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Continuing my thoughts on diet after TEOTWAWKI and the SHTF.

December 12, 2011

In my earlier posts I mentioned the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and how bland our diet is going to be after the SHTF. I shudder at the thought of living on MREs again, but I am sure hunger will drive me to eat just about anything. If you read old cooking manuals you will find not a lot of great variety in the old diets.

I mentioned a few times the now defunct post-apocalyptic TV show Jericho in some of my earlier posts. If you have not seen the show, you can catch it on Hulu and Netflix. While Jericho is certainly is not everyone’s cup of tea, it can give the aspiring prepper or survivalist some ideas.

One of the things that I was most impressed with on the show Jericho is that they had a couple episodes where two cities fight over salt. Salt is critical to sustain life, and today while we take salt for granted, it may become difficult to locate after SHTF. Sure you can pile some up pretty easily, and it is cheap and stores well, but you are going to have to find a supply of salt.

If you have a water softener in the house, you are probably going to want to raid it for the salt. That ice melt salt you have in the garage you might want to hang on to. I am fortunate that I live close to the Puget Sound. With a quick trip I could gather a lot of sea water and do like the native Indian tribes did and boil off the water leaving the salt and minerals behind.

During the time that the British Navy was suffering horrible loses of men due to scurvy, the Chinese never lost a man (or woman, women were not considered unlucky on board a junk) to scurvy. If you are unsure what scurvy is or how bad it can get, a quick trip to a good local library or a quick surf on the ‘web will give you all the details. While I doubt the average land lubber will suffer the effects of scurvy, vitamin C intake has shown to be a good defense against other illnesses.

Short of stockpiling vitamin C tablets (which is not a bad idea anyway) or growing your own potted citrus trees, maintaining a good supply of vitamin C is going to difficult. All that frozen OJ concentrate in your freezer is going to melt and spoil when the grid fails and you can only run a generator so long.

My suggestion is do what the Chinese sailors of old did and what many still do today – raise your own ginger. Every good Chinese junk, which is a family’s floating house, has several potted plants. Most of these potted plants are edible to use in the family meals. One of the most important plants is ginger. Ginger is rich in vitamin C, easy to grow, and takes little care.

Other common plants found potted on a Chinese junk to consider are lemon grass (just keep the damn cat out of it!), mint, basil, licorice, radishes, garlic and onions. Now I admit that I do not have a particularly green thumb (more like a brown thumb because I tend to kill house plants) but most of these plants can be grown in small spaces and are fairly easy to grow.

If you want to consider more house plants to grow to expand your diet (which is a great idea) an excellent book detailing the last 200 years or so of American house plants is American Household Botany by Judith Sumner. This book should give the aspiring planter several ideas for plants to grow indoors to supplement meals.

Back in the early 1970s my parents got bit with the self sufficiency bug, resulting in my family relocating. In our new homestead my parents tried their hand at various projects. A pair of failures that most vividly stick in my mind as a small boy is my father’s attempt at granola and yogurt. Today with the internet and a good library there are many books and web sites dedicated to making your own crunchy granola and good tasty yogurt. If you have dairy animals yogurt is a great way to store dairy.

I am not sure what my father’s mistakes were, but what he tried to make as yogurt looked, smelled, and had the consistency of something that is not mentionable in polite society. I still shudder at the horrors my father unleashed upon us as he pulled that tray overflowing with goop from underneath the kitchen counter. I still remember my father running for the backyard with the foul smelling, sloshing tray where it got buried very deeply. So ended my father’s ghastly attempt at yogurt!

My father’s attempt at crunchy granola was not as bad as the yogurt fiasco, but his consistency was lacking. While one batch would be mildly edible the next batch was horrid, and ended up being slopped to the hogs. My father never really got the crunchy granola thing down and eventually gave up. Most of my father’s granola got slopped to the hogs who loved it. We did have some fat hogs that year at butchering time!

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