Survival Skills: Sprouting Your Own Food

One of the big challenges of living off of emergency food for any length of time is that in certain survival situations, you may not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and, as a result, may find your diet lacking in vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. Consequently, it’s important to find creative ways to ensure you have fresh vegetables even when you’re living off your food storage reserves. Sprouting may just be the answer to this problem.

Sprouting is the process of germinating dormant seeds in order to eat them while still young shoots. It’s an easy practice to do, costs little money, and provides a wealth of nutrients. Sounds like the recipe for a perfect survival food, right? If you’re still not convinced that sprouting should be the next survival skill you pick up, read on.

Why Sprout

1. Growing sprouts indoors is a great way to get super nutritious, fresh foods no matter what the conditions outside. Added bonus: You can grow sprouts in the dead of winter and keep yourself connected to the growing vibe that the winter season often lacks.

2. Sprouted foods are filled with nutritional benefits. That’s because the process of sprouting foods multiplies those foods’ nutritional profiles. According to many sources, sprouted foods contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants, and they are good sources of saponins and phytochemicals.

3. Sprouting is easy to do in survival situations and offers a great source of food when food supplies are short. All you need is dry beans, seeds, or grains, which are easy to store for long periods of time and are common food storage items, and some water. In addition, sprouting will help you ensure a nutritious diet in a survival situation.

4. Sprouted foods make for delicious, interesting flavor when added to meals, soups, salads, smoothies, and more. Or you can eat them by themselves for a healthy, crunchy snack.

5. Sprouting foods is a cheap way to get a lot of food for a little money. Buy cheap dry beans and seeds and grains and do your sprouting from those. It’s an economical habit during any time of life.

6. You can sprout a huge variety of foods: grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, vegetables, leafy greens, and more.

Sprouting Supplies

If you’re interested in getting started sprouting at home, the good news is you don’t need to go out and spend a lot of money on supplies. All you’ll need is your seed of choice and a suitable sprouting container. One of the most common sprouting containers is a simple glass jar with a breathable cloth or screen across its mouth. Other popular containers are sprouting bags made out of breathable material and, for bigger jobs, sprouting trays that hold a large quantity of sprouts. Most of these containers cost less than $20 and can be purchased online or at local gardening stores. For one good resource, check out Sproutpeople.

Getting Started

It’s not hard to experiment at home with sprouting your own foods. Start with something easy like mung beans or adzuki beans, two common sprouts, and grow your expertise from there. Check out the following easy steps to get you eating your own home-grown sprouts in less than a week:

1. Soak your seeds. Mix 2-3 parts water to 1 part seed. Mix your seeds around in the water to ensure even distribution and then let them soak for their required time. Most foods need to soak for 8-12 hours, but some don’t need nearly as much time. Look up your particular seed for appropriate soaking times. After soaking is done, drain the water and rinse your seeds.

2. Place seeds in your sprouting container.

3. Rinse. This is a step that will be done frequently until the sprouting process is complete. Rinse 2-3 times a day with cool water. (Experts recommend water that is about 60-70 degrees.)

4. Drain. Draining as much water as you can after you are done rinsing will ensure sprouts are healthy and happy. You don’t want your seeds sitting in a puddle. For the majority of the day, they should be nice and moist, but not wet. Every time you rinse your seeds (2-3 times a day, as mentioned earlier), you should drain them very well.

5. Repeat. Repeat the rinsing and draining process 2-3 times daily until your sprouts are the desired length. Most sprouts take under a week to grow.

6. Enjoy.

Sprouting is a rewarding activity that yields super nutritious foods for your family no matter what the season or situation. Get yourself some basic sprouting supplies, start experimenting, and add sprouting the your list of growing self-sufficiently skills that will save you in a survival situation.

Preparedness Isn’t Scary, Unreadiness Is: Four Reasons to Prepare Now

It may not be anything as spooky as a zombie apocalypse or alien invasion that causes you to pull out your food storage reserves, but it will still be just as crucial that you are prepared. Sometimes when we think about emergency preparedness, we picture that we are simply readying ourselves for the end of the world or some other remote and relatively unlikely event.

The reality is that there are a variety of situations that make emergency preparedness important. Many of them are big, scary natural disasters, but some of them are common occurrences that happen more frequently than we might be aware. No matter the situation, we’ll be very glad we have emergency supplies stocked up when that situation arrives. Today we’ll look at some of the most common “emergencies” and how being prepared can alleviate the stress and danger that come with them.

Job Loss and Economic Uncertainty

Emergency situations don’t have to involve dramatic earthquakes or wilderness survival. Sometimes emergencies can be personal and happen at home. With the economic conditions Americans have faced for the last several years, unemployment is a growing problem and one that has shown up for plenty of people who never thought they’d have to deal with it. When you lose your job, all your financial security can go out the window. You don’t know when money will be coming in again, and you have to ration your money accordingly. In these situations, having a substantial amount of food storage built up eases a huge financial burden. I have known people who have lived off of their food storage for as long as nine months to help fill in the gaps during a job loss. As you grow your emergency food reserves, remember that this food could save your family at any time.

Even if you don’t lose your job, you could still face plenty of economic uncertainty. In an economy in which we see rising food prices and costs of living, it’s nice to have some backup food storage to supplement weekly grocery store trips. Bulk food storage purchases are typically economical ways to get a lot of food for a little money.

Wars/Terrorist Attacks

Wars and terrorist attacks threaten our way of life and the regular function of government systems. Any time we are reliant on a system outside of ourselves, we are susceptible to interruptions in its service. This could mean stores are closed, our access to important supplies is cut off, or anything else of the sort. As protection against unpredictable situations like these, it’s vital that we have a reasonable degree of self- reliance. This includes having plenty of emergency food rations stocked up, water stored away, and emergency supplies gathered. The more prepared we are, the less occurrences like war and terrorism will affect our lives.

Car Problems

Another common emergency situation that affects people frequently is car problems. Whether it’s getting stuck in a blizzard somewhere, finding yourself stranded in the heat of summer, or simply having your car shut down a long way from home, car problems can quickly lead to survival situations. At times like these, your degree of preparedness directly affects your likelihood of survival. Having an emergency supply kit stored in the trunk of your car at all times, having some food and water on hand, and knowing some basic safety measures for each situation will go a long way in keeping you safe until help can find you.

Natural Disasters

In 2012 alone, the world saw raging wildfires in California; droughts across the Midwest U.S. and Africa; earthquakes in Mexico, Iran, Italy, and Afghanistan; Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines; severe flooding in southern Russia and China; heat waves across the U.S.; superstorm Sandy; and plenty of other natural disasters that caused widespread destruction and interruption of life. Natural disasters happen often and everywhere. Though we can predict to some extent where they will occur, they often sneak up on us before we have had time to get completely prepared. The only way to increase the chances that our families will survive a natural disaster is to do the work now to get prepared with food, water, supplies, emergency protocol, and survival knowledge.

Even though it’s the spookiest time of the year, this post is not meant to scare anyone into preparation. Mostly, it is meant to open our eyes to the realities that can and do occur frequently. Emergency preparedness is not just about getting ready for the next big hurricane; it is about living in a self-reliant way so that any unpredictable situations that might occur will impact our day-to-day living less. When we are prepared with the supplies our families need to survive, we don’t have to fear scary situations.

9 Reasons to Add Meat to Your Food Storage

Many people’s food storage pantries are made up of the same items: bulk dry grains, vegetables, legumes, and maybe some sugar or honey. If you’ve got these items stored, you may think you’ve got a pretty good basic supply of food. However, a diet based on these foods alone is severely lacking in one vital nutrient: protein. Some food storage experts say that a food storage pantry without meat is an incomplete food storage pantry. Today, let’s look at why you should store meat and, more specifically, why Legacy’s freeze-dried chicken and beef offerings are an excellent option when it comes to food storage meat.

1. Protein is essential for the body to function. Protein is an important part of every single cell in the body, from muscle cells to fingernail cells. It is a crucial nutrient for building and repairing tissue, creating enzymes, and building muscle, bone, cartilage, skin, and blood. When the body is deficient in protein, it cannot perform any of these basic functions efficiently. In emergency situations and other times when you will be living off of your food storage supplies, it will be more important than possibly any other time for your body to be functioning well. Protein is the key.

2. Meat has high amounts of protein. Legacy Premium’s supply of freeze-dried beef has 33 grams of protein and its freeze-dried chicken has 37 grams. That’s a large amount of protein that is hard to get in any other single food source besides meat. Most nutritionists recommend that you get anywhere from .45 to .77 grams per pound of your body weight, depending on your activity level. So for an extremely active athlete who is 150 pounds, the goal would be around 115 grams of protein per day. For a fairly active person who is 150 pounds, the goal would be around 65 grams of protein per day. That’s a lot of protein needs, and protein-dense foods like meat are a great way to fill them.

3. Meat is a high-quality source of protein. Not only does it offer large amounts of protein; it is also quality protein. Unlike dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese, which can be high in sugar, meat is a calorically efficient way to get protein.

4. Legacy’s freeze-dried meat has a 25-year shelf life. Unlike canned and boxed meals with meat in them that you might find at the store and will last for a few years in storage before they go bad, Legacy’s freeze-dried meats will last a quarter of a century in storage. This is due to their freeze-dried nature and Legacy’s meticulous packaging process that reduces oxygen levels to well below the industry standard of 2%. When you store this meat, you store for emergency situations that may come in the near future or not for many, many years.

5. Meat is versatile and adds variety to meals. Emergency situations can be long, and food storage supplies can be limited. After too much time living on food storage, a person can start to develop meal fatigue. Any variations you can throw into the mix will be a welcome addition to life in an emergency. With freeze-dried meat in your pantry, you can toss beef or chicken into any other meal for a quick change of flavor.

6. Legacy’s freeze-dried meat is easy to prepare. Convenient cooking in emergency situations is extremely important. Legacy’s freeze-dried meat is easy to prepare and ready in a minute. Simply soak equal parts meat and water for 1 minute, then use it as you would any other cooked meat. This meat makes meals more convenient both in a disaster situation and on a regular night at home when you don’t have the time or energy to cook meat from scratch.

7. Meat makes meals more balanced for a more nutritious survival diet. One of the eventual risks of eating the same set of foods over and over as must be done in survival situations is that the body ends up lacking in certain nutrients and overloaded in others. When you store meat along with a wide variety of other emergency foods, you ensure that your body will get balanced nutrition.

8. Meat is a good source of other important nutrients. Both beef and chicken are excellent sources of iron, which is essential for the body to properly store and use oxygen. Beef is an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is a vitamin that is important for vision and bone growth.

9. Meat is tasty. In 2011, Oxfam conducted a survey in which they asked over 16,000 people in 17 countries around the world what their favorite foods were. The results? The top three foods in the world are pasta, meat, and rice. If you are a meat fan, you are not alone, and this is all the more reason to add meat to your food storage offerings today. Meat is almost universally eaten and enjoyed and will be a valuable item to have in survival situations.

If yours is a meat-eating family and you don’t have any meat stored away in your food storage reserves, you may want to consider make a purchase of high-quality, long-lasting meat today. Not only will your family’s meals be healthier and more balanced; you will also have a convenient meal option for emergency situations and everyday life.

Five Ways to Get Kids Excited About Emergency Preparedness

Did you learn about emergency preparedness when you were a kid? What stuck and what didn’t? When I was growing up, we had a few lessons at school and a spattering of youth activities at church centered around survival topics. Mostly these lessons focused on first aid skills and safety during disaster situations. I don’t remember much of what I learned from these lessons except that they either made me very, very scared or bored me to death.

Teaching emergency preparedness to kids can be tricky. It shouldn’t instill paralyzing fear in them but instead teach them about real dangers and how to deal with them. And it’s crucial that, especially when you’re teaching it to kids, emergency preparedness be fun. Here are five ways you can make your family emergency preparedness efforts more appealing to kids so they can grow up with the tools they need to handle emergency situations capably.

1. Make a family emergency plan together. We’ve talked about family emergency plans and their importance before. (If you missed out, see this post.) Good family emergency plans help family members contact each other and reunite in emergencies and give members tools to use to keep themselves safe in the aftermath of a disaster. It’s vital that all families have family emergency plans in place. But carefully consider how you will make your plan.

Rather than just telling children what procedures are going to be, allow them to help in the creation of procedures. This will help them to feel ownership of your plan and consequently be much more interested. Getting kids involved in making the plans will also help them remember family plans more. Set aside a special night on which you write up family protocol for emergencies. Include treats and pictures and a family game afterward to make the information memorable to little minds.

2. Have an emergency supply kit scavenger hunt. A great way to make emergency preparedness fun for kids is to turn it into a game. Try out this scavenger hunt for an interesting way to put together your family’s emergency supplies. Separate the family into two groups, split the emergency supply list in half, go to the store, split up, and see who can get their supplies gathered first. When you get home, talk about the items in the kit and why they are important. Finish with putting the supply kit together and put it in a place where all family members know about it.

If you’d like a briefer version of the emergency supply scavenger hunt, purchase your items beforehand, hide them around your house, and then have children find the items and check them off their list as they do.

3. Learn new survival skills together. In addition to having a family emergency planning meeting, hold regular family nights during which you increase your survival skills together. Be creative and have fun. Build a solar oven together and experiment on different kinds of food. Have a fire-building skills night. Learn about edible plants together. Make these nights informal and try not to involve fear or scary scenarios. Yes, it is important that children be prepared for disasters both physically and mentally, but scaring them can inhibit their learning. Try to focus on the fact that you are all going to build your skill set together so that you are ready for anything.

4. Go camping. Not all families are camping families. Some prefer comfortable hotel rooms and sightseeing to the ruggedness of the wilderness, and that’s okay. But don’t underestimate the power of a camping trip to offer endless natural opportunities to teach survival skills to your kids. While camping, you can teach your kids how to pack well for outdoor survival, cook meals in the wilderness, build fires with few supplies, use pocket knives, create shelters, catch fish, and drink wild water safely. Everything I learned about outdoor survival as a kid came from my camping trips with my family, not from lessons in school or church.

5. Give kids a garden. At the beginning of the gardening season, set aside a little piece of the garden that belongs to each child in your family. Let them choose what to plant in their corner of the garden, then teach them how to water their plants, remove weeds, and harvest their food. Performing all of these important tasks and growing their own food will give them a sense of accomplishment and capability that will carry over into many other aspects of their lives. You can also use harvest time as an opportunity to teach them about canning, dehydrating, and cooking.

When you make emergency preparedness interesting and relevant, kids soak it up and retain the knowledge for later. So make it a family effort to get prepared for disasters, and then rest easy that all members of your family have the tools they need to survive.

Photo credit: Lupuca / Foter / CC BY-SA

Survival Desserts: Storing Treats for Emergencies

It’s the time of year when home-baked goodies are in the oven, candy bowls are filled to the brim, and every child’s (and maybe adult’s) breath smells like the chocolate candy bar he just ate. So here in the emergency preparedness world, we start to think about survival treats.

Wait a minute, you might be saying, what do treats have to do with survival? Aren’t treats just a luxury? And isn’t the definition of a survival situation a situation in which there are no luxuries? If your thinking runs along these lines, you may want to think again. Here are three reasons you should store treats along with your food storage meals and emergency supplies:

1. Treats boost morale. Have you ever made a batch of cookies on a gloomy winter day or pulled out a candy bar during the slow afternoon hours at the office? Delicious food is a way we treat ourselves when life needs a little color. Emergency and survival situations are stressful times. Anything that can keep your spirits up and put your family members in a better mood is a valuable asset to have. Whether this means buying some boxes of your kids’ favorite packaged cookies and adding them to your food storage pantry, stocking up on your spouse’s favorite coffee, or buying your own favorite treat in bulk, you will not regret having included treats in your emergency supplies. No, these foods won’t sustain your body all on their own, but they will go a long way toward making life feel more normal when it is most decidedly not.

2. Treats offer quick energy and lots of calories. Rice crispy treats are not going to nourish your body and give it essential vitamins, but they will give you a short-term burst of energy and add plenty of calories to a low-calorie survival diet. While it is important to ensure the majority of your emergency food reserves are made up of nutritious, hearty foods, don’t underestimate the power of a sugary snack to give you a quick pick-me-up when you need one. Survival situations have the potential to involve a lot of physical work, and chances are that a quick energy boost will come in handy.

3. Treats are good for bartering. A few weeks ago we ran a post on the importance of knowing how to barter as a survival skill. If money loses its value, your only way to obtain the goods and services you need will be to trade the goods and services you have to offer. If treats are in short supply, your having plenty stocked up will give you a leg up in the bartering world.

Now that we have you convinced you should be storing treats along with your emergency food and supplies, here are some ideas for survival treats that are ideal for storage. We consider these treats “survival treats” either because they are made using common food storage ingredients or because they simply have a long, stable shelf life.

Six Tasty Survival Treats

1. Trail Mix. Trail mix is easy to make, calorie-dense, delicious, and has a fairly long shelf life. (Depending on what you include, trail mix can be good for six months to a year.) Best of all, you can make a lot of different variations to keep your snacks interesting. Gather different kinds of nuts as you find them on sale, add in chocolate, raisins, pretzels, cereal, marshmallows, and even some freeze-dried fruits from your food storage reserves to add a sweet twist. Legacy’s mango dices and banana chips add just the right amount of tang to an otherwise standard trail mix combo.

2. Chocolate. I have only met one person in my life who claimed to not like chocolate, and I still doubt it was true. Having chocolate on hand, for me, is very nearly a necessity, and the good news is that chocolate has a fairly stable shelf life. Chocolate and chocolate bars are said to last in the pantry for 2-4 months past their “best by” date, and if you store them in the freezer, this can be extended to up to three years, according to some sources.

 3. Energy bites. Made out of common food storage ingredients, energy bites are a great way to add something sweet (and hearty) to your food storage fare. Just mix oats, honey, and peanut butter together and add in any mix-ins that you have on hand: dried fruit (again, Legacy’s mango dices would add a tasty burst of flavor), chocolate chips, nuts, etc. Here’s one recipe: Energy Bites.

4. Rice pudding. Most food storage reserves include rice, some kind of powdered milk, and sugar or honey. Even these three ingredients is enough to make a basic rice pudding. If you also have raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla on hand, you are all set. A basic recipe: Rice pudding.

5. Honey candies. Honey candies are easy to make with just two common food storage ingredients—honey and powdered milk—and they are a tasty, creamy treat. Simply mix together 1 cup of warm honey and 2 ¾ cup of powdered milk, drop into bite-sized pieces, and let set. Add ½ cup cocoa and reduce powdered milk to 2 cups for a chocolate, Tootsie-roll-like version.

6. Homemade fruit leathers. You can dehydrate your own fruit leathers easily out of fresh garden produce at the end of the gardening season or buy a big can of applesauce or other fruit you like. Simply puree you fruit, then pour it onto your dehydrator. This is a great treat to have on hand for kids, and most dehydrated fruit leathers when properly stored can last in storage for up to a year.

How to Raise Self-Reliant Kids

In 2012, National Geographic conducted an emergency preparedness survey of Americans and found that despite 64 percent of people believing that a significant earthquake or other emergency state would hit the U.S. within the next 25 years, a whopping 25 percent of people said they had done absolutely nothing to prepare for it. This statistic highlights a sad state of current affairs when it comes to preparedness and self-reliance on a nationwide or even global scale. People know they need to become self-reliant, but for one reason or another, they aren’t doing anything about it.

One way to increase the number of self-reliant people in the world is to start by fostering self-reliance in our children. If we can successfully raise our children to prize self-reliance and recognize its importance in a healthy, functioning society, then maybe we can change the preparedness stats of the future. This starts with children learning to be independent, self-reliant people in all aspects of their lives. Today we’ve gathered helpful tips from around the web, most of them from experts on child rearing and behavior, to create a comprehensive list to help you help your children grow into independent, self-reliant, resilient adults.

Four Tips for Raising Self-reliant Children

1. Allow kids to struggle. The New York Times ran an article last year about raising successful children. In the article, Madeline Levine, a clinician and author of several parenting books, makes the point that children thrive when their parents allow them to figure out how to do things on their own. “The happiest, most successful children,” says Levine, “have parents who do not do for them what they are capable of doing, or almost capable of doing; and their parents do not do things for them that satisfy their own needs rather than the needs of the child.”

As parents, we naturally want to protect our children from negative experiences, but always protecting them can leave them lacking coping tools that will be crucial for them later in life. Allowing them to struggle doesn’t mean releasing them to the blows of the world before they are ready. It means holding back our overprotective instincts to allow them to deal with things they are old enough to deal with. My three-year-old, for example, is learning to dress herself. It’s a task that she eagerly takes on, but sometimes she gets frustrated when she encounters tricky things, like pants that keep ending up backwards or shoes that won’t buckle up. My initial reaction if she gets mad because her pants are on the wrong way is to want to jump in and fix everything. But if I wait a minute before helping her and allow her to feel a little frustration, she usually figures things out on her own. In the process, she also learns that she is capable of doing things by herself and that she doesn’t need mom to rescue her every time she encounters trouble.

2. Hold kids responsible for age-appropriate tasks. Research in the human development field has shown that when children are given household chores, especially at an early age, they are more likely to grow up to be responsible, competent, self-reliant adults. When children are very young, these tasks might start with brushing their teeth every night, making their bed in the morning, or cleaning up their toys after playing with them. As children grow, tasks could include household chores that contribute to the family functioning, like emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry, or mowing the lawn. When children are held responsible for tasks, they start to learn that hard work is necessary for a healthy system to function and that they can be contributing members of that system. Sometimes it can be easier and quicker for parents to just get household chores done ourselves, but when we require children to join in, we teach them valuable lessons about self-reliance.

3. Teach by example.  In the New York Times article cited earlier, Levine says that one of the most valuable ways we can teach our children to be successful adults is to “present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.”We instill in our children the importance of living a self-reliant lifestyle by being self-reliant ourselves. Moreover, if our children see that we are self-reliant, responsible adults and that these traits result in our being confident, happy, fulfilled people, they will also want to grow up to be self-reliant and responsible.

Talking to our children about responsibilities that we have and how we feel when we fulfill them can help them to see self-reliance in action. For example, if I have a deadline at work and explain this to my child, and then she sees me working on the project and getting to play with her when I am done, she begins to understand how work and responsibility fit into life.

4. Include children in emergency preparedness efforts. Especially at earlier ages, children tend to get excited about the things their parents are excited about. If we involve our children in our preparedness and self-reliance efforts, we teach them to value these things. There are many ways to get kids excited about emergency preparedness. Whether it’s letting them help plant the family garden, having regular family campfires, dehydrating food together, or learning about edible plants, making emergency preparedness fun will go a long way in teaching kids to value self-reliance.

As a society, we tend to be moving toward more and more dependence on governments and social programs to meet our needs, especially in emergency situations. If we can focus on teaching our children the importance of being self-reliant, responsible people, perhaps we can reverse this trend and fill the world with more people who are prepared to fend for themselves and contribute to society in healthy ways.

Stay-well Tips for the Cold Season

Fall is a magical time of year with the cool breezes, the gold-toned trees, and the approaching holidays. Unfortunately, fall is also the time of year that cooling temperatures bring with them the spread of colds, flus, and other contagious illnesses. Nobody likes getting sick, and there are measures you can take to minimize your exposure to contagious diseases. Today, we’ll look at natural ways you can prevent sickness from reaching you this cold and flu season.

Natural Prevention Tips

While colds and flus aren’t always preventable, there are things you can do to significantly minimize your chances of catching things that are going around. Each of the following is a step you can take to build up your immune system and maintain a healthy defense against nasty illness. Most of them seem simple, but added together, they provide a powerful boost for wellness.

1. Eat well. Consume plenty of foods that contain phytochemicals (i.e. plant foods). Plant foods give the body a super vitamin boost. Zinc-rich foods like oysters and wheat germ have also been shown to give the immune system a significant boost. Minimizing sugar intake can also help, as can eating more garlic and onion, which are anti-microbial, to build up a stronger defense against viruses.

2. Allow your body to get all the sleep it needs. We hear this all the time, but it’s hard for many of us to do. Make it a habit to go to bed early and wake when your body wakes you. Sleep is when the body repairs itself, and without enough sleep, your body is more susceptible to disease.

3. Get plenty of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise can increase the body’s white blood cells that attack viruses. Some experts say the optimal aerobic exercise to build up white blood cells is four times a week. But don’t overdo it though, as too much strenuous exercise has been shown to leave the body more susceptible to disease.

4. Don’t smoke, and limit alcohol intake. Heavy drinkers and smokers have been shown to be sick more frequently and more severely because their immune systems are suppressed by these substances.

5. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly (before eating, preparing food, after coughing, sneezing, using bathroom, touching mouth or eyes or nose). Teach kids to cough and sneeze into the inside of their elbow, and also teach them to avoid touching their faces.

Some contagious diseases can be spread before a person even knows he/she has the disease. The flu can be contagious a day before symptoms show up in the infected person, and strep throat can be contagious five days before symptoms show up! This is why having good hygiene in general is so important.

If someone in your family gets sick, disinfect phones, counters, door and cupboard handles, remotes, computer keyboards and mouses, light switches, and faucets. Don’t share drinks, chip bags, or other things that touch hands and mouths. Taking these steps will greatly decrease the chances of the sickness spreading to other members of the family.

6. Eliminate stress and practice relaxation. There are plenty of health reasons to decrease your stress level, but if you need a compelling one, know that living in a relaxed state most of the time can keep you from getting sick. Regularly practicing relaxation, whether it be through meditation, yoga, or a good old-fashioned massage, can boost your body’s immune functioning by increasing Interleukins in the bloodstream, which are vital parts of the immune system. .

Being sick is miserable, not to mention the detriment it can be to your budget with missed work days and doctor/medication bills. Preventing sickness by living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to ensure you miss the cold and flu bugs that float around this cold season.

Storing Fuel for Emergencies

Fuel is a frequently overlooked aspect of emergency preparedness, but it’s also a crucial one. Fuel keeps life running, from generators to cars to household appliances. It cooks food. It heats houses. Without it, winters would be cold (and maybe impossible to survive), food would have to be eaten raw, and many of the conveniences of modern life would disappear. Fuel is a necessary part of everyday life and, like all survival necessities, the need for it becomes magnified in an emergency situation. During Hurricane Sandy, people lined up for 3 to 4 hours at the gas station just to get a little gasoline. To avoid becoming one of those people when an emergency situation hits your area, store the fuel now that you need to power your life at least for a few days.

What fuel should I store?

There are a variety of fuel sources you might consider storing for emergencies and which ones you do store should depend on what kind of equipment you have and how you plan to use it. If you are only going to need fuel to power your generator or fill up your car to drive to your bug-out location, gasoline is a good place to start. If you have emergency cook stoves or barbecues (hopefully you do), you will probably want to have propane, charcoal, wood, or fuel cells on hand to use those to cook your food. (PrepareWise offers Legacy’s ethylene glycol fuel cell, called ThermaFuel, that has a 20 year shelf life, and each fuel cell can cook 4-6 meals.) Some serious preppers swear by diesel fuel because it’s less flammable than gasoline and usually lasts longer in storage, and some say kerosene is the ideal fuel to store because it is versatile and also lasts a very long time (see here). Do a little research to find out which one is right for you.

How do I store fuel?

Storing fuel can be a delicate process because it is generally so flammable. To keep yourself and your family safe, you should always follow storage safety guidelines carefully.

Tips for Storing Gasoline and Other Fuel Types

1. Put fuel stabilizer in your gasoline to keep it from breaking down and help it to last longer.

2. Do not store gas in the house or in a garage attached to the house as this poses a serious fire hazard.

3. Rotate your gasoline out every year. Gasoline has a shelf life of about one year (Some people use their gas stores after several years and say it is okay, but older gasoline may affect your engine’s health). Pour gasoline you have been storing for a year into your car and then refill your containers next time you go to the gas station.

4. Store gas in non-clear, tightly sealing containers. Metal cans or designated red gas cans are the safest options. If you aren’t storing huge amounts of fuel, It’s a good idea to put it in several small gas cans so that you can easily pour it when you need it.

5. Store gasoline (and all fuels for that matter) in a dry, dark, cool place downwind of the house.

6. Do not store fuel near anything flammable.

7. Have a fire extinguisher nearby.

8. Regularly check fuel cans for leaks.

9. Know your area’s regulations for storing fuel. Talk to your fire marshall to find out specific state codes regarding fuel storage. Many states put a limit on how much fuel can be stored, and many regulate how fuel can be stored. Do your research before you start.

10. Talk to your homeowner’s insurance agent to see if your insurance policy prohibits or regulates fuel storage on your property in any way.

How much fuel should I store?

The amount of fuel you should store depends on what you’ll use it for and how much you’ll need. Also, as mentioned before, some states regulate how much fuel can be stored in certain locations. If you have a generator, know how much fuel it uses to run for three days and start by storing that much fuel. (Keep in mind that you won’t need to have your generator running nonstop and can probably turn it off while you sleep and for several periods during the day as well.) If you simply want to be able to reach another destination, know how much fuel you will need on hand to be able to get you there.

Storing fuel can be a dangerous and overwhelming process, but it is also a very important one when it comes to being truly self-reliant in emergency situations. Find out now what kind of fuel will be most useful to meet your family’s needs in an emergency, and then get started. It’s just one more way to ensure you won’t be at the mercy of political instability, natural disasters, or economic downturn when it comes to keeping your family safe and well.

Food Preservation Series: Freezing, Smoking, and Fermenting

As the harvest season draws to a close, it’s nice to have basic knowledge of the food preservation options available to you to help you stretch your gardening’s fruits out across the year. Last week on the blog, we talked about home canning, and the week before that we looked at home dehydration. In today’s post, we’ll cover the “other” category of home food preservation, including freezing, curing and smoking, and fermenting. If you are unfamiliar with any of these home preservation methods, allow us to help you get started.

Freezing

Even the busiest of people have the time to throw food in the freezer for later. And most foods, from fruits and vegetables to meats and cheeses, can be frozen for a longer life. This is why freezing is definitely the most convenient modern food preservation option there is. In addition, freezing retains nutrients better than many other preservation methods, and often if you freeze produce right after you have harvested it, it will have more nutrients than produce you buy at the store, which has usually been sitting around for several days since harvesting. However, when you rely on freezing as your primary food preservation method, power outages can quickly ruin anything you’ve put away, so it’s not as reliable of a long-term method as, say, dehydrating or canning.

One of the most frequently asked questions about storing food in the freezer is How long does frozen food last? The answer is that food can last in the freezer for varying lengths of time depending on the type of food. For example, most hard cheeses can stay good in the freezer for 6-8 months, most meats for 6-9 months, and most vegetables for 8-12 months. Check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s recommended storage times for individual foods’ freezing storage life.

When you store food in the freezer, always remember to pack it in a tightly-sealed, moisture-resistant container. Freezer bags and plastic or glass tupperware are excellent options. Wide-mouthed mason jars can also work well. Leave a little space at the top of the package to allow for food expansion while freezing, and always label your frozen food with the date you began freezing it.

Curing and Smoking

Curing and smoking, while not necessarily long-term food storage options because cured/smoked foods usually need to be refrigerated after being cured/smoked, are included on our list today because they offer a great way to lengthen the shelf life of perishable food items like meats and cheeses. By curing and smoking your own fish and meats, you can end up with a flavorful finished product that can be refrigerated for longer enjoyment. For more information on curing and smoking, a good place to start is the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s curing and smoking pages.

Fermenting

Fermenting is another home food preservation method that is best followed by refrigeration, but it is a method that has been used around the world for centuries to keep vegetables for months longer than they otherwise would. If you’ve ever had yogurt, sauerkraut, or kimchi, you’ve been exposed to fermented foods. Fermenting vegetables basically involves soaking vegetables in brine (usually salt and water) at room temperature for a designated period of time—sometimes days, sometimes months. This process fosters the growth of good bacteria while keeping out the bad bacteria. Almost all vegetables can be fermented, and as an added bonus, fermented foods are exceptionally healthy for the body because of their high amounts of healthy bacteria. Here are a few websites to browse if you’d like to experiment with your own home food fermentation:

Fermenting Recipes:

http://paleodietlifestyle.com/fermented-food-recipes/
http://sharonglasgow.com/2013/01/8-fermented-food-recipes-for-your-health/
http://nourishedkitchen.com/recipe-index/ferments-cultured-food/

A Final Note about Food Preservation

All of the food preservation methods we’ve covered in the past few weeks have been HOME preservation methods. It’s a wise idea to purchase a sufficient base of food storage from food storage companies that you trust and then use home food preservation methods to add variety to your food storage reserves in an economical and efficient way. Keep in mind that technology has come a long way over the last century, and food storage shelf lives have risen to a new level. With high-tech freeze-drying equipment, food storage experts like Legacy Premium can remove enough oxygen and moisture from food to make it last in storage for 25 years plus.

Play around with all the different methods we’ve reviewed and find which works best for you. It might surprise you how many ways you can use your fresh produce to add delicious and healthy supplements to your food storage reserves.

Food Preservation Series: All about Home Canning

One of the pleasant memories from my childhood was spending Saturdays in late summer and early fall watching my mom as she took bowls of bright red tomatoes from the garden, cooked them, added peppers and onions, and then bottled them in mason jars and added them to a big pot on the stove to boil. My favorite part of these canning Saturdays was, of course, to eat the fresh salsa before she put it in the cans to boil. But I also loved having homemade salsa to pull out of the pantry and enjoy throughout the winter.

Canning has been a popular food preservation method for hundreds of years, and recently it has been gaining popularity as people recognize the uncertainty of our times and the importance of being self-reliant. Canning allows preservation of a wide variety of foods, from fruits and vegetables to meats and legumes. It can easily be done at home with either a pressure canner (for most foods) or simply a large pot of boiling water (for fruits and acidic foods). Canning the produce from your garden or any other foods for later use is an economical way to add to your food storage reserves and round out your emergency preparedness. In today’s post, we’ll talk about the basics of canning, link to some great canning resources, and offer some tips so that even the most expert of canners can learn something they didn’t know before.

Basic Canning Supplies and Process

For canning most foods, a pressure canner is the best option. For canning fruit and acidic foods like pickled items, it’s easy to use a big pot filled with boiling water and a simple rack that fits in the pot to hold the jars up off the base of the pot. Canning tongs, called jar lifters, can also be useful, as can magnetic lid lifters and canning funnels. Beyond these items, all you need is some mason jars, metal lids, and rings. The basic process is to sterilize your items, make your recipe, fill the jars and lid them, then place them in the boiling water or pressure cooker. When you remove the jars from the hot water, heat escapes and so does the oxygen in the jar, leaving an airtight seal and allowing food to be stored without refrigeration. Find a good recipe and it should have all the directions you need to can your food successfully.

Basic Canning Rules and Tips

1. You must wash and sterilize jars and lids/rings before you use them. Sterilization is of utmost importance to make sure canned goods do not become contaminated and go bad in storage. Contamination of cans can make you very sick or even kill you. First, wash all jars and lids in warm, soapy water (or the dishwasher) and then sterilize lids by submerging them in hot water and boiling for 10 minutes or more. After food is in the jars and before putting lids on, wipe down the rim with a wet paper towel to keep bacteria from growing.

2. You must keep jars and lids warm so they won’t explode when they get in the hot water of the canner. You can leave them in the hot water right until you need them.

3. Only fill jars to ½ inch from the top to avoid over-expansion (or whatever your specific recipe specifies if it is different). If food gets on the rim of a jar, this can cause contamination.

4. After canning, leave jars on a cooling rack to cool. You must not disturb the jars for 24 hours after canning so that they don’t explode.

5. Check all cans before storage to make sure they are airtight. Do this by pressing the metal lid with your finger. If it gives or makes a popping sound, it did not seal right and must be enjoyed right away. You can also test jars’ seals with the back of a spoon. Tap the lids to see if they ring. If they ring, the seal is good. If they make a hollow thud, the seal is not good.

6. You must throw out metal lids after you use them. They cannot be reused because they will not seal as well a second time.

7. After you have canned your food, remove the metal rings on your cans before putting them in storage. If the rings are on tight, sometimes the cans can become unsealed and then reseal themselves without your ever knowing. Leaving the rings off while in storage allows you to see if any of the cans have lost their seal and thus gone bad.

8. Store canned food in a cool, dry, dark place to ensure a long shelf life. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, home-canned food that is properly stored should last for a year.

9. Always put a label on your jars telling what is in the jars and when you canned it.

Canning your own food can make for very convenient meal times, food preparation while camping, and food storage enhancement. Most foods can be canned, and although the boiling that’s required of canning is said to take away some of the nutritional content of the food, your final product is usually a much more nutritional result than canned food that you buy from the store, which can be filled with preservatives. If you are new to canning and interested in getting started, take a look at some of the following resources:

Helpful Links

National Center for Home Food Preservation’s Website. Great place to start when beginning to can foods. Offers an extensive FAQ section, detailed instructions for canning specific types of food, and general safety guidelines.

Ball’s website. Offers a searchable recipe section so that you can select your main ingredient and start browsing canning recipes.

Taste of Home’s Top 10 Canning Recipes.