From time to time, we all think about the end of the world – the apocalypse. Whether it will all pan out like in the movies is up for speculation. The notion that the collapse of society could be marked by a zombie apocalypse is so prevalent in our zeitgeist that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has used it as a tool for reaching audiences about hazard preparedness.
The marketing campaign may seem like a reaching attempt to educate the masses about disaster preparedness, beginning with millions of walking dead fans. But the central question raised by the CDCP is valid: are you prepared to survive a catastrophe? Whether it is a hurricane or a flu outbreak, there are certain steps one ought to take to be ready. And one of the central items that need to be talked about is food.
There is a wide range of potential catastrophes out there, but some are more probable than others. While some people have the misfortune of having to move from their home and rough it in the wild, that is not only an unlikely scenario for most, but also one nearly impossible to fully prepare for. Instead, this article will focus on short-term and long-term catastrophes.
Food Needed for a Short-Term Catastrophe
The most basic thing you will need to survive any catastrophe is water. Clean water is a necessity for drinking, but also for washing dishes and your body. Another significant factor is how much water you will need for cooking, which includes things you might not even think about, like coffee. A general rule of thumb is that it is best to be prepared with one to two gallons of water per person, per day.
When it comes to edible items, it is very important to choose wisely. You should assume that even in a short-term catastrophe you will be without power, meaning most refrigerated items will be useless. Common items such as crackers, oatmeal, and cereal are all staples with decent nutrition that store easily. Proteins, fruits, and veggies are easy to come by in canned varieties. If storage space is of the essence, you may even want to try dried fruit or fruit leather over canned.
Powdered milk is an incredibly valuable food to have when milk is not available as a result of a power outage. If allergies are not an issue, peanut butter stores well in room temperature and the good stuff has protein in addition to sweet and savory flavor profile. Jams and jellies are ideally refrigerated after opening, but they can survive a few days without refrigeration. Last, instant mashed potatoes are a fine means of starch which can be whipped up with cold water in a pinch.
Food Needed for a Long-Term Catastrophe
When we talk about long-term catastrophes, we are not talking about the apocalypse. I don’t have tips to survive a zombie outbreak. I am not a science fiction author! But even in the present developed world, disasters such as hurricanes and flooding have left entire communities in emergency situations for a month or longer. Considering a thirty-day supply of food is a quite realistic measure, and likely not as difficult to accomplish as you might think.
Just as with a power outage of only several days, for a longer emergency you will need to think about water and canned food. However, cans do take up space, so you may want to think about including freeze-dried meats to your store. One thing to guard against when preparing for a month-long emergency is how tasteless food can become when it is repeated too many times consecutively. Seaweed is a densely nutritious food with the added benefit of being salty so it can help flavor other foods.
While we may try to stay away from solid fats on a daily basis, during an emergency our priorities change. Olive oil, vegetable oil and lard are very caloric dense foods that store well in room temperatures. They provide energy, flavor food, and prevent cooked foods from sticking to pans. Honey is another typically “sometimes” food that becomes gold during a crisis. It lasts nearly forever and is incredibly sweet, but also boosts immunity and has antibacterial properties.
It is often said when going through life, “expect the best but prepare for the worst.” In the event of a disaster it is very important you are prepared with enough food to make it through. The choice is up to you whether you want to follow these modest guidelines, or perhaps go the whole nine yards by making your own MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). Take heart, because during a crisis your neighbors won’t be able to enjoy their favorite greasy spoons either. But with a little bit of planning, you can have plenty of flavorful and nutritious food to survive a disaster, and perhaps a bit to share as well.