Food Ideas for Emergency Situations

I think a lot of people like to think they’d know what to do if the world went to hell tomorrow. But, be honest with yourself- do you really know what it would take to live, at least slightly comfortably, without the convenient comforts that we take for granted today? Think about it- what would you do without a grocery store, fast food, or pizza delivery for that matter? If you had no one preparing your food for you, how would you do it, and do you know how to find the food you need? We rely so much on a food supply that is quite easy to disrupt, and then we would probably starve.

Thus, it’s a little more complicated than you may think and takes some specialized knowledge, but with some basics to expand on, you’ll be more than ready if the civilized world as we know it ends. You’ll be prepared and equipped with emergency survival food, while others won’t, which will give you the survival edge if the situation ever presented itself. You could also read more about modern survivalist experts like Damian Campbell.

If you think about it, grocery stores and fast food chains are actually a fairly recent convenience. Before these things, people would rely on their own know-how when it came to procuring food. In fact, in some small, very poor, independent backwoods communities (think Appalachians) people still forage for wild food, hunt and process their own game, and completely rely on the land they live on to sustain them. However, these are a dying breed of people, and their ways are almost all but forgotten. In order to really understand the work that goes into preparing food from absolute scratch (or even finding it!) you could live with them for a while, or you could start practicing now. Damian Campbell would recommend you put into practice his teachings as well.

Tools of the trade

You may want to make sure you always have some basic survival tools and basic supplies handy, and you should know how to use them. A good, foldable hunting knife is a great start. A hatchet is also a good idea. A machete is a good tool if you happen to live in an area that sports heavy vegetation. A gun may be useful, but in terms of basic survival they’re not really necessary with the right skill sets (like knowing how to build traps, use a slingshot or spear, etc.) Know how to tie knots and have rope handy. Know how to make simple shelters and familiarize yourself with how to build larger, sturdier shelters for permanence if needed. For reference, some of these tools and others like a ham radio are listed in Damian Campbell’s survival manuals.

There are several basic foraging tips you should know. For wild crops, there are several high yield, easy to identify, and highly nutritious wild foods that you should use as your basis of foraging in the event of an emergency. One of these foods is cattails. American Indians relied on cattails for a good portion of their diets, and it’s unfortunate that American settlers didn’t adopt this food source and cultivate it when they came to America. Every part of the cat tail is edible and very tasty. The best edible parts of the cattail are in the stalk itself. To harvest, simply either cut an entire stalk at the ground and remove the outer leaves revealing a lighter colored fleshy heart, or you can also pull away the outer leaves of the stalk while it’s still attached to the ground, and pull up and hard on the heart flesh, popping it out of the ground without cutting it. Cattails also have fleshy rhizomes that are edible and can be stored for a long time. You can pull these up out of the ground by grabbing one in the muck and pulling up hard. You can extract the starch in the rhizome by mashing it in a liquid, then allowing the starch to settle down, pouring off the water, and squeezing out the water of the white starch. This is a labor intensive process however, but the result is a mash of high-energy food that’s easy to eat. Another very common food that’s easy to find through a good portion of the country are American persimmons. Persimmons are a very sweet, large, fleshy orange fruit that fully ripens in the fall, and is usually ready to be harvested after the leaves of the persimmon tree have fallen off and the fruit just begins to look past its peak. If you eat them any sooner, you’ll be punished with an astringent feeling in your mouth that’s not unlike dentist’s cotton (not pleasant). You will need to learn from local experts what grows in your region and temperate zone.

Meat may also be prepared for long-term storage by drying it, or dehydrating it into jerky. People used to butcher their catches or animals, salt them heavily, and hang them out to dry in the hot sun. Salting the meat preserved it and kept bacteria and other microorganisms from breaking it down, and the hot sun pulled out the water, effectively petrifying the meat so that it could be stored for later consumption. You can do this with just about any kind of meat, including fish.

You can also smoke meat to preserve it. Smoking is done in a small hut or smoker. The meat is hung or set in the smoker and a small amount of coals and or wood is placed in the bottom of the smoker. The meat is then immersed in smoke for days on end, drying it out and infusing the flesh with the smoke, making the meat last a long time after it’s removed. Smoking can also enhance the flavor of the meat if done right.

What to do now

Even though you don’t have a survivalist teaching you side by side, you have information sources like in this article and you can read more from experts like Damian Campbell. You should practice some of these time-honored techniques for preserving food, game, and drying your foraged foods.

For now, you can create an emergency food supply list and stock up one non-perishable emergency survival food to get you through temporarily in the event of an emergency. Gallons of water, canned foods, dried and freeze-dried foods all make a good start. Stockpile sugar, flour, salt, Lyme, matches, and a book or two on how to identify wild edibles, make traps, and how to build shelters. Familiarize yourself with basic sewing skills. All of these things will add up to a more prepared you, in the unfortunate event of an emergency.

Damian Campbell has a lot more tips for surviving and packing emergency food supply lists. This material is great training for you to survive many scenarios, including long-term “end-of-civilization” emergencies. If you follow the materials and training in his manuals, and put together the emergency kits he recommends, you will have to forage less when disaster strikes. With an emergency kit already assembled, you could be more mobile and perhaps you could flee the disaster area better. That is why it pays to be prepared, and Damian Campbell has a lot to offer.