Author of Beyond the Prepper Stockpile and Be Ready for Anything
Years ago, I was reading the book Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs. (Great book that I highly recommend!) The premise of the book is that our future economic woes will be based on the scarcity of oil.
The author, Wendy Brown, makes an excellent case regarding our dependency on oil, but the thing that really stood out in my mind was how she had changed her family’s diet well in advance of this economic crisis. She focused her efforts on local food for self-reliance in the long run.
She discussed at length the fact that on her suburban property, in her particular climate, there were things she could produce, and things she could not. Taking it a step further, there were many things that were not available within 100 miles of her area. So why, she asked, would she want to base her family’s diet on foods that might not be readily available in the future? Why would she want her children to have to endure yet another drastic change should things all go to heck? Instead of rice, they focused on potatoes, for example, because that was realistic for a long-term diet in her location in rural Maine.
Eating locally means stepping away from the Standard American Diet
Eating locally is something we personally focus on. Of course, I also prep, and most of the preparedness calculators recommend things that don’t grow in any type of abundance in my area. And by “things” I mean hundreds of pounds of grains.
Several months ago we swore off grains as a family due to some health issues with my daughter, and we haven’t looked back. I think it’s entirely possible that many of the chronic health problems being experienced in our country could be related to the exceptionally high grain-and-carbohydrate intake of the average American. It isn’t even because people are just gorging on junk food. We’re being strongly encouraged to load up our plates with “healthy whole grains” despite a growing body of evidence that whole grains are anything but healthy.
Did you ever pause to think that perhaps the Standard American Diet (SAD) is only standard because it benefits Big Agri? We’re being persuaded that to be healthy we MUST consume the low-quality carbohydrate crops that corporate farms can grow in abundance and at a high profit. From a long-term production standpoint, the way most Americans eat is positively absurd.
But…what if we just said no to food from afar?
Focus on local food for self-reliance
From a self-reliance standpoint, doesn’t it make a lot more sense to eat what grows near you? Sure, you can stock up on hundreds of pounds of rice or wheat, but if it doesn’t grow in your area, eventually you will run out. If you want to survive for the long term, you need to produce your own food. And if your skills lay in other areas, you want to focus on eating food that you can acquire locally. (Find some local farms and markets HERE)
Sticking to local foods all year long can seem like quite a challenge, especially if you live in a place with dark, cold winters. Many people rely on supplementing their local goodies with a serving of grains at every meal, even though no farms with the same area code as you even produce grains.
The number one thing I noticed when our family opted out of grains was that previously when I tried to stay with more local foods that I could grow or acquire easily, it was always grains that caused me to veer off plan. Because, well, grains don’t grow here. But when we changed our eating habits, suddenly, self-reliance seemed a lot more achievable.
All of those things that seemed like necessities before suddenly weren’t. I didn’t have to make exceptions like, “I’ll buy everything locally except for flour, which I’ll buy in bulk once a year. Oh, and rice…and quinoa…and…and…and…”
~~ Okay, except for coffee. Sorry, but there’s no negotiation there. When the SHTF and I finally run out (which will take a while, I assure you), I’ll deal with my addiction then. ~~
Where I live, I can easily produce vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. Who wouldn’t be thrilled with a diet full of those delicious foods?
An ancestral diet helps you focus on long-term sustainability.
Obviously, we do have some rice and quinoa in our food stockpiles. I’m not suggesting that your food storage efforts grind to a halt. If an epic disaster struck, having foods to fill in the gaps would be extremely important and it would be irresponsible not to have some items put aside. By all means, continue building your stockpile and filling it with healthful, nutritious foods.
However, place your real focus on long-term self-reliance. Learn to produce your own food. This does not mean you must grow every bite yourself, but you should figure out what can be acquired nearby. One day, “buying food” may not be as easy as going to the nearest superstore. Plan on focusing on local food for self-reliance in an uncertain future.
Take bread for example. Around here, this is totally unrealistic. Actually, it’s unrealistic for many of us. Did you know that it takes 9 square feet of growing space to grow enough wheat for only ONE loaf of bread? And the work, holy cow, the work! My personal long-term plan doesn’t have me out there plowing acres of fields, planting and growing wheat, harvesting it, and milling it into flour. Unless you have the right climate, enough acreage, the off-grid equipment, and the know-how, it may not be overly realistic for you either.
(Excerpt from What to Eat When You Go Grain-Free)
We stick fairly closely to the Primal Blueprint, a plan developed by Mark Sisson. (We do include beans and organic corn on occasion.) There’s some crossover with the Paleo diet, but we consume dairy products, which are forbidden on that plan.
The common link between the two plans is that they are both considered “ancestral” diets. The Psychology of Eating defines an ancestral diet this way:
“Eating ancestrally is about ingredients, and local culture and that means what’s available to you where you are. So eating this way it will look different in Greece, Coastal France, Japan, Africa, Maine, Hawaii, California, or in the Rocky Mountain West.
Those who have done their research in this field of traditional diets, whether their approach be Paleo, Mediterranean, or following any of the Blue Zones recommendations, the goal of this style of eating is health. And those who follow an ancestral lifestyle, or way of eating, have been found to showcase some of the lowest rates of some of the most common epidemic diseases: diabetes, heart disease, neurological and behavioral disorders, cancer, high blood pressure, and others.”
This ties in with the research of Dr. Weston Price, whose book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration was originally published in the early 1900s. Price was a dentist from Cleveland, Ohio, who traveled the world to research dental health in relation to traditional diets. What he discovered was that the change in nutrition affected far more than dental health.
Through his travels, he learned that people who had veered away from their traditional diets had a much higher incidence of poor health, chronic disease, facial malformations, crooked teeth, and dental problems. His findings go hand in hand with the importance of eating the traditional and local foods that we were designed to consume. It’s simply not in our DNA to hunt or gather a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
(End of excerpt)
Because grain-free diets like Paleo and Primal tap into the ways of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, nothing could be more realistic for a prepper. A diet high in whatever you can acquire nearby is what self-reliance is all about. I’m not the only prepper who feels this way, either. Check out this article by Todd at Survival Sherpa.
Keep in mind that local for me may not be the same as local for you
While I can acquire almonds and citrus fruit from my area, you may have long, cold winters that mean your local menu is very different. A steamy tropical environment will provide you with different abundance yet again and would mean that a root cellar is out of the question, whereas those in a cool to cold climate could store a season’s worth of homegrown food underground. You may live in the middle of wheat country, which makes a loaf of bread far more viable for you than for me.
You may not be able to grow fields of wheat and rice, but there are lots of things you actually CAN produce yourself, or easily purchase from or barter with someone nearby.
- You can grow vegetables specific to your climate.
- You can have an orchard that will thrive in your particular climate or trade with someone who does.
- You can raise meat animals like chickens and rabbits, or larger livestock if you have space.
- You can raise animals to produce eggs and milk (On smaller properties consider dwarf and mini breeds).
- You can preserve food in a multitude of ways. (Canning is my favorite)
- You can save seeds so that you can do it all again next year.
- You can breed livestock to expand your flock.
- You can keep bees.
- You can hunt/snare/fish for meat
Unless you live in Antarctica, it’s entirely likely that at least some, if not all, of these things are within your reach. And for now, if you can’t/won’t do these things yourself, there are probably people in your vicinity that can and do.
Don’t just prep, produce
I believe in not only prepping, but in producing. If you rely heavily on things that are grown far away, what is your plan should your stockpile run out? It’s not possible for average folks to store a lifetime supply of food, so a Plan B is essential. Or, if you’re like me, production is Plan A and the stockpile is your back-up.
This doesn’t mean that every single person who’s going to survive has to become a hunter or a farmer. Those lifestyles are not for everyone. There are many different ways to produce, and if you can produce something viable, be it a good or a service, you’ll be able to barter for food. But, you’ll only be able to acquire what’s available, and that could mean some major changes for most Americans.
Should disaster strike and the stores close, you’ll have many adjustments. Your diet doesn’t have to be one of them if you begin now, the habit of either producing or acquiring your food locally.
So, share in the comments: Do you produce your own food? What foods are easy for you to produce in your part of the world?
- Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: The Thrivalist’s Guide to Life Without Oil
- The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock
- The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds: 322 Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, Trees, and Shrubs
- Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables
- The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series)
- The Prepper’s Canning Guide
- The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster
- The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at Learn.TheOrganicPrepper.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
I am curious how you are defining “self reliance”. Do you mean independence from external inputs to your life or just providing as much as you can for yourself. There is a big difference. Thanks.
Just my opinion for what it’s worth. Since it is virtually impossible to produce everything you would need to survive, I would define “self reliance” to be the ability to know your limits and source what you cannot produce from within your local community.
Hey Daisy, you might also want to check out “Bugging In: What To Do When TSHTF and You Live In Suburbia” which is available for free on my website http://www.RaymondDeanWhite.com.
My wife and I live in the Mohave Desert so a reliable source of water is the foremost of our concerns. We have a whole home solar system that is large enough to power a well and are saving to put one in. Meanwhile we have water stored in bottles, barrels, a 250 gallon container and our 850 gallon spa. A pool is on the wish list for after we put in a well.
For meat we have rabbits and chickens and we get a 1/2 beef from a local rancher every year. Of course the chickens provide us and some of our neighbors with eggs–essentially bribing them not to complain about morning rooster calls. We are in the process of converting our spa to an aquaponics system (tilapia as it just isn’t cold enough here for trout), so eventually we’ll have both fish and some additional growing room for vegetables.
We grow heirloom vegetables and save seed, and are experimenting with beans, squash and corn bred for this desert by Native Americans. We pressure can, freeze and dehydrate our surplus. From some of the plants we grow–broccoli, radishes, peas and clover (a cover crop)–we use a portion of the seeds for sprouting.
Our orchard includes 3 Apple trees, 2 peach trees, 2 Nectarines, 2 Figs, 2 Plums and one mulberry. We also grow raspberries and goji berries. This small orchard usually produces far more than we can consume or put up, so the excess could be used for trade.
We get our raw, unfiltered honey from a local beekeeper, swapping fresh or canned rabbit meat to him for his honey. I’ve thought about getting into beekeeping but just haven’t done it yet.
We would be SOL for bread should TSHTF but we might be able to grind enough corn for tortillas. Also we might be able to produce some sort of bread from our sprouting seeds.
Our solar system is also large enough (it’s over-sized) to charge an electric vehicle (one of which is also on our wish list). But bicycles and shank’s mare would have to be our “transportation” if things fall apart.
Right now we have no way to produce milk or cheese. We’ve considered getting milk goats (minis) but we haven’t tried any goat’s milk yet that we can stand–and the more livestock we have the more fodder we have to produce
As you can see we try to be as self-sufficient as possible but I don’t think anyone who lives in a post-industrial society is capable of being truly self-sustaining. Medicine, medical care, dental care, and the gasoline or diesel required to get to them, or in the case of medications, to get them to our local pharmacies, are all things that could easily fall by the wayside should we endure a social collapse.
Even if you are part of a mutual assistance group that includes doctors, dentists and nurses, well-drillers, mechanics, ex-soldiers and engineers you must remember that the rest of your group will have to be able to produce enough food to feed any such specialists–since the need for their skills could take up so much of their time they can’t grow their own.
The idea of changing our eating habits to conform to Paleo or some “Ancestral” diet that would be more sustainable is probably a good idea. Undoubtedly healthier too.
Thanks for the good ideas.
I also live in short Summer season area, but I can grow an abundance of not just potatoes, but also dry beans and other legumes — black garbanzo, garbanzo, Orca Beans, Black Beans, Navy Beans. I can make all kinds of flat breads from these and if I can finally make a great way to grind them dry, I can also then make a bean based bread. Not only that but dry beans and legumes keep well. Last year I saved one 100 pounds of dry green beans and about 50#s of Orca beans. The rest of my beans I grew for seed and saved it all. I recently moved to this more harsh climate and it will take awhile to establish a good vegetable, bean, legume, and potato garden. I dehydrate pears, apples, and even winter squash so I have fruit too in the long winter months. Kale. — lots of it. I will be building a partially submerged greenhouse too so I can keep greens in the winter without supplemental heat.
We sold at a 4 vendor market for 5 years not this year. We sell some off the farm when people call. We gear up or down depending on what we sold in the past. If you do not purchase local farmers don’t plant for you. But local and commit local tell them what you want, then it will be there to purchase. We are swapping or extra produce with other homesteads this year.
self reliance means growing your own food and foraging for wild food.
a stockpile of processed food is only to supplement your diet when you cant get fresh, fresh food is always best, one cannot store enough food to last the rest of our lives at some point we will have to produce our own food.
heritage and heirloom seeds will be needed.
good article, makes sense.