Most Americans have only experienced the consequences of massive famine on their television screens. In 1981, in the movie The Road Warrior (played by Mel Gibson), this survivor in the apocalyptic wasteland of Australia experienced the results of widespread famine first hand. His way to survive: Dog food. Canned dog food.
I can't remember the brand name. Alpo maybe. But does it even matter? The point is this: In a time of mass famine following nuclear war or some catastrophic disaster that takes place, people who survive may find themselves eating things they would never imagine themselves ever capable of eating. Or you simply starve to death.
Famine - A social and economic crisis that is often accompanied by widespread malnutrition and starvation which leads to epidemic and significantly increased mortality.
Here are a few good tips for preparing for a famine of Biblical proportions, a famine that experts believe could be a direct consequence of a widespread disaster, economic collapse, or even a nuclear terrorist attack, which is a growing risk today to the U.S.
Famine from EMP
The much talked about and feared EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) could also lead to famine, at least in the nation affected by the EMP. It's not that an EMP will cause food to stop growing: Instead, a famine will take place when transportation comes to a halt and food out in counties and states where farming is plenty suddenly have no way to transport seasonal harvest to several million people out in distant cities.
Mass starvation on a widespread scale is a very real threat and can threaten your very survival. That includes your family and friends.
It also include your neighbors, yes that couple that seems so well put together. When pets start disappearing from around your neighborhood, it might be your neighbors behind the disappearances. After about 1 day without food your neighbors may resort to asking other neighbors for food, and then begging if no one is willing to hand over much.
Hungry People Group Up
What happens if you have a few neighbors that are unprepared? Those without may band together, and go after those who have. Guess what? If your neighbors don't see you out looking for food, begging for food, and instead simply locking yourself inside your home, in their minds they're going to suspect you're sitting on a bunch of food.
If enough hungry people band together, they may decide to take it from you by force.
Finally, after about three days of your neighbors going hungry it's possible that someone will mention "pets"; when day five rolls around, and still no food, there's a good chance that it's going to be open season on pets, I'm talking cats and dogs.
Have Stocks of Food, Water to Combat Famine
Do you understand now why it's important to have at least a few weeks of extra food and water on hand? A famine resulting from any number of disasters has the potential to wreck havoc fast on Western nations. Having not experienced true hunger before, it is likely to affect Westerners more than it does say people in third world countries.
It may not happen right away, in the first few days of food shortages. But after several weeks food may start becoming sparse around the neighborhood; local church pantries may start running dry (outside of a miraculous provision from God, which is always a possibility, looking at the Bible). And then the day is going to come when there is simply no more food around the neighborhood.
Knowing how a few of your neighbors may act, you might want to buy yourself a ton of cheap bulk food like rice and beans, in addition to your typical emergency food stocks. That way you can at least have something to give to your neighbors, and hopefully keep them from turning on you, should they suspect that indeed you actually have quite a bit of food. Personally, I'm a Bible-believer, and live by faith knowing God will provide for me as I provide for others. That's a hard pill for some to swallow, especially in a time of disaster. But it has proven to be the case for me in modern times. I've been down to almost nothing several times and then miraculously God has provided.
Famine, in History
The End of the Old Kingdom-
In the mid 22nd century B.C., Egypt was a hot bed of activity with a large population of people, which translated into a lot of mouths to feed; farming in the region provided food and the Nile River was a chief provider of water. Out of nowhere a brief change took place in the local climate that impacted Egypt's food supply during the time of Unas (2381-2345). No one really understands what caused the weather problems; however, the results of this climate change seem clear.
Lake Moeris dried out, the Nile lowered, and bad harvests followed. Unfortunately for ancient Egypt, that spurred on a great famine throughout their lands. All of these factors also led to civil unrest and that meant crime and revolts.
The Old Kingdom never fully recovered.
Famine, Modern Day
The Causes of Famine and Mass Starvation
Famine can be caused by any number of factors. One of the most common reasons behind famine is climate change (as previously noted). When that happens drought, crop issues, and pestilence are often culprits.
Famine can also be brought on by war and political problems.
Politically, at different times in history, choices have been made by governments that have resulted in famines.
Many times those in power have literally deprived the middle income and poor. In fact, many believe that the North Korean famine of the 1990s was a direct result of government actions forced on the people.
There are many who believe that almost all famine is -- in essence -- truly compelled more by politics than nature (in other words, problems that cause issues in the food supply can be handled by a pro-active government; one that is adequately prepared for a disaster and any food shortages that may arise).
Regardless, with the natural changes occurring all around us -- some say climate change or global warming, others say the hand of God and the Bible "end times" of the modern world -- the possibility of widespread famine due to climat change or widespread disaster is becoming more and more plausible, even in the United States of America.
What Does it Take to Survive a Famine?
Historically, the United States -- unlike countries such as North Korea, for example -- tries to make decisions that are in the best interests of its people. That's the hope anyway; hope coming from the American people.
However, you shouldn't assume that the United States will be able to come through for you. After all, if it wasn't completely clear to you after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, we are not in charge of nature.
Still, political policies will play a huge role in determining whether or not we survive a famine. However, since that is in essence outside of our control (with the exception, of course, of the voting process) let's talk about three other things that could help during a famine. Namely, these are growing food, storing food, and hunting, trapping and fishing.
Growing Food During a Famine
This one is tough to talk about simply because the task of growing food may be why the famine you're dealing with is even happening. That said, consider that there may still be ways to grow food, at least on a small scale.
The Green Revolution -- Okay, the Green Revolution basically refers to the spread of technologies for subsistence agriculture to countries that needed them: Things like pesticides, irrigation projects, and nitrogen fertilizer. These concepts and materials first spread to Mexico in 1943.
Now you're probably asking what this has to do with surviving a famine on your own. Well, simply follow suit. In other words, you'll need some know how, strong seeds (when shopping for seeds, ask for seeds that have the best chances to grow in sub-prime conditions), land, and pesticides / fertilizers.
If you're worried about a famine in your neck of the woods, call a garden center and ask them what crops, pesticides, and fertilizers would work best in your area.
Regardless, during a famine growing food will almost certainly be a tough prospect. After all, if it were easy, then the famine wouldn't be occurring, right?
Which leads us to the next section of this article.
Becoming a Survivor: Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing
In the CBS television show, Jericho, the story unfolds around a small Kansas town and its challenges trying to survive following a nuclear attack that has decimated the United States of America. As a result, the town of Jericho, Kansas begins to starve as a result of food shortages; at the same time, there isn't an abundance of wildlife in the area, to provide food.
In other words, there's not much to hunt. Even if there was, several towns and cities have too many people; there would just be too much competition between hunters in the early days and weeks of a disaster and famine; hunting in an area would be short lived and for most people unsuccessful. Those who went after big game (deer, elk, etc.) first would likely face the most challenges as a sudden increase in hunting would drive many of these animals out of the area.
Small Mammals, Birds, Snakes, and Insects on the Menu
Those willing to forgo big game instead for small animals like rabbit, duck, turkey, squirrels, cats and dogs (in a worst case scenario), stand to have the best chances of bringing home a meal in a time like this. In most communities, there are a number of small mammals and even reptiles like snakes that make a tasty meal in a time of need. You just have to be willing to look outside the traditional Western diet and you'll find a number of foods, even things like insects and earthworms, to get you by on days when there's simply nothing to eat.
If you learn to think like a survivor, you'll find that these things are actually a lot easier to eat than you might believe today.
With small mammals, birds, snakes and insects on the menu, that doesn't mean there won't be any big game out there; as covered in a previous article on hunting big game like elk, you're going to need to go to remote areas for big game -- the more remote the better.
That's because experienced hunters will target prime areas (which will be remote) first; because they know how to hunt, and they understand the dynamic of "hunting pressure" and how it drives big game quickly out of an area. As a rule of thumb, if you want to hunt in a time like this, seek out wilderness areas that are deep in the wilderness. Now you'll have the best chances of finding big game that hasn't been spooked by a drastic increase in "hunting pressure".
Finally, when it comes to hunting, those with experience and knowledge of the land stand to do best. Those without experience or basic knowledge, stand to fail miserably.
For all of you non-hunters, there's one thing you need to know right now.
You're going to need hunting gear and weapons.
Tools of the Trade
If you believe there is a chance in the coming months and years that a famine might occur in your neck of the woods, then seriously consider purchasing a gun. As back-up, get yourself a crossbow with a good scope. After all, both a rifle and crossbow are proven tools when it comes to hunting. A crossbow is relatively easy to shoot and you can do quite a bit of urban hunting without alarming local town folk with sounds of gun fire.
Of course, you may need a gun to defend yourself. Count on a firearm first, before a crossbow, in purposes of self defense.
Squeamish about guns? The good thing is that there are alternatives (like crossbows, long bows, and compound bows, for example). Though, to be frank, nothing works better for hunting than a firearm.
What else should you have on hand for surviving a time of mass famine? Here's a list:
1. Fishing pole and nets, or just strong line and plenty of hooks (know the water sources you're likely to fish and then have the proper gear on hand to give yourself the best chances of success).
2. Traps and snare wire
3. Bait for whatever small mammals are most common in your area and most palatable
4. Crabbing gear (if you live in an area where crabbing is possible)
5. Camouflaged clothing (choose colors that best blend with the wilderness areas you're likely to hunt).
6. Hunting knife
And there are a host of other things that might come in handy depending on what you're hunting for and the area of the world you live in. Talk to experienced hunting guides in your region or the region you plan to relocate to in a time of disaster. Discuss everything from big game and small mammals to wild birds and even predators.
Then talk to some fishing guides. Discuss everything from lakes and rivers, to even streams (crawdads, crayfish), and finally the coast, if you live near the ocean.
Preparation is the key to everything from coaching a football team to rallying your friends and family to survive during a famine or mass starvation. Thus, if you're worried -- and if you look around, you'll probably realize that you should be -- you might want to start buying non-perishable food items with a shelf-life of several years. At the same time, keep a revolving supply of non-perishable food items with a shelf life of just a few months. You can eat that food first, and then turn to foods like freeze-dried food after you've gone through the good stuff.
After all, growing food and hunting when the demand is high will probably not always go your way. Most people are going to be unprepared and just unable to make growing and hunting food a tool to count on in a time of disaster.
Along with this, it would be prudent to get your hands on foods like white and brown rice, wheat, and beans. When appropriately packaged and stored, these foods can sometimes last for decades. Speaking of storing dry foods appropriately, here are some things to consider:
1. Have #10 cans on hand (so you can do your own canning).
2. Have foil pouches (made multilayer laminated plastic and aluminum).
3. Buy a number of bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PETE bottles). These are used for long term dry food storage.
Further, dry foods should be stored at a temperature of 75 degrees F/ 24 degrees C or lower (recommended). If this prerequisite cannot be met, the foods should be rotated. Beyond that, moisture should be kept to a minimum (one way to help this along is to keep containers off the floor).
Also, keep things like cooking oil and long term storage items (oftentimes in PETE bottles) out of the light. And, of course, keep all foods protected in pouches or bottles (as this will serve many functions, one of which is to protect from insects / rodents).
Finally, to help reduce the threat of moisture, include oxygen absorbing packets in food storage containers.
There are several ways you can use these, so read the directions carefully. In fact, teach yourself the proper ways of using oxygen absorbing packets. Serious problems can occur when directions aren't followed correctly (this is true for food storage in general, not just oxygen absorbing packets).
When in doubt, check with professionals in the field.
Last, but certainly not least, there's the perishable items. Obviously, meats will need to be stored frozen. Further, it would be prudent to consume these first. The same can be said for fresh vegetables and fruit. Don't go into your dry food stash until it's needed.
Famine is a broad topic that can come about for a host of reasons. The way to combat famine can change depending on the situation.
Famine Caused by Natural Disaster or Nuclear Attack
If your area is hit by a devastating natural disaster, such as an earthquake or tsunami -- or worse even an asteroid or massive volcano eruption in the region -- or if multiple cities are destroyed in a nuclear attack, access to food can shut down across the country overnight.
Just in case things get really chaotic in the world, you may want to have a back-up supply of food and water that can last you and your family six months or more, and then plans for resupplying your food and water as it runs low.
With disaster and probable famine looming on the horizon, due to the number of threats all seemingly lining up with the times we're living in, stocking up on non-perishable foods , large jugs of water, and cash -- if your bank is closed indefinitely or there is no power for an extended period, credit and debit cards will be useless -- as well as things to barter with like ammunition, water filtration devices, and bulk coffee may be a smart move.