Although armed with good intentions, most preppers and survivalists are making critical errors — perhaps fatal errors — in their food preparedness strategies.
This article is designed to help you identify and correct those errors as quickly as possible so that you’re in good shape before the food collapse arrives. When will that be, exactly? It depends on whom you believe: geologists say the world’s primary irrigation aquifers have maybe 20 – 30 years of water remaining, after which the global food supply collapses. Some environmentalists say radical weather, droughts, floods and heat waves have already started wreaking havoc on the food supply (just look at California right now). People concerned about GMOs and genetic pollution point out that runaway crop diseases could strike at any time and devastate global crop production. Finally, those who are more concerned about government tyranny correctly point out that the federal government has already asserted executive order control over all food, farms and livestock.
Only the wildly ignorant don’t store extra food for emergency preparedness. Even the federal government’s Ready.gov program urges people to “have a plan” and make a disaster supplies kit which contains, “at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food” — just enough to keep you alive until FEMA arrives and screws everything up.
The problem is that even well-meaning Americans who are trying to prepare for the worst (while hoping for the best) are often going about it all wrong.
Here are the top 12 mistakes you might be making right now with storable foods:
#1) You’re buying storable foods that are loaded with GMOs and MSG
Although a very small number of non-GMO storable food sources do exist, most mainstream storable food is loaded with GMOs and MSG. Most of the popular brands of long-term storable food, if you dare to check the labels, contain “hydrolyzed” proteins or “autolyzed” proteins, almost all of which are derived from genetically modified soy or corn. At the same time, these prepper foods are typically loaded with “yeast extract,” a hidden form of MSG.
There are going to be a massive number of preppers and survivalists who will be damn shocked one day to discover they’ve stored thousands of dollars worth of toxic foods, some of which was peddled to them under the false promise that it was all “non-GMO!”
The mere act of “storing food” is useless unless you store the kind of foods that can truly support your health during times of extremely high stress. Although eating stored foods laced with MSG and GMOs probably won’t kill you outright, it will stress your health and nervous system, vastly reducing your alertness and stress adaptation abilities precisely when you need them most.
#2) You’re likely miscalculating the number of meals you have stored
Most storable food companies fudge more than a little on the number of meals their kits provide. A large collection of buckets or boxes emblazoned with the claim, “557 meals!” sounds a lot better than “335″ meals, even if it’s the same number of calories.
So storable food companies have long been in the habit of shrinking the definition of “meals” in order to make their products appear larger than they really are. Always check the actual number of calories delivered per day, not merely the number of “meals” you’re buying. You may come to find that you’ve stored 557 children’s meals, not adult meals!
Another important consideration is to get realistic about your caloric needs. Most Americans are fairly large people who consume far more than the 1,500- 2,000 calories a day which is often considered the “standard” for survival planning. If you’re living on 3,000 calories a day right now but you’ve only stored food based on 1,500 calories per day meal plans, you’re either going to run out of food in half the time you anticipated or you’ll force yourself onto a calorie restriction diet (which may not be a terrible thing, if you’re like most Americans).
#3) You’re not rotating your stored foods by eating what you store
If you’re not eating what you store and rotating your food on a FIFO bases (First In First Out), then you’re really just sitting on a rapidly-aging stockpile of questionable food which may or may not be usable when the day comes that you really need it.
All the really experienced preppers eat the food they store, and they write dates on incoming food products so they know how old each item is. They also check their stored foods from time to time for rodent infestation or damage. Yes, mice and rats really can chew through thick plastic buckets if given enough time.
#4) You’re not developing skills and experience in growing your own food
Stored food sooner or later runs out. If you really want to survive an extended crisis, you’ll eventually need to grow your own.
But when it comes to growing your own food, many people make the common mistake of thinking all they need to do is “buy a bunch of heirloom seeds!”
Unfortunately, survival gardening involves considerably more than tossing seeds into the dirt and waiting for a bountiful harvest to magically appear.
Just like any acquired skill, gardening requires deliberate skill development, and I very much doubt you want to be trying to figure out those skills for the first time in the middle of a regional or global food crisis.
That’s why buying heirloom seeds is never sufficient all by itself. You need to learn how to transform seeds into edible food while doing so at a net calorie profit.
In other words, if your gardening skills are so inefficient that you expend more calories trying to grow the food than you receive from harvesting them, you will starve to death. I fully realize the thought of running a calorie deficit almost never crosses our minds in this modern age of Golden Corral buffets with all-you-can-eat pig slop for humans, yet this is a concept you need to take to heart if you want to live sustainably. (Hint: Growing simple potatoes gives you a huge caloric reward for the required effort, vastly out-pacing the caloric gains for growing vegetables.)
#5) You don’t have a clean source of trace minerals to feed to your plants
Conventional, popular foods are intentionally stripped of nearly all beneficial minerals in order to cause widespread disease, impaired cognitive function and premature death. The easiest way to restore your mineral balance is to grow your own sprouts in a water solution that you’ve spiked with clean liquid minerals.
I use the EasySprouter system to sprout alfalfa seeds, spiking the water holding container with liquid minerals combined with dietary fulvic acid to keep the pH slightly acidic (which sprouts love).
What liquid minerals do I use? I happen to operate ICP-MS instrumentation in the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, so I’ve had the luxury of testing all the popular mineral supplement sold on the market today.
In my testing, the Liquid Light product from SunWarrior, Colloidal Minerals from NOW Foods and ColloidaLife from Source Naturals all had zero lead concentrations, zero mercury and near-zero cadmium. In fact, here are my atomic spectroscopy lab results for the NOW Foods product:
Copper: 0 ppm
Zinc: 0.2 ppm
Arsenic: 0 ppm
Cadmium: 0 ppm
Mercury: 0 ppm
Lead: 0 ppm
Green PolkaDot Box sells the Liquid Light product from SunWarrior, or you can find any of these on Amazon.com. In fact, you can get a 4-pack of the NOW Foods Colloidal Minerals for about $42 at this link on Amazon.
My advice is to stockpile sprouting seeds and CLEAN liquid mineral supplements, thereby giving you the ingredients you need to make your own fresh, sprouted, mineral-rich, raw living superfoods almost instantly. If you’re also growing some fruits or nuts in a small orchard for food sustainability, these liquid minerals will help keep those trees alive while vastly enhancing the mineral concentrations of the fruits and nuts they produce.
If the EasyGreen Sprouter is too expensive for you, seeds can also be sprouted in these dirt-cheap sprout bags.
#6) You’re not building relationships with local farmers and food producers
If you want local farms to continue to exist, you need to support them with your business. But this is more than an economic principle: you also need to build relationships with local food producers so that they know and trust you.
When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, hundreds of thousands of refugees streamed into Central Texas looking for food. They slammed the local CSAs, hoping to buy up the food that was being grown there. But the CSAs already had contractual obligations to deliver that food to their regular customers, and that’s exactly what they did.
If you’re a regular customer of a farm or a local CSA, you’re going to receive preferential status compared to someone that farm has never met. In a food crisis, this can quite literally mean the difference between having a meal on your plate versus going hungry. That’s why I say build relationships now by supporting your local farmers, egg producers, raw milk producers, local cheese producers and anyone else who produces food for local markets.
#7) You’re storing the wrong barter items that few people will trade for food
The subject of barter is old hat to preppers, so I’m not going to dwell on this point. But what is worth pointing out is that you need to think of what items a farmer needs rather than merely what items you think hold value in a general sense.
As a concrete example, I doubt many farmers are going to have much use for your gold coins in the middle of a food crisis. They probably have far greater need for varmint ammo, which has been extremely difficult to come by since December of 2012.
Almost every farmer I know could use a whole lot more 22 LR ammo or other varmint rounds. In this case, lead is far more valuable than gold because gold can’t protect the crops in the field.
So think strategically about what *farmers* will need in a barter situation, not merely what you think holds value in a general economic sense. When Japan occupied Taiwan during World War II, the only thing that could get you a roof over your head was food for barter. Gold was considered absolutely worthless because possessing gold was considered a crime punishable by death. So nobody wanted it.
Other ideas for barter items that farmers value:
As someone who raises chickens and has worked around cattle operations, I can assure you that one of the most in-demand items for farms is, believe it or not, sanitizing solutions. Keeping chicken houses in a clean, sanitary condition requires real effort, and every farmer knows that dirty conditions equal disease and animals deaths. So stocking up on germicides and disinfectants is actually a very smart barter strategy.
Such items also have medical uses for humans, too, not just ranch animals. And if you’ve ever studied economic collapse scenarios, you know that sanitizing solutions very quickly run out, leaving people with the very real risk of dying from simple infections.
This gallon container of providone iodine from Amazon.com is a pretty good value, and its real-world value is almost priceless on a farm or ranch when supply lines are cut off.
#8) You don’t have any way to prepare cooked food or acquire clean water
Most of your stored food is probably worthless without clean water and a way to cook it, yet many preppers have no real way to acquire a steady supply of clean water, and they have no experience cooking foods without city-provided electricity and natural gas.
Perhaps it’s only because prepping has become so popular these days that more and more urban dwellers now fancy themselves to be “prepared” even though they’ve never boiled a pot of water on a camp stove. Nevertheless, I’ve met plenty of people who have a large supply of GMO-based food powders and MSG “meals” socked away in a closet with nary a thought of how they might actually turn such substances into edible meals in the middle of a serious crisis.
#9) You don’t have any practical way to defend your food or hide it
Looters love preppers because preppers do all the shopping for them in advance. The literal game plan for many people in a survival crisis is to “use my gun to get what I need.” Those people are, of course, criminal-minded looters. Those of us who are real preppers and real Americans call them “targets of opportunity.”
If you aren’t prepared to defend your food — or hide it really, really well — then you almost might as well not bother storing it. And by “defend your food” the implication is that you may have to do so with force. Pleading, “please don’t take my food” probably won’t get you much traction in a crisis. People who think all the normal social rules of politeness and lawful action will still be upheld in a crisis are stupid or naive.
Here’s a tip: Every looter makes a risk / reward calculation as they attempt to acquire food and other supplies. Your job as a prepper is to make the RISK so high for any would-be looter that they feel incredibly compelled to look for food elsewhere.
How is high risk communicated to would-be looters? Not by showing yourself and waving a gun around, I hope you realize. It would be far better to keep your location a secret while simultaneously demonstrating to the looters that they going to meet determined resistance to property theft and lawlessness. When in doubt, give them some of your rifle ammo, one round at a time, at 1850 fps.
#10) You don’t have a way to grow food that’s protected from radioactive fallout
The worsening Fukushima situation is, by any rational standard, one of the most pressing concerns of our time. The failed nuclear facility remains just one earthquake or tidal wave away from total collapse followed by fuel rod meltdown that contaminates the entire Northern Hemisphere with radioactive fallout.
Any food grown outdoors during a radioactive fallout scenario will of course absorb radioactive isotopes that fall onto the soils. These isotopes include cesium-137, which has a half-life of about 30 years and just happens to be the isotope that still renders the lands around Chernobyl uninhabitable.
The best defense against atmospheric fallout affecting your crops is to grow your food in a greenhouse that’s protected from atmospheric fallout. Relatively few people have a greenhouse structure suitable for growing any significant portion of their food supply, and almost no one has a greenhouse running HEPA dust filtration which would remove radioactive particles from the air.
#11) You don’t have any defense against eating radioactive isotopes in your food
As food absorbs radioactive isotopes, it becomes radioactive itself, and any who eat it risk integrating radioactive isotopes into their body’s cells. Cesium-137, the most insidious isotope in terms of agricultural implications, mimics potassium in human biology and so goes everywhere in your body that potassium goes.
Fortunately, a solution on this particular point is now at hand. I recently finalized research and development on a cesium-blocking dietary substance which will be available in April of this year. This was developed in our atomic spectroscopy laboratory and achieved by testing over 1,000 substances for their natural cesium binding capabilities.
The efficacy of this particular formula is 96%, meaning it can bind with and capture up to 96% of cesium-134 and cesium-137 atoms during digestion, in the gastrointestinal tract. This parallels the function of Prussian Blue, a painter’s pigment chemical which was approved by the FDA as a defense against radiological terrorism. It was also embraced by the CDC for its ability to block radioactive cesium during digestion.
If you’d like to be kept informed of the release date of this cesium-blocking dietary substance, just join the email announcement list at the end of this article.
#12) You are still living in a “death trap” city that you cannot reasonably escape in a real crisis
Yes, I know, your plan to leave the city is still imminent. But the pay is too good, and city living is really, really convenient, right? You’ll move out to the country “one of these days” and hope nothing bad happens until then.
It’s a great plan until the day it isn’t.
Every prepper who has read anything by James Wesley Rawles knows that urban areas are death traps in the middle of a real crisis. They also tend to be places where federal authorities go house to house, either imprisoning people in their own homes (as we saw after the Boston Marathon bombings) or confiscating their self defense weapons, leaving honest citizens vulnerable to looters.
Any plan to leave a large city by road during a serious crisis isn’t actually a plan: it’s a fairy tale. The only ways to successfully leave a city during a real crisis are by plane, boat, on foot or in a casket. In all these scenarios, you usually can’t take much with you, so all the food you’ve stored in your city house or apartment is useless.
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