Guest Post - "My Personal Preps"
A couple of weeks ago, Turdite "Nathaniel" offered to send a list of his personal experiences and preparations for the day when TSHTF. I replied that I would greatly appreciate the info. Below is what he sent. I think it's a good starting point for a weekend discussion of disaster and emergency preparedness. As you comment, please keep in mind that 99% of the population is completely in the dark and unprepared. Many reading this thread are only, just now, thinking about buying a Berkey and some extra canned goods. Let's try to be helpful and sharing for if TSHTF sometime soon, we're all going to need each other more than ever.
"My Personal Preparation Experience", by Nathaniel
I'll write this including basics; many of your readers will already know a lot of this, but here it is for those who don't. I'm not here to debate the relative merits of different diets or dietary theories. This is what works for me. As my dear old dad was fond of saying, there's more than one way to skin a cat. If this works for you, great. If not, find out what does. Guessing will not work very well. I've provided links to vendors I have used and have been happy with. I have no financial relationship with any of them. The links are offered as a place to start.
Food has three basic components, protein, carbohydrates and fat. There are 4 calories of energy per gram of protein and carbohydrates, 9 calories of energy per gram of fat. You require a mix of all three to survive. I'm a Zone Diet guy (also here for far less). The zone diet calls for a mix of 30% of your caloric intake each from fat and protein and 40% from carbs. It's a way to train your body to burn fat for energy. I'll skip the details (read the book if you want to know) but, like I said, it works for me. In order for the zone diet to work, you have to be physically active enough to become truly physically fit. Not crazy-obsessed, but truly physically fit. The zone diet requires some discipline and thought, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy. It's basically the foods your mom told you to eat, nothing bizarre. And you feel great.
How much food do I need? Based on your activity level, you need between 1/2 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight (1 gram per kilo) and 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight, per day. (Lean body weight is your weight with no fat. There are several ways of calculating this; one is in the zone diet book. If you weigh 200 pounds and have 20% body fat, your lean body weight is 160 pounds.) This is based on both the zone diet and more importantly several books on diet for athletes by Chris Carmichael, who was, among other things, Lance Armstrong's coach for several years. This means: if you're sitting in your underground bunker counting your phyzz, you need 1/2 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight per day. If you're doing intense physical activity all day, say, subsistence farming, you need 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight per day. This allows you to determine your protein needs. Once you know how many grams of protein you need, use the above 30-30-40 formula to determine how many grams of fat and carbs you need as well, keeping in mind that you get 9 calories of energy per gram of fat and 4 calories per gram for protein and carbs. See attached excel spreadsheet for a handy way of calculating your needs. If the SHTF count on your body fat dropping. Buy a copy of The Book of Food Counts to get a list of the nutritional content of pretty much everything.
A word on the companies selling food packages. In my limited contact with them, they're nice, helpful people. The ones I talked to will gladly send you detailed nutritional breakdowns on what they sell. But. A) You pay for the convenience of having someone assemble the package for you, and B) some of the menus are padded with carbs and some of the protein is soy protein. Soy protein is inexpensive and contains isoflavones (if memory serves) which inhibits testosterone production. You need testosterone to build muscle and maintain strength. A little soy protein in your diet is no big deal. A lot of soy protein in (especially) a male's diet is counterproductive. You need animal protein, not plant protein. See my comments on Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein, below.
If you're busy or just need to get started, by all means patronize one of the many stores that sell x-period-of-time supplies of food. But I think with a little effort and thought you can do better on your own and spend less money while you're at it.
Storage. Buying grains like rice and wheat and oats is very inexpensive for the amount of nutrition you get and storing them is fairly straightforward. Bought in bulk you can expect to pay about a dollar a pound for grains in 50 pound bags. I mostly use Honeyville and have been very happy with them. Once you get your 50 pound bags of grain, what then? Most people use buckets, often 5 gallon buckets. The buckets need to be number 2 (the little recycling arrows) HDPE (high density polyethylene), which is food grade. I've read where some other-than-white buckets are not food grade because of the dies used. I don't workshop it and just get white buckets, white lids, etc. I use reusable lids made by Gamma Seal (available at the "buckets" link); cheaper, single use lids are available. Because of the nature of the plastic, just HDPE buckets alone are not air-tight long term. For long term storage, you need to line the buckets with Mylar, add oxygen absorbers and a desiccant, and seal the Mylar. See this youtube video for details on how. It's very easy and the results are very impressive. You end up with vacuum-packed-in-nitrogen sealed containers. See attached spreadsheet to calculate oxygen absorber requirements for your buckets.
A word on rice. The oils in brown rice will cause it to go rancid in storage; use white rice. That said, I have open bins with three year old brown rice in them that is still fine (in a cool, dry, high altitude climate). White rice sucks, in my opinion. But not as badly as rancid rice.
A word on grain mills. I did some research and this is the one I settled on. The store at the link had the best price and I've dealt with them before and have been pleased with the experience. I see they are currently on backorder. I like manual things. It's not too much work to grind by hand for a small family. The mill can be adapted to be driven by a bicycle for larger amounts as well as an electric motor. I believe there's a kit available for conversion.
A word on freeze dried foods. Two words: Get some. You can only live on hard red winter wheat and protein powder for so long. Grains and protein powder are a great and inexpensive way to boost the calories you have stored. You'll need some variety. Mountain House is the flagship brand. Two vendors I have used are here and here. Get on their email list for notification of sales. One recently had Mountain House on sale for 20-25% off. I've called Mountain House and they will not offer discounts for large orders to individuals. Storing freeze dried food above 70 degrees F. dramatically shortens shelf life. Cooler is better. Mountain House has been around long enough to discover by actual testing that their food maintains somewhere around 90% of its nutritional content after 30 years of proper storage (this is from memory, but the folks at Mountain House were very helpful in providing documentation on request). Mountain House has been criticized for the high sodium content of their meals. Their food is designed for very active people who are losing electrolytes through perspiration.
Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein. Turd recommends this on his site. I couldn't agree more. If you have a high protein diet, this is an easy and efficient way to get the protein you need. I get mine from bodybuilding.com; prices and service are great. I've used it daily for years and it's also a core part of my food storage program. That said, everyone has a different digestive system. If for some reason you can't digest Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein, try another quality brand. This means buy a small amount first and see if it works in your system before buying 100 pounds of it. Unbelievable flatulence is only funny for about the first five minutes. Trust me on this.
Big Berkey and other water filters. Also recommended on Turd's site. Most people claim this is the gold standard in gravity water filters. I went with the Katadyn Ceradyn instead because A) I have used Katadyn ceramic filters for over 25 years with excellent results and B) the Ceradyn's ceramic filters are good for 40,000 gallons of filtration before they need to be replaced. And it's a little less expensive than the Big Berkey. If you are filtering turbid water, your filters will last longer and work more quickly if you can either per-filter the water or have a holding tank where it is allowed to settle out before being run though the filter. I'm sure the Big Berkey will serve you well; this is an alternative.
In closing, I have a file of quotes I've collected over the last handful of years. Jefferson, Jesus, Hitler, Stalin, Bonhoeffer, Bastiat, et al. Perhaps my favorite is from my wife who, back in 2009, said, "I sure hope the day comes when we can have a good laugh at ourselves for doing this." I reminded her of what she said this past summer. She replied, "Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to be the case." I hope the above information is of some small help.