Food preservation

All posts tagged Food preservation

PJ - 0 - BISON Ranche Charcuterie

By  – The Prepper Journal

Growing and storing foods is commonly a goal we strive for as we seek self-sufficiency. The easiest and fastest way to store foods is, of course, just dumping it into a root cellar or grain bin or barn, although not everything does so hot with that treatment. Hanging things like corn or onion braids from rafters or digging a pit to keep carrots or potatoes in is pretty close. We’ve been drying slivers and chunks of foods in the air for millennia now. All those methods of food preservation have transcended time pretty easily.

Some methods, however, have been lost along the way, or how we’ve done them has changed drastically – sometimes due to food safety understanding, but sometimes because our modern worlds make something else or another method far easier. Pressure canners and water bath canning aren’t exactly new, but they aren’t really historic methods, either. Folks needed other ways of getting from harvest to harvest once they stopped foraging as nomads, and for a long stretch of time, people were preserving meats, veggies, fruits and even eggs without electricity or refrigeration. Not every way I’ll point out was used extensively or often, nor do they all transfer to all climates or modern times, but some of them do.

Continue reading at The Prepper Journal: Lessons From History – Eating Well Off Home Food Preservation

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Food Preservation Secrets Of The Native Americans

Image source: National Archives

By Tammy Robinson Off The Grid News

Traditional food preservation and storage methods have seen an uptick in popularity in the past decade, as people show an interest in learning how the native people of America preserved food and kept it safe for later consumption without refrigeration.

Of course, in winter months, storing food to prevent spoilage wasn’t such a huge concern, but in some parts of the country, indigenous people lived in areas that did not freeze or had a small number of freezing incidents.

Let’s take a look at how the native people dried and stored fruits, vegetables, and meat for consumption during the winter months or for times when food was scarce.

Continue reading at Off The Grid News: Long-Term Food Preservation Secrets Of The Native Americans

By Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

Self-Reliance. It’s a revolutionary word these days and I thought it deserved a manifesto.

Manifesto: noun man·i·fes·to \ˌma-nə-ˈfes-(ˌ)tō\

A declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer.

~~~~~

Have you happened to notice that our society is out of balance?

The consumers outnumber the producers at such a rapid clip that we can’t possibly continue like this. But who has time to produce when they are indebted and working overtime to finance their current lifestyles in the hopes that they will finally be able to buy “enough” to be happy, fulfilled, and loved?

We live in a society made up mostly of rabid consumers.  As soon as the advertising pros on Madison Avenue point them in a given direction, people flock to it like the zombies on The Walking Dead lurch toward a fresh human, completely oblivious to everything else.  They yearn for these things that are produced across the world and then delivered at a cheap price.  They fill up on cheap food that has been government subsidized, making it unrealistically inexpensive.  They are enslaved as they work to pay for it, or in some cases, accept a handout to pay for it. More people are deeply in debt than ever, living a fancy First World Lifestyle that would crumble with one missed paycheck. They are slaves and they don’t even know it.

They don’t care that the newest clothing and gadgets were produced in sweatshops across the world. They don’t care that some items are produced by slave labor. They don’t care about the processed offerings at the grocery store., the pesticide-laden produce raised by corporations instead of farmers, or even the feedlots that are the scenes of the worst animal abuse in the country, completely free from prosecution. They don’t care that subsidized corporate agriculture puts real farmers out of business while it destroys our health and our environment.

They just care about their illusions of prosperity. They care that the products are cheap and make them feel good for a moment.

And “illusion” is the perfect word for it because we live in a society where many people consume but very few people produce. A society like that could not stand on its own if isolated from the rest of the world or if the corporate food companies and manufacturing plants shut down. The majority of the country has become completely dependent on things that are produced in factories.

Simple math tells us that this system can’t last forever. We can’t all be consumers if there are no producers.

These days, self-reliance is actually a revolutionary act.

That quality is the difference between someone who merely accepts what is doled out to meet the needs of their family and someone with the power to fulfill those needs themselves.

Regardless of where you live, whether it is at the top of the highest high-rise, in the suburbs, in the desert, or on a few acres in the lush countryside, you can still be more self-sufficient. You can learn to meet your own needs by acquiring the skills to produce. Every single thing that you can produce on your  own is a personal declaration of your own independence, whether it is food, clothing, shelter, or something else to meet the needs of your family. In today’s society, freedom like that is a radical thing, completely against the grain, and it’s much more gratifying than anything you could ever purchase.

This list is full of insurrections, both small and large. No matter who you are or where you live, you can pick something from the list and learn to do it. That brings you one step closer to the real freedom of self-sufficiency. If you live in an urban environment or one not conducive to 30 chickens and a flock of goats, you can learn to preserve food in delicious ways or make your own clothing, or cook from scratch. You can grow some veggies or herbs in your windowsill. You can go on a foraging hike nearby.

You can do something.  You are a free human being and you deserve better than to simply line up at the store and exchange dollars you spent many hours earning for rations of processed, food-like substances and electronic gadgets. You deserve the feeling that comes from creating and producing. There is absolutely nothing like it on this earth.

This is a collection of more than 300 resources to inspire you and teach you to be more self-reliant.You’ll see that there are numerous articles on some topics, and that is because they are all written from a different perspective. Some bloggers and authors live in the ‘burbs, some live in big cities, and some live off-grid in the boondocks, but they all have lessons to teach you.  I hope that you will discover some new experts and mentors along the way.

So, no excuses. I’m not an expert. I wasn’t brought up in an agrarian lifestyle. I’m learning, just like you are, and after a lot of trial and error, I’m just now starting to put meat on the table that I raised myself.  I’m a former city girl, a single mom, and a newbie at a lot of this stuff, and if I can become more self-reliant, so can you!  Every day, I learn something new that puts me one step closer to the personal liberty I crave. I have personally read the work of every single author and blogger on this list, and I am positive that every person who reads this post can find something to learn that will put them on the path toward real freedom.

Getting Started

General Homesteading Information

Chickens

Ducks, Geese, Quail, and Turkeys

Rabbits

Pigs

Goats

Cows

Bees

Gardening

Soil Building and Composting

Orchards

Aquaponics

Old-Fashioned Skills

Off-Grid Living

Scratch Cooking

Off-Grid Kitchen

Food Preservation

Foraging

Passing on Self-Reliance Lessons to Kids

Create. Produce. Rebel.

The biggest insurrection in our society is to be self-sufficient.  Make the way you live your life a revolutionary act by producing some of the things that you need.

Let me know in the comments how you will rebel against the status quo. What skills and projects you will undertake this year? I want to hear about your self-reliance goals!

Shout-out to the incredible community at the Homestead Bloggers Network!

I asked and you came through to help me create this guide.

This article first appeared at The Organic Prepper: The Self-Reliance Manifesto: More Than 300 Resources to Guide You on the Path to Radical Freedom

About the author:

Daisy Luther lives on a small organic homestead in Northern California.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

By Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

Welcome to Foodie Friday.  This is the GMO-free edition!

Want to make your kitchen GMO-free? This week’s round-up is loaded with news, tips, and recipes that can help!

 

This feature is chock-full of all things food related: news, preservation, and delicious real food recipes.  As always, I really hope you’ll share your links and ideas in the comments below. As well, we’ll have a question of the week on each Foodie Friday post.

Cookbooks

the organic cannerThe Organic Canner:  Full disclosure – this is my book. I’ve been canning for quite a few years and I began to make changes to some of the basic recipes I found out there. Why? Because I wanted my preserved food to be as pure as possible, without the questionable ingredients that many of the standard recipes included. In this book, you’ll find my method for making jam without pectin (which is often GMO), making meals in jars, and preserving basically everything from your backyard garden.

Order Here

A Primer on PicklingA Primer on Pickling: Learn How to Pickle Food in a Single Afternoon:  Here’s another awesome home preservation book. You don’t need lots of fancy equipment to preserve food by pickling, and the product makes a quick, delicious snack. (This book is currently free from Amazon.)

“Learn how incredibly easy it is to make your own pickled food in a single afternoon! There is no pressure canning involved or overly specialized equipment needed to pickle food. This primer was made with the absolute newbie in mind and is written with step by step instructions in a clear and straightforward language.”

Order Here

Foodie Friday News

My family avoids the consumption of GMO food. With a site name like “The Organic Prepper,” it probably comes as no surprise that I strive to avoid the inclusion of GMOs in the food that my family consumes, and after several years of effort, we’re pretty much GMO-free. While the pro-GMO sector likes to deride and scoff at us for not being able to science, the fact is, there actually are studies that prove harm from GMOs. But because they aren’t sponsored by huge companies like Monsanto, the results aren’t skewed and are hidden or even refuted altogether.  None is more famous than the rat study done by Professor Gilles-Eric Seraliniwhich showed horrific tumors caused by GMO food. What no one talked about was this: the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal got a new editor named Richard Goodman, who retracted the study a few months after he got the job. Guess where Goodman worked from 1997-2004? BINGO. Monsanto.  Read the details of the sketchy retraction here, and use this for ammo anytime someone tells you that Seralini’s rat study was debunked.

Is it the GMOs or the Round-up causing harm? Keep in mind some of the issues with GMO crops could actually be the dousing of toxic Round-up that the foods are sprayed with. Despite irrefutable evidence of toxicity and death from glyphosate, our own Environmental Protection Agency (what a joke) upped the allowable level of spray to be used on food crops. However, the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate  as a probable cause of cancer. So even if you find the modification of the plant’s DNA to be acceptable, are you also cool with the spraying of poison on the food? This isn’t limited to only genetically modified food – some conventionally grown wheat is absolutely drenched in glyphosate.

Unfortunately, GMOs probably won’t be labeled anytime soon.  There’s currently a bill on the table of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee that would override any mandatory GMO labeling bills enacted by individual states. The bad news is, that bill is probably going to pass because of the attitude of epic condescension: they don’t want to confuse consumers and make them think GMOs are bad. You know, the same consumers who are begging for these labels. While I do think that there should be transparency in food labeling, I’m not Don Quixote, flailing at windmills. Here are some practical ways to avoid GMOs (even if you’re on a budget) – and none of them include on depending upon a government agency that has sold its soul to Big Biotech.

Gerber Formula says they’re non-GMO, but….  Gerber is now paying lip service to parents who want GMO-free choices for their babies. Unfortunately, it may all be a hype. Gerber refuses to answer questions about specific ingredients, and the products are purely self-labeled, and not certified by an outside agency.

Quick rundown.  To avoid GMOs in your own kitchen, you want to grow your own, buy locally from farmers you know and trust, avoid foods that are processed, preserve your own food, and cook from scratch. (Here are some tips on how to acquire good quality food on a budget.) Below, find some of this week’s best links for preserving and cooking.

Food Preservation

Have you tried fermenting food yet? I’ll be honest – so far, I’ve been a bit leery of fermenting food. But I took a really cool course and I’m ready to take the plunge.  Not only does fermenting preserve your food, but it also provides you with healthy probiotics that help heal your insides and support your immune system. Corinna’s adorable accent and humor make this course engaging and pleasant. Each section contains written information, as well as a video. (I got a lot out of the videos.) Check it out HERE.

Plastic, be gone. As I get rid of the toxic things in my home, I’ve been appalled at the amount of plastic that I use, even though I thought I was doing pretty well with that. One of the major crime scenes? The inside of my freezer. This article shows you how to preserve food in the freezer without using plastic.

What to Eat This Week

Products

Want some high-quality jerky for snacks, bug-out bags, or emergency food? This Epic Bison Jerky is…well, epic. It’s pricey still, but try it while it’s on sale. It’s the best quality jerky around, made with real food instead of a bunch of meat-like additives.

Order Here

Do you have recipes you no longer use because they call for cream of mushroom soup? I cast away quite a few recipes when I switched over to an organic, less-processed diet. However, the comfort food casseroles of my childhood can be mine again. Pacific Northwest’s Cream of Mushroom soup is on sale on Amazon today. Grab it in quantity to add to your food storage stockpile.

Order Here

Foodie Friday Sound-off: Have you gone GMO-free?

This week’s Foodie Friday question: How do you feel about genetically modified food? Do you avoid it and try to live a GMO-free life or do you think it’s ok?

Are you doing some scratch cooking or food preserving this week?

Dish with me in the comments below!

This article first appeared at The Organic Prepper: Easy Ways to Go GMO-Free (and Why You Should)

About the author:

Daisy Luther lives on a small organic homestead in Northern California.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

By Off The Grid Radio

Food preservation is essential for every homesteader and survivalist, but far too often our stockpiles contain dozens of pre-packaged boxed meals that are tantamount to junk food.

But there is a better way to stockpile food, and this week’s guest on Off The Grid Radio tells us everything we need to know. Her name is Kathy Bernier, a Maine homesteader and a Master Food Preserver as part of a University of Maine food preservation program. She also writes the Practical Prepsteader blog for the Bangor Daily News website.

Kathy stores a year’s worth of food, but it’s not Hamburger Helper, ramen noodles or even cereal. It’s food that she grows and “puts up” the same way her grandparents once did.

Continue reading at Off The Grid News: The Best Way To Store A Year’s Worth Of (Healthy) Food

By Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

If you’re involved in the preparedness lifestyle, you’re probably into planning. Most likely, you research and study the excellent preparedness strategies put out by experts. Whether we prepare for incidents small or large, we all ponder what we’d do if something world-as-we-know-it-ending went down.

The trouble is, a lot of the plans that get made are more likely  to get you killed than to save you. And people post these plans online, then new preppers read them and think, “Wow, what a great idea.”

I really love being involved in the preparedness lifestyle. I get to meet and correspond with lots of like-minded, down-to-earth people.  We have those awesome conversations that you just can’t have with the checker at the grocery store cash register.  I get to engage in email and social media discussions too, the likes of which would never occur with my second cousin who thinks that missing a pedicure appointment is a disaster worthy of government intervention. But sometimes, I kind of cringe. Not all preparedness plans are well-thought out and practiced. In fact, there are several recurring themes that I hear or read that are not good ideas for most preppers, and I bet that many of you reading have also privately rolled eyes at one of the following strategies. (Or maybe even  publicly.)

I’m truly not trying to be mean when I share them with you here, nor am I trying to say that I’m the Queen Prepper of the Universe, who knows absolutely everything.  I’d just like you to consider the variables if one of these plans happens to be your default strategy.

Bad Strategy #1: “I’ll just hunt and live off the land.”

Oh my gosh. No, you probably won’t. You might try to hunt, but guess what? Loads of other people have this same idea.  Unless you live hundreds of miles from civilization, the population of deer and wild turkeys will be quickly decimated in an event that renders the food delivery system inoperable.

Furthermore, hunting is not as easy as simply wandering into the woods, taking aim with a rifle, and popping a wandering buck in the head. Have you ever hunted? Have you done so recently, and by recently I mean within the past year? Have you ever field dressed an animal? Can you hit a moving target? Do you know how to set up snares? Do you know how to butcher and preserve meat? Are you in good enough shape to drag a 200 pound carcass through the woods?

If you can’t say yes to every single question listed here, hunting should probably not be your go-to plan for feeding your family.

Bad Strategy #2: “I’ll go into the woods and live there.”

This is closely related to Bad Strategy #1.

But it’s worse. Living in the wilderness is not going to be a marshmallow roast. First off, there are no marshmallows out there. Just lots of predators and food that has to be killed and skinned before you can eat it.

In this strategy, people like to talk about their proximities to a national forest. “There are thousands of acres, just on the other side of my fence.”

Okay. But when is the last time you went into that forest more than a few miles on foot?  Did you spend more than a couple of nights there? Was the weather inclement? What are your local predators (not including the human variety)?  Do you have a camping kit that you can carry in on foot? Will your children and spouse be able to also carry supplies? Are you planning to build a house with some tarps and a Swiss Army knife? What will you eat and drink? Are you adept at foraging in your area? For how long can you actually survive on what you can carry?  How are your First Aid skills and what supplies will you have?  Can you handle the loneliness? And what about the other, perhaps less than moral, individuals that have the same idea? Have you ever lit a fire with wet wood?  Have you ever camped, outside of a campground area? What if it rains? In many climates, getting wet is a death sentence.

Bad Strategy #3: “I’ll bug out on foot for 73 miles through the mountains, even though I don’t regularly exercise.”

If bugging out on foot is one of your plans, I’d like to suggest you pick a clear day, put on a loaded backpack and some hiking boots, and go for a practice hike to your location.  Go ahead. I’ll wait here.

This one really bothers me. There is a large contingent of armchair preppers who have this idea. However, they don’t exercise regularly. They look back 20-30 years to their high school or military glory days, when they played football, ran track, or had a drill sergeant screaming right behind them as they ran. Just because you were once very physically fit, that doesn’t mean you are still able to hike up a mountain in bad weather with a 50 pound kit on your back.

This is a classic recipe for a heart attack, by the way. Extreme over-exertion. High-stress situation. High-sodium, easily packable food. Out-of-shape person. A few miles into the journey, particularly if it includes a steep climb, the person will experience a pounding heart, dizziness, and faintness, as the body tries to shut down to protect itself from the unaccustomed demands.  If the physical stress continues, the heart won’t be able to keep up with the demand to pump blood. Game. Over.

Embarking on an overly ambitious bug-out journey can endanger not only you, but the people making the trek with you.  What if you have a heart attack half way up the mountain?  What if you have an asthma attack? What if you injure your out-of-shape self? Who is going to help you? If the situation is bad enough that you’re bugging out, you aren’t likely to be airlifted to a hospital for medical care.  Will someone put their own safety at risk to hang out with you while you recover, thus forcing the family to divert to Bad Strategy #2?

I’m not trying to talk anyone into staying in a bad situation when bugging out ould be the wiser course of action (like in Bad Strategy #11). But if your bug out route is a long distance or over difficult terrain, you need to get out there and start training before you put the lives of everyone in your team or family at risk.

Bad Strategy #4: “I don’t need a group. I’m going to go it alone.”

Ah, the rugged loner.

This is not a winning plan for many reasons.  Being with a group, even a small one, has many benefits. As Scott, from Graywolf Survival, wrote:

Humans started banding together to survive millions of years ago. They did this for one thing: because there’s safety in numbers. If you live by yourself, you can’t collect food, improve your fighting position, patrol the area, chop wood, filter water, and be on all sides of your property – all at once. Plus, you have to devote a large amount of your day to sleeping each night. And besides, who are you gonna bitch to about your day if you’re all alone?

…Even a small group of 12 has a HUGE advantage to defending an area and continuing on with other operations at the same time. With an adequate number of personnel, not only can you have a rotation of assignments to support 24 hour operations, you can afford people to specialize in certain tasks. This specialization increases the efficiency of the group overall (synergy) and was one of the largest reasons why we developed into a society.

It isn’t just enough to have a team, either. You need to train with your team, tactically, with an expert if possible.  And by training, I’m not talking about going out to play paintball in the woods. Max Velocity, author and founder of a combat school in West Virginia explains:

‘Tacticool’ training is not only designed to simply make you look and feel good, but more insidiously it will give you the idea that you are tactically trained and proficient, when you are not. It is the sort of training that will give you enough to really get yourself in trouble. For example, basic marksmanship and square range training have a solid place in the training progression, but you must move beyond the static range to tactical field firing training in order to be tactically trained. You have to understand how to operate your weapons ‘out in the wild,’ and to maneuver in real environments. Often the problem with ‘tacticool’ training is that among the instructors there is not the experience or facility to move beyond the square range, and there is only so much you can do, so instructors make stuff up that may in fact be disadvantageous to your heath. At Max Velocity Tactical the tactical ranges have been designed out in the woods and utilize electronic pop-up targets, bunkers and other such training aids to bring a realistic tactical environment, This allows a certain amount of stress and battle inoculation to be brought to the students in training. And critically, this is all done in a safe and practical manner. (You can read the rest of his interview HERE)

Maybe you only have a handful of people you trust. Maybe you only want to be with other military dudes. Keep in mind that there are things that you will need in a SHTF scenario that are a bit kinder and gentler.  It’s not just about brute force and protecting the camp or retreat. It’s about food, building a future, farming, sitting down, and  even relaxing from time to time. Not every moment in a situation like that will be like a scene from an action-adventure movie.  We’ll still eat dinner, read a book, talk with others, sleep, and have relationships.

Bad Strategy #5: “I don’t need to store food, I’ll just take everyone else’s because I’m a bad-ass.”

Who can forget that episode of Doomsday Preppers that was shared all over preparedness social media and websites, in which a redneck and his team of merry marauders discussed their plans to take everything that preppers living nearby had stored away?

I wrote about Tyler Smith and his plan a couple of years ago:

Most preppers, Smith says, are concerned with marauders taking their supplies. It’s not an unfounded fear, he says.

“We are those people,” he says. “We’ll kick your door in and take your supplies. … We are the marauders.”

We’re not in it to stockpile. We’re in it to take what you have and there’s nothing you can do to stop us,” Tyler Smith says. “We are your worst nightmare, and we are coming.”

Smith, 29, is the leader of Spartan Survival. The group has more than 80 dues-paying members. Smith founded the organization in 2005 to train and prepare others on survivalism.

Smith (a paroled felon who incidentally went back to jail shortly after his televised waving around of firearms) might be a joke, but you can’t ignore the danger of groups with similar plans.  This yahoo had 80 people on board with him, for crying out loud. And if you happen to have such a plan, you should probably realize that those of us who are really prepared won’t stand around wringing our hands and crying when you come to attempt to relieve us of our supplies. We’ve prepared for people like you, too. The post-SHTF life expectancy of those who plan to survive using Bad Strategy #5 will probably be a short one.  You might manage to raid a few people’s retreats (particularly those using Bad Strategy #4, but if the situations is WROL (without rule of law), it’s pretty much a given that the justice which will be meted out by the intended victims will be swift and final.

Bad Strategy #6: “I have lots of weapons and tools. I’ve never used them. But I have them.”

Do you have prepper tools that are still in the box?  How often do you make it to the shooting range?  When’s the last time you actually felled a tree then chopped firewood?  When did you do it without a chainsaw?

There are loads of different examples that I could give about tools that just sit there in their boxes, awaiting their moment of glory when it all hits the fan. For the purposes of Bad Strategy #6, I’m including firearms as a tool.  Skill with an axe is not a given.  Accurate aim doesn’t stay with you if you don’t practice. Have you ever attempted to pressure can over an open fire? Even building a fire is not easy if you’ve only done it once or twice. (See Bad Strategy #9 for details.)

Not only is it vital to practice using your tools during good times, when you have back-up options available, but you need to test your tools to be sure that they operate as intended. I once purchased a water filtration system for use during off-grid situations. It was missing an essential gasket.  Without that gasket, it would be totally useless. Sure, I could have tried to MacGuyver something, but the point of buying all of this stuff is to save your MacGuyvering for things you don’t have. Because I checked out my tool before I needed it, I was able to send it back and get a replacement.

Bad Strategy #7: “I don’t store food. I store seeds.”

I really love gardening and have stored an abundance of seeds. Seeds are a very important thing to store. However, if you store them to the exclusion of food, you’re going to have a really bad time.

The problem with depending on seeds for your food supply is that Stuff Happens. Stuff like droughts. Stuff like aphids. Stuff like blossom-end rot. Stuff like the thrice-damned deer that managed to get past your fence.

Furthermore, if this is your plan, have you grown a garden recently? Have you produced food on your current property or your retreat property? Do you have a compost system? Have you developed your soil?  First year gardens almost never produce what you expect them to. Do you know how much produce your family will consume in a year? How are you at food preservation? What about off-grid food preservation?

Because of these concerns, a garden should not be a stand-alone survival plan. It is a vital part of a long-term preparedness scenario, but you must also be prepared for the potential of failure.

Bad Strategy #8: “I’ll just run a generator and continue on like nothing ever happened.”

Generators are loud, smelly, and finite.

If you want to bring attention to yourself in the midst of a down-grid scenario, the surest way to do it is to be the only house in the area with lights blazing in every window. Generators are commonly stolen, because they’re impossible to hide, rumbling away beside your house. A person following Bad Strategy #5 would be likely to think that if you have a generator with extra fuel, you might have some other awesome stuff that they’d want too.

It goes further than simply drawing attention to yourself though.  Gas, diesel, and propane generators can be dangerous. They can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, so if the plan were to enclose it to deter thieves, it could be deadly. Trying to power your entire house by backfeeding while still hooked up to local utilities could endanger the lives of neighbors or utility workers. Refilling a generator that has not completely cooled is a fire hazard. Make sure that your generator doesn’t fall into the category of Bad Strategy #6.  There’s more to it than simply flipping a switch and having  power.  You need to learn to operate and maintain the generator long before you have to rely on it.

Keep in mind, if you do opt to use a generator, that this is not a long-term solution. There’s only so much fuel that anyone can store. Eventually, it’s going to run out, and if your plan was completely dependent on being able to run a generator, what will you do then? My personal preparedness plan is to revert to a low-tech lifestyle that doesn’t require electricity.

Bad Strategy #9:  “I’ll just use my fireplace for cooking and heating.”

This is one that I learned about the hard way, myself. A few years ago, my daughter and I moved from the city to a cabin in the north woods of Ontario, Canada.  I figured that with a giant lake at our disposal, a well, our supplies, and a woodstove, we’d have all we needed to surive an extended power outage.

Unfortunately for us, born and raised in the city, lighting a fire and keeping it going was not that easy. The mere presence of a fireplace or woodstove does not warmth create. It took me an entire month of daily trial, error, and frustration to master a fire that would warm the house. I also learned that cooking on a woodstove was not as easy as sitting a pot on top of it. Dampers had to be adjusted, heat had to be increased, and the food required far more monitoring than expected. The year we spent there taught us more than we ever imagined about what we didn’t know.

If using your fireplace or woodstove is part of your survival plan, how much wood do you have? Is it seasoneed and dry? Can you acquire more? Have you actually chopped wood before? Recently?  When is the last time you prepared food using your stove or fireplace?

The good news is, you can make this strategy work, as long as you don’t go all Bad Strategy #6.  Ramp up your wood supply and begin using your fireplace or woodstove on a regular basis to work out the bugs in your plan now.

Bad Strategy #10: “I’m going to hunker down in the city and scavenge what I need.”

This is a terrible idea on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start.

First of all, when utilities are interrupted, those in large metropolitan areas are left with few options. It’s hard to dig a latrine in the concrete jungle. Remeber when New York was hit by Superstorm Sandy? People were defecating in the halls of apartment buildings to try and keep their own apartments moderately sanitary. Unfortunately, sewage built up in the pipes and spewed into apartments, filling them with deadly human waste.

Store shelves will quickly be emptied before and after disasters, leaving little to scavenge.  If you happen across the wrong place, you’re likely to be shot by a property owner defending his or her goods. If you wait too long to evacuate, roadways will be blocked, and you can end up being a refugee, with no option but camps. Cities will be populated with desperate people, some of whom were criminals before the disaster struck. Even those who were friendly neighbors before the disaster can turn on you, because desperation can turn anyone into a criminal in order to feed their families.

Highly populated areas without outdoor space will quickly become death traps in the wake of a disaster.

Bad Strategy #11: “I’ve got my supplies, and now I don’t need to think about gloom and doom.”

Some people like to stock their goods and then forget about preparedness.  They don’t like to consider the threats they might face.  But mentally preparing for disasters is a very important step. I recently made a list of prepper movies (you can find it here) and suggested that they be used to run scenarios in your head.

This very vital step can help you to do the most important thing when a disaster occurs: accept that it has actually happened. The prepper mindset is one of problem-solving and flexibility.

It’s a unique way of looking at a situation, assessing the options, and acting that defines the prepper mindset. Think about any stressful situation that has ever happened to you.  Once you accepted the fact that it had happened you were able to set a course of action. Once you had definitive steps to take, you probably felt much calmer. You took control of the things you could, and you executed your plan.  Only by taking that first step – accepting that this mishap had indeed occurred – could you take the next two.

By refusing to consider the things that could happen, you run the risk of being unable to immediately accept it when it does happen. This sets you up for a very dangerous period of hesitation that could mean a death sentence for you and those who depend on you.

Bad Strategy #12: We’ll set up a perimeter and shoot anyone who breaches it.

With folks like the ones who intend to practice Bad Strategy #5 around, it’s no wonder that some people intend to practice Bad Strategy #12.

However, there are a few reasons that this is a bad idea.

First, instead of just protecting you, this can actually make you a target. Less than ethical people may start to wonder what you are protecting so stringently, and may work to develop a plan to overtake you. Alternatively, more ethical people may decide they don’t want a group like yours in the area and plan to forcibly evict you.  If the situation doesn’t start off like the wild west, people who adhere to this Bad Strategy will turn it into that scenario.

And finally, the real kicker: those who survive some life-changing event will be the new founders of our society.  Do you really want to live in a place where people have to shoot first and ask questions later?  How we choose to live will set the course for how we continue to live.

There’s time to adjust your plan.

There’s good news, though, if I just peed all over your favorite plan.

There’s still time to make adjustments to make your plan more workable.  You can brush up on your hunting and foraging skills. You can start an exercise plan so you don’t die when hiking.  You can test out your tools and find your weak points. You can adjust your plan to be more ethical. You may not need to chuck the plan altogether, but merely test and modify it.

The key with all things preparedness is to practice, to drill, and to make it your lifestyle. Work out the bugs now, while back-up is as close as the hardware store or grocery store.  Get yourself mentally prepared to accept the situation and change your plans on a dime if necessary.

Finally,  consider the kind of world you want to live in. If there was a giant reset, those who survive would  pave the path for a different society. By our plans and actions, we can create a different type of world. One with justice, kindness, ethics, and freedom.

Right now, our society is led by criminal corporations, sell-out politicians, and thugs, both in and out of uniform. I’d like to believe that we can do better.

Resources to help you build a better plan:

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival

Rapid Fire!: Tactics for High Threat, Protection and Combat Operations

The Organic Canner

The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months

Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary

This article first appeared  at The Organic Prepper: 12 Bad Strategies That Will Get Preppers Killed

About the author:

Daisy Luther  lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months, and the soon-to-be-released The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

A well-planned garden can provide your family with the freshest, most nutritious produce, plus a more secure, self-reliant lifestyle. Photo By Matthew T. Stallbaumer

 

Planning a garden in advance can help you enjoy local, homegrown food year-round! Estimate how much to grow or buy and learn how to achieve food security with these guidelines.

By Cindy ConnerMother Earth News

Providing high-quality food for your family year-round takes foresight and planning, plus healthy doses of commitment and follow-through. Whether you grow as much of your food as you can or you source it from local producers, the guidelines here will help you decide how much to produce or purchase. The charts linked to in “Plan How Much to Grow” later in this article will also help you estimate how much space you’ll need — both in your garden to grow the crops, and in your home and pantry or root cellar to store preserved foods. Here’s a step-by-step plan to help you make the best use of your garden space (or farmers markets) to move toward homestead food self-sufficiency.

1. Establish Your Goals

Make a list of the foods you and your family eat now — and note the quantities as well. The charts linked to in “Plan How Much to Grow” further along in this article assume a half-cup serving size for fruits, vegetables and legumes, and a 2-ounce serving for dry grains. If your servings differ from the charts, be sure to adjust your calculations accordingly.

Decide what you’d like to grow, noting the foods your family prefers and recognizing that not every crop will grow in every climate. Research different crop varieties: Some crops — such as melons — require long, hot days to mature, but certain varieties need fewer days to reach maturity, which allows them to be grown in areas with a shorter growing season.

Don’t be afraid to start small and build gradually toward food self-sufficiency. A good starting goal might be to produce all of a certain crop that you use. An early milestone for me was growing all of the green beans we needed for a year and all of the ingredients for the spaghetti sauce I canned. Maybe you’ll aim to eat at least one thing from your garden each day. Keep your goals in mind as you’re planning a garden.

2. Choose a Gardening Method

I recommend following the guidelines of “Grow Biointensive Sustainable Mini-Farming” as developed by John Jeavons at Ecology Action in Willits, Calif., and explained in his book How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits, Nuts, Berries and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine. Jeavons’ form of biointensive gardening, which can sometimes produce higher yields than less intensive approaches, focuses on eight principles:

  • Deep soil preparation
  • Composting
  • Intensive planting
  • Companion planting
  • Growing crops for carbon and grains
  • Growing crops for sufficient calories from a small area
  • Using open-pollinated seeds
  • Integrating all processes into a whole, interrelated system.

Using biointensive gardening methods, garden beds are double-dug and compost is made from crops grown for that purpose (some of which, such as corn, also provide food). Together, these techniques create a system that not only feeds the soil but also builds and improves the ecosystem. You can see these biointensive gardening techniques in action on the DVD “Cover Crops and Compost Crops in Your Garden” (available at Homeplace Earth).

3. Plan How Much to Grow

You can plan either by the number of servings of various crops you want to eat, or by the amount of space you have available in your garden. First, decide how many servings your family needs for the year for a given crop from the charts on the following pages. Divide the number of servings by the number of servings per harvested pound (far-right column in the charts linked to below) to find out how many pounds you need to grow or buy from a local farmer. (This number of pounds is for produce straight from the garden — not the weight after trimming and peeling.)

After you know how many pounds you need, you can deduce how much space your crops will require in your garden based on the estimated yield from the gardening method you choose. Divide the pounds of homegrown food you need by the pounds per hundred square feet for the yield you have chosen (two middle columns in the charts). The result is the number of 100-square-foot beds you’ll need to grow that crop. Of course, your garden is most likely not divided into 100-square-foot beds, but you’ll have an estimate of the total area needed to produce a given amount of each crop. If you have limited garden space, work this calculation in reverse, planning your top-priority crops first.

Ultimately, the yield you achieve will depend on many factors, including your soil, climate and management skills. That’s why the charts below offer a range of possible yield estimates.

Use the following charts to plan your garden based on the projected yields of various crops:

4. Keep Good Records

Keep a record of your plans and activities. You can keep a notebook or a computer record, but you’ll find that you can plan better if you have notes from previous years on hand — perhaps you planted way too many green bean seeds last summer or you started your broccoli seedlings too late. At the least, you should know how much seed you used, the area you planted, and whether the amount you produced was too much, not enough or just right. (A good garden-planning resource is the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner.)

5. Preserving Food From Your Harvests

When I first started gardening here in Ashland, Va., I felt the need to do as much canning as I could. I still can green beans and some tomato products, such as tomato soup (I consider that my “fast food”). If you prefer canning, following directions closely is especially important. You can find a compilation of MOTHER EARTH NEWS content on canning in our Home Canning Guide. Additional information is available at the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation, including the USDA publication The Complete Guide to Home Canning, which is available free to download.

My attitude toward canning has changed now that I eat fresh from the garden as much as possible all year. I grow crops that store well all by themselves so that even in winter we have carrots, beets, onions and sweet potatoes (learn more in Food Storage: 20 Crops That Keep and How to Store Them). Another method I’ve shifted toward is solar dehydrating — my solar food dehydrator is a wonderful food preservation tool, and I use it as much as I can. You can learn more about solar dryers from Eben Fodor and the folks at SunWorks. I no longer can applesauce, but I can easily make it as needed from dried apples, and the bulk of my tomatoes are dried by the sun.

Freezing is a convenient option but requires a power source year-round, making your food vulnerable to power outages. The book So Easy to Preserve (also available online at the National Center for Home Food Preservation) has information on freezing and drying in addition to canning. I only depended on a freezer for large quantities of meat during the years we raised our own pork and beef or bought a year’s supply from a friend. Now, however, I buy in smaller quantities from local farmers or share a larger order with neighbors and friends. You could also raise your own smaller animals and process them as needed for the table, thus eliminating the need for preservation altogether.

Want to Do More?

Oils. If you raise livestock, you can render their fats to create cooking oils such as lard and tallow. (Learn more about making and using lard in the book Lard: Cooking With Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient.) If you raise dairy animals, you can turn the cream into flavorful sweet or cultured butters. (Read How to Make Butter and Buttermilk.)

You can grow sunflowers, pumpkins, peanuts, hazelnuts and other plants to make cooking oil from their seeds. Some nuts and seeds contain more oil than others — for example, almonds, hazelnuts (filberts), peanuts, sesame seeds and walnuts have an oil content of more than 50 percent. For best results, be sure to use oilseed varieties of sunflowers and pumpkins, which have an oil content of about 45 percent. Find a chart detailing the yields you can expect from growing various nuts and oilseeds, including their oil content, in Growing Nuts and Seed Crops for Homegrown Cooking Oils.

To obtain oil from your nut or oilseed crop, you will need to invest in an oil press. I have successfully pressed homegrown hazelnuts and peanuts in a Piteba oil press (available from Bountiful Gardens), which yielded 3 1/3 tablespoons of oil per cup of hazelnuts and 4 tablespoons of oil per cup of peanuts. (Learn more about Using A Piteba Oil Press.)

Sweeteners. Keeping bees to produce your own honey is easy, plus having these pollinators active in your garden will help increase your yields. Bees forage over several square miles, so encouraging the enhancement of the ecosystem in your community will be to your advantage. A single hive may produce up to 50 pounds of honey per year. (Read Keep Bees, Naturally! to learn more.)

If you live in an area with sugar maple trees, you can make your own maple syrup from the sap. One to three tapholes per tree are typical, and each taphole yields 5 to 15 gallons of sap. Ten gallons of sap boils down to about 1 quart of syrup. (Check out Enjoy Real Maple Syrup for more details.)

You could also grow sorghum to satisfy your sweet tooth. According to Gene Logsdon in his book Small-Scale Grain Raising, an acre of sorghum can produce about 400 gallons of syrup. From a 100-square-foot planting, you might expect close to 10 gallons of juice, which will boil down to a gallon of syrup. (Read one homesteader’s account of working with sorghum in Making Sorghum.)

Watch for more information about making sorghum syrup in MOTHER EARTH NEWS next year! — MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Livestock. Backyard chickens are a relatively simple starter livestock. After they begin laying, expect about 200 eggs a year from each hen. After they have outgrown their usefulness as layers, they can become stewing hens. If you raise chickens for meat, Cornish Cross chicks raised for eight weeks typically finish as 4-pound broilers at a feed cost of about $1 per pound. (MOTHER EARTH NEWS has compiled extensive poultry resources on our Chicken and Egg Page.)

Goats or cows can provide your dairy products. A family cow can produce 3 or more gallons of milk per day. Its calf would yield about 350 pounds of meat at 18 months. When we had a cow, we milked only once a day, letting the calf have the rest, and then we’d take the calf for the freezer at about 10 months. (Learn more in Keep a Family Cow.)

Goats and sheep need less space and feed, making them ideal for small acreages and even some urban lots. One dairy goat can provide about a gallon of milk per day and offspring for meat. Raising a kid to 6 months yields about 30 pounds of meat, including bones.

For other meat options, a feeder pig raised to 7 months (about 260 pounds) can yield about 100 pounds of meat. You can use a pen, but adding pasture is ideal. If you only have a small space, rabbits may be your meat animal of choice. Litters from one 10-pound doe can produce 80 pounds of meat per year. (Learn more in Rabbit: A Great Meat Animal for Small Homesteads.) If you’d like to raise both rabbits and chickens, the book The Integral Urban House: Self-Reliant Living in the City has a plan for a rabbit-chicken integrated housing system.

Remember that the road to food self-sufficiency should be a community effort. You don’t have to do everything by yourself: Decide what you can do, share the surplus with others, and find like-minded people to embark on this journey with you. Enjoy the adventure!

 

This article first appeared at Mother Earth News: A Plan for Food Self-Sufficiency

 


About the author:

Gardening educator Cindy Conner is using her decades of gardening and food preservation experience to detail how to grow a complete diet in a small space and get the food to the table using the smallest amount of fossil fuels. You can follow her research and find her informative DVDs at Homeplace Earth.