The Great Depression lasted for ten years, starting in 1929 and ending in 1939. , Some estimations say that if a similar thing happened, 25% or more people could lose their jobs, economic output could plummet and prices could dramatically rise. The need to “self sustain” could become a way of life.
When considering long term preparations, there are two groups of people we can look at and learn from. The first group is those who lived through the Great Depression and the other is the westward-bound pioneers of the 1800s.
Many pioneers loaded their covered wagons on the east coast and traveled across the country to the west coast. It was a daunting undertaking, lasting for months and in some cases, even a year or more. They could not carry enough food and water to last the entire trip. They did carry some staples like salt, rice, potatoes, yeast, cornmeal, crackers, dried fruit, dried meat and beans, which of course required no refrigeration. But the food they originally brought with them did not last long. They had to be opportunistic and would eat local indigenous foods as they traveled. They would consume vegetation and meat as they were able to harvest them along the way and spent much time preserving the remaining food for future use. Gathering and persevering food was a major survival necessity.
They also had to have many other skills. They had to make their own soap, clothes, candles, leather, tools and had to be able to hunt, build fires and make repairs to their wagons. They had to be very self sufficient to survive.
Those who lived through the Great Depression also had to be self sufficient in many ways. They planted fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, raised chickens (for eggs and meat), hogs and cattle, baked their own bread and often made one-dish meals. They stretched food by making casseroles and creamed meat dishes which were served over bread or rolls. They made soups, chili and pasta dishes. The world was introduced to things like macaroni and cheese and Spam. Hunting rabbits for food was very common.
With that in mind, if we should as a nation, again have to become self sufficient in many ways, it would be good to study the pioneers and how people provided for themselves during the Great Depression. Canning and preserving food is a lost art in our modern society. With any technique of preserving food, it must be studied, learned and be held to the exact standards and methods required to assure the food is safe to eat at a future date.
You may need be gather and purify water. There are four ways to purify water:
Learn to cook without electricity or natural gas
- Butane / propane stove
- Open fire
- Solar cooker
- Folding stove
- Rocket stove
- Hobo stove
Gather, grow and preserve food
- Gather – may include relief services handing out food items
- Grow – sprouts, herbs and vegetable plants indoors, outdoor garden, fruit trees
- Preserve – to store without refrigeration
- Fruits & Vegetables
- Wet canning
- Freezing outdoors in cold climates
- Fermentation — wine, beer, cider, perry (pears)
- Jams & jellies
- Smoking, hot smoking, cold smoking
- Canning — wet canning, dry canning
- Packing raw, precooked
- Curing cold cure, wet cure, dry cure
- Dry salting
- Freezing outdoors in cold climates
- Comfits’ (potted meats) salted high fat meats, cooked and cooled in their own fat, canned may last 2–10 years
- Milk home canned lasts 1 year without refrigeration
- Butter home canned lasts 3 years without refrigeration
- Cheese classified as a preserved food, hard cheese may last for months
- Oiled shells (mineral oil) fresh eggs lasts several months (refrigerated)
- Freeze lasts up to 1 year
- Picked with vinegar lasts about 4 months unrefrigerated
- Dehydrated (powdered) may last several years
- Stored in cellar, controlled temp, humidity and light
- Hanging meats, vegetables, nuts, grains, may last for years
- Good bulk storage items
- Sprouting seeds
- Garden seeds
- Fruits & Vegetables
There are commercial food products manufactured to have a shelf life from as long as 20 to 25 years but can be costly. Those products are a good place to start. You can store food on a budget to by obtaining food “buckets” with tight fitting lids. They can be purchased or may be obtained for free form bakeries and restaurants who receive bulk food products in them. They have to be thoroughly sanitized before use.
Mylar bags can be purchased to fit in the containers and often include oxygen absorbers. The bags are sealed with heat.
Such things as pasta, rice and beans can be dry packed in canning jars making them good for long term storage, lasting several years.
Small quantities of vegetables may be grown indoors. Some single tomato plants can produce as much as 70 pounds of tomatoes through the plant’s life, but it will be over an extended period of time. Spouts are very easy to grow indoors and numerous types of seeds can grow into edible sprouts.
To sprout alfalfa seeds indoors, place 2 tablespoons of alfalfa sprouts in a quart canning jar, cover the top with screen, screw on a metal ring, then fill with clean water. Set the jar in a warm location with good lighting. Direct sunlight is good but not necessary. Empty the water daily and refill. After about five days you should have a quart jar full of edible sprouts. Sprouts can have up to 7 times more nutrients than the mature vegetables that the plant produces. Start some spouts every day, and you can have mature sprouts pretty much every day after the first ones are ready to eat. Numerous vegetable seeds and beans make excellent sprouts. Seeds sprout into an edible size from as quickly as a couple of days, up to about 10 days depending on the variety and size of sprouts you desire.
I highly recommend having 3 months or more of emergency supplies. The two biggest enemies of emergency preparation are procrastination and underestimating. By having a minimum 3 month supply, you don’t have to worry as much about underestimating as you would if you only had a couple of week’s worth on hand.
You should also have seeds for sprouting and heirloom seeds for planting a garden. They are both relatively inexpensive, have a long shelf life and do not take up much space. They can tremendously add to your extended food supply in both nutritional value and quantity of food available. It may not be possible or practical, for many people to have enough supplies to last several months or a year or more. If becomes necessary some day, remember to think like a Great Depression survivor and a pioneer.
If you enjoyed today’s blog and would like to keep the conversation going, tune into the POP Parenting Radio Show. We will be talking this week about making extended preparations. If the show is not aired on a station local to you, you can always listen live at the GCN website. Or you can click on the link above for Radio. The podcast of week’s show will be posted by January 29th.
This blog is part of a series. If you want to check out the other posts in the series, click here.
Be sure to come back next Monday, right here at POP Parenting. I’ll be back one last time to talk about wilderness survival. If you have any questions, feel free to click on the contact link above, and Jenni and Jody will forward it to me.