For global catastrophic risks the costs of food storage become impractical for most of the population  and for some such catastrophes conventional agriculture would not function due to the loss of a large fraction of sunlight (e.g. during nuclear winter or a supervolcano). In such situations, alternative food is necessary, which is converting natural gas and wood fiber to human edible food.
I giggled about your reason for not including wheat berries. I agree that many have few or no backing skills or how to make flour but…. I like the idea of wheat because if it is properly stored it can last 30 years and when I first started prepping I told my self that I wasn’t looking for a part time job rotating short lived stock. With my first 5 gal buckets of wheat (from a farmer friend) I also got a manual flour mill. Lots of fun and good exercise. I make some version of whole wheat bread every week. (Don’t want to be heavily invested in prepping and not know how to use what I got!) One season we had a complete wheat failure so I picked up a couple of buckets of soybeans. Another learning curve but eventually made pretty good bean dishes. Question for you and yours, during general internet research I found some articles on Trypsid inhibitor (TI)in beans and how it could be a real problem. Most of the articles appeared to be aimed at telling farmers to not feed soybeans directly (with out some processing) to pigs – in time it can kill them. The TI is neutralized when sufficiently heated. So the hours of boiling beans would take care of this condition but it doesn’t answer questions like:
Do you mean clean it so you can drink it or clean it if the electricity goes out and the pump isn't working? If you want to drink the pool water, the best option I know of is to distill it yourself. I just had a reader send me this same question, and she mentioned checking around marine sites to see if there's a product available to remove salt from sea water in an open water emergency. I do know that the Berkey filters will NOT remove the salt. If possible, you're better off storing several 55 gallon drums filled with tap water and several cases of bottled water. I also reuse 2-liter soda bottles by cleaning them, refilling with water, and then storing them under beds and in closets.
Hi, GNP. While, as a fellow Canuck, I applaud your noble sentiments I fear that in a true extended grid-down situation your idealism could be viewed as naivete and could get you and your neighbours killed or worse. And I am not criticizing or judging you but I don’t think most of us can imagine how bad it might get if a true SHTF situation arises. If you live a bit out of the bigger cities, once the looters are finished with them they will turn their eyes to the agricultural hinterland surrounding the cities. They will have no choice unless they all become cannibals. Once the food is completely gone from the major centres the mass of the population will spread like locusts across the land raping and pillaging and stealing whatever they can to survive. They will band together in gangs to survive and that will be very difficult to defend against. In any siege situation the advantage is always with the aggressor. They will wear you down bit by bit over time. I have to laugh at the notion of all the very rich secreting themselves in their hidden bunkers to wait out the end of the hostilities. What is there going to be for them to come back to? And if the attackers are determined enough their bunkers are going to be peeled back like so many sardine cans and the insides scooped out for good eatin’. LOL! If we’re talking bible stuff somewhere in there it says something like that no one can hide in caves or things like that if the worst comes to pass. I can see your idea working if you get together with ALL your neighbours before our worst nightmares come to pass and getting EVERYONE in your neighbourhood to start prepping now if they already haven’t done so. And you all have to be of like mind with a self-sufficient survivalist mindset. Everyone needs to have some farming or hunting skills and EVERYONE needs to be armed. AS long as they ALL understand it’s for the common good. Everyone has to bring their own particular skillset to the table and be prepared to work very hard to supplement the dwindling original food supply without the weekly virgin sacrifice. LOL! But that is also fraught with danger if there are laggards that refuse to prep and then they of course know who has supplies stashed away. There is no easy answer. Again, I’m not criticizing. You have to do what you think is right. I’m just trying to open your eyes as to what the reality of the situation may become. As bad as most of us think that things can get I don’t think most of us realize that whatever we can imagine the reality would be a 100 times worse. Under the right circumstances people can succumb to true evil and unfortunately too many people have watched shows like “The Walking Dead” giving them many “good” ideas as to what to do to survive. Unless you have a warehouse full of food and water stashed away you have no chance of even saving a small percentage of your neighbours. And once the easy food and water is gone there is a very good chance of them turning on you. As horrible as it sounds, once the food is gone, then starving people need to be treated like rabid dogs or they WILL pull YOU under and then all your effort is for naught. The only real solution I see is to try and move to a small community where the people are already used to being self-sufficient and settling there until some kind of order is restored. I live on a small crescent in what is still a fairly small town and my neighbours are the best. At the moment! LOL! It’s like a small community within a community. Maybe 200 houses. You do the math as to how many people. I have no hope in hell trying to save as many people as I can with the meager supplies I have managed to put away. As far as I can tell no one here is prepping or has fruit trees in their back yards or any thoughts for the future. And of course no one here knows what I’m doing. As far as they’re concerned I’m a poor, dumb, harmless old man. That suits me fine. I’ll leave you with one last story and it surprised the heck out of me. Came across a video on YouTube and there were three young men. Maybe mid 20’s. Not in any particular good or bad shape. Summertime. They wanted to see how far they could walk in 24 hours starting from the very bottom of Yonge street right by the lake. In 24 hours those sons of a bitches made it all the way up to Barrie. Didn’t think it could be done that quickly. The point being that once the people in the major centres like Toronto run out of food they will start to head north. And we’re talking millions of people. Once that happens the people north of the major centres will be in deep, deep shit. Hope we all have a lot of a ammo. I know that I’m going to get blasted for these comments but that can’t be helped. And I’m also sorry that I think so little of human nature but in a true disaster scenario events will play out quite differently as compared to the many sanitized versions that Hollywood loves to portray. As I say there is no easy answer or no easy solution and when the time comes many very difficult decisions will HAVE to made. OldNamVet has seen the reality of combat and what he proposes makes much more sense to me. Show whatever compassion you can to those refugees that come to your door but then very politely but firmly send them on their way and make sure that they understand this is a one time deal. When the time comes we will all be forced to become hard as diamonds while still retaining some semblance of our humanity. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
I think there are stages to prepping. The first stage is awareness. Maybe you experience a major hurricane and have to drive around town freaking out because you don’t have enough bottled water. You think, “Never again.” So you purchase realistic items for your area. The second stage is when you come to realize how much stuff you will actually need and you go out and purchase those items. The third stage is when you realize that no matter how much stuff you have stocked up, it will eventually run out in a grid down situation. That leads to the fourth stage–skills. Do you know how to garden when your life and the lives of your family depend on it? Do you know how to trap and hunt? Can you tell the difference between edible plants and poisonous plants? Do you have a trade like carpentry, plumbing, engineering, canning, bushcraft, herbal medicine? The sixth and final stage (and I am just making this up off the top of my head) is when you realize that no matter how many skills you have, you can’t make it alone. You begin to look for a community.
Cash and Gold/Silver- Cash speaks, and only the direst of calamities will see people forsake the almighty greenback. Assume you will not be able to get any at all, anywhere, after the balloon goes up. Have a good wad hidden away in your stash for a rainy day, and forget about it until it is needed. Don’t raid it for any reason; treat it like the life-saving utility it is.
This is a partial list of many things that disappear fast in an emergency. Look for things you should stock pile before the crisis. Many of these items can be used to barter for items that you or your family might want or need. For example: During the gold rush of 1849 the people who had shovels became wealthy from the miners who needed them. Remember: A wise man purchases his insurance before the fire starts. Create a scheduled plan to get any of these things.
Many years ago, while living in Australia, I was bitten by a snake. I’d gone walkabout and wasn’t carrying medical supplies, but I met a few locals who very quickly rustled up a remedy to ease the pain and stop the swelling. That was the first time I realised the importance of thinking ahead, and I’ve prepped in a small way ever since. About 10 years ago I got into prepping seriously. I started to analyse “what-if” scenarios: what if something went wrong near to where I live? What would I do? How would I survive?
The 3 most important immediate needs are water availability, water purity and food to feed the family. I am starting a business to be an authorized dealer for items that meet these needs – as a way to help out friends, neighbors who have not started preparing for immediate needs if the power goes off for more than a week. Hand pump on the well head, Water purifiers and a home freeze dryer which will pay for itself in a year or 2 based on the prices of freeze died foods. I really, really want to freeze dry my own highly nutritious food without preservatives instead of buying commercial freeze dried foods.
Also, I’m not a big fan of eating canned food if I don’t have to. I feel it comes with chemicals and has less nutrients. However, in certain situations, it’s better to do that than starve. It definitely stores well. I like to keep beans and seeds around to sprout when I need them. Sprouts are highly nutritious and it fits better with my taste buds as I eat mostly fresh foods; although I am also keen on the beans and rice idea and I always stockpile 3 months of organic oatmeal if I can. Another thing I do is buy carrots and cabbage in bulk and leave them in the refrigerator as both veggies last a long time and you can eat them for at least a month if not longer. Onions are also a decent vegetable for lasting for a duration and when they start to sprout you have yourself some green onions instead. Potatoes also last fairly well. If you buy spaghetti squash and pumpkin in September, it will usually last until February.
I confess that I can go for days eating the same meal of baked potatoes over and over again. That said, most people need and want variety. This is especially true for children, the elderly and the infirm who may already be picky eaters. Plus, you need a variety of foods items in order to get a full complement of nutritional value from your meals.
The final piece of advice is to test-drive the foods you have chosen as your emergency food, especially if it isn’t your usual grub. You want to be sure everyone likes the foods you stock up and that they like all the regular food you have stored away. The next time you have a power outage at home, break out some freeze dried meals and see how they go down. This will also help you compare different brands and meal types.