Food Storage Program for Paleo Dieters

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by Cathy Cuthbert: What’s
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Many people
are becoming aware of the need to have a preparedness plan for
their families in the event of an emergency, whether it is a natural
disaster or an economic one. The most obvious places to look for
advice on how to prepare are the survivalist blogs and companies
that have been in the business of preparedness for many years,
and their advice is by far the most common we've seen.

Despite their
experience and many excellent suggestions, we have two objections
to the usual advice on survival food storage offered by these
sources. The first is that these storage programs are typically
devised under the assumption that your stash — all of your stash
— should last you for one year or maybe even 15 years without
active management. We see three problems with this assumption.

  1. Most emergencies
    don't last for a year. Disruptions due to fire, flood and storm
    typically are rectified in a matter of days or sometimes weeks
    rather than months or years. Even when we researched emergencies
    that we here in the US have not suffered in recent memory, such
    as a currency crisis, we still don't see them lasting for a
    full year, at least not the final blow-off stage. The exception
    that immediately comes to mind is war. However, we surmise that
    preparing for a war by planning to hunker down with a year's
    worth of food is more or less futile. Chances are you will be
    outed. Overall, these programs seem like a waste of resources.
  2. If all
    your food has to have a shelf life of a year, you'll make different
    choices than if your storage program is designed for, say, four
    to six months. Beans, rice, wheat, canned and highly processed,
    dehydrated or freeze dried foods just about have to be the staples
    for a yearlong storage plan. However, a program for six months
    opens up the possibility of including many fresh and frozen
    foods. Not only are these healthier options, but this is how
    we eat already, making it much more likely we will properly
    rotate our supplies in order to make good use of our resources
    and keep our stash fresh and ready if we need it.
  3. You will
    spend more money and storage space on the quantity of your food
    while the quality of your storage food will suffer. There are
    two reasons for this. First, you will simply be storing too
    much. Second, what you will be storing will have reduced nutritional
    value compared to the fresh, nutrient-dense products that you
    would normally be eating. Without nutrient-dense foods, you
    will need more food to get the same level of nutrition, if you
    can get it at all. In other words, when you eat low quality
    food, you eat more of it trying to satisfy your nutritional
    needs.

This brings
up our second objections to the standard advice — the lack of
nutrient density. Food storage programs look a lot like a dried
out version of SAD — the Standard American Diet. They are a modified
version of the unhealthy and disastrous food pyramid, with its
heavy dependence on grains and processed foods. To be fair, we
recognize that many preparedness advisors include vitamins and
seeds in their programs in their effort to address the lack of
nutrient density of the foods they recommend and we applaud them
for that, but in the context of the total program, this is only
a band aid measure.

Further,
in a attempt to construct a dehydrated SAD-like diet, preparedness
vendors have created a whole array of very unnatural and frankly
scary products — insipid, too — that we would never eat, such
as textured vegetable protein, dried dairy products, sugary energy
drink powders, and dried fruits processed with sulfur and sugar,
to name just a few. We even read an article from a blogger who
suggested buying candy for a disaster preparedness program. Eating
candy is the last thing any health-minded grown-up should be doing
in the best of times. During a time of crisis, when our lives
may be at stake and both emotional and physical stress is extreme,
eating candy which will further depress the immune system could
be nothing less than a fatal choice. This recommendation is irresponsible.

Once we change
the parameter for the storage program from one year's amount of
food to four-six months, we no longer need to depend so heavily
on grains and processed foods for their long shelf life. We can
spend our money on quality, natural, organic foods, many of which
can be fresh. We can also devote some resources to providing cold
storage such as a good, old fashioned root cellar or perhaps a
spare refrigerator or freezer.

You may disagree
that a four-six months food supply is sufficient. Fair enough,
we can be convinced of that. However, many of the high quality,
nutrient-dense foods on our list have long shelf lives and can
easily be part of a yearlong program. Of course the more perishable
items fit into the first four-six months of that plan. You may
choose to more heavily rely on grains for the second six months.

In keeping
with the recommendation that we should store the foods that most
resemble our current eating habits, I have set out to plan a food
storage program for a paleo diet.

Proteins

Eat fish,
grass fed meat and raw, grass fed dairy for our proteins. If you
intend to store these, obviously a freezer is necessary. The best
freezers for long-term storage are NOT frost free. Frost free
freezers work by cycling a heating coil on and off, raising the
temperature (while using more electricity) which reduces the shelf
life of your frozen foods.

Finding a
local source for your proteins is generally the best way to go,
especially finding a local source for eggs. Buy cage free eggs
that have not been detergent washed if you can. To find these,
you will have to buy directly from a farm. With the natural coating
left to protect the eggs, they will last several weeks to months
in a cool place such as a root cellar or spare refrigerator. (Be
sure to wash your eggs with hot water and detergent to disinfect
before using.) If you can't find a local source for the meats
and dairy, try U.S.
Wellness
. They have an excellent selection of grass fed meat,
poultry and dairy products that they deliver frozen to your door.
If you can't find a local source for fish, try Vital
Choice
or U.S. Wellness

Although
it is tempting to store soy products for shelf life, you may change
your mind after reading about the "soy is a health food"
scam. Both the Weston A.
Price Foundation
and Joseph
Mercola
supply ample information on this topic, see here
and here.
According to both, the only soy products that can be safely consumed
are fermented: miso, soy sauce and tempeh. Tempeh can be frozen.
All have a long shelf life if properly stored. Here are some suggestions:

  • Canned
    and frozen fish, low mercury only. Excellent shelf life.
  • Frozen
    grass fed meats. If the power goes out, be prepared to make
    jerky
  • Jerky
  • Eggs
  • Raw, grass
    fed cheese, delivered and stored frozen or in the wheel and
    stored in a cool place.
  • Grass
    fed milk can be stored frozen
  • Tempeh

One more
thing you may want to store is whey. Make it from raw grass-fed
milk that has soured or high quality organic yogurt by straining
out the curds using cheese cloth. Whey will store for six months
in the refrigerator. According to Sally Fallon's Nourishing
Traditions
, whey is healthful for digestion and can be
used in preparing grains, mayonnaise and fermented vegetables.
(See below.)

Hone
your skills: Learn how to raise backyard chickens. Chickens
are immensely useful. They not only provide eggs and meat, but
rid your yard of insects, clean your garden after harvest and
provide a source of fertilizer. Four to six chickens in your
backyard with a chicken tractor are easy to care for and great
fun to watch too, way better than TV. For smaller areas, such
as in your garage, try coturnix quail. I've have raised these
in my garage. They supply meat and eggs. Obviously, storing
feed is a good idea.

Books:
Chickens
in Your Backyard
, Chicken
Tractor

Vegetables

The only
canned veggies we would store would be tomatoes for flavor. If
you want to store canned vegetables, we recommend Eden's healthy
cans without BPA. Otherwise, store fresh veggies when possible
and seeds.

We urge you
to create an indoor or patio garden that can't be seen by passersby.
Choose crops for small places that can be harvest-ready in a short
period of time. Examples: peas, radishes, lettuce and other salad
greens, bok choy, spinach, green onions, herbs, etc. Fruit crops
such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant, take too long
to ripen. (We've had no luck with Zucchini and corn in containers,
by the way.) But if you have the space and inclination, try cherry
tomatoes and small hot peppers since they ripen sooner than the
large varieties.

Use edible
plants throughout your landscape, particularly plants that most
people don't know are edible. Some examples are nasturtium, New
Zealand lettuce, pursilane, and sunflowers. Consider planting
edible perennials in your yard that fit this description, as well,
such as day lilies and Jerusalem artichokes.

Microgreens
and sprouts are an excellent source of fresh nutrition. Full of
vitamins and precious enzymes, they need little space and are
ready to eat in only days. Look for seed mixes specifically for
microgreen container gardening at Pinetree
Garden Seeds
and Bountiful
Gardens
.

A wide variety
of sea weeds are available commercially. They come dried and have
a long shelf life. Whenever you make a soup or stew, add sea weed.
You will not taste it yet you will gain all the advantages of
organic minerals necessary for health. Granulated kelp can also
be bought and can be sprinkled on salads and soups.

  • Microgreens
    and Sprouts
  • Seeds
    for your hidden garden.
  • Seeds
    for a large garden and barter
  • Veggies
    for your root cellar: onions (avoid purple onions since they
    don't store as well), garlic, winter squash, spuds
  • Tomato
    sauce in jars
  • Sundried
    tomatoes in olive oil
  • Fermented
    foods: kim chi, sauerkraut, miso.
  • Sea weeds
    for the minerals

Hone
your skills:
Learn about the wild edibles and edible perennials
that grow in your area. Also, learn about hydroponics and aquaponics.
Try this website for ideas on implementing an affordable system
for the home garden or even for your condominium or apartment:
Friendly Aquaponics.

Books:
Microgreens,
Edible
Landscaping
, Perennial
Vegetables
, Grow
More Foods than You Ever Thought Possible
, and any of
the publications from Bountiful Gardens, The
Contrary Farmer
, The
Integral Urban House
, Toolbox
for Sustainable City Living
.

Storing seeds
for an extended emergency is critically important. We recommend
that you take the time to choose seeds wisely. We have seen storage
seed packages and looking at the contents found that they didn't
suit our location or eating habits and preferences. They were also
very expensive to the point of being a rip off. Choose your seeds
yourself, buying at least some open pollinators along with the hybrids.
To store them properly, buy silica gel at any craft store, dry the
silica in the oven according to the directions, pour about a half
inch into canning jars with new lids, put the seed packets in the
jars and tightly seal. After about a week to 10 days, the seeds
can be stored in the freezer. You can but don't have to remove the
silica before storage. When you need the seeds, take them out being
careful not to expose the others to the air for longer than necessary.
Your seeds should be viable for many years.

Hybrid varieties
are not all bad. Best boy and early girl are going to out yield
black krim 4 to 1, easy. It is simply not true as you may read
on the blogs that hybrid seeds are sterile. The next generation
of plants will not be identical, but anyone who is a gardener
knows that there will be plenty of volunteers in your garden next
year from the tomatoes that hit the ground this year.

Hone
your skills:
learn how to select and store seeds from your
own harvest. An excellent book on the subject is Seed
to Seed
by Ashworth and Whealy.

Fats

In our effort
to find foods with long shelf life, let's not stumble into storing
what many consider the bane of our modern food system — unhealthy
fats. That includes commercial peanut butter with its added transfats.
With the proper storage conditions, we can store healthy fats
for much longer than four-six months and they have better flavor,
too.

Coconut oil
is the oil of choice for cooking since it is more stable than
all the others. Mercola.com recently published this tip: to preserve
olive oil, buy in small dark-colored bottles and add the contents
of a gel cap of astaxanthan or lutien to the bottle as an antioxidant.

Being paleo-dieters,
we can't forget butter for our storage program. Butter can be frozen,
but need not be, especially if wrapped airtight. Ghee, of course,
has a longer shelf life than butter.

  • Coconut
    oil, minimally processed
  • Mac Nut
    and Olive Oil
  • Nuts in
    the shell. Store frozen if possible. Don't forget the nut cracker.
  • Tahini
  • Olives
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Homemade
    mayonnaise using whey, shelf life of about six months in fridge.

Hone
your skills:
experiment with making your own butters from
your organic stored-in-the-shell nuts and seeds.

Carbs

Despite our
disapproval of the food pyramid, we believe there is a place for
grains and legumes in your storage program. The Westin A. Price
Foundation has published quite a bit on how to use grains in a healthy
manner by sprouting or fermenting them before cooking. (See their
newsletter, Wise Traditions, Summer 2006 for more.) For example,
Nourishing
Traditions
, says to let rice sit overnight at room temperature
with whey in the salted cooking water before boiling it the next
day. This type of fermentation reduces the anti-nutrients in the
grains making them more digestible. Fermenting the grain flours
with sourdough starter or yogurt is also suggested.

Another use
of grains that you may overlook is sprouting. Wheat can be sprouted
for a couple of days to yield a healthy drink called rejuvelac,
and the wheat berries added to salads. Buckwheat can be sprouted
as a microgreen. Beans also can be sprouted for eating with salads,
as well as cooked for soups, daals and stews. You should note
that lentils need not be soaked therefore require less water for
preparation.

Miscellaneous

  • Sea salt,
    not commercial salt which contains aluminum
  • Teas, especially
    medicinal teas such as Saint John's Wort
  • Dried fruit
    for the phytonutrients and, of course, taste
  • Raw, unfiltered
    apple cider vinegar
  • Raw, unfiltered
    honey, stevia, maple syrup
  • Herbs and
    spices. Many spices are not only prized for their flavor but also
    their medicinal qualities, particularly the curry spices. Fresh
    ginger can be stored frozen.
  • Water. In
    many cases, you should NOT store municipal tap water for drinking.
    We suggest looking for a used, food grade 55 gal drum and filling
    it with reverse osmosis water or quality well water with hydrogen
    peroxide (preservative) for drinking. A great trick is to install
    a used, busted hot water tank in line with your working hot water
    tank. (Call your plumber. He may have a tank to sell to you.)
    If your water service is interrupted, this tank can be used for
    washing. Because it is in line, it is constantly being refreshed
    so that there is no need to add a preservative.
  • Supplements.
    At a minimum, store the three things our bodies need and can't
    produce, according to Dr.
    Don Miller
    — vitamins C and D3 and iodine. Also store nutritional
    yeast for B complex and if you are into it, green superfoods.
  • Alcohol
    for medicinal purposes. Buy vodka in glass bottles for you and
    airline-size plastic bottles by the case for barter.
  • Organic
    fertilizers for your hidden garden.
  • Solar cooker

    Hone
    your skills:
    Learn how to solar cook. Go to the Solar
    Cookers International
    website for cookers and books. We
    have been solar cooking for years and have even roasted beef
    with the sun. A solar cooker could be a life saver in an emergency
    since water can be pasteurized with it.

Also a
selection of medicinal herb is wise. Learn how to grow or gather
them in your area and how to make tinctures.

Books:
Cooking
with the Sun
.

Please view
this article as a work in progress. I welcome suggestions to improve
this program and will update it with your help.

December
2, 2010

Cathy
Cuthbert [send her mail]
is a liberty activist and a member of the Board of Directors for
the Alliance for the Separation
of School and State
and for the Advocates
for Self Government
. She is a former homeschooling mother
(they grew up, damn it) who lives on California’s central coast.

Cathy
Cuthbert Archives

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