- X 2
I have followed the survivalist movement for decades. Having lived off the grid and lived in the middle of nowhere I have a hard time understanding some of the concepts I commonly see talked about regarding survival on the web.
I would like to start this discussion with simple example.
I get confused on weather people are taking about an event that will have an impact and then things return to normal like the several billion dollar weather events that take place every so many years. At other times it seems like they are talking about events that will lead to permanent changes in how we live.
Now here is why that matters. There is countless examples of people saying to store food and to buy what you normally eat. When I lived off the track you did need to purchase winter supplies. Due to cost, shipping, storage, etc. You focused on what you would eat first. So this mentality makes sense if you are doing this or creating a rotating six months’ supply of food.
However, if one believes that an event would change the way we live then is it logical to focus on food you like? Looking around the world there are mistakes people make with regards to raising plants to put food on the table. One of these is a failure to eat what is easy to grow. Now I am not saying just because it is easy to grow it is highly palatable. I am saying that most food that you will get that can be stored will be processed if you do not preserve it yourself. If you are processing food yourself you are likely picking foods that match some food culture you belong to. So from a logical point of view it would make sense to identify the edible plants that are easy to grow in your local and to work on changing your eating habits to include some of the more palatable plants from this group.
I have many other examples I will bring up if this discussion takes off.
The "store what you eat and eat what you store" idea covers the highest probability events like being stuck home due to a weather issue. It also covers lower probability events like maybe an epidemic or problem with the transportation system which disrupts food distribution. It also helps further out on the probability curve because it would extend the food you could harvest/forage.
I have roughly 3 months of food (hard to be sure with 2 teenagers) but that doesn't count lots of meat on the hoof, or food easily foraged. A storm like Sandy doesn't phase me but I still go to the supermarket a few time a week.
With that said, we are also farm stock folks, so we normally have among family and friends, about three months worth of food, and as has been said, what is running around on hoof and claw. That could be stretched a long way, if push comes to shove.
I teach indigenous life skills and regional harvesting methodologies, (animals forage, humans harvest,) Because of travel, I'm comfortable in many different biomes, as it should be if you really think something is going to happen. I don't, I'm an optimist, but I don't believe leaving ancestral skill sets behind is wise either. Most folks I meet, 9 out 10 would last but a few weeks at most left to their own devise in feeding and clothing themselves, 60% would be gone in a matter of days at most.
In short, I'm not concerned with how much food I have, but where is the food at and by what means do I get it. A can of meat or veggies is great, the skill to get it when ever you need it will serve you much better.
“It also helps further out on the probability curve because it would extend the food you could harvest/forage.” But you skipped over the whole point. Everyone has a food culture. This is my food and this is not my food. In our current environment we can have food cultures that are outside the ecosystem in which we live. In fact almost no one lives within the ecosystem in which they live. So you can stock you pantry with processed foods from around the world. But as my grandfather taught me, if you need six month of food for winter and you have two months or four months the outcome is the same.
If you plan to extend your food with harvest or foraging you have the issue of food acceptability. Appearance, taste, and texture determine acceptability of most foods based on one’s food culture. You also have the issue of preparing said food. How a food is prepared greatly impacts acceptability. People who can, freeze, dry, ferment their own food tend to focus on the foods they like. The difference is they are processing food that actually grows in their ecosystem. So these people have a leg up on the person who only does the processed foods. It will be much easier for these people to convert over to harvest and forage.
However, many of these people only practice European style farming. They grow a limited amount of species that are generally annuals. Now take a premie who created an edible forest. This person may have an array of trees, shrubs, berries, perennials, animals, etc. that have naturalized to the ecosystem the premie has created. These foods have become part of their diet based on season or preservation method. Such a system will require adapting to these foods instead of modifying environment to allow plants to grow.
I hope it helps explain where I am coming from better.
Below is a link you may wish to view which talks about the most common mistakes westerners make when they decide to grow food in their home gardens in the tropics.
I have found that they also apply to temperate regions.
alex Keenan wrote:Appearance, taste, and texture determine acceptability of most foods based on one’s food culture.
But - hunger ultimately determines acceptability (most of the time)!
I just read or heard something about people of France being under siege and resorting to cooking pets and rodents and ultimately making them quite palatable (edit - it was here on permies!)
I personally have gone thru multiple "food cultures." My current one being low-carb/paleo which happens to be tough in terms of storage. My family isn't really on board with that so I've got my bases covered. Plus, grains are much easier to store which is why we switched over to agriculture in the first place.
So I'm not sure what your beef is exactly. I have planted chestnut trees but I must say I generally don't eat chestnuts if that's where you're going. I would eat them if I have to but if I have the option I'd rather feed them to my livestock and eat the livestock instead. Having both options builds in resilience.
I may have because I don't think I fully understand your point. Maybe you could explain it further? Second, no, not everyone has a food culture. That myth is one of the first things I try to cure my students of. You may identify with a certain food culture, you probably do have preferences, but the more adaptive your diet, the better off you will be as a human.
But you skipped over the whole point. Everyone has a food culture.
"Eat to live don't live to eat," if this becomes you living and eating style, the myth of food culture disappears.
Again, if you believe this, you have bought into the myth.
This is my food and this is not my food.
If you meant to say that almost no one lives within the ecosystem in which they feed, I agree. That is part of the food and culture issue of most developed worlds. This is not true of most third world subsistence farmers. It also should be true if we are going to have a sustainable future. At least 80% of what we consume should come from within our immediate environment.
In fact almost no one lives within the ecosystem in which they live.
Again, I only quoted the open sentence of this paragraph, as it again speaks to a myth, or chosen mind set. I don't have any acceptability issues, and when I teach, I do my best to dispel this myth among my students. Everyone, if they are to become better consumers and utilizers of what they grow and harvest, (not forage,) must be completely adaptive to the environmental food offerings around them.
If you plan to extend your food with harvest or foraging you have the issue of food acceptability. Appearance, taste, and texture determine acceptability of most foods based on one’s food culture.
Growing or harvesting, it must conform to the biome one occupies, this myth of food culture must be dispelled and transcended.
I hoped someone would get my point.
Dear Alex Keenan,
I'm truly trying to understand your position, but you are sharing certain concepts as if they are facts, and they are not, they are cultural mind sets and myth. When I harvest, (again not forage, I'm not a squirrel,) I do it sustainable to within the parameters of the biome I'm in. In as such, if in the arctic circle I become almost exclusively a carnivore, feeding on dried meat to fresh seal liver-much of it raw, when in the tropics a fruitarian, and the list goes on, depending on where I am. I have prepared full meals for students in New York city, just from harvested plant and animal matter, different yes, palatable, very much so, if you can get past you food culture mind set. Each biome has an offering, that then becomes my diet.
I stand corrected on "In fact almost no one lives within the ecosystem in which they live." I should have limited that to USA. I sometimes forget this discussion is global. Yes much of the world eats that which grows well locally.
Your statement "That myth is one of the first things I try to cure my students of." clearly shows that your students have this mindset at the beginning. You have to break them of this mindset.
This is common to much military survival training. Learning to eat what is available is a mental skill.
“I'm truly trying to understand your position, but you are sharing certain concepts as if they are facts, and they are not, they are cultural mind sets and myth.” I too have been to the arctic circle and eaten the seal and other foods of the carnivore diet. I have also spent time as a vegan. I adapted to the food culture I was in. But I also found that there were foods eaten in both cultures that I had trouble eating.
You asks for facts.
Here is just one to begin with. I can supply many others. In this case we had a large section of the USA suffering malnutrition. Much of this was due to a lack of protein in the diet. This was an issue in WWII because a significant number of young men were not fit for combat due to the effects of poor nutrition. So solving this problem became important to the war effort. At this time organ meat was not considered an acceptable food source. So major effort was put into understanding food culture. In the end they were successful. We now suffer in America from over nutrition. Eating nutritionally dense foods.
A study prepared last year makes the case that we have moved from a shopping culture to a eating culture.
Food cultures are not static. Many ethnic foods are now a part of American regional food cultures. One can change ones food culture that was poorly communicated on my part. I assumed when I said eat what grows well that one could change ones food culture to "Eat what grows well" if they did not aready.
Is it possible that these and thousands of other studies over the last 70 years are wrong? I leave that up to you.
I can see your point that humans can adapt which is how we survive. Unfortunately, not ALL humans adapt.
By no means am I stating that these studies are incorrect, I'm stating that it is a normative culture and a myth we have perpetuated. This studies reflect a social illness not a base line reality of our species. We create it. and the studies reflect that. Just because a large portion of a culture does something does not make it a natural truth, it makes it a normative behavior. If you will, it is a manifestation of modern mans aberrant baseline ethology that could well be a major down fall for many in our species. When thousand of Lemmings run of a cliff, that is nature too, but not in the better interest of the species. When we studying these events in human ethology without challenging the conclusions, we do ourselves a great disservice as a species. I don't believe you are saying because the studies say we are acting a certain way that we are naturally that way or should stay that way, are you?
I was a Marine, I'm not sure if you knew that, and I understand those training regimes well, (being an instructor,) but this is out of context. It isn't a mental skill to be taught as much as it is a bad habit to be broken. I can't tell you how many children and adults that I meet that make statements like, "I'm not eating that it's disgusting," as they turn to eat a processed hot-dog. Another occupation I have held is that of a Zoo Keeper, (my major in college was Animal Ethology and Husbandry,) and another way to look at it is this; some species of animal have what is know as food shyness of food specific needs. In the area of trapping animals, this is called bait shyness. in as such you have to understand that most animal are not omnivores, but specific feeders. We are not, or I should say we aren't born that way.
I also totally agree with “we aren't born that way.” There are numerous studies that show humans set eating behaviors at a very young age. In fact I can point you to some interesting studies that show ones tolerance to hot food is related to the amount of these foods the mother ate when she was pregnant. That is another area I am looking at because these bad behaviors we learn as children can lead to major health issues later in life.
“In the area of trapping animals, this is called bait shyness.” I am very familiar with this concept. This actually get me back to one of my points in the beginning. Many times in dealing with the acceptance of new foods one have to make the food palatable to the species. I do not have to explain this to you with your background. But to those who are not familiar think changing your cat food. Most vets will recommend mixing the old and new at an increasing percentage over time until the cat is eating the new food. Going cold turkey with the new food can lead to a number of issues that are easy to avoid. As I stated before “how a food is prepared greatly impacts acceptability.” One of the points of learning to eat that which is easy to grow is that learning to prepare said food has to be considered part of this. Now the following is my opinion only!!! The best survivalist I ever knew was an old Cajun who worked on the oil fields in Alaska. He had incredible bush craft, but that was not what made him the best in my humble opinion. He was also a master chief!!! What he taught me was that you can survive or you can thrive. The key to thriving was in taking the time to understand your ingredients, flavors, textures, etc. He knew what plants one could eat and what ones could not be eaten. But he knew what went with what. He could take ingredients that tasted very bad to me by themselves and when he was done the food was incredible. He explained to me that you can’t just go into the woods with a book and identify this edible plant and that edible plant. You have to take the time to actually cook it. You have to go further than that and experiment with recipes to find the ways to cook it so you would really want to eat it. And his most important point was you do not have time to learn and make mistakes when you life may depend obtaining and cooking food. Spending time with the Cajuns really taught me the importance of LEARNING to eat.
Prepping from what I have seen (opinion here) seems to be a branch of survivalist teachings. Now the tool I generally use to view such subject with is risk management. You identify risks, determine probability and impact and rank them in some order based on your assessment. You then evaluate your limited resources and develop plans to address risks based on the ranking system you came up with. Pretty straight forward proposition right, based on some subjective assessments. Now we throw in fear, anxiety, distrust, and a number of negative emotions. If one lets these take control it is easy to make questionable choices. It also makes it easy to prey on fear.
Here is a perfect example. Google “seed bank” and you will get thousands of sites willing to sell you all the seeds you need to grow all the food you need for X number of years. Well if you are visiting the Permie forum then you are well aware of all the knowledge required to grow all the food you need. You also know that just because a plant is an heirloom it does not mean that it can grow well in your area. Issues like diseases, insects, soil conditions, weather, etc. can all impact food production. So some unsuspecting person buys this seed bank for likely a greater cost then if they had shopped around for the individual seeds. They believe that they have food security.
Here is another example that I hope shows where I was coming from. I attended a local prepper group and gave a short talk. In the talk I quickly went over some of the old ways that people forced roots to have greens in the winter. That was a big mistake on my part. Because one of the plants quickly mentioned was poke weed. It was mentioned because it had been one of the traditional plants used. Up till the year 2000 one could purchase a can of poke weed greens. This plant is toxic and those that ate it had special procedures to process it when they did eat it. Well before I got home the emails were flying about how toxic the poke weed is and that one should never eat it. All I could say was to do your own research and determine for yourself the risks. The final result is that most of the people I talked to are now convinced that poke weed should never be eaten under any circumstances.
If you really think about it I am willing to bet that you can identify all types of bad or inaccurate information. You can also bring up issues like someone did on this discussion regarding “prepare for an event, that in all likelihood, could make them leave an area.” So one could discuss the logic of simply relocating and adjusting one’s life style instead of spending resources planning to leave an area.
I would be interested in if you viewed http://www.permaculturecairns.com/GrowFoodTropics.pdf
I find that many of the mistakes listed are relevant to issues with prepping and survivalist theory practiced by some. I think it would make for good discussion.
There is tons of info out there but it's really hard to suss out the facts. It took me a long time to figure out if black locust is OK for cattle because so much info is mixed. It took a silvopasture video of cattle munching of them to ease my mind.
BTW, I've tons of pokeweed. I probably wont try (seems like too much work) it but I've decided not to pull them either. I have other greens I'd like to explore first like stinging nettle.
I guess what I would add now to the post thread, which seems germane, is the difference between the "survivalists," mentality and all that goes with it, including extreme prepping sincerious, and bush craft or indigenous life skills.
Survivalist seem for the most part to focus on...well survival and prepping for things.
Indigenous life skills, (and the related skill sets,) teach you how to thrive in any environment, and live comfortably and happily with what you have before you. Most farmers, for all practical purposes, are indigenous life skills folks, living comfortably with what they have, and not worry, or developing fears or anxiety over things that "could happen." Do they prepare in some cases, yes of course, but within reason. There isn't too much you can through at them, that they can't deal with in pretty short order. To give a good example of the two group interacting. A survivalist (with extreme views on prepping and conditioning for the worst,) was going on about the fact that most folks won't make it, even if they are really good at "bush craft," and/or just living well with what they have. He then tried, in a mock scenario, to pulled a knife on one of my young female students, (rather quiet and meek young woman-Vermonter I might add,) she quite surprisingly through her cup of tea in his face and he got kicked in the "package," for his efforts. The lesson is simple, don't judge a book by it's cover, and all the prepping in the world will not prepare you for a well centered, fearless and happy bush crafter-indigenous life skills person, you can't prepare for them. They are taught to live completely in the moment they are in, and the only thing that really needs preparing is the mind.
By the way, stinging nettle is really good, (poke weed is too, but it requires prep, and most times not worth it.)
I also understand the mindset issue. I remember when a couple was found frozen in a cabin. It appeared they got trapped in a snow storm and were able to drive their car up to a vacant cabin. There was wood for the stove and the stove was functioning. It appears that they tried using matches but for some reason could not get the stove to work. So they wrapped themselves up in what was around them and simply froze to death. We later found out that the car still had a quarter tank of gas and the cigarette lighter worked. I have seen several other examples like this so yes I do understand how important mindset is.
It would appear that the views and assumptions I have developed on this topic will need to be reexamined based on much of the discussion we have had so far. It would appear that the local prepper group does not make a good representation of this subject.
This was a statement from one of the main people from a local prepper group, “This is a disaster prep group, not a garden club and not Optimists International. It's doom, gloom and reality.”
“I don't know how this group is going to progress when most of the discussion board topics are unimportant in terms of real survival. If anyone really believes you're going to survive by eating berries or weeds in the woods or that gardening alone will keep you alive, you're watching too much television.”
It would also appear that one’s view will be very slanted if one reads much of the material available on the web about this subject. I agree that “it's really hard to sort out the facts”.
I have much to think about regarding this subject. I have really enjoyed this discussion so far. Thank you.
How to Profit From Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in Your Life
[To protect yourself from all the potential Black Swans in your life – and, indeed, to profit from them – you need to make yourself "anti-fragile." This doesn’t mean taking out an expensive insurance policy or hunkering down and becoming a Doomsday Prepper – it means organizing your life in such a way as to profit from all the fear, uncertainty and doubt in this world. ]
It is more gear towards the business community but from our discussions it appeart that your thought seem to be very similar to some of the leading business thoughts.
Let me clarify this so I do not offend.
Talking to you two you have a very valid way that creates a mindset that works. I totally believe both of you can handle black swan events. I also believe Mr. White Cloud can effectively teach others how to obtain this mindset. You two are definitely not teaching the materialistic mainstream culture that is causing so many problems in America today.
Now the person who wrote the book talked about on the link above is very much of the materialistic culture. He invented the term black swan event for use in business. When you read his writing and listen to his talks he clearly believes that a mindset has to be developed that will allow you to adapt to any black swan event.
Now the two thoughts are 180 degrees apart. In my opinion, I would find it hard to see how one can be materialistic and not be materialistic at the same time. What it does show me is you must work to develop a mindset.
Also, in my opinion, it would seem that many preppers are trying to walk a line between these two very different ways. They are like the possum in the middle of the road. Trying to keep their materialistic life but preparing for giving up their materialistic life. It makes me wonder if they will also meet the unhappy fate of many a possum who walks to long on the middle of the road. I could be wrong, maybe there is a mindset that works in the middle of the road.
- X 3
It is also clear that the majority of first worlders have no knowledge of either of these things, and that the first world standard of living is completely divorced from both of them.
For myself personally, I think they are compatible. For example, we are trying to become more self-sufficient by growing food and raising animals, while storing an amount of bulk food that we currently like and use (rice, lentils, etc). But it is clear that should the worst happen and our food system collapse, we'll have to give up the rice and the lentils. This doesn't make it pointless to store them now, I think. It just means to be mindful of the fact that we may eventually need other sources of starch - either what we can grow easily in our climate (cultivated root vegetables) or what we can forage (I use this word consciously, I like it and its connotations!) - such as sea kale root and hazelnuts.
I want to learn more about hunting and trapping wild animals for food in my area, but at the same time I want to raise chickens. I just don't see why these are exclusive. Perhaps I am missing some major point.
To my mind, 'prepping', like life in general, is a multi-faceted concept that can be done at many different levels simultaneously. Ultimately, the best preparation is being able to survive in the wild wherever you are. And it's useful (if scary!) to think about the absolute essentials - knife, fire, potable water sources. But on the other hand, surely it is highly logical to prepare for the most likely scenarios, using the resources you currently enjoy.
Hi S Carreg,
They could be inclusive, just the cultures behind them don't often mesh. I don't, nor do I teach, "survival or prep" behavior. I teach "living behaviors" some of what I teach would fit in both off the cultures of "preppers" and "survivalist." I identify with neither, and it doesn't read like you do as well. Keep doing what you are doing, learn from whom you can, and give extremists a wide berth.
People might be good for awhile few days or a week and after that all hell will start to break loose. I recall a few years back the power went out for 3 days, I seen a lot people stuck at the gas pumps on the side of the roads really all over the place as the convenience was gone. A lot of people don't grow any food they have nice lawns and pretty flower beds but no food.
For most it's a foreign concept all your money is electronic, most stores would be closed, not like the older days where it was more common to have a vegetable garden quite common to have cash on hand and smaller stores the owner lived above the store and opened regardless and the power situation was less of a threat.
The dependence level on power nowadays is quite scary, nothing works with out it and most systems out there have done away with manual redundant back up systems to save on costs, policies are tighter and stores may close no power, no insurance coverage or have there own policies to follow. Water might also an issue if they converted to a computerized management electrical system.
Now with the younger generation stuck in video games or being entertained by a convenient lifestyle a majority have no survival life skills and clueless in obtaining food or preparing wild foods, or general first aid or basic general survival skills. There more of a gap building than people realize.
Certain mushrooms (high protein, easily preserved by drying) grow into early winter here but i wouldn't rely on it. I would expect that food would start becoming scarce in November and wouldn't start blooming, coming out of hibernation or migrating back until March. That means, worst case scenario, I would need 5 months of food on hand to get my family through November to March.
Just a thought. Perhaps people in different localities require different quantities of stored food.
wayne fajkus wrote:Dan, you left out nuts. Here in Texas, October/November is pecan time. A good source for winter.
This thread reminds me of my sis in law. She will not eat fish but acknowledges she will be on board with it when the zombies come. Not a minute before......
Nuts would be great in your case. However, my father tells me that nut trees don't grow particularly well in PNW Washington (never looked into it myself) and they REALLY wont grow well in our heavy clay soil. For us, it makes more sense to make sure we have 5 months worth of: overwintering vegetables, food on hoof, dried fruits and mushrooms, and stored grain. That being said, it's not necessary until winter. If the SHTF during any time besides Winter, i'm pretty confident that there is more than enough food in the forest.