Back to our discussion of the “Basic Survival Questions.” Today’s topic is food. The original question asked: “How much food do I have stored and how long would it last if all sources of food were cut off and all electric power were cut?” It then states that this would mean “all your frozen food and foods requiring refrigeration are gone”.
Let me begin with that last statement. I don’t think it’s quite fair; in fact, it’s changing the rules of the game mid-play, so to speak. In about 80% of the survival scenarios I can envision that would have me bugging-in, the power isn’t likely to go out immediately. In those situations where it is likely, the power is probably out due to lines being down in a snow- or ice-storm, and I can store the food outside at least temporarily. In either case, I’ve got probably a day or two at least in which to use the contents of my fridge and chest freezer before they’ve thawed and gone bad. (There are ways to extend that almost indefinitely, but that’s for another post…)
Coming back to the main question: As with water, a good starting place would be to figure out how much is needed. A basic calorie calculator gives me a rough guesstimate of between 2500-3000 calories per day. That’s great, but doesn’t mean much to me, a guy who’s not trying to cut calories or bulk up or any such thing.
My basic rule of thumb is this: Aim to eat about how much you do now. If you think you’ll be more active, you might consider adding a little to that amount.
At this point (and probably a few other points, later in the post) the amateur (and professional!) dieticians among my readership are probably screaming in panic. Here’s my reasoning for the above: If you live in the U.S., the odds are high that you’re at least a little overweight. (Heck, I could stand to shed a couple of pounds…) In a survival scenario, you’re probably going to be more active than you are now. Keeping your intake the same, while raising the number of calories you’re burning, you’re likely to slim down. On the flip side, if you’re active, and of a healthy weight, you’re either doing things right, or the primary change will be in the type of activity you’re doing, not the amount. In that case, you’re probably already eating the right amount. And in any case, you’re used to preparing certain amounts of food, and to eating certain amounts of food–during a survival situation is not the best of times to try to change or break old habits.
The difficult part here is determining how much that amount is. My lovely wife has taken it upon herself to compile a journal of what my family eats over the course of a month–in the sense of how much of what item/ingredient, what portion size, and so on. (I’ll see if I can get the format from her, and post it later.) She hopes to take this list and average it out for a week’s worth of food, then multiply it (roughly) out to a year’s worth, just to see how much that would be. Then we will begin re-shaping our current supply.
All of which brings me to the next couple of points. There are many many many ways that food storage can go horribly awry; I’ll save them for part two of this post (which should be up early next week).