Nutrition and Food Storage

Pantry

The food items that take center stage in our food storage system are protein and fat…not canned vegetables, not beans and rice or pasta, or pancake mix and bottles of maple flavored high fructose corn syrup *sigh*…NO! it is canned meats of various types and FAT, mainly coconut oil (both extra virgin and refined) and peanut oil along with smaller amounts of extra virgin olive oil, butter and very soon we’ll be adding in lard as we recently discovered a source that doesn’t have added BHA or BHT (nasty chemicals them is..)

In “the end of the world as we know it” (teotwawki) type scenario, like economic collapse for instance, such as would make Greece look like a walk in the park, which is probably the most likely scenario at this point, not including any number of natural disasters that could occur. The main thing most people will have a hard time getting their hands on will be protein and fat. I mean just look at our nation’s heartland! We grow literally MOUNTAINS of soybeans and corn each year (granted most of it is genetically modified). We, as a nation, also produce lots of wheat and potatoes.

But meat? The size of our cattle herds hasn’t been this low since the 1950’s! (but the nation’s population has grown tremendously!) and we just lost MILLIONS of birds, both meat fowl and egg laying fowl not even a few months ago! (..I wonder what turkey prices will look like this Thanksgiving..) and that’s not even mentioning the pig diarrhea thing that was happening before that, and forget about fish! I’ll take my seafood without a side of radiation thankyouverymuch.  Personally, I mainly stick to canned sardines or anchovies as they are small and fast growing so they can’t absorb a lot of chemicals or radiation before being harvested, plus they are very nutritious overall.

I mean, just outside my backdoor, even without the garden, so long as it isn’t the absolute dead of winter, you could quite easily forage for wild greens and herbs aplenty for a nice salad.  The southern Appalachias has the widest diversity of plant and animal species in ALL of North America (it’s true, Google it). And you could make a soup of wild roots like burdock, chicory and dandelion, maybe adding some wild garlic and edible mushrooms to the soup depending on the time of year, to go with the salad.  Or add the greens to the soup if you prefer.

Of course, all of this would be much more palatable and nourishing with the addition of some type of fat, a nice salad dressing made with extra virgin olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar (which also plays a HUGE role in our food storage..along with real gray sea salt and whole peppercorns and a pepper grinder or three for back-ups). Plus, the soup could certainly do with a dollop of coconut oil, butter or lard and you’d have a meal that can almost sustain, but without the added fat you’d just barely be getting by.

Of course, if you had a gun and ammo you could also shoot something. But that would mean knowing how to use a gun and knowing how to butcher an animal and most americans have never even picked a leaf directly off an edible plant and eaten it…and that’s assuming they even know which wild plants ARE edible…let alone butchering an animal! lol (I laugh merely to keep from crying, God this nation is PATHETIC…)

I would do it even better by having canned meat broth or canned coconut milk or even canned evaporated milk on hand, however the coconut milk has way more fat and calories which is why I prefer it. I would use one or a combination of these rather than only water for the soup. Just a small step above that level would be to grow potatoes or sweet potatoes, which are SO EASY to grow you really have no excuse for not doing so, you can even grow them in an average sized suburban backyard. I would add the potatoes or sweet potatoes, without peeling as that’s where most of the nutrition is, to the soup as well…and now we’re talking almost a REAL MEAL!

You also have to keep in mind the expenditure of energy used in foraging for the wild edibles and in digging up the wild roots, hope you own a shovel or hand trowel! Then finding clean water to wash it all, scrubbing and chopping the roots, chopped finely so that they cook faster, and then making and keeping a fire going hot enough and for long enough to cook the soup until the roots are tender enough to eat, which would involve expenditure of EVEN MORE energy in collecting up enough wood. And that’s assuming you actually know HOW to make fire, which is assuming A LOT I know (rolls eyes).. even with matches or a lighter it’s still not very easy, having some dry cardboard or newspaper will help get it going faster though…

Quite honestly, doing ALL of this just to get a meal is really NOT the easiest thing in the world and most average americans sittin’ on ass all day would probably have a hard time of it, expending more calories then they’re getting in the long run. But, hopefully, if you are smart and stored at least some food you won’t have to resort to ALL of that, at least not right away.

Your stored food, if you do it right, will be there to help you make a slow transition into growing, foraging and hunting the majority of your own food over time while, at first, using your stored food to fuel these activities. Which is exactly WHY I recommend storing ample amounts of fat as part of your food storage plan, one gram of fat is 9 calories! Protein and carbs are only 4 calories per gram, with protein having the most nutritious 4 calories per gram.

My most preferred fat for long term storage is coconut oil, especially extra virgin coconut oil but refined (like the jars of Lou Ana coconut oil frequently found in a lot of grocery stores) is okay as well. It is 100% PURE saturated fat making it very shelf stable at room temperature. Guaranteed store-able for at least five years, especially if it’s in the smaller unopened 1 quart sized containers, stored in a cool dark place like a basement or root cellar it could easily last a decade I would think.

Same goes for small unopened jars of peanut butter spread, like JIF Natural, which has palm oil (similar in composition to coconut oil, both are tropical oils with high amounts of saturated fat) mixed in with the peanut butter to reduce separation, but it also has the added benefit of making the peanut butter more shelf stable as well.

As a matter of fact, just this past week my local Kroger grocery store was selling 16 oz. jars of JIF Natural for 99 cents each when bought in groups of five (their buy 5, save $5 sale). That’s 2,660 calories of almost PURE FAT for 99 cents!! And as far as I can tell by watching the sale patterns over time, they seem to run that sale only about every 8-12 months. But even my local Walmart sells the larger 28 oz. jars of JIF Natural for $4.98 each regular everyday price…that’s still 4,655 calories per jar = 935 calories per dollar which is still pretty damn good. And that peanut butter could easily be stretched by pairing it up with bread or crackers, or making an oriental peanut sauce served over noodles for instance, as peanuts and wheat (especially WHOLE wheat) together form a complete protein.

An especially nutritious meal is to take sprouted wheat kernels, I prefer red spring wheat for it’s higher protein content, ground to a mush in either the food processor or a hand grinder and cooked mixed with water and peanut butter to make something like a hot cereal.  Seasoned with a bit of salt and drizzled with some raw honey it tastes reminiscent of peanut butter cookie, especially when eaten with a glass of raw goat’s milk from our goats, my kids also like it with a bit of chopped banana mixed in!

That brings me to my second favorite fat for food storage: peanut oil!  Not roasted peanut oil, but the more bland flavorless type typically used for deep fat frying. We usually buy huge 5 gallon jugs of it from Sam’s Club for around $40 each…that’s $8 a gallon!  Now it certainly isn’t the most nutritious of fats but it isn’t nearly as bad for you as soybean oil or canola oil, and it can be used for everything from baking to stir-frying and even making mayonnaise.

There is also extra virgin olive oil which should really never be used for cooking. We reserve ours mainly for mixing half and half with peanut oil to make mayo or in homemade salad dressing to drizzle on top of homegrown salads, eaten along with a hardboiled egg or two from our hens, makes for a great cheap and nutritious meal.

You can also can your own butter <—-Clickable link!

…and can your own cheese <—-Clickable link!

I’ve done both and continue to can my own butter, but not the cheese so much as I am not really a big fan of processed cheesefood stuff like Velveeta, but it would be better than nothing when the SHTF.  The canned butter works well though and lasts a long time, the oldest jar I ever opened was three years old and it was still perfectly good!  However, with both the canned butter and canned cheese, storage is important, they very much need to be stored in a cool dark place.  The jars that I had for three years had been stored in the coolest darkest area of our basement at the time, it had a dirt floor just like a root cellar!

For stored meats we buy canned beef from here <—-Clickable link! .. Spam, vienna sausages, canned corned beef and corned beef hash, sardines, and anchovies for the most part.  We like to buy meats that pair easily with what we grow, for example: corned beef hash and scrambled eggs or fried vienna sausages with eggs or canned beef with beans or finely chopped Spam stir-fried crispy with veggies like zucchini, squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic (the BACON Spam is especially good in a stir-fry!).

The meats can also be paired up with other grains that we store.  Pinto beans, lentils, brown basmati rice, red spring wheat, and thick rolled old fashioned oats.  All are 100% Organic and with the exception of the oats, all are soaked and sprouted before cooking.  The oats being rolled cannot be sprouted but I do soak/ferment them before cooking.

Why do I sprout them? Mainly to reduce the gluten in the wheat and the phytic acid content in everything else including the wheat.  Phytic acid is a compound found in all legumes, grains, and nuts that inhibits mineral and nutrient absorption in the body. Mainly minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, and B vitamins all of which are incredibly important to dietary health. Soaking and sprouting nuts/seeds/grains/legumes helps increase phytase activity, ie. the enzyme that helps break down phytic acid.  A wide range of health benefits have been associated with sprouted grains including: increase in folate, increase in vitamin C and vitamin A, increase in B vitamins, reduction of common allergens (especially with wheat), increase and ease of digestibility, increases in protein content, increases in amino acid content, plus it makes minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc easier to absorb; and in general starches are converted into simple carbohydrates making them “easier to digest” which is especially helpful when it comes to beans.

There is no hard and fast rule for sprouting, it’s really more of a method, basically the smaller and softer the seed the less soaking time required to get it to sprout.  The amount of water I use is enough to fully cover by at least one inch, but you might have to add more if all the water is used up before the soaking time is done.  Also, it needs to be reasonably warm, at least room temperature but 80F is more ideal.  I stick mine in the oven with just the oven light on and the temperature stays pretty steady between 80F and 85F.  After soaking you drain them in a colander and I just leave it in the colander out on the counter with a bowl underneath to catch the drips and rinse at least twice a day which is just like “watering” the emerging baby seedling.  For the things that I store, here is my main “rule of thumb” so to speak…

PInto Beans: Soak 8-12 hours, 2 days for sprouting

Lentils: Soak no more than 8 hours, 2 days for sprouting

Brown Basmati Rice: Soak 9 hours, 3-4 days for sprouts (although I often just soak and cook as the sprouts are so tiny and take too long imho)

Hard Red Spring Wheat: Soak no more than 8 hours, 2 days for sprouts

After soaking and sprouting just cook like normal.  I like using the sprouted pinto beans cooked and then mashed and refried in coconut oil, refried beans are loved by everyone in this household!  The lentils and rice are very often served together in the same dish, but I also use the rice to serve alongside stir-fries and the lentils are frequently made into stew using things like homegrown potatoes and carrots along with chicken broth made from homegrown chicken.  Our favorite way to enjoy the sprouted wheat is in the hot cereal form than I mentioned earlier or let the wheat continue to sprout for another two days, they’ll get very sweet tasting and are great “as is” or lightly steamed and served topped with butter, salt and pepper.  You can also cook theses “extra large” wheat sprouts along with rice for added protein and nutrition.

All done for now, more about sprouting in the next blog post!

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