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The bottom line — right here at the top — is that it’s easy and liberating to build up a food storage pantry. You want at least enough food to maintain everyone in your family for a month. That means:
Woodshed Kings: Prepping for a Southeast Alaska food shortage, Part II 100417 AE 1 For the Capital City Weekly The bottom line — right here at the top — is that it’s easy and liberating to build up a food storage pantry. You want at least enough food to maintain everyone in your family for a month. That means:

These are some of Dick Callahan's supplies, laid in for a potential food shortage in Southeast Alaska. Photo by Dick Callahan.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Story last updated at 10/4/2017 - 2:33 pm

Woodshed Kings: Prepping for a Southeast Alaska food shortage, Part II

I’m working on a food chain, looking for a bite to chew.

Out here on the food chain, telling you boys it’s true.

You are what you eat. You also are what eats you.

— Working on a food chain. 1985 folk song by Mark Graham

The bottom line — right here at the top — is that it’s easy and liberating to build up a food storage pantry. You want at least enough food to maintain everyone in your family for a month. That means:

1) Include 2,000 calories per day for most women, 2,500 calories per day for most men. Add another 500 calories per day for pregnant or nursing women and active people. Adjust upward for those engaged in hard physical work and who are out in cold weather. Children’s caloric needs run about half that of adults depending on age, size, and activity level. There are age and calorie charts online.

2) Include foods you eat in your regular diet.

3) Rotate what you’ve stored by incorporating it into your regular diet and replacing it as you go.

4) Label food with the date.

5) Store food in five-gallon food-grade buckets.

6) Include a bail-out kit with at least three days worth of food that will fit in a backpack.

7) Include laxatives, just in case.

8) Include vitamins for micronutrients that may not be in your food reserves.

9) Include some comfort foods.

10) Keep your food stored where it’s dark, dry and cool.

Why you should have a food supply

A few decades ago Americans considered preparing (prepping) for food shortages to be the realm of paranoid guys in camouflage who moved to north Idaho so they could dig a bunker and load ammunition in anticipation of the collapse of civilization as we know it. Today, war, drought, overpopulation, earthquakes, hurricanes, and rising sea levels have left in their wakes 795 million chronically undernourished humans and 65.6 million refugees, more than at any time since World War II. Emergency food prepping is now mainstream, especially in communities off the road systems.

If that’s not enough, last column when I described the Cascadia earthquake scenario — which would take out Seattle and cut Southeast Alaska’s food imports to nil for weeks — I neglected to mention that the odds it will happen within the next fifty years are one in three.

Getting started

A lot of prepper books and websites borrow heavily from the Mormon Church’s food storage protocols. Foodwise, Mormons are the religious equivalent of squirrels. Both devoutly stock their pantries. You too, can get the Mormon list* and adjust it to fit your own diet: vegan, kosher, gluten free, with more or less fat, sugar, variety or whatever. Slightly over-buying each week is a painless way to start building your food supply. A pound of organic dried beans here, a pound of brown rice there, a pound of butter that you throw in the freezer, extra spices, olive oil…before you know it you’ve got a month’s worth of food. Choose and store wisely (storage is a different column) and your food will remain nutritionally excellent for years or even decades.

If you buy online, be aware that there are no government requirements regarding what constitutes a serving size for emergency food. This means a serving is whatever the manufacturer says it is. Some have portions so small that you’d thin out and die on them. One advertiser claims “160 servings,” but 40 of the servings are powdered milk. Companies selling “Month Supply!” kits often sell buckets of dried fruit or freeze dried meats to supplement them. They seem to expect you to figure out at some point that what’s in the month bucket isn’t enough. Unless otherwise stated, the foods may be GMOs contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and preservatives. Some meat dishes include fillers like texturized vegetable protein (TVP) made from soy. A number of websites selling or advertising emergency foods and prep gear have made deals with manufacturers in return for good reviews. Take reviews and testimonials with a grain of salt.

Prepper food companies are excellent for getting ideas on what you might want in your pantry, so by all means check them out. They list how many servings and the nutritional information per serving. It’s quick to compare them and see how much salt, sugar and fat there is and how much it weighs. Before you buy, check how online stuff compares with what you can buy locally. Online companies typically sell dried or freeze-dried foods vacuum sealed in packets inside five gallon buckets. Buckets are good.

Two online kits

The first company sells dried food. Pros: You get an all-organic immediate food supply. Packages are vacuum sealed. Claims there are 408 servings and that food can be stored up to 10-15 years. You get 9.5 pounds of grains, nine pounds of beans, four pounds of brown rice, three pounds of lentils, three pounds of chia or quinoa, two and a half pounds of flax seeds, one pound of nuts, one pound of sugar, one pound of Himilayan salt, .6 pounds of freeze-dried vegetables, and half a pound of miso, for a total of 35.1 pounds of food — 34.1, minus the salt. Divide that by 408 servings and you get 1.34 ounces per serving before adding water.

Cons: Pretty much everything on the list requires large amounts of time, fuel and water to cook. Not enough fats. Not enough fruits/vegetables. Portions are too small. Packets are in fairly big bags that you probably won’t use up in a single go. Once the packets are open they won’t last 10-15 years. Cost is $249.00 plus shipping. Cheapest shipping to Juneau is $98.85 USPS. Total cost $348.85. At the health food store right here in downtown Juneau you can match that list from the bulk section, all organic, for $100.

The second company sells freeze-dried food. Pros: You get an immediate food supply. The food requires less fuel to cook than the kit above. It’s easier to pack around and claims there is a month’s food supply with 205 servings and a shelf life up to 25 years.

The second company offers 1300 calories of apple oatmeal (ten servings), 5,600 calories of pancakes (20 servings), 3,400 calories of cream of wheat (20 servings), 2,600 calories of oatmeal (20 servings), 5,800 calories of potato soup (20 servings), 3,800 calories of macaroni and cheese (20 servings), 4,600 calories of chili (20 servings), 3,600 calories of pasta dishes (20 servings), 4,400 calories of “Asian rice” (20 servings), and 3,450 calories of a different chili (15 servings.) The total of 43,150 calories for 31 days means you’d only be eating 1,392 calories per day.

Cons: The entrees are high sodium and don’t include enough fruits, vegetables, and high-quality calories. If you get a pinhole in a bag, or don’t use the whole packet, the shelf life is out the window. Even if it stays sealed, the term “may last 25 years” means also that it may not last 25 years. It costs $339, shipping included. If you were going to be buying these kits for the whole family for several months it might be more cost effective, and provide greater food variety, to get a home freeze-drying machine and do it yourself.

$350 for a month’s food supply is not a bad price, by the way, especially in black market economies that develop during food shortages. Any calories are a godsend to starving people. The job at hand today is to get the most high quality food you can for the money. When you combine a basic food pantry with salmon, meats, jellies, oils and garden stuff you’ve canned, dehydrated or have in the freezer, you’re styling.

Three reasons to keep mass-processed foods out of your survival pantry

1) We try not to be judgmental here at the Woodshed Kings, but where’s the point in pretending to be objective about PhD bottom feeders out to make food physically addictive for millions of people, including children? A short YouTube video with Pulitzer prize winner Michael Moss on his book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,** describes how huge food processors use neuroscientists, biologists, and chemists to find the “bliss point,” the ultimate combination of salt, sugar, fats and chemicals to trick our tongues, brains and bodies to keep salivating and shoveling their products down the hatch. Addictive food, coupled with people who can’t stop eating it, would be bad in a food crisis.

2) Industry giants are trying to cash in on America’s migration towards healthier food with junk food masquerade marketing. You find granola bars with about the same calorie load as Snickers bars, “healthy soups” with more sodium per serving than a mixing bowl full of potato chips. etc.

3) Just because a mass prepared food is loaded with preservatives and chemicals that mask stale taste, odors and oils going rancid doesn’t mean it will last as long as what you prepare and store yourself.

October 5 is the fall Harvest Moon. Leaves are falling on the wood pile and squirrels are storing spruce cones out there as fast as they can. Autumn is the season to channel squirrels and bulk up our pantries because, as Mark Graham put it,

“Out here on that food chain, it’s diet, die or dine.”

*For Mormon suggested food storage per person per year, Google “NDFS BYU An Approach to Longer Term Food Storage.”

** Salt Sugar Fat: NY Times Reporter Michael Moss on How the Food Giants Hooked America on Junk Food https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs2auTOPUxE