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Dealing with TEOTWAWKI events is considerably different than dealing with natural disasters. By and large, we can count on things getting back to normal after a natural disaster. It might take some time, but the goal is always to get things back to normal.
That can’t really be said for a TEOTWAWKI event. While everyone might want to get things back to normal, that doesn’t mean that it will be possible. Part of what makes a TEOTWAWKI event what it is, is that the infrastructure and supply chain has been damaged to the point where we can’t just return to “normal.”
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There will be countless problems in living through such a time; but the one that’s going to occupy everyone’s time, is coming up with the things we will need for day-to-day life. Water, fuel, medical supplies, personal hygiene items and especially food will occupy our days, as we try to keep going forward, one day at a time.
While water is actually a greater need than food, I suspect that it will end up being less of a problem.
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People who live in arid areas and who can’t come up with a reliable source for water will either find themselves forced to bug out or will die of dehydration. Everyone else will probably have some local water source they learn to use, whether that is rainwater capture, a well, or surface water.
Gathering and purifying water will just become part of everyone’s daily chores. But food is another thing entirely.
While there is actually quite a bit of food in nature, most of us don’t recognize it as food. We see big game and recognize it as a source of meat; but most of us don’t look at a snake slithering through the weeds that way. For that matter, few of us can look at those weeds and know which ones are edible.
Food is a consumable resource, and as far as the food in our stockpile is concerned, it will be a non-renewable one, once we use what we have. We will clearly need to find other sources for food… or we just won’t make it. Now’s actually the time to find those resources, so that we know where they are when the time comes.
Before Looking at Places to Gather Food
Before we start talking about where you can get food from, you need to settle the ethical and moral issues of scavenging and looting in your mind. While most people use these two words interchangeably, there is an actual difference in their definition.
Scavenging is taking unwanted items which are no longer needed by their owner. On the other hand, looting is stealing things during a time of war or rioting. For our purposes, unless it is clear that the owner has either died or abandoned whatever they have, it would be looting.
So, the question is – are you willing to loot, in order to feed your family? Let me make that a little bit worse, are you willing to loot things that people may very well need for themselves, to feed your family? That’s the issue you have to decide and it’s best to decide it now, before you are faced with a situation where you might need to.
Other than grocery stores, there are a number of different businesses which can be expected to have stocks of food. The general public will probably hit the grocery stores first; either buying everything they can get their hands on or just outright stealing it.
Once that is done, there will probably be a pause, before they figure out where else to go. That gives those of us who are properly prepared an opportunity to top off our stockpiles from these sources, before the general public finds them.
One of the things you want to do is identify these locations today, find out what they are likely to have available, and put that information in your survival notebook, so that you have it available to you, when the time comes. It will be much harder to find out where these places are, after the disaster hits.
Restaurant Supply Stores
While these stores mostly sell the kitchen and dining equipment that restaurants need, they usually have a food section too, selling food in bulk. Prepared dishes, like stuffed chicken, may have to be deconstructed, so that the chicken can be cut up and canned; but it will still be usable food. They’ll also have bulk quantities of more common things, like flour and sugar.
These differ from restaurant supply stores in that all they do is sell food, often only one category of food. I’ve seen a lot of wholesalers who just deal in dairy products or vegetables. Whatever you get, you’d be getting in bulk, so you will need to be ready to preserve it quickly.
These are also good sources for food to help build your stockpile. If you want to make dehydrated eggs, buy your eggs from a wholesaler. Produce wholesalers are a great source for fruit, so that you can make your own jams and preserves.
Most restaurants receive food shipments daily or every few days. This is generally prepared food, which will be difficult to preserve without refrigeration. But restaurants also have staples on-hand, either for the few things they actually cook themselves or for finishing off the prepared food they buy. Whatever they have will be useful, if you can keep it from spoiling.
I’m not talking about cafeteria-style restaurants here, but rather industrial cafeterias in hospitals, schools and businesses. Like restaurants, they buy their food in bulk and will usually have a fairly good stock on hand.
The problem with using them as sources though, is that there may be people living there who have staked out that food source and are depending on it. Unless you’re desperate, it probably wouldn’t be worthwhile challenging them for it.
Food Packing Plants
Most of the food in our grocery stores, from breakfast cereals to frozen TV differs, comes to us via food packing plants. These companies take the raw food from farms and turn it into a plethora of food products.
These plants therefore, will have a stock of raw food, as well as their finished products. The selection probably won’t be all that great, but it will be food.
Grain elevators are the intermediate shipping point for the food that farmers grow, while it is waiting for (usually rail) shipment to the food packing plants. As such, they sit empty much of the year.
But even empty, there is almost always residual food sitting around, if the mice and rats haven’t gotten to it first. Be sure to bring something to carry the grains in and take the time to sort and clean it before using it.
Farming today is largely an industrialized operation, with mega-sized commercial farms taking over from the small farmer. About all that’s left for the independent farmer to grow are vegetables. Nevertheless, farms of all sizes grow food; and while that food will not likely be ripe at the time the disaster strikes, it will ripen up sometime. Keep an eye on local farms, so that you’ll know when to go.
In the case of smaller, independent farms, you might want to try and work out a deal with the farmer, rather than just stealing their food. They are members of the community too, so will be concerned about their neighbors. The best solution is to find a way that you or the community can help them out, in exchange for them helping everyone else out.
Looking back at what happened during COVID, farms that raise animals for food ended up killing off a lot of animals, because they didn’t have room for them or they lost the market for what those animals were providing (I’m specifically thinking of eggs raised for the restaurant industry).
It would obviously be better if those animals could help feed your community; but as with any other food on farms, it’s best to work with the farmer, giving them something in exchange (like physical help), rather than just stealing from them.
Like farms, communities which have ranches nearby have a very real advantage when it comes to food. Cattle provide more pounds of meat per hoof than any other animal we grow for food. But ranchers have a long history of dealing with rustlers. That’s what you’ll be considered, if you just decide to go shoot some rancher’s steer.
As with farmers, it makes a whole lot more sense to work with the ranchers, than to turn them into enemies by killing their livestock. That doesn’t just mean getting their permission to kill the stock, but also making sure that you make use of every part of the animal you can. Don’t waste anything.
There are people who own horses throughout the country. Many of those people don’t have enough land to house their horses, so keep them in commercial stables, paying the stables to house their horses. Whether or not those people will even be able to get to their horses, let alone take care of them, will be a rather iffy proposition, after a TEOTWAWKI event.
Horse meat is edible, although you might be better off keeping the horse and using it as a riding or draft animal. Even using it in that way, the horse can still serve as emergency rations, if everything else runs out.
There are always stray animals running around pretty much any neighborhood. While I’m sure that many of those will disappear rather quickly, by people who catch them to eat them; that doesn’t stop you from doing so as well. Just make sure that you keep your pets locked up, so nobody else turns them into stew.
Food from Nature
Once those resources are all used up, you’re going to have to turn to nature, in order to feed your family. The problem here is that there will be a lot of other people out there, who aren’t preppers and who are going to be doing the same.
Since they won’t have a stockpile to work from, keeping their families alive, they’ll be looking to nature long before you are. Unless you live in a part of the country with a low population and a lot of sparsely populated land, getting your food from nature is going to be all but impossible.
Your number one bet for getting food from nature is growing it in your own garden. This is why so many preppers are turning to gardening, as a means of supplementing their food stockpiles. A good garden can provide enough food to feed your family all year.
Just don’t think you can do that with a small garden though; you’re going to need to turn your entire backyard into a garden, if you’re planning on growing all your own food. If you don’t convert it now, you’ll need to plan and stockpile the necessary materials to expand it when the time comes.
Raising Animals for Food
One thing your garden can’t provide is animal protein. You’ll need to raise some sort of animals for that, preferably small animals. Many preppers raise chickens for this reason. Rabbits are also popular and for those who have enough land, goats are a great addition. A pond or tank allows you to add fish.
Harvesting Edible Plants
There are a lot of plants in nature which are edible, even though we don’t normally eat them. The problem here is in not knowing which plants you can eat. Some plants are poisonous and others may have parts which are edible, while others are poisonous. Cooking is an issue as well, as some plants are only edible when cooked, but poisonous when raw.
If you’re going to be looking for edible plants to eat, then be sure to get a good guide; one that’s specific to the area in which you live. The same plants aren’t going to be growing in all parts of the country. Take the time to learn what the plants look like, as the photos often show them in flower and you may not be searching for them at the times when they are in flower.
Another thing to consider is doing some taste trials with these plants. They are unlikely to taste like what your family is used to eating. A little experimentation with some spices might make them a whole lot more appetizing.
Everyone seems to think that they’re going to go hunting and live off the land in a TEOTWAWKI world. The reality is, this is probably one of the least-likely ways of finding food, mostly because too many other people will be hunting as well, especially hunters who aren’t prepared. In no case would I make hunting a major part of my survival plan, unless I truly lived in the middle of nowhere.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider hunting as an alternative to augment your food stocks. It just means that if you’re going to hunt, that you pick a place where others aren’t going to be hunting or perhaps go hunting for animals they will overlook. Game populations will probably be decimated in the first year after a TEOTWAWKI event occurs, but they will eventually recover.
Don’t forget small game. Most people who think of hunting for food think in terms of large game. While a deer or elk will provide much more meat than a rabbit or squirrel; but there are a lot more squirrels, than there are deer.
You’ve got a much better chance of finding food fishing, than hunting. Not only are there more fish available than game animals; but the fish are in a limited area, with a higher population density. While other will be fishing as well, there’s still a fairly good chance that you’ll be able to catch some fish, especially if you have fishing spot that’s far enough away from population centers, that others won’t be fishing there.
For both hunting and fishing, the real key is where you’re going to be hunting and fishing. Without fuel, few people will be able to travel to good hunting and fishing areas. If you’re fortunate enough to already live in such an area and there isn’t such a big population of people in your area so as to kill off all the game, there’s a chance that the fish and game populations will continue to thrive, supplying you with food. Just don’t count on it, unless you have those ideal conditions.
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