Surviving the Future

By Aivlys_Nagrom

Some say men are made for hard labor and women for nurturing. That may be seen as a basic fact of life to some, but what isn’t so basic is what those things mean, especially in this day and age.Whiskey Jack/Gray Jay

What isn’t so basic is what those things mean. Sometimes nurturing means protecting, and sometimes protecting means violence. For some women, the instinct to fight only comes up when their children are threatened. For others, it comes up whenever someone looks at them the wrong way. And then there are those who never tap into that vein at all, who simply fall off the cliff of becoming victims.

I’ve had apocalyptic dreams since I was a child. And I’ve always aware of and concerned by the fact that modern society has led us further and further away from the natural world. Basic facets of how we survived in the past have fallen away. Farming, blacksmithing, animal husbandry, hawking, hunting, tracking … these were all fairly common skills for men until the recent past. Women knew canning, soapmaking, herblore, sewing, weaving, took raw goods and made them into meals, clothes, medicine. Now we unwrap packages, press a few buttons, pour a few sauces or spices over something, and men grill store-bought meat on store-bought grills. In a way, every modern convenience we snap up widens the disconnect between us and the planet we walk on.

Warnings and speculation about the End are becoming pretty commonplace, even as worst case scenarios unfold before us on the nightly news. At this time, Japan is in a state of crisis following the devastation of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear explosion. Natural disasters, climate change, nuclear threat, plagues, battles for resources … these things no longer inhabit the realm of paranoia or imagination. They’re in the headlines. They are monsters in front of us, monsters of our own creation, and they’re getting closer every day. Personally I don’t think we’re going to get hit by one single event. I don’t think a nuclear World War 3 will wipe out most of humanity within a few days, or that life as we know it will come to a screeching halt on 12/21/12. Instead, I think we’re facing a slow, horrible descent into devastating wars for dwindling resources, third-world living conditions, and possibly extinction. Whether it turns out to that the future holds epidemics, water wars, food shortages, a classic Armageddon meteor, or all of the above, most of us will be pretty helpless without our modern conveniences. What do you do to prepare? How do you get ready? Should you stock up on rice and peanut butter? That might sound like a good idea after a few hours of CNN, but really? You’re better off filling your head than your pantry. Even canned goods don’t last that long.

My dad is something of an outdoorsman, and he taught me some basics. Nothing too intense, but enough to where I probably would have had a decent shot at surviving a stint in the wilderness up north at a pretty young age. By the time I was five I knew what to do if I was stuck in a blizzard (snow fort) lost in the woods (follow stream to river or use the sun to guide me) or kidnapped (run, even if it means jumping out the window of a moving car). I knew how to dig cat-o-nine tail roots and make pine needle tea. Of course, now that I live in Florida, most of this knowledge probably isn’t going to be very helpful, but I’ve always sort of picked up little tidbits and information. And this is what I’ve learned; knowledge is power.

You can’t be ready for everything. Learning native plants isn’t going to be a huge help if Yellowstone blows and buries your hometown in ash, knowing karate isn’t going to save you if a nuclear bomb falls on your head, and having a larder full of canned food is going to be useless if a bomb, flood or earthquake obliterates your home. But it just may happen that in some dark future day, you might find yourself homeless and broke. There may come a day that yourself are your only resource, or that someone else looks at you and sees you as a resource or a trophy. You can either do nothing now, and set yourself up to be very vulnerable, or you can build yourself a safety net …. in your own body and brain. You might be married to a Marine or a wildlife expert, but if you’re relying solely on him, that reliance could be your downfall if something happens to him. If I had the means, I’d have a castle with huge walls protecting an orchard, a stocked fishpond, cattle, horses, and a garden. I’d have solar panels, cisterns and an herb garden, and be within walking distance of the sea. This would all also be protected by wolves and owls, and my friends and I could spend the years after the apocalypse learning how to brew really good beer. In reality, I have about a backpack’s worth of camping gear, a few really good books, a head full of trivia, and the ability to keep my calm in crazy situations. The last is by far the most important.

Here are a few tips for women.

BUY SEEDS. Buy lots of seeds. Save your seeds carefully. Seeds are cheap and light.

LEARN HOW TO GARDEN AND COMPOST. This isn’t just a worst-case scenario survival thing. Look at the list of ingredients on any processed food item and ask yourself if you really want to eat things you can’t pronounce, much less identify.

LEARN HOW TO DRY FISH AND MEAT Buy a small smoker.

BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE RAILROAD TRACKS IN YOUR AREA. Know where they go. In the event of a huge disaster, everyone’s going to try for the road. If you really need to move, a railroad track might be a better bet, especially once you’re a bit out of the city.

KNOW THE WATER ROUTES IN YOUR AREA. You might be better off in a kayak or boat than on foot.

LEARN BASIC HERB LORE Guessing at plant uses can be deadly, but even just knowing the uses of a few local plants could be very helpful.

LEARN SELF DEFENSE/WEAPONS USE No further explanation needed on that one.

LEARN NATURE. I struggled with how to describe this one, and just picked the basic way. Let yourself learn the sort of knowledge that saw us through the first ten thousand years of civilization. Look outside for the nearest tree, and see if you even know what kind of tree it is or if you know one thing you could do with it other than chopping it down to get wood. This isn’t just about survival. This is about getting to know the planet. We only have one, after all.

GET BASIC SUPPLIES. If you can fill a pantry, buy a cabin, build off the grid, or dig a bunker, great. Have at it. If nothing else, put a backpack together with some basics (the usual, rope, knife, garbage bags, hair ties, vitamins, underwear, etc.) Watch enough videos to have a good idea of how to start a fire (just in case) and throw matches and lighters in there. Include a pumice stone (lightweight and will do the job in case you run out of soap), garlic, basic camping-type gear. Don’t forget a comfort item or two – an Ipod, a pleasure-reading Kindle, nail polish, perfume, photos of your loved ones, whatever you think will keep you from completely losing your mind in a really bad situation. Sometimes it’s the little things that keep you grounded, and sometimes being grounded will save your life.

GET A SURVIVAL-DEDICATED KINDLE and fill it with useful knowledge about farming and tracking and basic medical herb lore and maps, first aid, canning techniques, soap making, etc. Of course it would be better if you could learn all this, but for a lot of us being able to access what you can’t memorize may be a lot more doable. The internet, wonderful store of knowledge it is, will be inaccessible if there are no satellites. Books are heavy. But a Kindle can run independently. And there’s a lot you can put on a Kindle that may be worth saving. You can download the Army survival guide. Instructions for building a solar generator for under $300. Plans to build an eco-friendly self-sustaining house. While you’re at it, get a solar-powered battery charger.

CAMOUFLAGE TECHNIQUES. You may have absolutely no plans to creep around the woods or a war-struck city at night, ever, but just having the foresight to damp your jewelry and darken your skin and hair could save your life in a situation like that. (Bonus: stock up on mud masks. You can be sneaky and give yourself a facial at the same time)

BE GREEN. Buying eco-friendly dish soap or organic tomatoes may not help you out a whole lot in a worst-case scenario, but in the end you’re either a part of the problem or a part of the solution, and war over resources is a front-running contender for Really Bad Thing Most Likely To Happen. You can choose to support companies that engage in things like factory farming, genetically modifying crops and animals, animal testing, pollution, poisoning the Gulf of Mexico, or fracking … or you can choose not to. If you love animals, don’t support companies that treat them cruelly.

KNOW YOUR LOCAL TERRAIN If you live in Vegas, you might want to learn a bit about desert survival, and so on.

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF I love Bear Grylls, but there’s no way in hell I’m scaling a cliff wall or eating live grubs. I have a crap memory so I’d probably kill myself trying to identify edible wild plants from memory, but I can recognize a few common ones, and I know a few fairly idiot-proof fishing techniques. I know how to purify crappy water (boiling kills germs but doesn’t clean the water), how to desalinate seawater, how to harvest seaweed, and how to make bark edible.

RETHINK WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF – Instead of waiting to feel strong, learn how it feels to declare yourself strong and then step into it. All the strength you need is inside you. You don’t need to wait for the end of the world to tap into it. Doomsday may never come. But any step that takes you away from the path of a victim to the path of a survivor makes you a stronger, better you.

REDEFINE WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF – If you work out regularly, read regularly, and keep yourself informed by reading survival blogs, you can wake up every day stronger and smarter than you were the day before.

RELAX. Live. Love. Laugh. Knowing how to unwind and re-set your mind might be more important than you think. Prepare for tomorrow, but live for today.

Women today have to be ready for anything to happen at any moment. That’s ok. Our greatest strengths lie within us. Maybe in the end, that’s what separates us from men.

Article copyright © 2011 Aivlys_Nagrom and The Sarah Connor Charm School
Photo copyright © 2001 Saigh Kym Lambert

Survival Food Strategies for Real Food Minded Modern Warriors:

Tips and Tricks for Stockpiling Survival Foods for Long-Term Storage with Preservative-Free, Chemical Free Options…
 Preserving lots of jars


Survivalist, Disaster Plan, Preparedness, TEOTWAWKI.

These are all words that conjure up end of the world scenarios in which, we are humans must fight to survive.

One of the key components to surviving an apocalyptic event is food storage. No matter the scenario, if you are going to survive to fight another day, you must be well nourished and fed not all stripped and burned out from eating heavily processed foods that you have had in the basement for the past 10 years. Most survivalists are well-versed in the MRE or Meal-Ready-To-Eat. These are much touted in the neo-survivalist community for their ability to be stored for years, and lightweight enough to grab and stuff in your bug-out bag, when you need to get the hell outta Dodge. But they don’t offer much in the way of nutrition.

Although I think having a few MREs on hand for very dire emergencies is OK, there are some major issues with them that caution me from making them my primary source of apocalyptic food. These factors also make me question having them on hand at all. They are full of preservatives, contain very little dietary fiber, and have an abundance of trans fats. All of which can wreak havoc on the body, weakening you when you need to be strong and making it hard for you to be at your best physically, thus earning them the nickname of “Meals Requiring Enemas”. You really don’t want to be dealing with constipation, hives, or projectile vomiting when you are running for your life in the wilderness or fighting off Terminators.

Bullets, Beans and Band-Aids is a common phrase used to describe survivalists and what they tend to stockpile for TEOTWAWKI. The first and last, are great, but it is the middle, beans, that I have a problem with. For most people this means canned beans. Modern cans are made from materials that contain BPA a known estrogenic, which interferes with hormones. Another thing that is not good for those who want to be in optimal physical shape. Plus heavily preserved beans create a lot of flatulence and you don’t want to put yourself in the position of being “sniffed out” by marauders.

So what is a Survivalist to do?

Here are a few suggestions that my family has implemented in the past year that has worked out great:

Food Rotation

Food rotation means having non-perishable foods that your family enjoys on hand, in large quantities. These foods may not have more than a year to two for shelf life. That is OK, the plan is to eat them as part of your regular meal rotations, and replenish as you use, making sure to always have a 1-2 years supply (depending on the shelf-life).

Examples of foods to have on hand:

Canned Fish – tuna, salmon, mackerel, kippers, sardines, anchovies. . If you can find wild caught, all the better. These fishes are great for Omega-3 fatty acid intake as well as a great dose of protein. Good things for your muscles, including the most important one – your brain. You need to be at your best both physically and mentally to survive and thrive.

Pasta and Rice – these can be made to bulk up any number of recipes and stretch food supplies. I suggest organic pastas and brown rice as they have many more nutrients than their generic counterparts, an important component for survival foods, plus, a good part of a healthy diet today. You can also try other grains like quinoa, buckwheat and barley.

Nut Butters – great source of fat and protein. Add protein to your oatmeal in the morning. Spread on bread, use as a binder in baking, or eat off the spoon for a quick jolt of energy. You can choose from a large variety – anything from peanut butter to almond and cashew. You can also store large batches of these raw nut varieties and make your own as the need arises.

Organic or Preservative-free Food Pouches – like TastyBite Indian entrees (also Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell other brands). A Taste of Thai is another brand that can be found in most supermarkets. There are very few added ingredients of harm and they are good in a pinch. All you have to do is boil the pouches in water for 2-3 minutes. For your rotation, take them to lunch or use them as a base for dinner by adding fresh meats or veggies to it. Kids love these too.

Preserved Foods – if you do any gardening or have a farmers market nearby consider preserving your own fruits and veggies, either through canning, lacto-fermenting or dehydrating. If you absolutely can’t do this, then make sure to buy canned fruits and veggies with as few ingredients as possible. Fruits should only have the fruit and their juice; veggies should only have water and salt to preserve them. This won’t save you from BPA, but at least you aren’t also adding corn syrup and weird chemicals to your body.

Fun Items and Condiments: If you are surviving on your stored food for a long period of time, you need to make sure your meals have variety or you will soon grow bored and your morale will be sure to drop. Having favorite condiments on hand like ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, etc. will help. So will having items like pickles, olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers. You can toss these into pasta or beans and rice to give them a depth of flavor. Be sure to choose items that your family already enjoys so you can use them in your rotation.

Dark Chocolate and Raw Honey – both sweet items that are good for energy and can be stored almost indefinitely, especially the honey – use in baking, cooking, drinks. Stir in oatmeal, or other hot cereals and/or yogurt. Definitely great pick-me-ups in a drab world and can be eaten and enjoyed in the world as we know it right now. Besides sugar is bad for you, so you might as well do your body a favor and get on less processed sugars right away.

Dry Bean and Whole Grain Storage: Did you know that whole dry beans and grains like wheat berries can be stored for decades if packaged properly? That’s right. They have found wheat berries in archaeological digs that are still good. The important thing is to get the grains whole, and then have a way to grind them, without electricity, into flours for baking. You can also eat them whole and use them to feed livestock. They can also be sprouted as a way to add fresh produce to your diet, even in the worst of times. Using food grade storage buckets, Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers are the way to go for long term storage items. I suggest keeping some for your rotation and then storing some for super long term storage.

Livestock – for true survivalists having your own livestock can mean life or death. Livestock insures your family fresh food year round whenever you need it. You can also make things like yogurt, butter, cheese and have milk to drink and eggs to eat. Having some fresh foods in your diet is so important not just for survival but morale. Of course you can enjoy all the benefits of having livestock even if the world is not over. They make great pets and keep you connected to the natural cycles. Something you will need to familiarize yourself with when there is no electricity or running water.

Pemmican, Nuts and Berries: For a different take on the MRE and perfect for your bug out bag, consider foods that are good for you, have a decent shelf-life and that can be easily transported. Pemmican comes to us from the Native peoples of North America. It is a highly transportable and highly nutritious food. It is a combination of dried meat and fruits and held together with fat. Mmmmm…fat.

My favorite producer of Pemmican is the Native American owned and produced TankaBar . This version is made with buffalo meat (high in CLA and higher in B-12 and iron than other red meats), dried cranberries (an antioxidant) and an herbal-based preservative. I believe it is also lacto-fermented. The shelf life is one year, and you can buy in bulk to save money. Or you can make your own . If neither of these options works for you, you can find many all-natural-nitrate free jerkys – beef, salmon and turkey are just some of the options out there.

Whether you go for pemmican or jerky, having a good supply of raw nuts and dried berries (try to find no sugar added, sulfate-free) available is a great idea. If you have to bug out, having a bunch of portioned out baggies containing some of all these items is perfect for the grab-n-go scenario. For your rotation, you can make trail mixes with them or just eat them plain. The goal is to make these a part of your family’s regular diet and replenish them as you use them up. All of these items make great snacks and quick breakfasts.

These suggestions are better than having MREs or the types of food supplies that many survivalist websites and books suggest. For one, you don’t know if you family likes the taste of those foods until you open them after the world ends. If you have to survive on them for a year or more and you dislike the food or someone in your family has an allergy to something in it, you are in big trouble. No food, means no survival. It is a big risk to take. Both for your health and your wallet – on foods you aren’t used to.

I have briefly touched on many different topics in this overview. This is the beginning of a series of posts on this topic and I need you to tell me what directions to take. So in the comments, please let me know which topics you’d like to learn about in more in depth.

Thistle is a SCCS member who also has a food blog, The Leftover Queen