When speaking to preppers like Jennifer, Luther, and Nygaard, it can be hard to separate the more practical aspects of the lifestyle from the enjoyment that comes from doing things yourself instead of paying someone to do them. When I point out that running a small-scale farm and caring for two kids seems like an awful lot of work to do on top of a full-time job, Nygaard demures. “Yeah, it is. But I choose it. I choose to spend it like this because there are things that give me pleasure. I enjoy canning. I love seeing my work on the shelf. You grew that, and you canned it, and you get a source of pride from that.”
I stored Flour, Sugar (white & Brown) along with yeast, baking soda/powder and crisco. My plan is to use a Bread machine to make bread. I have a large generator to power essential items. I also have a small generator (very quite) to power things during night time hours or my camper that has an oven we could use in an emergency. The best thing you can do now is to sit down and go thru some various scenarios in your head with varying degrees of severity. Then, write it all down on paper in note/bullet statement format. When you’re stressed-out is not the time to formulate a plan.
What Jennifer, a self-described prepper who declined to share her last name for security reasons, didn’t anticipate was the sheer force of Maria’s rains and 155 mile per hour winds — and how little the storm shutters would do to protect her home. “I was taking water out of the bedrooms, the living rooms, the hallways,” she says. “The house was flooded.” At one point, a piece of debris flew off a neighbor’s roof and got stuck between the outside wall of Jennifer’s pantry and the storm shutters, ripping off a pair of windows in the process.
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A popular way of guarding against this kind of catastrophe is storing food at home. This is called Long Term Food Storage, Emergency Essentials, or Emergency Survival Foods and there are dozens of companies selling food specifically for this purpose. The best, including those listed below, have great tasting products with a long storage life at a reasonable cost.
I connected with Jennifer through Daisy Luther, the Virginia-based writer and survival preparedness expert behind the blog The Organic Prepper, which boasts more than 30,000 followers on Facebook and roughly 32,000 monthly visits on Pinterest. Jennifer says she learned a lot about prepping from the site and is a member of its affiliated private Facebook group, which Luther says is nearly 77 percent women. (Luther and other bloggers I spoke with for this story say that while they approach survivalism from a female perspective, they’ve encountered no small number of men who are interested in these practices as well.)
There is one important aspect of planning your freeze dried food storage: try some sample meals before you invest in a six month or one year supply of one particular brand. I have my own preferences that you are welcome to use as a guideline (check out Mountain House or Legacy Foods) but there are others. Also keep in mind that some kits are chock full of sugary drinks and other fillers. Yes, you will need some beverages but they should not comprise 40% of your daily caloric intake.
Without water, you won’t survive for long. If the circumstances are perfect, meaning the weather is temperate, and you aren’t active, your timeline for survival without water is likely only as much as a week. But more likely, it is three days maximum. And in no way should one expect a significant catastrophe to leave you behind in a perfect scenario.
If you are bugging in over the long-term, you will need a water-collection system of some kind. A rain barrel is the simplest option. Be sure to have at least one or two of these on your property and you can capture rainwater. Even if you live in an apartment with a balcony, you can use a rain barrel to collect water. Just don’t catch it as runoff from the roof as most roofing tiles contain chemicals that can contaminate the water.
As you can see, even the specialty foods are really just your everyday foods that have been prepackaged for you so that they come already preserved and ready to be put on the storage shelf. It just means all the work has been done for you. However, no one type of prepared food is the one and only one to use. The best thing for you to do is have a combination of stocked up regular food and specialty food so that you have the ideal food for any situation in which you might find yourself.
“The answer is you probably could,” she said. Though research suggests it might cause a mild depletion of vitamin C and other antioxidant chemicals, she explained, freeze-drying fruits and vegetables doesn’t have any significant impact on their nutritional value; packaged as stand-alone ingredients, they can even make for a healthy alternative to more caloric snack foods.