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Activist Post: The Real Expiration Date for Common Foods

Activist Post: The Real Expiration Date for Common Foods.

he Real Expiration Date for Common Foods

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

The regulation guidelines for expired foods are few and arbitrary. They are also voluntary. They sprang up in the 1970s for more consumer information and perceived freshness. Expiration labels are only required by law for infant formula and baby foods; other laws regarding dairy are left up to some states and vary.

There is waste before, during and after a food item’s grocery stay. Now, more than ever, when throwing out food we’re unsure of, it feels like trashing bags of money – and most of it is completely unnecessary. But nobody wants to read yet another scolding article about it. So…

Now that we know our expiration labels don’t tell us anything at all – where do we go from here? What can we eat with confidence?

First, let’s define some terms for the dates printed on food products:

Expiration – This is an estimated date for when the item is expected to go bad and the consumer is expected to proceed with caution. Still, a surprisingly large amount of these can be expanded.

Sell by – That’s for the retailer, not for you. It’s about peak quality, like with flavor. It’s for store display and, maddeningly, much of this gets tossed – prompting a “dumpster dive” revolution. Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t have to relegate themselves to a dumpster to get this perfectly good food? But in the dump it goes first.

Best if Used By/Before and Use By – Again, these refer to quality, not safety.

Pack or Born On – This is just the manufacturer’s date stamp often found on canned goods and beer.

Guaranteed Fresh – This is mostly the baker’s way of letting you know how long you can enjoy the baked good before it possibly goes stale. It doesn’t mean it’s harmful, but could be stale. Homemade is different.

Yogurt and deli meat can last a week to 10 days more than the “sell by” date. Salami at two to three weeks. Most fresh meats, especially poultry and seafood, should be cooked and eaten within days. Eggs a whopping five weeks after expiration. When in doubt, gently place eggs in a big bowl of cold water filled to the top. If the eggs float, toss them. If they “stand up” that just means they are not as fresh but are still okay to eat.

Packaged items can last a long time after expiration but after a number of months you may notice a staleness and waxy taste which could be rancid oils. Packaged and canned items can generally last a year or more after the stamped date. Preppers, feel free to chime in because I know you follow good storage guidelines and practice rotation. High-acid canned goods like tomato don’t last as long as low-acid goods like green beans.

The key to keeping storable foods the longest, is cool, dry and airtight – ideally, never above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Canned goods included. If you see bulging cans – do not open! It’s rare to see bloated cans, but it could be botulism. Bill Nye made this crystal clear to me as a kid.

Real Simple and iVillage offer a list of items and a “true” expiration, some lasting for years, but again, take with a grain of salt. Throwing out opened juice after a week in the fridge? No way! Of course if you make your juice yourself, ideally, it should be consumed immediately for best benefits. Whole, natural foods and drinks do not generally last as long as the grocery store – but you knew that! For instance, when I buy homemade bread, I know to freeze it, otherwise mold is great indicator I waited one day too long. Lesson learned. Raw honey can last forever and pasteurized honey and brown sugar indefinitely.

Cheese can have a long fridge life too. According to one naturopath, Kerrygold cheese from grassfed cows can be bought in bulk at Whole Foods and sit in the fridge for six months – mine is still fine after one month.

Is it really a great idea to be eating old food? Debatable. Some fruits like bananas can have added benefits with age. Eastern principles frown on old or rotten food for its lack of nutrition and effect on the body or bio-rhythms (except for items better with age or fermentation). But, I’ve seen depression-era folks charge through their 80s having lived a frugal life eating the bad fruits first, expired foods and keeping the fridge well above the suggested 40 degree mark. (Where can I get an immune system like that!)

The bottom line is that expiration is perception and to follow your nose and your gut. If something smells or tastes funny, do not risk it! Common sense and intuition are good friends and thankfully, we are much less likely to get sick in a clean home than from a restaurant. If you think you might get food poisoning, immediately take homeopathic Arsenicum Album 30c and Activated Charcoal.

What have you noticed that you can eat after the stamped date?

Two websites devoted completely to real expiration dates:
http://www.stilltasty.com/
http://www.eatbydate.com/

All Recipes allows you to type in what ingredients you currently have and pulls up recipes you can use. You can save favorite recipes in your own online recipe box.

Love Food Hate Waste is an English web site devoted to helping people use food on its way out

Image

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

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Mental Health in a Catastrophe – Will You Fall apart?

Mental Health in a Catastrophe – Will You Fall apart?.

This is a guest post by Happy Camper and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

Planning ahead

Preppers have secured themselves in the knowledge that they intend for themselves and their families to be safe in a catastrophic event. Do you have a bunker, a bug out location or a bug in plan? The food, medication and sanitation that you have prepared are all for the benefit of our physical well-being.

It is wonderful that preppers are so organized for the items that they will have in a post apocalyptic scenario. But how prepared mentally are we for the items and relationships that will be changed or gone?

The key to maintaining a healthy mental environment is being mindful and aware that mental health is a major factor in preparing, a major factor during a SHTF event and even more so the key to rebuilding and moving forward in a recovery are healthy relationships and a healthy attitude and positive mental health.

The brain

Our brains are the most complex part of our bodies, it is the control center of intelligence, movement, interpretation, decisions and behavior. The most powerful tool that we can take into any situation is our mental wellbeing. Knowing the basics about human reactions and mob behavior could be a huge advantage in a catastrophic event, to be able to understand and anticipate human behaviors and reactions.

Getting to know our own mental well-being and the mental well-being of those around us is important. Any type of psychological trauma can cause the brain to respond in ways that are not expected and are certainly not convenient, psychological trauma can provoke the brain to respond by impairing the functions of behavior, thought control emotions and reasoning. Mental distress can also cause physical effects, including: fatigue, insomnia, nightmares, aches and pains, racing heartbeat, concentration difficulties.

Keeping a balanced mental state is individual to each one of us. What makes you happy? What keeps your relationships moving forward and stress free? What do you need to maintain mental clarity? Make a list of these things, discuss with your family how these things may be able to be maintained in a SHTF situation. Discuss any concerns openly.

After the event

What can cause mental distress? Unstable environments, physical or mental abuse, sexual abuse, separation from a loved one, medical or illness trauma, domestic violence, bullying etc.
The immediate and long term effects of catastrophic events, particularly on children need to be considered. Studies that have been done on children from war torn areas show that around 40% of children develop long term PTSD.

Symptoms that a person is likely to display that will indicate that they are in mental distress, may be evident immediately or not show for a unset period of time. The most common symptoms (as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, AKA the DSM) are: being over emotional, fear, anxiety, depression, self-destructive behaviour and low self-esteem.

Imagine a scenario, that all of your physical preps have been successful. You have enough food to sustain you in the months ahead, any physical wounds are healing and you are feeling secure about the months ahead in regards to surviving. However you have no idea what to expect, your routine is unpredictable, nothing will be the same. Your children are asking you questions that you cant answer. Are you ready for that ? Or can anyone ever be ready for that ?

Is there any point to surviving physically if you and your family end up being mentally broken ?

All humans have needs that need to be fulfilled to maintain mental clarity and order. We need to be aware of our place in the hierarchy, we need to have a sense of independence and responsibility, we need to be mentally stimulated and maintain a mental strategy for the future, we need hope for the future and unity with our group / family or community.

Mental Preparedness suggestions

1. Is there a clear hierarchy and is each member aware of their place in the pack?
2. Each pack member needs to be confident and enjoy the tasks that they have been allocated.
3. A resolution strategy may be effective for group functioning.
4. There should be a basic reward system in place, this offers encouragement and pride.
5. Be aware of peoples mental limitations and phobias.
6. It is important to be aware of before, during and the aftermath, will each have is own set of issues and differences.
7. What personal and important items will be retained? Everyone needs comfort items and items that relate to our personal history.
8. Don’t undervalue anyone else’s personal items, they may have a particular sentimental value.
It is important to remember that some members of the group will get bored, be unwilling to participate or even become destructive (for example emotional children, teenagers or those who are mentally struggling).
9. Provisions for entertainment are very important, boredom can be very negative. The ability to play games for entertainment is invaluable and great for morale. Don’t forget to give compliments and appropriate physical contact (hand-shakes or hugs can be food for the soul)
10. Entertainment is individual and should be shared, adults taking time to play games with their children, reading together etc.
11. The acronym SAFE is used as a reminder for what people mentally need: Partially derived from ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs’
S: Safety and freedom from being harmed
A: Access to basic needs, of food, water, shelter
F: Family and connections to others
E: Education, self Esteem, and Economic security

Suggested reading topics on Google:
Maslow’s model of motivation,
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders AKA the DSM,
Mindfulness and meditation,
Pack behaviours / social hierarchy,
Herd or mob mentality

Survive Peak Oil: Survival Gardening: Composting

Survive Peak Oil: Survival Gardening: Composting.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Survival Gardening: Composting

All plant material that you don’t eat should be put on the compost heap. This includes various parts of your vegetables, but it also includes weeds. If you pull up the weeds before they go to seed, you’re not going to be re-infesting your garden when you spread the compost; also, if the compost is properly decomposed it will heat up enough to kill any seeds that have already developed. Left for 6 months or a year, the compost will turn into organic soil. As the compost heap is maturing, you might give it water from time to time, and turn it over once in a while, but don’t worry about precision. The compost heap should not be taking up land that you need right away for crops, but at the same time a central location is preferable, so that you don’t have to travel too far when it’s time to spread the compost on the garden. Of course, since valuable minerals will be leaching down into the soil from the compost heap to some extent, don’t build that heap on a piece of land you’ll never be using; it would be foolish to create fertile unused land. Ideally, you would have two or three compost heaps, started about a year apart. The oldest heap is the one that is put on the garden; if you allow that finished compost to dry out, it will be easier to carry. Put the mature compost on the garden in the fall, when you’ve finished harvesting. You might even dig it into the ground, ensuring looser and warmer soil in the following spring.
Because of composting, you don’t have to worry too much about “wasting food.” With supermarket food, anything you throw away is money out of your pocket. With food you have grown yourself, you can be fairly prodigal about throwing away plants that have grown too old or too tough, since all that unused material goes back to the compost heap to become new soil and eventually new vegetables. In fact, the more you add vegetation to the compost heap, the more you increase the organic content of the soil.
One of the purposes of recycling (composting) is to prevent the loss of essential elements. In particular, you must try to preserve nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K), not because these three are necessarily the most vital elements, but because they are the three that are most likely to be in short supply. It is helpful to bring in material from outside the farm: almost any kind of plant, animal, or mineral material will make some (although not necessarily an adequate) contribution in N-P-K. Farmers in eastern Asia used mud from irrigation canals, animal and human manure, and grass and other vegetation from the hills. Nitrogen, however, which is the most susceptible to loss by leaching, is also the one element that can literally be “got out of thin air.” Any legume, such as beans, peas, clover, or alfalfa, will draw nitrogen out of the air, and if those plants are dug back into the soil (preferably without removing their seeds for food), the nitrogen supply of the soil is renewed.

Need a Water Filter? Peel a Tree Branch – Our World

Need a Water Filter? Peel a Tree Branch – Our World.

2014•03•05 Jennifer Chu MIT News
  • Need a Water Filter? Peel a Tree Branch
A false-color electron microscope image showing E. coli bacteria (green) trapped over xylem pit membranes (red and blue) in the sapwood after filtration. Image courtesy of the MIT researchers.

MIT News: MIT group shows xylem tissue in sapwood can filter bacteria from contaminated water.

•••

If you’ve run out of drinking water during a lakeside camping trip, there’s a simple solution: Break off a branch from the nearest pine tree, peel away the bark, and slowly pour lake water through the stick. The improvised filter should trap any bacteria, producing fresh, uncontaminated water.

In fact, an MIT team has discovered that this low-tech filtration system can produce up to four litres of drinking water a day — enough to quench the thirst of a typical person.

In a paper published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers demonstrate that a small piece of sapwood can filter out more than 99 percent of the bacteria E. coli from water. They say the size of the pores in sapwood — which contains xylem tissue evolved to transport sap up the length of a tree — also allows water through while blocking most types of bacteria.

Co-author Rohit Karnik, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, says sapwood is a promising, low-cost, and efficient material for water filtration, particularly for rural communities where more advanced filtration systems are not readily accessible.

“Today’s filtration membranes have nanoscale pores that are not something you can manufacture in a garage very easily,” Karnik says. “The idea here is that we don’t need to fabricate a membrane, because it’s easily available. You can just take a piece of wood and make a filter out of it.”

The paper’s co-authors include Michael Boutilier and Jongho Lee from MIT, Valerie Chambers from Fletcher-Maynard Academy in Cambridge, Mass., and Varsha Venkatesh from Jericho High School in Jericho, N.Y.

Tapping the flow of sap

There are a number of water-purification technologies on the market today, although many come with drawbacks: Systems that rely on chlorine treatment work well at large scales, but are expensive. Boiling water to remove contaminants requires a great deal of fuel to heat the water. Membrane-based filters, while able to remove microbes, are expensive, require a pump, and can become easily clogged.

Sapwood may offer a low-cost, small-scale alternative. The wood is comprised of xylem, porous tissue that conducts sap from a tree’s roots to its crown through a system of vessels and pores. Each vessel wall is pockmarked with tiny pores called pit membranes, through which sap can essentially hopscotch, flowing from one vessel to another as it feeds structures along a tree’s length. The pores also limit cavitation, a process by which air bubbles can grow and spread in xylem, eventually killing a tree. The xylem’s tiny pores can trap bubbles, preventing them from spreading in the wood.

“Plants have had to figure out how to filter out bubbles but allow easy flow of sap,” Karnik observes. “It’s the same problem with water filtration where we want to filter out microbes but maintain a high flow rate. So it’s a nice coincidence that the problems are similar.”

Seeing red

To study sapwood’s water-filtering potential, the researchers collected branches of white pine and stripped off the outer bark. They cut small sections of sapwood measuring about an inch long and half an inch wide, and mounted each in plastic tubing, sealed with epoxy and secured with clamps.

Before experimenting with contaminated water, the group used water mixed with red ink particles ranging from 70 to 500 nanometers in size. After all the liquid passed through, the researchers sliced the sapwood in half lengthwise, and observed that much of the red dye was contained within the very top layers of the wood, while the filtrate, or filtered water, was clear. This experiment showed that sapwood is naturally able to filter out particles bigger than about 70 nanometers.

However, in another experiment, the team found that sapwood was unable to separate out 20-nanometer particles from water, suggesting that there is a limit to the size of particles coniferous sapwood can filter.

Picking the right plant

Finally, the team flowed inactivated, E. coli-contaminated water through the wood filter. When they examined the xylem under a fluorescent microscope, they saw that bacteria had accumulated around pit membranes in the first few millimeters of the wood. Counting the bacterial cells in the filtered water, the researchers found that the sapwood was able to filter out more than 99 percent of E. coli from water.

Karnik says sapwood likely can filter most types of bacteria, the smallest of which measure about 200 nanometers. However, the filter probably cannot trap most viruses, which are much smaller in size.

Karnik says his group now plans to evaluate the filtering potential of other types of sapwood. In general, flowering trees have smaller pores than coniferous trees, suggesting that they may be able to filter out even smaller particles. However, vessels in flowering trees tend to be much longer, which may be less practical for designing a compact water filter.

Designers interested in using sapwood as a filtering material will also have to find ways to keep the wood damp, or to dry it while retaining the xylem function. In other experiments with dried sapwood, Karnik found that water either did not flow through well, or flowed through cracks, but did not filter out contaminants.

“There’s huge variation between plants,” Karnik says. “There could be much better plants out there that are suitable for this process. Ideally, a filter would be a thin slice of wood you could use for a few days, then throw it away and replace at almost no cost. It’s orders of magnitude cheaper than the high-end membranes on the market today.”

While the pores in sapwood are too big to filter out salts, Saurya Prakash, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio State University, says the design could be useful in parts of the world where people collect surface water, which can be polluted with fine dust and particles of decaying plant and animal matter. Most of this detritus, Prakash says, could easily be filtered out by the group’s design.

“The xylem tissue acts as a natural filter, similar to a manmade membrane,” says Prakash, who was not involved in the research. “The study by the Karnik group shows that use of abundant, naturally occurring materials could pave the way for a new generation of water filters that are potentially low-cost enough to be disposable.”

This research was supported by the James H. Ferry Jr. Fund for Innovation in Research Education.

Food Rationing: It Will Break You Down Mentally

Food Rationing: It Will Break You Down Mentally.

Tess Pennington
February 27th, 2014
Ready Nutrition

Editor’s Note: With the way current trends are going, chances are that one day you’ll need to break into your emergency food supplies. Whether you’ve stored whole grains, freeze dried emergency foods or meals-ready-to-eat, what it all boils down to is having enough of a reserve to get through a crisis, whether it be short- or long-term. While many preppers have pantries stocked with the basic essentials, one key aspect of food storage that is often neglected are the dietary and nutritional requirements for a healthy diet. In modern day America we’ve become used to a huge diet, often consisting of 2,500 calories or more. But when emergency strikes, and we have no idea how long the effects may last, we could well be looking at a situation where we’ll need to ration our food to the point that we are consuming just half of what we take in on a regular basis in times of stability. If there comes a time when your nutritional intake is reduced by nearly 50% and is coupled with the stress of a crisis and increased physical workload there are going to be side effects. Without the protein, carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients, your body will begin to break down, eating its fat and muscle stores. While that bodes well for getting to our ideal weight, the shock to the human body could be severe. You’ll be plagued with headaches, apathy, tiredness, anxiety, depressed mood, anger and hunger.

In short, you’ll be hangry at the very moment you need to be operating at 100% capacity.

In this extremely informative article, Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition provides a first-hand account of the effects of a significant reduction in caloric intake. Science shows that we can function on a very low-calorie diet, but making such a change drastically will not be easy. This particular essay provides a basic primer for how you should be approaching your food storage pantry. You can also check out Tess’Prepper’s Cookbook, which is a concise overview of not only food storage methods, but how to combine the existing stores in your pantry to make highly nutritious and great-tasting meals.


Food Rationing: It Will Break You Down Mentally
By Tess Pennington

Food Rationing

Scenario: It’s been two weeks since the cyber attack left your city without power. The grocery stores are empty and supply trucks haven’t been able to re-supply. You’re hungry but can’t go outside because of the roaming mobs attacking people foraging for food. Living off of your last remaining canned soup and survival bars isn’t giving your body what it needs. You’re lethargic, achy, you’re having problems staying mentally alert and have had a headache for days. You just don’t know how much longer you can live like this.

If the foods you store are not able to provide you with adequate nutrition, or you do not have enough variety of foods to carry you through, then you are setting yourself up for caloric deficiencies and even malnutrition which can have long lasting effects on your health.

Food Rationing in Emergencies

The following are examples of regular caloric diets and calorie restricted diets. Any diet under 1,000 calories is very unhealthy and steps should be taken to prevent this.

  • 2,000 calories – the daily caloric amount you should normally be eating
  • 1,500 calories – a reduced diet where high calorie foods, sugars, and some fats are removed
  • 1,200 calories – the most basic diet where most fats, carbohydrates and fats are removed

The Experiment

There are certain factors you should consider when living through an extended emergency. It is common for your physical, mental and emotional state to be affected following a disaster. On top of that, you are hungry due to rationing food portions and still have to continue daily activities, physical labor, parenting, etc. If you haven’t put thought into the right types of food and the amounts needed to see you through the ordeal, then you could be setting yourself up for deficiencies in your diet.

Repeatedly, I have told readers interested in leading a self reliant lifestyle to simulate a disaster at home so that your family can practice living through it using the supplies you have. This creates a safe environment to prepare and train family members for what they might expect and help you learn what you may need for the future. Using the contents of your emergency pantry is no different. In fact, you should be using your pantries regularly to ensure the food you store is as fresh as possible. In my cookbook, The Prepper’s Cookbook, I list 25 must have foods for your pantries and also touched on what to expect in an emergency situation when you are rationing your supplies.

I decided to make myself a guinea pig and experiment on how well I could perform my daily activities on a low calorie diet. Here’s what I did:

  • For three days, my daily caloric intake was under 1,300 calories a day.
  • I also ran 2 miles a day during this time to see what it would be like surviving on a food rationed diet and still maintain a certain level of physical activity.
  • I ate whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and nuts.

Are you wondering how I did? Well, good and bad. The good news is, I’m still alive – so it is possible to drastically cut your caloric intake. Even though I was eating very “clean” and giving my body whole grains, lean proteins and nutrients, I still felt the starvation effects and, at times, felt desperate to eat something – anything. I’ll be honest, the word “hangry” came up a few times. From my experience, drastic food rationing can be done (provided you have the right foods to eat), but it would be extremely difficult to go to a 1,200 calorie diet for long term and still try to maintain a household and perform physically demanding tasks. Some of the effects I had while on a 1,300 calorie diet were:

  •  Feeling physically and mentally drained
  • Difficulty in making decisions and focusing mentally
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Jittery

Ironically, these are very similar to the feelings we experience following a disaster or other stressful life event that causes post traumatic stress disorder:

  • Feeling physically and mentally drained
  • Having difficulty making decisions or staying focused on topics
  • Becoming easily frustrated on a more frequent basis
  • Arguing more with family and friends
  • Feeling tired, sad, numb, lonely or worried
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or sleep patterns

So, imagine going through all of these same reactions listed above and being nutrient deficient at the same time. You will feel the effects in one way or another, and all the feelings will be heightened because you are “hangry.” In a Rawlesian event, where you find yourself in a long term disaster, living off the grid and essentially on your own to patrol your property, maintain a  garden, livestock, etc., it would be very difficult to do all of these tasks with a limited caloric intake.

Let me add that what I did not test was if a gradual caloric decline would be easier to adjust to and still continue with physical labor (maybe an experiment for another time).

Create a Complete Pantry

Those of you who are creating food pantries should be taking detailed inventory of the foods you are storing, how you plan to use them, and know beforehand an average of how many people you plan to feed using these foods. If you are planning on a disaster or emergency lasting longer term, then you should take this a step further and account for other measures – food rationing. How many calories a day do you plan to consume where food rationing is concerned? Do you plan on participating in large scale physical activity? How long do you plan to ration your food?

Many preppers underestimate how much food they will need to maintain optimum nutrition levels. In fact, calorie intake is the #1 rule to consider when starting a pantry. You simply cannot live off of survival bars. Many people believe these will provide them with adequate nutrition as well keep their energy source going – this just isn’t so.

Stock foods that are energy efficient and high in complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber as they will keep you feeling “fuller” longer. Some food sources to consider are:

  • Fruits/Vegetables – Obviously, having these dehydrated will lighten the load and give you something nutritious to snack on. Keep in mind  that dehydrated foods can last for 12 months or longer, provided they have been stored properly. Pack fruits and vegetables that are the most calorie dense. Look for small boxes of dried fruits for easy meal assembly or to add to your homemade MREs.
  • Whole vs. White – We all know that whole grains are better for you. But did you know that they keep you fuller longer. Also, whole grain breads with seeds and nuts can provide added nutrition. Look for whole grain pancake mixes, crackers, pastas and bread to get good sources of whole grains.
  • Nuts – This food source is one of the most nutrient dense foods and is also full of fiber to help you stay full longer. Due to the high protein count of these lightweight nutrition powerhouses, can be an efficient meat replacement. Look for non-salted nut varieties to keep you hydrated longer.
  •  Meat Source – Protein sources are imperative during an emergency  and can also cut down on stress. The amino acid in meat, specifically Tryptophan, binds to protein and becomes a precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin may help you cope with stress. Freeze dried meats or TVP (textured vegetable protein), dehydrated meats or canned meats of beef, chicken or tuna would be good choices to add to your pack.

For a hands on resource about creating an energy efficient food pantry, Daisy Luther created a detailed resource called The Pantry Primer for how to get your pantry in order in a frugal manner and lists many of these healthy foods.

To conclude, the foods we will carry will make all the difference in the world in terms of maintaining energy levels, and nutrition. Food rationing is an inevitable issue if you are planning for long term or extended events. Plans should be put in place to ensure the rationing we do is healthy and will still enable us to carry on.

***********

Prepper's Cookbook

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.

Do you have a question for Tess about this article or another topic? Visit her Facebook Page and join a great community discussion.

Understanding The Stress Response: It Can Buy You Valuable Seconds | The Daily Sheeple

Understanding The Stress Response: It Can Buy You Valuable Seconds | The Daily Sheeple.

Lizzie Bennett
Underground Medic
March 2nd, 2014

10750147-x-ray-close-up-with-brain-and-skull-concept

Survival in extreme situations often depends on an individuals ability to respond to the threat they are faced with. The stress response in humans has for decades been referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Now if you have a couple of Uzi’s and enough ammunition none of this applies to you because you could probably wipe out any number of malcontents advancing towards your property. For the rest of you, well, I hope you find some use in what I have to say.

The Physiological Basics

When faced with a sudden or extreme threat, two body systems act together to give you the best possible chance of survival. The reaction is for the most part not under your control. Your brain and your body decide what happens, the biggest toughest guy in the bar may turn and run, the tiny young bar tender may not, 90% of what happens is decided by chemistry.

The sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system get together at the first sign of a serious threat and if the threat persists for longer than a few more seconds both systems kick into high gear and adrenaline (epinepherine) noradrenaline (norepinepherine) and a couple of dozen other hormones flood the body and the fight or flight response is triggered.

•Pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible

•Blood-glucose levels increase

•Veins in the skin contract allowing extra blood flow to the muscles

•Smooth muscle relaxes to allow extra oxygen for the lungs

•Heart rate increases

•Blood pressure increases

•Non-essential systems shut down (digestion for example)

•The only focus is the task in hand

It is your reaction to this flood of chemicals that decides what happens next. The first, often vital seconds can be wasted whilst your body decides what to do, which option will give you the best chance of survival. Your brain is processing information much faster than usual and increasing or decreasing the levels as the situation dictates. Running for your life or staying to fight is not at this point entirely under your own control, though the 10% of you not being guided by this chemical battle will have a bearing on the final outcome. If you have thought through the likely scenarios, and come to a conclusion, you will not be wasting time working out what to do.

The Psychology Basics

Highly trained individuals are much more able to overcome the flight part of the response and stand their ground and fight. Equally, in a hopeless situation they’re training allows them to make the decision to retreat faster than the average person would. This should never be construed as cowardice, it is simply a tactical withdrawal that leaves them alive to fight another day.

Sadly some of those we may call ‘The Golden Horde’ may also possess the ability to make decisions faster than the average person. Those used to living on their wits will cope better in flight or fight situations than the average man simply because they have been in similar situations more often than Mr Average. Their most common reaction though is to fight, even when if they’d listened to the 10% of their brain not being controlled they would have realized it is unwise to do so.

It’s this that marks the difference between the gangs and highly trained individuals…those who are well trained know when to retreat for tactical reasons, gangs do it out of fear, and it’s this fear that can buy you time and make a hell of a difference to the outcome of a confrontation.

I know the urge to shoot at a roving gang going door to door down your street would be strong, but if you are at home, holed up with the family and you’re drastically outnumbered this may not have the outcome that is best for you or your family.

The urge to shoot first and hope you’re alive to ask questions later is almost overwhelming in such  situation, but sometimes you have to go with the 10% of you that isn’t under the control of biochemicals coursing around your body.

People hunting in gangs have a pack mentality, they are set on a course of action, and it often doesn’t enter their head that they will fail, they have not failed before, why should this occasion be any different?

That’s where control and logical thinking comes into it. Announcing to said gang that you are there by spraying the road with bullets is unlikely to deter them…they are armed, and past experience tells them that you are outnumbered. They are not thinking tactics, they are thinking of nothing but what they can steal from your home.

This makes them dumb, and relatively easy pickings for someone who is thinking tactically.

The Bones Of It

Now here I have to be careful. I have been advised by a Lizzie loyal police officer that spelling out some of the methods that can be used to stop these roving gangs could get me arrested. It’s a British thing, the government decided a while back we were not allowed to defend ourselves. It’s best just to give you some examples of how dangerous ‘kitchen chemistry’ can be, and why therefore you should NEVER resort to using such methods…

We are told never to mix chemical cleaners as dangerous gases can be formed as a result. The son of a friend of mine didn’t believe this so he tried it, and produced a nice cloud of a chlorine gas.

The stupid boy had duct taped two jam jars together and put one solution in each jar, the idea being to drip one drop at a time from one jar into the other. Of course when he knocked it over the fluids mixed, and he spent several hours in the emergency department with streaming eyes, gasping for breath, and some nice burns from splashes that had landed on his legs to boot. Here is a fact sheet telling you what you must not mix together and why.

Teenagers are indeed foolish. There are reports from police in the US that kids are making items  based on an episode of MacGuyver. There have been some nasty injuries, and it’s a good job they used plastic bottles not glass or things would have been a good deal worse. Glass shards can travel a hell of a long way from their original breakage point.

There is even a case of a church receptionist using wasp nest killer instead of pepper spray on police advice as it shoots way further than mace. Remeber not to get a flame near it as it is highly flammable and becomes something of a flame thrower!

I digress, sorry, back to tactics. Anything you can do to put these people on the back foot is to your advantage. Hidden tanglefoot, or even a board with nails whacked through becomes invisible at night, the prime time for attacks.

Unusual and unpleasant chemical smells, loud noises, anything that isn’t expected immediately increases the stress levels of those that seek to do you harm. If these items can be placed a little way off your property all the better, it allows you to leave a few more surprises on your drive or garden should they decide to continue their approach.

Now, if nothing else has deterred them and they are getting a little too close to the door then the time has come to show your hand and if you are not lead deprived as we are here in the UK…shoot.

The delay, the putting off of firing for a minute or two has given you a couple of distinct advantages:

  • You will be mentally calmer and therefore thinking more clearly. You know something they don’t, the basis of tactical warfare for centuries.
  • You will be more in control if the situation deteriorates into one that requires direct confrontation.
  • Some of the group are most likely injured and will therefore hold back. leaving less people for you to deal with.
  • They will be confused at coming across unanticipated obstacles. This can cause loss of concentration and hesitation.

Giving yourself time to listen to the 10% of your brain under your control can, in many circumstances pay dividends that brass and lead alone cannot deliver.

Take Care

Liz

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple


Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.

Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.

Understanding The Stress Response: It Can Buy You Valuable Seconds | The Daily Sheeple

Understanding The Stress Response: It Can Buy You Valuable Seconds | The Daily Sheeple.

Lizzie Bennett
Underground Medic
March 2nd, 2014

10750147-x-ray-close-up-with-brain-and-skull-concept

Survival in extreme situations often depends on an individuals ability to respond to the threat they are faced with. The stress response in humans has for decades been referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Now if you have a couple of Uzi’s and enough ammunition none of this applies to you because you could probably wipe out any number of malcontents advancing towards your property. For the rest of you, well, I hope you find some use in what I have to say.

The Physiological Basics

When faced with a sudden or extreme threat, two body systems act together to give you the best possible chance of survival. The reaction is for the most part not under your control. Your brain and your body decide what happens, the biggest toughest guy in the bar may turn and run, the tiny young bar tender may not, 90% of what happens is decided by chemistry.

The sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system get together at the first sign of a serious threat and if the threat persists for longer than a few more seconds both systems kick into high gear and adrenaline (epinepherine) noradrenaline (norepinepherine) and a couple of dozen other hormones flood the body and the fight or flight response is triggered.

•Pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible

•Blood-glucose levels increase

•Veins in the skin contract allowing extra blood flow to the muscles

•Smooth muscle relaxes to allow extra oxygen for the lungs

•Heart rate increases

•Blood pressure increases

•Non-essential systems shut down (digestion for example)

•The only focus is the task in hand

It is your reaction to this flood of chemicals that decides what happens next. The first, often vital seconds can be wasted whilst your body decides what to do, which option will give you the best chance of survival. Your brain is processing information much faster than usual and increasing or decreasing the levels as the situation dictates. Running for your life or staying to fight is not at this point entirely under your own control, though the 10% of you not being guided by this chemical battle will have a bearing on the final outcome. If you have thought through the likely scenarios, and come to a conclusion, you will not be wasting time working out what to do.

The Psychology Basics

Highly trained individuals are much more able to overcome the flight part of the response and stand their ground and fight. Equally, in a hopeless situation they’re training allows them to make the decision to retreat faster than the average person would. This should never be construed as cowardice, it is simply a tactical withdrawal that leaves them alive to fight another day.

Sadly some of those we may call ‘The Golden Horde’ may also possess the ability to make decisions faster than the average person. Those used to living on their wits will cope better in flight or fight situations than the average man simply because they have been in similar situations more often than Mr Average. Their most common reaction though is to fight, even when if they’d listened to the 10% of their brain not being controlled they would have realized it is unwise to do so.

It’s this that marks the difference between the gangs and highly trained individuals…those who are well trained know when to retreat for tactical reasons, gangs do it out of fear, and it’s this fear that can buy you time and make a hell of a difference to the outcome of a confrontation.

I know the urge to shoot at a roving gang going door to door down your street would be strong, but if you are at home, holed up with the family and you’re drastically outnumbered this may not have the outcome that is best for you or your family.

The urge to shoot first and hope you’re alive to ask questions later is almost overwhelming in such  situation, but sometimes you have to go with the 10% of you that isn’t under the control of biochemicals coursing around your body.

People hunting in gangs have a pack mentality, they are set on a course of action, and it often doesn’t enter their head that they will fail, they have not failed before, why should this occasion be any different?

That’s where control and logical thinking comes into it. Announcing to said gang that you are there by spraying the road with bullets is unlikely to deter them…they are armed, and past experience tells them that you are outnumbered. They are not thinking tactics, they are thinking of nothing but what they can steal from your home.

This makes them dumb, and relatively easy pickings for someone who is thinking tactically.

The Bones Of It

Now here I have to be careful. I have been advised by a Lizzie loyal police officer that spelling out some of the methods that can be used to stop these roving gangs could get me arrested. It’s a British thing, the government decided a while back we were not allowed to defend ourselves. It’s best just to give you some examples of how dangerous ‘kitchen chemistry’ can be, and why therefore you should NEVER resort to using such methods…

We are told never to mix chemical cleaners as dangerous gases can be formed as a result. The son of a friend of mine didn’t believe this so he tried it, and produced a nice cloud of a chlorine gas.

The stupid boy had duct taped two jam jars together and put one solution in each jar, the idea being to drip one drop at a time from one jar into the other. Of course when he knocked it over the fluids mixed, and he spent several hours in the emergency department with streaming eyes, gasping for breath, and some nice burns from splashes that had landed on his legs to boot. Here is a fact sheet telling you what you must not mix together and why.

Teenagers are indeed foolish. There are reports from police in the US that kids are making items  based on an episode of MacGuyver. There have been some nasty injuries, and it’s a good job they used plastic bottles not glass or things would have been a good deal worse. Glass shards can travel a hell of a long way from their original breakage point.

There is even a case of a church receptionist using wasp nest killer instead of pepper spray on police advice as it shoots way further than mace. Remeber not to get a flame near it as it is highly flammable and becomes something of a flame thrower!

I digress, sorry, back to tactics. Anything you can do to put these people on the back foot is to your advantage. Hidden tanglefoot, or even a board with nails whacked through becomes invisible at night, the prime time for attacks.

Unusual and unpleasant chemical smells, loud noises, anything that isn’t expected immediately increases the stress levels of those that seek to do you harm. If these items can be placed a little way off your property all the better, it allows you to leave a few more surprises on your drive or garden should they decide to continue their approach.

Now, if nothing else has deterred them and they are getting a little too close to the door then the time has come to show your hand and if you are not lead deprived as we are here in the UK…shoot.

The delay, the putting off of firing for a minute or two has given you a couple of distinct advantages:

  • You will be mentally calmer and therefore thinking more clearly. You know something they don’t, the basis of tactical warfare for centuries.
  • You will be more in control if the situation deteriorates into one that requires direct confrontation.
  • Some of the group are most likely injured and will therefore hold back. leaving less people for you to deal with.
  • They will be confused at coming across unanticipated obstacles. This can cause loss of concentration and hesitation.

Giving yourself time to listen to the 10% of your brain under your control can, in many circumstances pay dividends that brass and lead alone cannot deliver.

Take Care

Liz

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple


Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.

Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.

What you should know about edible plants in the United States…

What you should know about edible plants in the United States….

by Guest Blogger on February 28, 2014

This is a guest post by Christine W and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

blackberries

I once read a very interesting article from a survivor of the Bosnian Collapse in the late 90’s. This was a true end of the world as they knew it event, and it was fascinating and eye opening to read. One of the things the man talked about in his extensive article was the most useful skills to posses. Medical knowledge was the highest on his list. Lacking real world medical training, people with the knowledge of the uses of herbs and plants were able to trade and use that knowledge to survive.

Most people in America can’t identify even 1% of the plants that surround them. They don’t know useful from poisonous or nutritious from useless plants. And yet there are dozens of plants that grow even in urban settings that are not only edible but down right lifesaving if you only can identify them. For 15 years I have been a gardener and outdoorswoman. Much of my knowledge has come from being a curious person interested in the world around me, and also from searching for natural ways to heal common ailments for myself and my children.

I have been amazed at the amount of plants growing near me that can be used for healing, and have compiled a small list of what I consider the important common plants that grow in the USA, things you can find right out your back door. I am sure there are thousands more! Knowledge is power, so I recommend that you should start now when it comes to identifying wild and not so wild food and medicinal sources. Once you can recognize a plant start noting where you see them, what time of year they flower in your area and when they bear fruit. I go out for drives along country roads and memorize where plants, bushes, berries, and helpful trees are growing.

You can also look around your neighborhood. Rose Bushes will provide you with rose hips that are high in vitamin C and can save you from scurvy in the winter. Echinacea also known as Purple Coneflowers are popular in gardens can boost the immune system and also have a host of other uses. Look up color photos of plants on the internet to help you identify them, or join a wild crafting group if one is available. Having a print out of each plant with multiple pictures and uses of them, along with how to use them and dosages, is very important in a SHTF event. There are many books specifying every area of America for finding wild foods and they often have excellent color pictures and identification keys. I keep a few of them in my purse when I go up to the wild and try to identify as many helpful plants as possible. Often these books are inexpensive so picking them up is a good idea.

As a note I say where you can find the below plants. We live in the dry west so most plants only grow near water sources. However I know that in other areas of the country rain is more plentiful so the growing habitat is much different. If you are gathering post or during SHTF remember your personal safety and weigh the possible benefits vs. danger of running into other hungry people. Never go alone even now as accidents happen and wild animals many times enjoy wild foods as much as people do. Meeting a hungry bear while picking berries is a highly unpleasant event! When you head to any wilderness take precautions and let people know where you are going and when you are coming back. Always take a first aid kit, water, a good map, and some food with you.

Caution! As with any wild foraging check and double check your identification before eating anything, do not take another person’s word on the safety of a plant. Some wild foods are debated on their safety as some people will have a reaction where other do not. Also if you have food allergies be wary and careful when trying new things. Remember that when harvesting wild foods make sure they are not sprayed with poisons or chemicals. I am not a doctor and am not giving medical advice. If you want to try natural remedies do your research and also talk to your doctor. Even though these plants are natural they can still be very strong medicines and even interact with other medication you are taking!

Alfalfa – Amazingly enough, this plant, a common feed for animals, is one of the most useful in a TEOTWAWKI collapse, or even just in a financial collapse where you suddenly become dirt poor. Alfalfa is highly nutritious and can be used to treat several conditions. The most important in my mind being bleeding, hemorrhaging, hemorrhaging after birth, and heavy menstrual bleeding. Blood loss is a common problem where medical care is limited and people are exposed to hard physical work or dangerous situations.

Childbirth for women is the most fatal event during life in 3rd world countries, many of the deaths coming from hemorrhaging after birth. Drinking a tea made from alfalfa, or eating alfalfa in the last few weeks of pregnancy can help prevent hemorrhage or excessive bleeding due to several compounds it contains, this includes vitamin K which is essential to blood clotting. I used this supplement under my midwifes supervision during my last two pregnancies.

My first two births went off well except that I hemorrhaged after birth. After my second birth I hemorrhaged so severely that I was only saved by my midwife administering emergency shots of anti hemorrhaging drugs (which will not be available to most women in a SHTF event). For two months after I was weaker than normal and under strict instructions to take it easy. My next two births went well and I barely bled at all, even compared to normal bleeding. Both times I was taking alfalfa at the end of my pregnancy. Pregnant women should not take it until the last three weeks of pregnancy due to the fact that as it has hormone properties that could cause labor and miscarriage.

Once a woman is considered full term at 37 weeks that is not such an issue. Taking too much alfalfa for longer than a month can have the opposite effect and cause bleeding to be worse! Newborns need Vitamin K for proper development and usually receive an injection soon after birth, but during or after a SHTF event those shots may not be available and doctors recommend mothers consume foods with high vitamin K so that it will be passed to the nursing child. Dried or fresh alfalfa can be used in the human diet and also as a compress on wounds to help them stop bleeding. In application to a wound it is essential to boil the water for 10 minutes to kill bacteria and then boil the alfalfa added for a few minutes thus killing any bacteria on the plant leaves. Alfalfa helps people who are nutritionally deficient.

It helps a great deal with vitamin C deficiency when used fresh, for it contains more vitamin C than some citrus fruits. Scurvy is caused by a vitamin C deficiency and is a common problem for people during famines, or when there is a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. It also has very high B vitamin levels and Vitamin D levels which help with problems such as rickets, a common disease especially effecting children who have poor diets or are not exposed to enough sunlight. This is a common problem when living in a war zone or an area where people must stay inside much of the time due to violence as Vitamin D cannot be manufactured by the body and is mainly created by the skins exposure to the sun.

Alfalfa is also easy to store when dried and is very cheap. It is a good item to keep on hand. Alfalfa is grown everywhere in the USA and can be found along ditch banks and country roads growing wild, in fields as well as in farm yards. It does not need to be reseeded every year so a field that had it last year will have it this year as well.

Raspberry Leaf – Raspberries (also known as redcaps, bramble berries, dewberry, and thimbleberry) grow wild in the USA and are even considered an invasive species. They come in red, black, purple, and golden fruit all of which is essentially the same plant, but these other fruit colors do not generally grow in the wild like the common red does. Obviously the fruit is edible but the leaves and even roots can be used for highly effective remedies. The most well known is for aid to painful menstruation, to regulate and normalize a woman’s cycle, and also to help shorten and lessen the pain of childbirth. I am all for shortening the length of childbirth; having had four children naturally! Caution must be used however as raspberry leaf can cause uterine contractions, so it should only be used once labor has begun or a week before birth is expected. It can be used by non-pregnant women during and right before menstruation. Another equally important use of raspberry leaf is it’s use as a cure for diarrhea. More on that in the Blackberry Section. These plants are found near water, in boggy areas, besides stream banks, in gullies, on ditch banks, or growing anywhere that gets plentiful rainfall.

Blackberry Fruits, Leaves, and Roots – Diarrhea is one of the most common killers in third world countries due to contaminated water supplies and poor water treatment facilities. As a country collapses the infrastructure of water treatment always breaks down, and waterborne illness explodes. Preparation for such disease is essential when we plan for a SHTF event.

Diarrhea is especially fatal to children and the elderly, and is frightening at how fast it kills. Soldiers in battle frequently suffer from dysentery due to bad water as well. For centuries blackberries (and to a lesser extent any of the bramble berry varieties such a red caps, black caps, Marion berries, dewberries, and raspberries) have been used for treating diarrhea, dysentery, food borne illness, and even the more deadly waterborne illnesses. This must be remembered to be a treatment, not a cure as diarrhea is a symptom of an infection in the body which must be treated as well.

Blackberry Root Bark is the most effective remedy for diarrhea, but if you can’t get to the roots the leaves are highly effective as well, even dried ones. Last is the fruit which can be eaten or a syrup or juice made from the fruit. A syrup or juice is especially useful when treating small children. One teaspoon of root or leaves per boiling cup of water, steeped for 20 minutes, then sweetened with honey if possible due to its healing and soothing properties is a good dosage. It is the tannins in the blackberry plant that help with diarrhea . Blackberries are even more invasive than red raspberries and grow profusely throughout the USA. If in a dry region look for them along streams or down in gullies and canyons. The leaves and root bark are easy to dry, and the leaves can be eaten and are high in nutrition.

Elderberries – I grew up eating wild elderberries, these are a round purple-ish blue fruit that grows in clusters on a bushy tree. The bush flowers in late spring depending on your area and the fruits are ripe in early fall. They are very common growing wild and like water so they grow either near bodies of water or in areas that get plenty of water. I often see them growing in old farm yards or homesteads because the pioneers and old farmers used them not only for health but as a much needed fruit. They also can be found in gullies and draws. The fruit has a dusty powder on it, but care should be taken as the red elderberry, the stems of all elderberries that connect to the fruit, and also the unripe fruit, are poisonous.

The fruit and flowers have been proven in clinical trials to help with many ailments, but especially in respiratory infections such as bronchitis and also to help thin mucus. The fruit are very high in vitamin C and are used to treat the flu and to boost the immune system. Elderberries would be good for an insurance against scurvy. Harvesting is easy and making juice, syrups, or tinctures from them is the best way to use them for healing.

The flowers are used to make a tea or tincture for respiratory ailments and compresses for wounds. They also are good in pies, jams, jellies, and to make wine and liquors. There is some evidence that they should be cooked before consuming as uncooked raw fruit can cause stomach upset. Elderberry syrup is safe for children.

Other Berries – Obviously there are many berries growing throughout the United states, many of them not only edible but beneficial as well. Getting a good book on berry identification for your area is an excellent idea.

Rosehips – Wild roses grow all over the USA along roads, up in the mountains, and in forests. They are usually found as just a single flower, meaning they are a single layer of petals in a ring around the central part of the flower, maybe five petals in a ring. Roses are also grown in many yards and gardens, and there are even rose varieties grown specifically for large rosehips. Rosehips are the main and most helpful part of the plant for use. Wild roses have small hips compared to their cultivated cousins, but size doesn’t matter when it comes to food and medicinal value.

They can be eaten raw in a pinch, but the most common way is to chop the hips roughly and pour 1 cup boiling water over two teaspoons of the chopped hips. Allow them to steep for 20 minutes and sweeten with honey, or, if for a child under two years of age, sugar or syrup. Rose hips are higher in vitamin C than citrus fruit and not only prevent, but also treat scurvy.

They are easy to identify and easy to harvest. Rose hips make a tea that is tart and pleasant to drink. They can help treat urinary tract infections and the flu, and rose hips also boost the immune system. When fresh veggies and fruit are unavailable, rosehips can be found even in winter and still be eaten as they do not rot easily and cling to the rosebush. Rosehips are generally a reddish color, and it is wise to look for ones that are still firm, not black or with mold or rot on them. They can be used to make syrup, jelly, jam, wine, and juice. The flowers of roses are also edible but make sure you don’t eat them if they are been sprayed with pesticide.

Bachelor Buttons – Bachelor Buttons, also known as cornflowers, are a flower that grows wild and cultivated across the USA. They are popular in wildflower or cottage gardens and are also drought tolerant and reseed prolifically in the wild. The common color is a cobalt blue, but especially in gardens they come in white, light pink, and purple. The flower is the part used and is most commonly utilized as an eyewash for injured or infected eyes. This is usually done by steeping the flowers in fresh boiled water, cooled, and then applied over the eyes on a moistened rag.

A similar rinse for cuts and sores in the mouth aids healing. In this instance it is best to spit out after swishing around the mouth. Furthermore, they can also be used in the same form to wash cuts, scrapes and bruises. Combine one teaspoon of dried cornflower petals, or five fresh blossoms with one cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 15-20 minutes; after this you may strain and consume. If taking internally it is best for no longer than two weeks. Cornflower tea has been used to calm diarrhea, treat urinary tract infections, and for anxiety or nervousness. This flower can be found along road sides, in fields, and in clearings. They love full sun and they are very easy to grow. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this internally. If you have allergies to daisies or ragweed you should not use this at all.

Lambs Quarters/Wild Spinach – Lambs Quarters, also known as wild spinach, goosefoot, pigweed, good king henry, and fat hen, is considered by most gardeners as a weed, but is in fact is a highly nutritious and delicious plant that grows everywhere and is easy to identify. It is nicer than common spinach because it is slow to bolt in the heat of summer, and because while tasting like spinach, it is even more nutritious. It can be cooked or eaten raw and the stems leaves and seeds are all edible. It can also be frozen, canned or dried for later eating. Lamb’s Quarters is a good survival food and can be found in yards, abandoned lots, fields, gardens, and along roads. You can cut it off almost to the root, yet it comes up and starts leafing out again.

Dandelion – Dandelion is another common yard weed that grows almost everywhere, including in the mountains. I never dig up the dandelions in my yard but use them and also feed them to our rabbits. We do not treat our yard with chemicals. It is highly nutritious, and all parts are edible- including the roots which can be dried and used as a coffee substitute. It has been used as a diuretic and to cleanse the blood of toxins. The milk that comes when you cut the plant can be used on wounds and is highly effective to use on warts. I have used the milk on three of my children’s warts and all three times it made them disappear naturally without pain or scarring. It must be applied every day for a good month to the warts. A tea made from all parts of the dandelion is absurdly rich in nutrients and would be well utilized by those suffering from malnutrition.

Wild Onions – Wild onions are easy to identify because they smell like onions! They are considered a weed in many parts of the country, and they can be eaten like regular onions while being a healthy addition to the diet and are easy to dry for future use. They can be in yards or near places that have a constant water supply or good rain.

Pine Trees/Spruce Trees – Pine trees are common all across the USA and several parts of the tree can be used both medicinally and nutritionally. The needles themselves are rich in vitamin C and can be steeped in boiling water to create a tea to fight scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), and they are also high in vitamin A and beta carotene. Spruce tip tea or pine needle tea is useful to treat sore throat, cough, colds, and chest congestion. This is a very important survival food as it is so readily available and easy to find. The best tasting needles are young tender ones, but older needles work just the same nutritionally. Pine nuts that are found in pine cones are rich in calories, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals and are high in vitamin K which helps stop bleeding. The inner bark of pine trees is even edible but should only be used in an emergency because to get at it you kill the tree.

Pine Sap has many uses and is highly effective for use on wounds when mixed as a salve to prevent and treat infection. It is also used as a flu and cold treatment when mixed with honey or made into a tincture. It not only fights the infection inside but also soothes sore throats.

Chopped pine needles added to a hot bath can help with skin problems since they contain natural sulfur, they also sooth sore muscles and joints. Pine oil can be used by adding a few drops to boiling water and then breathing in the steam; there is evidence that it helps cure sinus infections, bronchitis, and breaks up mucus. Pine oil kills germs and can be used to clean surfaces during illnesses, although, it must always be diluted and never applied straight to skin.

However, pine oil is a distilled product and must go through special processing and may not be easy to replicate after SHTF (although what a skill to have!) Use roughly chopped pine needles, with boiling water poured over, then cover your head with a towel over the bowl and breath deeply. Pine needles are also a natural flea and bug repellent and can be used to stuff beds and cushions to deter them. The scent of pine is generally very calming. Caution – Pregnant women should not use pine needle tea as there is fear it could cause miscarriage. There are three varieties of toxic pine, and it is highly recommended to learn how to identify and avoid them. They are Norfolk Island Pine, Yew, and Ponderosa Pine.

Crabapples – These are a variety of apple that are often overlooked as an edible fruit because they are unpleasant for fresh eating. They are very good for cooking and if sweetened can be made into pies, jams, jellies, syrup, wine, pickled, and when mixed with other fruits dried in fruit leather. They were mainly used by our forefathers as an addition to cider making as they added depth of flavor and a bit of tartness to the finished product. There are many varieties of crabapple tree and the fruit can be quite large as they are grown for their pretty look. They are grown in many yards and businesses as a decorative tree and the fruit is most often left to rot. Most people I have asked are eager to let me pick off their trees since otherwise they eventually fall and have to be raked up. They also can be found growing wild and in old orchards or farms. Crabapples are high in vitamin C and make a pleasant tea when sweetened. They have been used to treat urinary infections and can also be juiced to make cider vinegar which is one of the most healthy things you can make. For the best flavor harvest after they have been frosted on.

Wild Plums – These are native to the USA and grow in all parts. They are small and are usually a yellowish red color. Wild Plums are a tasty fruit for fresh eating and are useful in making jam, jelly, syrup, pies, and pickles. They are very high in vitamin C and Iron. Dried or fresh they are a good laxative and treat anemia.

Cattails – A well known wild food that grows in marshy or wet areas these are easy to identify. All parts of the plant are edible in different seasons and have good food value. The root can be pounded and applied to cuts and scrapes as a poultice. As these always grown near or in water be careful of pollution.

Rhubarb – This is not necessarily a wild food but it is so common that noting where it grows is a good idea. This plant comes back year after year for practically ever and you see it often in abandoned lots, old farmsteads, abandoned homes, or in peoples gardens. Most people never use it and are happy to give away to those who will. Harvesting in the spring is best when it is tender. Rhubarb can be made into jam, sauce, syrup, put into pies, cakes, and breads and canned. Rhubarb is rich in B- complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid and good levels of vitamin K. It has been used to treat stomach problems. The leaves are poisonous, only the stalks should be eaten.

Daylilies – These grow all over the US and in many places they grow wild or have taken over lots of land and gardens as they are hardy and invasive. They are edible. The shoots when young in spring can be cooked like asparagus or eaten raw, the flowers should be harvested in summer and can be fried like squash flowers, chopped and added to salads, and immature buds cooked like green beans. The tubers can be gathered year round and cooked like corn. They have been used to treat arsenic poisoning.

Nuts – There are so many trees that produce edible nuts that all I can recommend is that you get a good identification book and start looking around you. Nuts are high in nutrition, healthy fats, and calories so they make an excellent survival food. A couple of varieties that are overlooked by people are acorns and pine nuts found in pine cones. Acorns have good food value but are bitter so most people avoid them, meaning that you will have more opportunity to gather them. Learn how to process them to get out the bitterness.

Wild Strawberries – Also known as Alpine strawberry, Common Strawberry, Mountain Strawberry, Pineapple Strawberry, Wild Strawberries, Wood Strawberry, Woodland strawberry. These grow prolifically all over the USA and although the fruit is very nice to eat (but tiny) the leaves have great food value and have been used to treat diarrhea when made into a tea. The leaves contain beneficial minerals and vitamins. The root is also used to treat diarrhea. These like shady places but also can grow in sunny clearings and fields..

Wild Violets – The leaves and the flowers are edible and can be found growing in many yards and gardens where they are considered a weed. They are purple-ish blue or white and can be found in the shade of forests or moist clearings. They can be added to salads or cooked. The medicinal uses are many and they make a lovely salve for irritated skin and rashes and also a tea can be made from the leaves and flowers to ease the pain of headaches and arthritis as well as to treat diarrhea. They appear early in spring and grow all summer long in the shade. They are loaded with vitamin A and C which makes them a good remedy for colds and flu. The flowers can be added to jellies during the cooking stage and turn the liquid a lovely violet color.

Ferns – Several fern varieties are edible and are often called fiddleheads, however care must be taken as there are also several non edible varieties that can cause mild to severe illness. Invest in a good identification book or print many pictures out of edible varieties off the internet for better identification. These must be harvested in early to late spring. They are fried, steamed sautéed, boiled, and pickled and are rich in vitamin A and C.

Wild Greens – There are so many kinds that it would take a good sized book to describe them all and I highly recommend buying a field guide and searching them out. Some that are common and worth investigating are mustard, watercress, stinging nettle, miners lettuce, sorrel, red clover, and sweet coltsfoot. Most greens are best harvested in the spring and early summer when they are tender and young.

Willow Tree – The willow tree has been used for thousands of years to treat pain. It grows in yards and woods across the United States. The bark of the tree, especially that of the White Willow tree is what as used and has the same actions of aspirin for treating pain and fever Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of willow bark to 8 oz of boiling water and boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn off heat and allow to steep for 20 to 30 minutes more. Drinking 3 to 4 cups throughout the day is recommended to be effective. Gathering and drying the bark in spring summer and fall would be a good idea to have a store through winter. This is a real medication similar in its side effects to aspirin, it interacts with several drugs and can cause the same stomach problems as aspirin so research it well before use. Pregnant and nursing women, and children under two should never use willow bark.

Mints – Mints are not a really wild species but are so highly invasive once planted in a garden that they quickly spread and can take over vast tracts of land. There are many varieties and just as many uses both as a food as well as medicinally. Mints are high in vitamin A and spearmint in particular is high in minerals. It is often used internally to treat stomach upset, headaches, body aches, reduce fever, for sore throats and cough, anti flatulence, and diarrhea. Externally mint is an excellent insect repellent and can be use to treat lice, muscle aches, soothe insect bites, hair care, and vaginitis. A simple tea is used internally and is quite pleasant, externally a similar tea can be made and cooled before application.

Mushrooms – Wild mushrooms can be very helpful both medicinally and nutritionally but great care must be taken as so many varieties are deadly. I won’t go into them here but invest in a good full color photographic field guide, and even then be carefull! The only mushroom I feel very safe harvesting is morels because they are so distinctive and only have one similar species to contend with. As my father said they look like a brain!

Tree Saps – There are several trees that produce edible saps that can be boiled down into sweet syrups. Most commonly we think of the maple tree, and all maples produce sap although the sugar maple is the most well known and produces the highest volume per tree. There are however several other trees that produce good sap for human use. Pine trees are one but the sap is more for medicinal use than for pleasurable eating. Birch, Walnut, and Sycamore all produce an edible sap for syrup making. Obviously these are high in sugar content which equals calories. As a caution only stick to the above or other documented non poisonous trees for sap. Tree sap syrup has many vitamins and minerals making them a good survival food.

Wild Leeks Or Ramps – These are a leek or onion like bulb that are common throughout the United States in forested areas and grow often near streams or on hills. The leaves when torn or bruised smell of onion or garlic so they are easy to identify. The plant resembles lily of the valley. These are found and harvested in the spring. When harvesting only take half of what you find so they can continue to propagate.

Supplies For Harvesting – A good pair of boots and weather specific clothing, good identification books or literature, a small hand shovel, a good sturdy bucket/basket with a handle/or canvas bags, a knife for cutting, gardening gloves, a sidearm for meetings with predators of the four legged to two legged kind.

M.D. Creekmore recommends you get a copy of The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants.

Activist Post: Medicinal ginger for health and garden

Activist Post: Medicinal ginger for health and garden.

Rady Ananda
Activist Post

One of the world’s most potent disease-fighting spices, ginger, is easy to grow and comes in a variety of over a thousand different species.  Medicinal ginger most often used is Zingiber officinale.

The Real Food Channel reminds us, “Pharmaceutical companies would have you believe that their expensive and potentially toxic medications are the way to treat nausea, cold and flu symptoms, migraines, and other illnesses.” But, Ken McCarthy asks, “What if a common food, easily available and inexpensive, could treat all of these conditions and more?”

In the video below, Dr Akilah El presents “The Health Benefits of Ginger,” which has been used for over 5,000 years as a natural remedy for a host of ailments, including:

  • Relieves nausea;
  • Eases arthritis;
  • Aides digestion;
  • Reduces respiratory problems;
  • Prevents motion sickness;
  • Fights ovarian cancer;
  • Lowers cholesterol;
  • Prevents migraines;
  • Prevents blood clots; and
  • Treats cold and flu symptoms.

And, it’s easy to grow indoors or out.  Ginger loves it hot, humid and shady. Think of its natural environment – it’s an understory forb in lowland tropical forests.  That landscape is soggy and well drained.  In a pot, the soil should be damp and well drained.

Different species can grow from 3-15 feet in height and about 3 ft. wide.  While its flowers are exotic, it is the underground stem, the rhizome, that packs the medicinal and flavorful punch.

Herb Gardens advises that you select “a plump, smooth-skinned ginger root” for planting. If it’s skinny and shriveled, “the root has been stored too long and has become old.”

Sara Elliot at The Herb Gardener recommends that you use “large root pieces that are shiny and chubby and have little nubs or horns on them. These are the sections that will sprout.”

Soak it for a few hours and lay it on the soil, then just cover it with more soil. Some folks will add worm castings or other organically rich material to the mixture. Most importantly, the soil must remain moist and drain well.  The best soil pH for ginger is slightly acidic, between 6.0 and 6.8.

Keep it at or above 75 ºF (24 ºC) and 70-90% relative humidity (RH).

It’ll take several months for your plant to reach its full height. Depending on conditions, that can be between 4 and 10 months.

In cold climes, bring the pot indoors. “Allow the foliage to yellow and fade; then trim it off,” says Elliot. “Moisten the soil once a month to keep the roots viable. In the spring, after all threat of frost has passed, place the pot in a warm shady spot and watch for a new set of shoots. Repot plants in Spring every couple of years.”

You can begin harvesting it when you see little nubs at the soil line. Cut off the portions at the edge of the pot, rather than near the center.

Then, like the above video recommends, make your tea or spice your meals with it.

Recently by Rady Ananda:

Rady Ananda is the creator of Food Freedom News and COTO Report, Rady Ananda’s work has appeared in several online and print publications, including four books. With a B.S. in Natural Resources from Ohio State University’s School of Agriculture, Rady tweets @geobear7 and @RadysRant.

Millennium Ark: Hot News| How to avoid the coming food shortages…

Millennium Ark: Hot News.

50% of America’s fruits and veggies are grown in California and the Feds
are destroying their crops. What this means for you.

 

PREFACE: Only a small space is required to grow most fruits and veggies for a family. So Stan and I will scamper over to our local garden center this week and for additional organic compost to augment our Super Soil and get those growies growing! By the end of Summer our own compost piles should be ready to sustain the gardens hereafter. It just takes a little while to get there.Sunday, we planned out this year’s garden – including more than usual. Definitely making time for canning this year. Had the equipment, not the time. Since warmth – and dry (drat!) – are coming early this year to the West, Southwest and Southeast, it’s important to get our garden ready in February and seedlings sprouted and sunk in the ground by late March instead of late April – a full month ahead of normal. The most time-consuming aspect will getting the Super Soil pre-warmed as described in Garden Gold, which will only require a couple hours, so plants get a head start and beat this Summer’s killing heat.

These NOAA maps show the probability of temperatures exceeding the norm, so roughly 1/3 of the Country can get their veggies and fruits in early. Unfortunately, as 2014 progresses, a bunch of us will be sweating bullets living in tank tops and shorts.

Click on the different NOAA 3-month outlooks (under More POE Outlooks) on the left to see how temps are revving up hotter and earlier this year. It’s weird that after this blisteringly bitter cold winter, we have to think in terms of excessive heat, but that’s what extreme climate change is about and something Stan and I have warned would descend since 1995. Now that it’s here, everyone must act with fore-thought and planning. With what’s coming, every day counts. —Holly




February 24, 2014
Holly Deyo

TAN DROUGHT KILLING THE GOLDEN STATE

Government has lost its mind. It is no more evident than their decision last week to cut off water to America’s food basket. Squeezed by the worst-ever drought in the state’s history, California is dying of thirst. Crushing news was delivered to farmer’s that no water would be coming from the Federal government. This dreaded decision was compounded by the Sierra Mountains getting just 25% of normal snowpack. There is no water to replenish already dangerously low reservoirs, so no water for farmers.

Photo: Government shut off water in 2009 to California farms in a controversial effort to help threatened species. (NOAA) Now they shut off water to farmers because of low snowpack and rainfall. They can’t win.

Despite recent storms, it’s done nothing to alleviate the staggering dryness. California needs snow. Desperately. Down bursts can’t soak into parched, concrete-like soil so it rolls off, unused, into sewers and drainage ditches. Snowpack melts slowly and is easily funneled into reservoirs and sinks into land and eventually groundwater basins.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency 5 weeks ago and conditions have worsened since.

Farmers who thought this might be coming delayed planting crops. Some have given up altogether. Even late harvests, where possible, would be better than wasting the cost of fuel to run equipment, paying farm workers to work dying fields, paying for seeds that likely won’t survive summer – and have it all come to nothing. Over half a million acres won’t even be planted.

Not that anyone wants a business penalized, but golf courses will be allowed to waste water in the most extravagant method possible. What would you rather have: food on the table or 225,000 acres of lush golf links? The amount of water required to keep them verdant is staggering. Residential customers are already being warned to conserve and some cities have passed mandatory water restrictions. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that 17 communities are at risk of running dry.

Image: It’s clear from the image below that regions of California worst hit and in danger of running out of water are the prime food growing areas.
DROUGHT = SLOW DEATH

We saw this same scenario play out in Beulah, Colorado in 2002 – the year after Stan warned the Pine Drive Water District they needed vastly more water storage. They didn’t listen. The very next year when residents turned on their faucets, literally not a drop dripped. So dire was the situation, it made national news. It was a shock to have literally no water available.

Huge white plastic water storage tanks were hastily set up in front yards and water was trucked in weekly from Pueblo. Wells went completely dry and livestock were reluctantly sold off. It was either that or watch them die.

The next Spring when Stan and I drove around Beulah, the wildlife took your breath. Most telling were larger animals. Baby deer that survived were unbelievably scrawny. Their mothers’ ribs stuck out of their backs and sides from patchy coats like awkward jagged tree branches. Their faces were unhealthily gaunt, lit by haunted eyes. It was heartbreaking.

That was one small mountain community. Now we’re talking about an entire state facing extreme conditions. Heaven help them in the 2014 fire season, which for Californians, began January.
PROMISES, PROMISES

Last week Pres. Obama promised $100 million in livestock-disaster aid, but that doesn’t make water fall from the sky. This is less than a pittance when livestock and poultry alone gross nearly $10 billion in California.1 Instead farmers, like Beulah residents, will be forced to sell their animals. This is a calamity. We’re not talking about a few hundred head. On average, when drought conditions hammer down, like those in Texas a couple years ago, it takes at least 3 years to rebuild herds. This means further rising beef prices that we Americans are already experiencing. Just wait, it will get worse. I warned in 2010 what the Texas drought would do to beef prices in the next few coming years, and this story bears it out: Ground Beef Prices Have Skyrocketed, Here’s Why. The article warns to expect steak to double.

Three weeks ago news agencies reported that beef herds are the smallest since 1951 – and this didn’t factor in what will surely be a massive cattle sell-off in the Golden State.

Other crops feel it too. “Retail prices for tomatoes rose 10% in the 12 months through Jan. 31, and U.S. retail prices for beef, bacon, lettuce and broccoli have also risen at least 10% last year.”2 This hike came before farmers found out they won’t be getting water for crops and 8 million California farmland acres depend on federal and state irrigation.

MEGA-DROUGHT, MEGA-DISASTER

In a stunning report from Time Magazine, Bryan Walsh writes that scientists fear California’s dryness “could get much, much worse” bringing back the horrible era of mega-droughts. “These mega-droughts aren’t predictions. They’re history, albeit from a time well before California was the land of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. And the thought that California and the rest of the modern West might have developed during what could turn out to be an unusually wet period is sobering. In 1930, a year before construction began on the Hoover Dam, just 5.6 million people lived in California. Today more than 38.2 million live in the largest state in the U.S., all of whom need water. California’s 80,500 farms and ranches produced crops and livestock worth $44.7 billion in 2012, but dry farming districts like the Central and Imperial Valleys would wither without irrigation.”3

Image: According to the Drought Monitor, 91% of California is in Severe to Exceptional Drought. For comparison, the rest of CONUS looks much better except Nevada and they don’t grow much of anything.

SQUEEZE PLAY

As one Millennium-Ark reader pointed out in an email last week, after the jump in beef prices, people will look to chicken, pork, fish and turkey. Chicken is already up though not as much as beef.  This will, in turn, drive up their costs and affect availability of these other meats. Keep in mind that California also produces all of these proteins plus lamb. Then consider this: Ag Specialists Warn of Higher Wheat Prices Due to Drought. It’s not just beef, weather is clobbering food from all angles. Rising Threat to Crops from Climate underscores it.

Not to be totally depressing, but remember to factor in possible health issues from the Corexit ridden fish and seafood in the Gulf courtesy of BP’s Deepwater Horizon debacle. Then there’s Fukushima Daiichi’s radiation affecting fish all up and down the West Coast.

Food production is not a national only issue. We export food around the world. In the grain arena, so does Argentina, Australia, Canada, the EU with India, Pakistan, Thailand, the U.S. and Viet Nam contributing to world rice production. Every – single – country is being hit with flood, heatwaves or drought.

Friends, serious climate issues are clobbering beef, grain, fruit and veggies – nearly all food – with unpleasant trickle-down repercussions coming. At this point, it doesn’t matter if it’s caused by geo-engineering, climate change (aka global warming), natural cycles or Sun-driven events. We must deal with the fallout and it’s coming fast.

If you think the beef and grain scenario is bad, check what’s happening in the fruit and veggie department.
CALIFORNIA’S GOLDEN BREAD BASKET

California grows half, HALF of America’s produce. Another 13% is exported4 around the world. California’s yearly produce is valued at more than $45 billion5. In the list below, out of some 400 different foods it grows for our Nation, California leads production for 79 of them. Out of these 79, California grows ALL of 14 crops (in bold). Keep in mind, this list is only 79 out of some 400 foods including sugar beets, mushrooms, oats, potatoes, cucumbers and many more.

Now scroll down to one very important item in the 4th column – Greenhouse Vegetables. These are the nicely potted vegetable, fruit and herb seedlings people purchase every year at building materials centers and nurseries around the Country. These are now at risk.

 

Crop and Livestock Commodities in Which California Leads the Nation6
Almonds
Apricots
Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocados
Beans, Dry Lima
Beans, Fresh Market Snap
Bedding/Garden Plants
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage, Chinese
Cabbage, Fresh Market
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chicory
Cotton, American Pima
Daikon
Dates
Eggplant
Escarole/Endive
Figs
Flowers, Bulbs
Flowers, Cut
Flowers, Potted Plants
Garlic
Grapes, Raisins
Grapes, Table
Grapes, Wine
Greens, Mustard
Hay, Alfalfa
Herbs
Kale
Kiwifruit
Kumquats
Lemons
Lettuce, Head
Lettuce, Leaf
Lettuce, Romaine
Limes
Mandarins & Mandarin Hybrids
Melons, Cantaloupe
Melons, Honeydew
Milk
Milk Goats
Nectarines
Nursery, Bedding Plants
Nursery Crops
Olives
Onions, Dry
Onions, Green
Parsley
Peaches, Clingstone
Peaches, Freestone
Pears, Bartlett
Peppers, Chile
Peppers, Bell
Persimmons
Pigeons and Squabs
Pistachios
Plums
Plums, Dried
Pluots
Pomegranates
Raspberries
Rice, Sweet
Safflower
Seed, Alfalfa
Seed, Bermuda Grass
Seed, Ladino Clover
Seed, Vegetable and Flower
Spinach
Strawberries
Tomatoes, Fresh Market
Tomatoes, Processing
Vegetables, Greenhouse **
Vegetables, Oriental
Walnuts
Wild Rice
California is the sole producer (99% or more) of foods and commodities in bold

 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR SEEDS!

People who have never grown their garden plants from seed think it’s hard and jet down to retailers to buy what they want to grow. There’s nothing wrong with this; we’ve done it too. However, it is so much more economical – and fun – and easy – to start your own plants from seed.

For those who are interested in starting their seedlings this year, here are some practical reasons.

1) Most retailers don’t offer non-hybrid, non-GMO, open-pollinated and heirloom plants.

2) It saves a bunch of money in the long run.

3) Allows a head start on the growing season. Retailers normally have their veggies and fruits for sale on a predictable timetable not taking into account yearly climatic differences. It’s possible to lose weeks in the growing season.

4) Get what you want. Last spring, some plants we wanted, like romaine, NuMex chilies and red lettuce, sold out early. Due to the economy, some veggies were completely unavailable as they only stocked the most popular. Additionally, we noticed that Lowe’s and Home Depot didn’t carry as extensive a variety as they normally do.

5) Avoid greenhouse-borne diseases.

6) This is a fun project for kids and grandkids – a good educational tool so they see how plants make food from seed to table.


Assuming you see the need to get busy, this is the set-up we use.

Photo: From top left, clockwise: seed tray bottom, lights set into the plastic dome cover, seed tray, heating mat.

Seeds don’t need sunlight to sprout, but do need warmth around the clock. We set the Seedling Heat Mat on a 1″ piece of styrofoam. The foam both protects the tabletop and keeps the warmth from escaping out the bottom. The heat mat keeps the soil temperature consistent and 10-20 degrees warmer over room temperature air. They’re relatively inexpensive and really improve germination and seedling growth.

The bottom tray goes on top of the mat with the little seedling plastic pots set inside. Depending on how many seedlings are needed, it’s more economical to do these plastic pots in a sheet than peat pots. It’s cleanable and reusable. If you’re only going to start 20 or so plants, then peat pots save washing it out.

The Seedling Heat Mat  (9” x 19-1/2”) and lights are extra. Mats are about $20 and grow lights are about $21 each, but vary widely in price depending on retailer.

Then the clear plastic greenhouse dome cover sits on top with its edges resting on the sides of the bottom tray. Stan puts aluminum foil between the dome and the metal so it doesn’t turn the plastic an ugly yellow-brown. The yellowing problem we found out the hard way and ruined one dome. No place mentions this tip – and others – except in Garden Gold.

It’s important to get a greenhouse that has a high enough dome cover. Some kits’ covers are only about 2″ or 3″ tall. We use the Mondi 7″ dome (7-1/2” H x 11” W x 21-1/4” L) that sells for $4.60 and fits the 1020 tray. As the seedlings grow, if the lights become too close, they can burn tender leaves and suck the life out of tiny plants. Stan has even put in a set of 2″ or 3″ risers at each end between the dome and the bottom tray if the seedlings grew too tall. Risers can be made out of anything that’s not too heavy, just strong enough to support the dome and not break the bottom tray’s lip. The 1020 Tray runs $1.40 and the 72-cell propagation tray that fits perfectly inside is $9 for 10.

Photo: This is how it looks assembled – all ready for 72 seedlings waiting fill your food needs!

Some seed starter kits come without the plastic tops, but you need the dome to both hold the lights and keep moisture in. On top are two circles for moisture control. They can be opened or closed as needed.

Simply setting planted seeds in a window won’t provide enough light once the seedlings sprout. Plus, windows can get transmit cold, which can either delay or stop germination altogether and defeats the purpose of the heat mat.

Stan cut holes in the ends toward the top of the greenhouse dome and inserted 4 grow lights that are 2 feet long. We use Sun Blaster F24T5 24W HO lights. If you’re looking on-line for the best price, they are normally listed as “Sun Blaster T5 HO”. Gave a cursory look and the best price so far was at GroswersHouse.com:growershouse.com/sun-blaster-t5-ho-fluorescent-strip-light-2.

GETTING SEEDY

NOW is the time to purchase open pollinated, organic, non-genetically engineered seeds. When we ordered onion sets last week, I noticed there were already a few products on Seeds of Change that had sold out or were temporarily sold out. People are getting on the stick early this year!

You’ll get further savings from companies that offer seed in bulk. This is a smart purchase for the foods you love. We did this several years ago and now have our own seed bank.

Here are 4 great resources – ones we use – for open pollinated, heirloom seeds:


If they don’t have what you want, Garden Gold lists over 350 suppliers with their contact information and websites. You’ll spend less time hunting for open-pollinated seeds and supplies, which leaves you more time to get your plants going.

NO COLORADO DOPE, JUST THE STRAIGHT SKINNY

I’m no mystic, but do see what’s coming down. It will be hurtful – possibly signaling prophetic bells to remind of us of Revelation’s 3rd Seal. ALL of our food is being squeezed one way or another. Just after I placed that short note Sunday on our website about getting the garden going, within 15 minutes a dozen people wrote saying they feel that same pressing urgency.

For many fruits and veggies, you can greatly lessen the pain at the grocery store simply by starting (or continuing) your home gardens. While community gardens and farmer’s markets are preferable to depending on the grocery stores and getting ‘robbed’ at check out, it’s best to have fruits and veggies right in your own yard. As they say with precious metals, if it’s not in your hand you don’t own it. You can harvest so much in such little space by using the ancient Chinese technique of bio-intensive growing described in Garden Gold. You will have produce running out your ears. There will be enough to can or sell depending on your family size. Whatever method of gardening you choose, get your beds ready soon.

Now for the beef and other proteins dilemma, if you have a spare freezer, it would behoove you to stock up now before prices shoot up further. You would easily be money ahead to purchase a freezer and stock that baby till it’s ready to burst. Alternately, look at some freeze-dried meats. The last time we checked, the food price bump had not yet hit this industry. Why? Because they literally buy tons of meats at a time and process same until they nearly run out. Then they take the hit on food prices and pass it onto customers. However, we the grocery store consumer, feel every bump and tickle along the way. There is a window of opportunity here…

We caution you to buy from only reputable, long-established retailers. It’s questionable for some smaller outfits where they got their foods, especially if they are a new name. One company is selling food that was around at least since 1998 and has been repackaged to look new. This is a smaller, lesser-known company so stay with the power names for best freshness: Mountain House, Alpine Aire, Thrive (Shelf Reliance). Read What They Don’t Tell You About Storable Foods for more insight. Also check these reviews: Mountain HouseProvident Pantry / Emergency EssentialsShelf Reliance / ThriveWiseEFoods Direct.

Don’t miss my next article coming shortly: How to Start Your Own Seed Bank.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Holly Drennan Deyo is the author of three books: bestseller Dare To Prepare (4th ed.)Prudent Places USA (3rd ed.) and Garden Gold (2nd ed.) Please visit she and her husband’s website: standeyo.com and their FREE Preparedness site: DareToPrepare.com.

 


Sources:
1 A Look at California Agriculture, November 2012, agclassroom.org/kids/stats/california.pdf
California Farm Drought Crisis Deepens, By Andria Cheng, MarketWatch, Feb. 22, 2014; marketwatch.com/story/california-farm-drought-crisis-deepens-2014-02-22-16103424
3 California Drought: Water Supply Could Tighten in Mega Droughts, By Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine, Jan. 23, 2014; http://science.time.com/2014/01/23/hundred-years-of-dry-how-californias-drought-could-get-much-much-worse/
California Agricultural Exports, University of California Agricultural Issues Center, cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/PDFs/2013/Export.pdf
5 California Agricultural Statistics, http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/
6 California Agricultural Statistics 2012 Crop Year, USDA, pg. 1, nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/California/Publications/California_Ag_Statistics/Reports/2012cas-all.pdf

http://standeyo.com/NEWS/14_Food_Water/140223.CA.drought-food.impact.html

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