All your survival food stores need to be stored in some sort of container that is easy to transport. Containers for food storage need to be strong, sturdy thick plastic and heavy-duty enough to withstand the rigors of the weight of the food and movement in the event of a bug-out. Use ones that have a sealed snap lid, that are water proof and have strong heavy-duty handles for carrying. Never use cardboard boxes, they don’t last long and if they get wet, oh well.
There are several things you can do today to ensure that you are personally prepared for the difficult times ahead. Some people may think you are crazy, but there are things you can do covertly, even in that context. Most importantly, you must plan now and be ready to implement that plan.
After you have established your short-term stash, which should get your family through emergencies lasting from a week to several weeks, you may decide that you would like to store larger quantities of food in preparation for longer emergencies. In this section I will discuss a long-term food storage technique.
The following foods if stored properly have an indefinite shelf-life:
Whole Wheat Berries
Pure Sorghum Molasses
Certain other foods, if stored properly, can keep for 5 to 10 years or even longer. All stored foods should be dated so they can be rotated out when the time comes to replace them.
Other cereals, such as oats
Before I discuss the best way to store these foods, lets take a brief moment to review the major reasons why stored foods spoil. Food is spoiled primarily by the growth of microorganisms. In order to grow and reproduce, most microorganism require two things, water and oxygen. When foods are canned they are preserved by killing all the microorganism in the food and the storage container by sterilization, and by keeping the container completely impervious to the entry of additional microorganisms. When foods are preserved by dehydration nearly all of the water is removed. The microorganisms that are in the food are not killed but without water they can not grow and reproduce.
When foods are frozen the live microorganisms remain in the food, but the extremely low temperature stops their metabolism so they do not grow and reproduce. (Your refrigerator does not stop the growth of microorganisms, but their metabolism is slowed enough to prevent the food from spoiling before it can be consumed.)
Pure honey and molasses are special because they naturally contain ingredients that prevent the growth of microorganisms.
The best way that I have found to store whole dried foods, like whole wheat berries and dried beans, is to seal them in completely airtight mylar bags made specially for the purpose of long-term food storage. Other plastic bags will work but the mylar bags work the best.
First you must start with foods that contain very little moisture, or you must remove the moisture by placing the food in a low temperature oven for complete drying. The oxygen is removed from the bag and the mylar bag is sealed completely airtight with a hot iron. Mylar bags are strong but they are not puncture proof.
They must therefore be enclosed in a strong, preferably airtight, container such as a 5 or 6 gallon plastic bucket with an airtight lid, such as the ones that you can purchase at hardware stores.
There are two good ways for removing the oxygen from the airtight mylar bags.The easiest way is to throw in a couple of oxygen absorbing packets just before you seal the bag. These can usually be purchased from the same supplier who supplied your mylar bags. The other way to remove the oxygen is to use carbon dioxide to replace the oxygen in the bags.
The easiest way to employ carbon dioxide is to use dry ice, which is frozen carbon dioxide gas. Dry ice can be purchased from the same ice dealers that sell blocks of regular ice. You will find them in your Yellow Pages. Dry ice is extremely cold and must be handled carefully. If it touches your skin it can cause a “burn.”
It must therefore be handled with gloves. Fill your storage container to within about a half inch (1 cm) of the top. Put a piece of dry ice on top of the food and put the lid on but do not seal the lid yet. As the gas evaporates (or sublimates) it will cause pressure to build in the container which could rupture it.
You have to wait for the dry ice to evaporate completely, turning completely into carbon dioxide gas, and then you seal the container. As it sublimates it will drive the air out of the container. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air and so it will remain in the container if you do not disturb it too much. One to two ounces (50 g) of dry ice is all that is needed for each 5 to 6 gallon (20 l) bucket of food.
If you store wheat berries, learn now how to sprout them to make wheat grass!Sprouted wheat berries and wheat grass are much better for you, and are much more easily digested, than the other ways that you will consume your wheat berries, even better than grinding them to make bread. Wheat berries contain gluten, which is a difficult protein to digest. Many individuals develop an intolerance to gluten and must avoid it entirely.
Often, the more wheat you eat, the more intolerant your body grows to it. So even if you don’t have a lot of trouble eating products that contain gluten now, you can develop the problem in the future, especially if wheat ever becomes a major food source, like after a collapse when you break out your wheat storage. Caution should be used when considering wheat berries and wheat products, because many people have sub-clinical (below the surface) problems with wheat, including hidden wheat allergies.
But with a storage life of practically forever (when stored properly), wheat berries are of course an excellent food to put up for long-term emergency storage. Sprouting your wheat berries will go a long way in adding additional nutrition and variety to your wheat berries, and will help prevent wheat or gluten intolerances that will surely occur if people are ever forced to rely on stored wheat as a primary source of food.
After a local emergency, if we are lucky things could be back to normal within a few days. But other disasters could drag on for many weeks or even months. There is no way of predicting how long a national or global emergency could last. If you are ever involved in a prolonged emergency, your food stash, no matter how large, could eventually run out. If a prolonged disaster is on your list of concerns you should think about ways to replenish your stores by growing some of your own food. Even if you are not able to meet all of your family’s needs, your stash will certainly last longer if you are able to supplement it.
Two skills that every survivalist should learn are vegetable gardening and fruit growing. Both involve trial and error so don’t wait until an emergency occurs to start learning these important survival skills.
Shown above left is a ginger plant growing in a 12 inch (30 cm) pot. (When the green leaves turn brown and die off the ginger root is ready for harvesting.) Even people who live in a high-rise apartment can grow a few vegetables, fruits or herbs in pots or containers. No matter how small, your property is capable of producing some homegrown foods. If you have a small back yard you can grow quite a bit, especially if you plan your garden carefully.
Easy and cheap DIY Aquaponic system to grow your organic and living food bank
Planting a tree? Why not make it a fruit tree? The dwarf varieties also make excellent ornamental trees.
I have a very small front yard, but it was large enough to plant two dwarf fruit trees—an apricot and an Asian pear. Dwarf trees reach a maximum height of only 15 to 20 feet (4 to 6 m), but they produce about the same amount of fruit as full-sized trees that would require a much larger space. Semi-dwarfs are also available that grow to heights somewhere between a dwarf and a full-sized tree. It is also easier to harvest your fruit from a dwarf or semi-dwarf because you don’t need a tall ladder
It would be hard to find an ornamental tree that could exceed the beauty of a dwarf apricot tree. My apricot tree produces a bounty of fruit each year—far more than my family can consume, even though we preserve much of our fruit by canning and dehydration. Apricot trees are among my favorites not only because of their delicious fruit, but also because they produce beautiful and fragrant flowers in the early Spring.
The photograph above shows a honey bee pollinating the blossoms of my apricot tree. A bee hive will provide plenty of delicious honey—a natural sweetener and healthful sugar alternative—and as an added bonus the industrious little workers will insure that all the blooms of your fruits and vegetables are pollinated, which will maximize production.
This beautiful dwarf Asian pear tree in my front yard (above) also produces a bounty of delicious and healthful fruit. Growing many different types of fruit not only provides variety, but the work of harvesting and preserving is spread out since each ripens at a different time.
Even though my property is in a suburb of a major city, and is only average in size, I also manage to grow a peach tree, two apple trees, two cherry trees, another pear tree and a paw paw tree in my back yard. This is in addition to a long row of 10 blackberry vines, another of 10 grape vines, and a nice-sized vegetable garden.
It is amazing how much of your own food you can grow, even on a small property. If you live on a larger lot you can of course grow much more, maybe even corn, wheat and other grains. Nut trees are also excellent if you have the space and are willing to fight the squirrels for your nuts.
Fruit trees are incredibly easy. For most varieties all you have to do is plant them, prune them once a year, and then collect your bounty of fruit. Vegetable gardening involves a little more work because the ground has to be broken and the garden has to be tilled, planted, hoed, etc. But the small amount of effort is well worth it.
The simplest method for short-term food storage is your garden. Certain root vegetables, like carrots, turnips, parsnips and horseradish, may be left in the ground through the winter. After the ground begins to freeze, cover them with mulch, such as dry leaves or straw, to protect them from hard freezes. They can then be dug up as needed in the kitchen. Other cold-hardy crops, such as lettuce, cabbage, beets and cauliflower, may also be left in the garden, protected by a heavy mulch, for several weeks after the growing season.
Store-bought seeds will remain viable for at least 2 to 3 years, although their germination rate will decrease through time. Store your extra store-bought seeds by keeping them cool and dry in airtight containers such as mason jars or plastic bags. Refrigerating or freezing your seeds is not recommended. You should also save your own seeds from your garden. Just be sure to dry them thoroughly in the sun before storing them.
To help meet your protein needs you might also want to keep some type of livestock. There are many animals to consider, depending on space and local zoning laws. Goats will provide milk as well as meat. Chickens will provide eggs and meat. For city dwellers the most practical animals to keep are pigeons and rabbits. Pigeons are too messy for me so I greatly prefer rabbits.
Rabbit meat is delicious and healthy. Rabbits are extremely prolific and will eat just about any plant materials. Don’t throw your corn husks into the compost! They are a favorite food for rabbits! Rabbits do not take up much space. They are quiet and easy to hide from your neighbors. We have a small one-car garage where we keep six rabbit hutches along with my garden tiller, lawn mower, a stash of twelve 20 lb propane tanks and a few bails of hay—And we still have room for our car as well!
Florida Whites are the best breed to keep for survival food when there are space limitations to consider. It is a compact breed that has been developed especially for meat production. They are a medium-sized breed, but they produce the greatest amount of meat per pound of feed consumed. And the meat is excellent! They also require much smaller hutches than the larger breeds and so they take up less space. They are perfect for city survivors.
I built these six hutches (above), each measuring 2x2x3 feet, for my Florida Whites using the instructions found in my favorite rabbit book, Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits by Bob Bennett. To get the most from my limited space the hutches are hung from the joists in the ceiling of my garage. Worm bins underneath the rabbit hutches help keep odors and flies to a minimum. Worms love rabbit manure and are happy to speed up the decomposition process producing rich soil for the garden.
Rabbit manure is the best fertilizer available for your garden and is highly prized by growers everywhere. It can go directly from beneath your rabbit hutches to your garden without any danger of burning your plants. Even if I didn’t eat meat I think I would keep rabbits just for this “black gold” for my garden.
These Florida Whites are “sharing” a plantain leaf. The best food for your rabbits is the pellets that you purchase at hardware and feed stores. These should form the bulk of their diets, but you can supplement with hay, “weeds” (that have not been sprayed with herbicides), and vegetable waste from your kitchen. Rabbits enjoy the parts of the vegetables that you would normally throw in the compost, including corn husks, carrot tops, cores, skins, etc. They absolutely love blackberry leaves, grape leaves, plantains and dandelions. Comfrey is an excellent food and a medicine as well and is easy to grow in your garden. Blackberry leaves are also good medicine for your rabbits, particularly good for diarrhea (which is probably due to overfeeding your rabbits—the most common mistake that rabbit owners make.) It is a good idea to keep a few bails of hay (not straw) on hand for supplemental food, nesting material, and for emergency food for your emergency food.
Before we take a look at the various methods of food preservation, it will be helpful to discuss the factors that cause food deterioration and spoilage. Chief among these are microorganisms, which consist of bacteria, yeasts and fungi (molds.) Microorganisms, or “microbes,” require the presence of water to grow and multiply. Most microbes, including molds, also require the presence of oxygen. Some anaerobic microorganisms, including botulinum—the causative agent of botulism, an extremely dangerous form of food poisoning—can thrive in the complete absence of oxygen.
Enzymes, which occur naturally in plants, will cause foods to deteriorate in time resulting in the loss of nutritional value, flavor and palatability. Enzymes also require the presence or water or moisture. Exposure to light will cause the destruction of some vitamins, and the rate of all chemical and biological reactions, including the actions of enzymes and the growth of microbes, will increase as the temperature increases. So all preserved foods will keep better and longer when protected from light and stored at cooler temperatures.
Each time you buy groceries, for one or two of the nonperishable items on your shopping list, buy twice as many as you need. Instead of buying one bottle of ketchup, for example, buy two. Put the extra bottle in your pantry. When you are running low of ketchup, rather than using the extra bottle, put ketchup on your grocery list as you normally would and buy another bottle.
Just don’t forget to rotate the older bottle of ketchup out of the pantry, using it first and putting the new bottle on the shelf behind it. If you will do this each time you buy groceries, for just one or two of the items on your list, in no time you will have accumulated a one-week stash of emergency survival food. If there is ever an emergency, and the grocery store shelves are empty, or if you can’t get to the store for a week, your family will not go hungry.
When it comes to emergency preparedness you will already be way ahead of most people. You will also have taken the first step toward establishing your survival food stash. After your one-week storage goal is complete, you can work at increasing it to a two-week supply, or a one-month supply, or whatever your goal is for your home food stash. And while you are at it, you can use the same procedure to stock up on nonfood items like soap, toilet paper, personal items, etc.
Being prepared always is a perfect move towards living an enjoyable life. You need to prepare for both success and failure simultaneously. Being alert could save the lifestyle of your friends, relatively and more importantly your valuable life. Bad things that are anticipated to occur needs to be prepared for perfectly because they are inescapable, such as, global warming.
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