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Eating Well — at the Apocalypse

by Bruce Haring

Part II of an occasional series on Prepping for Disaster.

Open the door to your kitchen cabinet. Take a good long look at the box of crackers that may save your life if disaster strikes.

Although popular culture typically depicts fantasy disasters like zombies in the streets, most of the real problems you may have to survive are either weather-related, or civil disturbances that unexpectedly escalate. You’ll have to hang on for days, or even weeks, on whatever food is available in your home — without the balms of refrigeration or electricity.

Most of us don’t have a pantry stocked with what you would need if you had to rely on yourself for any extended length of time. Sure, you can get fresh water out of the toilet, but there’s no magic machine that spits out food. Yes, we’ve seen the replicators on Star Trek, but they’re currently as commercially available as Romulan Ale.

Pop culture typically depicts fantasy disasters like zombies, but the real problems you may have to survive are weather-related & civil disturbances …

Any stores open during a disaster will likely be quickly stripped of goods, whether purchased or looted. So unless you have a bountiful garden that’s in season, some fruit trees, and animals that can provide milk, eggs, and meat under trying conditions, it’s imperative to have at least a three-day supply of food and water available.

A couple of major considerations:  Do you have a can opener?  Can you easily find it?  Do you have food that doesn’t require cooking?  Will your family actually like to eat it?  Will it provide proper nutrition?  Does the food have excessive salt (remember, water is an issue in survival situations)?

True disaster preppers plan to survive a six-month or longer siege. But most people live in urban settings.  Having a six-month food supply is not usually practical if you’re an apartment dweller, so let’s take a realistic look at the basics.

First, make sure you have a three-day supply of non-perishable food. These would ideally be canned goods, and dry mixes that can be eaten without cooking, huge use of water, or other elaborate preparations. Keep in mind that the average person needs about a gallon of water a day, so be aware that most canned goods have extra salt. Look for salt-free, canned foods and whole grains, and especially look for canned goods that have a high liquid content. Remember to keep some plates and utensils with your food, or you’ll be thrown back centuries as you eat with your hands.

The well-rounded survival kit has protein or fruit bars, canned meat/chili/pasta/beef stew/beans, instant coffee, powdered milk, powdered juice, beef jerky, hard candies, peanut butter, trail mix, canned beverages, and infant food. And let’s not forget our dogs, cats, and other urban animals. If you’re a normal human, you’ll want a few comfort foods. And although it’s not in the manuals, you might want to have some wine or other alcohol on hand.  Just remember your openers.

Other handy items to consider:  vitamins, toothpaste, candles, toilet paper, and some hand wipes. Keep all of this in one room, as you need to know where things are quickly and without long searches. The average adult needs anywhere from 2000-3000 calories per day, more if you’re planning on chopping wood or doing other extreme exercise.

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that you keep your food in a dry location without temperature differentials (in other words, the basement is great for storage, but if there’s a flood, well…). It’s also a good idea to check on the food periodically, to make sure that it’s still edible and hasn’t developed any obvious bulges or other problems.

It may sound like a lot, but one shopping trip can prep you for the most common disasters you’ll likely face. So beat the rush and avoid the zombies, and get thee to the store.

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