Never before in our history have more people been talking about storing up food for what seems to be an inevitable disaster or catastrophe. Our airwaves, mailboxes and email inboxes are ripe with advertisements for dried and dehydrated foods.
There is no shortage of advertising money being spent on the latest advancements in storable food supplies, but there is one major weakness in the strategy of buying packaged food supplies.
If you are like the many other people who have done the right thing and stocked your shelves with a safety cushion of food, the only problem with your plan is that in the end it is only a temporary solution. Even if your stores have a shelf life of twenty years or more, a four month food supply will last only four months, a six month supply will last only six months, and so on.
One of the greatest mistakes many people make with their survival plan is the same mistake they make with their financial investments. Ask any financial expert and they will tell you that the key to any financial plan has always been diversification. Thus it comes as no surprise that a successful food survival plan should incorporate the very same thinking: Diversify your food sources.
Multiple Sources of Food
Regardless of the amount of food you have stored up, it is likely that when you reach the last bag of dried food or the last bottle of water, that is it, you have reached the end of your plan.
Unless of course you plan in advance by storing the properly packaged foods -- foods specifically packaged to be stored for many years, such as those found at MyFoodStorage. They even have a handy calculator to determine how much food you should store for each person in your family for 1 - 5 years.
Fortunately there is a way to extend your food supply beyond the hard limits of packaged goods. The solution may seem somewhat unconventional to our modern way of thinking, but what we are all planning for is survival when the modern world fails to continue to provide for our individual security.
Raising Livestock After the Collapse ... and Before
Believe it or not, having multiple sources of food involves the raising and tending of livestock. Think back not so many years ago before what is considered now to be a modern world. Families raised much of their own food and depended very little on private grocery stores or public food assistance. Your grandparents as well as your great-grandparents may have even grown up on farms.
Gardens and livestock were a regular part of sustaining life on a daily basis and in times of disaster or catastrophe (such as the Great Depression in the 1930s). On the other hand those without renewable food sources eventually came to the end of their food supply.
The idea of tending livestock may seem to be out-of-the-box thinking and perhaps even undesirable for many people who have grown dependent upon anonymous farmers and ranchers to provide for their needs, but it is a sure way to provide food over a lengthy period of time, months and even years.
I wouldn't wait until there's simply no food left on store shelves to make the decision to start raising livestock. If you live in a major city, it may not be possible. You might simply not have the property for it. But in fact you might be surprised to find out that in fact you do have the property, even if you live in a city. Many families in third world countries live in over-populated cities and yet a few in every city may have goats, chickens, and other animals (what American's would consider as pets) that they raise for the purpose of either selling as food, or for providing food for their own families.
America Becomes a Third World Country
If society collapses due to a widespread disaster or series of disasters -- as many believe is possible with the high number of threats facing the world today -- America (and other nations) may quickly become a third world country once store shelves clear and most shipping within the country and to our nations ports comes to a standstill.
A much feared attack by terrorists or a rogue government with an "EMP" (electromagnetic pulse) could knock out our nation's power grid -- shipping and transportation will come to a near standstill.
Nuclear blasts in several cities will also bring shipping and transportation to a hault.
Earthquakes of Biblical proportion striking the West Coast, East Coast, and Mid-West states could also wreck havoc with the interstate distribution of food.
Start Taking Steps Now: Urban Farming
Before food disappears from store shelves in the hours following disaster consider turning to "urban farming". If you live in a major city or suburb and have less than a half-acre of land (or no land at all) you can still raise livestock, as many poor families do in third world countries today.
Most people reading this probably won't take this step. I don't blame you. The idea of having chickens or a goat or guinea pigs -- keep reading, more on guinea pigs below -- living in a two or 3 bedroom apartment or condo doesn't really mesh with modern day life.
Urban farming can be a step to take once society has collapsed. But then you have some decisions to make, some that may affect whether you live or die early on in a widespread disaster.
Dangers in Cities
You see... if you stay in the city there's a great chance that disease and sickness are going to become rampant and start killing people. That's what happens when infrastructure collapses and there's now sewage and garbage in the streets, possibly dead bodies from a disaster, rodents running rampant, and no hospitals or doctors on call to provide antibiotics and medicine to the sick and dying.
Plus... there are more possibilities of hungry people banding together to take from people who they believe have food and are hoarding it (that's the word they'll use -- they'll call you a "hoarder" and make you out to be the bad guy). They'll justify taking from you to feed the many -- of course they're just looking for a meal and could care less if the food they take is rationed out to the many who don't have any.
Verdict on Urban Farming After Society Collapses: Dangerous
It would be smarter to have a plan for evacuating the city. Today rather than spend your money on that new car or kitchen-remodel, buy yourselves a small cabin (as a second home) up in the hills near creeks and rivers and get to know your neighbors. I'm not telling you to move to your cabin just yet. Keep your home in the city, continue going to work, but do start outfitting your cabin (if you consider yourself a "prepper" -- someone preparing for widespread disaster).
And like I said above ... get to know your neighbors. When all hell breaks loose and you head up to your cabin with your family, your neighbors may have a road-block set up, and if they don't know you, or don't know you very well, may not let you in. Make sure they know you in advance. Go make friends with your cabin neighbors, even if they live a few blocks distant. Besides, it's always good to have neighbors who can keep an eye on your property when you're away.
Life on the High Seas
Most people today live in big cities or in the suburbs where there is little room for the tending of live animals, but there are solutions even for those living with restricted space. Look again to third world countries. Also think back to the days of sailing ships, before the advent of refrigerators or freezers. During these times on the high seas the limited space available for food stores had to provide for the entire crew over the course of long voyages.
Smaller animals such as pigs, goats, and chickens became standard livestock cargo in the hold of sailing ships. Many of these animals had served their purpose by the time European sailors reached the shores of faraway lands such as South America. These sailors soon found a native animal that suited their taste for fresh meat upon the high seas when they departed for home. The holding pens were stocked with an animal referred to as Cavia Porcelius.
The more common name of this animal today is the "Guinea Pig." These animals are small and eat very little compared to the larger livestock animals. Not only that, but guinea pigs are able to reproduce at the mere age of three weeks, therefore a small number of these animals can become sustainable in a relatively short period of time.
If you'd consider eating a rabbit or squirrel in a survival situation then guinea pigs should be on your menu as well.
Today these animals are kept as children's pets in most corners of the world, but they still serve their ancient purpose of providing protein in parts of South America. It may appear unseemly in our age to consider guinea pigs or other such animals as a food source, but many perceptions change when thrown into survival mode. Cattle and chicken are sources of sustenance (as well as insects and earthworms in a survival situation), but also consider the portability of guinea pigs or other such small animal.
Secrets of the Settlers
If continual travel is necessary to survive, trailing cows or pigs behind your camp like an 1800s family on the Oregon Trail may be completely impractical. However, small animals such as guinea pigs are easily transported in compact cages.
In contrast to larger animals, guinea pigs require little more than a handful of grass each day (they do call for plenty of vitamin C in their diet, so that's an issue to research before deciding if you're going to start raising guinea pigs). As previously mentioned they reproduce at a rate suitable to sustain the needs of a small family or group on the move -- how you're going to cook these little guys and what you're going to season them with is entirely up to you.
When preparing for a potential survival situation it's important to let go of any hang-ups that you have with eating things like deer, goats, and guinea pigs.
Take that to the next level and like a trained soldier in the armed forces who wants to become a Green Beret or Navy Seal be willing to eat insects and earth worms and other creatures that a modern day person would never touch.
This is survival we're talking about. What if you're traveling with children? You're going to have to help them be brave -- and eat an insect, earthworm or robin's egg -- if it comes down to it. Help other people overcome their fear and disgust by showing them that it's really not a big deal. Eat the earthworm. Eat the guinea pig. Live another day.
How many times have you passed by certain cuts of meat in the grocery store and then thought later how cow's tongue or chicken gizzards might be a welcome addition to your survival dinner plate. In the end, it's important to not limit your survival foods to what you grew up on and what you're accustomed to. Think outside the box and you very well may see you and your family through to the other side of catastrophe.
Make a game out of it. Play "Fear Factor" with the kids. You remember that show don't you? Eat a different insect, earthworm, or strange cut of meat from the grocery store each week. If you're really brave track down some cow eyes. These have made more than one tasty meal on past episodes of Fear Factor.
Pepper and Seasoning
I'm not telling you to eat that guinea pig or earthworm without any flavor added to it. You can of course. Pepper and seasoning though take up so little room in a pantry or backpack, pack a little along in your survival stores. We've talked about wild edibles in other articles on this site (wild plants that grow in nature); make it a priority to find out ways to add flavor to your roasted earthworms, insects or guinea pig -- based on where you're likely to be in the advent of widespread disaster.
Do you have a cabin in the hills somewhere? Find out what the local plants are, and find out if there's anything at all that you can find that will add flavor to your food. You may have to talk to some farmers in the area, or local garden stores. Ask the question, what could possibly grow? What kind of fertilizer might help it along? What plants would transplant easily? When is the right time of the year to plant? Is there any land that would be impossible to grow wild food?
With some knowledge of the land, plant chives, parsley, and other herbs on the property around your cabin so they're growing wild and plentiful months and years before disaster hits. You'll have something to season your food with all year long.
National Forest and National Parks... Opportunity for a Survivalist Family
While we're on the subject of planting foods so they grow wild, plant potatoes, blueberries, onions, strawberries, and whatever else is edible and will grow generously around the hill side, meadows, or grasslands... some of you likely live near national forest land and national park land. If society collapses and there's no longer a U.S. Forest Service or Parks Service making the laws about the use of the land, this land once off limits to planting is now open farm-land. Open mountainsides, vast meadows, alpine lakes, rivers and creeks that feed today's reservoirs... there is so much land currently off limits to planting food that there is a lot of opportunity for survival for the person who goes there with a plan and a little knowledge and hopefully a diverse array of seeds.
Start clearing brush and start planting and with some prayer and a little knowledge of growing wild foods you can have food growing all around you. Plant some in areas to attract dear, elk, moose and bear ... and you'll create prime hunting grounds as well. With such a tasty choice of foods the wildlife will come to you.
Where to Settle After Disaster
Last tip for the day: If it's possible, choose land that's not likely to be over-run by people fleeing the cities. You might live in a suburb or small town but if you have a distant mountain cabin where you're planning to scatter seed and grow food in the wild, having a place off the beaten path might be a smart thing.
Don't be a hoarder and do open your doors to helping other people who are in need. But be smart about it -- get set up off the beaten path so local bandits don't know you're in the area. Build a trail system that skirts a nearby town. Rescue children, others from impoverished towns, give them hope, and give them a place to live on your property. Teach them how to work the land and how to help themselves and each other.
Let's face it. If the modern day world collapses (after so many warnings from the Bible that this is going to take place in the "last days"), you can bet that Jesus is who he said he was and the Bible is what it claims to be - the Word of God.
You may not believe today. But be open to it. It is ultimately the only way out of the terrible days promised to be coming to the earth. Knowing that God is watching from above and ultimately has a plan to rid the world of all evil after a time of disaster and evil is unleashed on the world, let that be a reason for choosing to be generous with your land and surplus food and a reason to help others who can't help themselves.
Oh, one more thing. Have a plan for dealing with wolves and bears and mountain lions and possibly worse. "Wild beasts" are going to kill a lot of people in the last days, according to the Bible (read Revelation, the last chapter). These animals might be bigger, meaner, and there's likely to be a lot more of them than we see today. Wild dog packs. Boars. Loose exotic pets.
Don't say you weren't warned.