Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fueling Yourself for an Emergency

It's interesting how people worry about fuel--in the literal sense of the word--when it comes to a disaster (they keep extra fuel for their cars, camp stoves, and generators) yet the most important type of fuel--that which powers their body--is generally an afterthought.

When I ask someone what kind of emergency food they have on hand, I am occasionally surprised to learn that some people think a case of ramen and a case of beer will tide them over until they can get some "real food" after a disaster.  While ramen is cheap and in some cases (mostly for broke college students) it is considered a staple, the massive physical effort it takes to recover from a disaster warrants much better sources of fuel for your body.

Regardless of what you eat now (high fat, low fat, paleo, keto, vegan, etc), after a disaster you will need two things.  #1 a stockpile of food since grocery stores will either be empty or closed or both, and #2 a variety of food that covers the fats/proteins/carbs spectrum.  Note: if you want to see what the human body can consume after days and months of strenuous physical activity just hit up a buffet restaurant near the end of the Appalachian Trail in the fall during which "calorie deficit" meets all you can eat.  It's rather quite a spectacle.

So if all you can afford to stock up on now is a case of ramen, that's better than nothing, but your goal should be to stockpile a range of quality foods that will meet your (possibly excessive) calorie needs that you are likely to experience during the rescue and recovery aspects of a disaster. Note: if you think you can hunt and fish your way to daily meals after TSHTF, forgeddaboutit.  Game is particularly uncooperative when you most need to eat.

Here's what you want to stockpile (note that most of these items can easily be rotated into your regular food supply, be used as a generous donation at your local food bank, or thrown together to feed an unexpected crowd at the last minute.  Note also that you want to stockpile food you actually like to eat because after a disaster, food serves not only to nourish your body but also lends some comfort to your soul).

--MREs and backpacker style freeze-dried foods (not my first choice of stuff to eat but these items have a very long shelf life and can be reasonably well rounded...and filled with a ton of sodium but I digress...)
--canned stuff you like to eat (soup, chili, tuna, salmon, spam, vegetables, fruits, beans, pasta sauce)
--dried stuff (instant soups, jerky, dried fruit, powdered milk, powdered eggs, powdered butter, dried mushrooms, instant rice, pasta like couscous, instant potatoes, instant oatmeal)
--quick eating stuff (nuts, seeds, granola bars, candy, cookies and crackers, cereals)
--fats (peanut butter, olive oil)
--spices (salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, any spices you usually use)
--staples (flour, sugar, corn meal, lard or shortening, Bisquick, baking soda, baking powder, yeast, honey)
--beverages (instant coffee, tea, whiskey, Gatorade powder)
--exotic stuff (dried seaweed, canned coconut milk, dried tofu, fish flakes)

The bottom line: after a disaster you won't be making elaborate "home cooked" meals.  You will want things that are simple to prepare and simple to eat.  Even boiling water may be too much to do sometimes so eating something right out of the can will be preferable.  Should a disaster last a longer time then you may get all "old timey" with your cooking but while the camp cook out looked rather romantic in old movies (and can be rather tasty on a well-stocked camping trip) such elaborate preparations will be the exception rather than the rule.

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