Knowing how to grow or raise food, cook, and recognize poisonous plants could be vital to your survival for when SHTF. Some plants are poisonous to the touch, to eat raw or when not prepared correctly. Foodborne illnesses could exacerbate other illnesses in a survival situation, and knowing how to protect yourself and your crew is when knowledge equals power.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we? Those enormous containers of dehydrated mashed potatoes are only going to last for so long. Creating a sustainable food system is key to survival. Growing and raising fresh food can be simple and easy to do with the right knowledge and equipment. Consider planning for a hydroponic gardening system, equipped with lights, water source and an organic growing medium (such as rockwool or coco).
In the event that the soil is contaminated and no longer suitable for farming, prepare to do your gardening indoors. In hydroponic indoor gardening, as long as you have the space, you can grow almost any vegetable or berry that you would like. You can even grow your own herbs in a container garden to add some flavor to your meals. A simple hydroponic setup can be inexpensive to create and produce a large crop in minimal space. Just because SHTF doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still be able to eat good-tasting food.
Stockpile a couple of good cookbooks and lock them away for the days after all the dehydrated and freeze-dried food has come and gone. If you have never cooked using a turnip or eggplant before, learn how to now to ease the learning pains later on. More than likely, meat will become more scarce, and diets will move towards something resembling a vegetarian diet. The best starting point is to plant beans, squash and potatoes to store up on hardier food staples before planting things like greens and tomatoes.
Create a cooking system for your shelter equipped with a stock pot, soup pot, a frying pan and a cast iron skillet. If you end up raising fowl or still being able to hunt, the bones make a nice stock that can be used to add nutritious flavor to your meals. Cast irons are built to last and will be very valuable to you for years to come. Acquire metal cooking and eating utensils to ensure a longer lasting lifespan.
Plant identification is vital for survival and may stand between life and death. Poisonous hemlock looks much like wild carrots or parsnips, and not knowing the difference can cost you your life. Learn the plants of your local area, if that is where you have prepped to hunker down when the time comes. Purchase books, talk to old timers in the area, and familiarize yourself with local noxious weeds. If you find yourself in a place where you are unfamiliar with the local flora and fauna, you can always try the universal edibility test.
If you are confident in knowing the species of the plant but are unsure of its growing conditions, boil or thoroughly saute to remove any remaining bacteria or food borne illnesses that may have resided in the water that it was potentially grown in. To eliminate further possibility of foodborne illnesses, do not eat any food that is showing signs of rotting or molding to prevent potential food poisoning.
Some good rules of thumb to follow if you are not confident in your plant identification ability is to avoid wild plants that have:
- Milky or discolored sap
- Three-leaved growth pattern
- Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods
- Bitter or soapy taste
- Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley-like foliage
- “Almond” scent in woody parts and leaves
- Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs
- Spines, fine hairs, or thorns
Becoming a great chef, a novice plant expert and being prepared can be what separates you from living well and starvation. Of all the numerous ways that you may meet your end, being without food should not be one of them.
About the Author:
Brooke Faulkner’s mission in life is to be prepared for anything life throws at her. As a mother of two, more often than not that includes legos and snotty viruses. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found zipping around the wilderness on her ATV.