In this article we're going to look at emergency food storage that you are advised to tackle today, as well as primitive methods for food storage (that you'll rely on after a widespread disaster).
Think of some of the powerful storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and even sub-zero temperatures that have struck in many states in recent years. One of the first things to go is the electricity. Within hours food in the refrigerator can be unsafe to eat and foods in the freezer thaw and have to be eaten immediately, or thrown out.
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Plus, you're likely to go through them quicker than you realize.
You may have plans for long-term food storage, but hopefully you're not simply depending on a grocery store to fulfill that need.
Any plan for emergency food storage calls for specially packaged non-perishable foods that have a shelf live of several years, rather than simply weeks or months.
For example, if 6 months ago you went out and bought several weeks worth of non-perishable food, well in the coming weeks and months you better start checking expiration dates as some of it or most of it is likely to start going bad.
You're back to zero.
Freeze-dried food simply call for adding water -- hot water typically (if you want a warm meal) but cold water will work also. MREs are typically ready to eat right out of the pouch, though the beverages (drinks) MREs call for water. MREs taste better warm -- the entire unopened pouch can be placed into a pot of hot or boiling water and quickly heated up that way. But they're also just fine cold.
Regarding shelf life, MREs are sensitive to temperature -- at a 120 degrees Fahrenheit they're reported to only have a shelf life of 60 days. Compare that to a shelf life of 5 years or more when stored at 50 degrees or colder.
Temperature is something to consider for people who live in hot climates. Our world is changing, storms are getting worse, more disasters are striking. You can expect heat waves to be stronger, to last longer (even if winter temperatures are sometimes colder in places.)
Any solid plan for emergency food storage has to consider the region that a person lives in -- and whether or not it may face a severe heat wave. It would be smart to have a back-up means for supplying food should your 1 year supply of emergency food (such as MREs) suddenly go bad in 60 days because of the 120 degree temperatures that last several weeks or more.
No matter what, it would be smart to have a back-up plan as your emergency foods are going to run out at some point.
A lot of people are going to hold on to the hope that somehow our government will rise from the ashes, or that perhaps the United Nations will come to our aid -- but what if that help never comes? You'll run out of food, people will be robbing, looting, and even murdering each other -- and the cities (and even smaller towns) will become a dangerous place.
Some small towns will manage to police themselves -- and probably do just fine -- for a while. Others aren't likely to fair so well -- especially those with large groups of outlaw bikers -- Hells Angels, Banditos, you name it -- they have too many weapons, too much disrespect for civilized life -- and those towns and cities are likely to become dangerous for anyone who gets in their way.
When you do start catching your own food from the wild -- or trading with neighbors who are raising livestock or growing crops (that's another great way to provide for yourself and your family) -- food storage will still be part of your daily life -- but it's going to take on a new scope.
All you need is a means to fill the barrel or refrigerator or whatever you use or build with a constant supply of smoke from a small fire or even simply smoldering coals. You'll first hang meat up inside whatever you use as a smoker, and you can do that using string, or on a metal rack such as from an oven or BBQ, or other creative means to hang the meat (such as a metal clothes hanger).
Over a period of hours the meat will dry out, at the same time picking up a smoky taste (which is why many foods today are smoked because it in fact makes many foods taste even better than if eaten plain).
Smoking is most effective when meat is coated in salt or a salty brine. That means that salt in an essential item to include in your emergency food storage plan.
These are not skills that can be learned simply by reading about them. You won't be able to count on simply reading a few how-to books or articles on food preservation in a time of emergency; best thing you can do is get books with detailed instructions, and specific tips for specific situations. That way you'll have that book with you as a reference at a later date.
Finally, don't just buy a book. Practice using primitive methods to preserve food; today, build yourself a smoker -- using parts you scavenge from a junk yard; learn how to salt food, and to do so with the most effectiveness; learn how to dry food in the sun.
Buy a book that you can hold onto and reference at a later time -- so that you're aware of the details that go along with smoking, salting, and sun-drying food (a lot of the articles you'll read on the web are not written by experts, just hobbyists -- like me, I'm not an expert in the game of preserving food, I've just done my research). I've only dried food one time in the past (and that was using a dehydrator, which runs off electricity). A book written by an "expert" is going to be more trustworthy than a "../survivalist" who publishes online, unless he or she is an actual expert at food preservation.
Did you know that food poisoning can occur in meat that is smoked, but then removed too soon, and instead cooked? In other words, lets say you and your camp take down an elk, or simply shoot and butcher a cow, and then begin to dry the meat. You realize that some of that meat would make a great dinner that day, so you remove it from your smoker, and cook it, before it had been thoroughly smoked. You're now at risk of food poisoning. Food poisoning can also occur in cooked meat that is then smoked.
Primitive man who lived a few thousand years ago and early Native Americans all had a huge advantage over the modern age. Children back then grew up learning how to preserve food simply by watching and having it taught to them. By the time they're adults they're experts.
It's a lot like children that grow up in warrior cultures -- they play fight from an early age, then train as teens for battle, and then finally in their later teens and twenties get a few battles under their belts and now they're proven warriors with a long life of experience behind them.
So many people are going to find FULL TIME survival to be harder than most realize. Most are just not adequately preparing themselves by taking the time to practice and learn -- and become experts -- at actual survival skills.
We can wing it -- give it our best try -- but there's likely to be a steep learning curve, such as that experienced by anyone who wants to try bow-hunting for the first time. Before you can bow-hunt you have to be able to shoot -- and that can take many weeks (of daily practice) or many months (of periodic practice) to finally become a good shot. With bow hunting it's essential to be a GREAT shot -- or you'll easily miss your target, or injure your target and it will simply get away, and then have to suffer many days or even weeks with an arrow sticking out of it's side.
Survival for many is not going to be as easy as it was for early Native Americans. For many it's going to be incredibly hard work, and for quite a few impossible.
Now, we can learn survival methods, we can go out and practice them, but the whole game changes when suddenly we have to live 100% on our own and off the land, providing food for ourselves and for our families -- putting these survival skills we've been reading about into practice in actual real life and death situations.
I've got a feeling a lot of people don't realize just how tough it's going to be.
We are going to need each other. We won't be able to do this alone.