When TSHTF, How to Thrive Rather than Merely Survive



This guest post is by Janet W and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

Many of us, when purchasing food for a SHTF scenario, simply look for the best bargains and lowest prices. These often involve case lot sales on national-brand or generic goods, periodic meat sales at our local grocery store, flatbed-size shopping trips to Costco, and bags and bags of white rice.

However, are these truly the best bargains? I would have to say no! Here’s why: Over the last 50-75 years, our commercially-purchased food has been doing us more harm than good. When you look at the alarmingly increasing rate of life-altering (not to mention life-ending) diseases such as autism, Type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer, (and the mental traumas – anxiety, depression, insomnia, and all the other stuff we can’t afford to endure when TSHTF), and many others, it becomes more and more clear that our lifestyles are contributing much more to our health (or lack of it) than anything else.

Think back to our ancestors – you don’t have to go all the way back to prehistoric days, although that’s not a bad start – but just a couple hundred years. Did you know, for example, that prior to about 1925, heart attacks were virtually unheard of? Autism was very rare. Type II diabetes (adult-onset) was similarly rare. Sleeping pills, anti-anxiety and depression medications weren’t available…yet somehow we survived. What were they doing back then that we aren’t doing now?

Well, first, and most obviously….our ancestors were much more physically active. Prior to the industrial and technology revolutions, so much of what we do today had to be done manually back then. They didn’t “garden;” they farmed. They didn’t throw the laundry in the washer/dryer and come back in an hour; they manually scrubbed the clothes (and the dishes and the floors and everything else). If they needed something, they built it by hand. In other words, they spent most of their day being active, whereas we spend most of our day propped in front of a computer or TV. A lean, strong body with high (activity-induced) metabolism is definitely what we WANT when TSHTF. But that’s another essay… J

Less obvious (and what we’re going to talk about today) is the quality of the food we eat. Our food today is filled with preservatives, sugars, chemicals, pesticides, added fat, genetically-modified (GEs) ingredients, and heaven knows what else. Our retail meat comes from animals which live very stressful lives confined in barns in usually horrific living conditions, eating food their bodies were never designed to eat (including waste products and by-products of their own species….yes, cannibalism), and growing up much faster and much fatter than they would have naturally. They are fed large quantities of super-fatty feed designed to get them to market more quickly. Consequently, they spend their lives on medications (to keep them alive) which absolutely end up in their meat…and in US. Their meat is also much fattier than the meat our ancestors ate – animals that graze or run or forage for their food have meat which is much leaner than the meat of those animals today which spend the bulk of their lives eating this fat-filled feed and unable to even move in a packed barn or “gestational confinement.”

Fruit and veggies are routinely harvested long before their prime so they don’t rot on the long journey between the grove/farm and our supermarket. They are sprayed with pesticides and poisons all their lives, and they are usually created from genetically-modified seeds and treated with food-grade shellac (WTF???) to ensure they are “pretty” on the grocery shelves. Remember how good our grandmothers’ homegrown tomatoes were? Have you tasted tomatoes like that from the grocery store lately? Nope – not in about the last 50 years. Even chain “organic” stores don’t generally offer the natural produce that is best for our health…because in order to keep their prices even remotely competitive, they have to buy from wholesalers who also mass-produce their products. They may not use chemical pesticides, but they still have to pick the produce way before they are ripe in order to get them to the grocery store by the time they are ripe. And even fish – one of the healthiest foods of all (or at least it used to be) – is filled with mercury and PCBs. Many nutritionists are recommending that even so-called “organic” fish (actually, there is no such thing) shouldn’t be eaten more than a couple of times of week, maximum. And how many cases of tuna do we all have in our stockpiles???

There is a ton of strong scientific evidence out there that these mass-produced “industrial” foods are very dangerous for our health. This isn’t something the mass media is going to explore or report on, because these food producers have very deep pockets and will sue for defamation at the drop of the hat (remember when the beef industry sued Oprah for saying not-so-flattering things about hamburgers?). This isn’t even something the FDA is going to protect us from, because these industrial food producers have such sway (through lobbying and heaven knows what else) in Washington. So it’s up to us to figure out what type of fuel we put into our bodies – we can’t just blindly assume either that some agency is looking out for us, or that it’s okay for us to just be sheeple and assume something is safe simply because it’s allowed to be sold on our grocery shelves.

And to make matters worse, medicine and science have advanced to keep up with us. (Is that a bad thing? Why yes – yes, it is! Let me explain why…) If we have high cholesterol because we are eating steaks that are about 100 times more fatty than cows were 50 years ago, they have a pill (or 3 or 4) for that! If we get Type II diabetes because we can’t stay away from carb- and sugar-heavy commercial breads, cheap white rice and pasta (that has had all the fiber stripped out), and sugar-filled candy and packaged goods, our doctor can handle that too. Isn’t it easier to just take a pill or two than to change our whole lifestyle? And if we get one or more types of cancer because we are filling our bodies with chemicals (that fly beneath the FDA’s radar because their concentration in our fruits and veggies somehow fall below some “safe” level – huh????), that’s okay – there are radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and surgery to fix that too.

But what about when TSHTF? Even if we insist on living on all these dangerous and fake commercial foods now, will we have all these crazy pills and medical treatments to keep us alive and functioning if we get hit by an EMP and have no electricity indefinitely? What about if we get hit by a pandemic and need to be as physically strong and healthy as possible to fight it off? Or even a worldwide economic collapse – folks, our health insurance will go away, and we won’t be able to AFFORD expensive health care, let alone these prohibitively expensive “crisis treatments” such as chemotherapy and radiation treatments and insulin, let alone the constant monitoring it takes to keep our conditions in check.

So I would submit to you that it’s just not good enough to stockpile food if the food will either do more damage than good, or if the food won’t keep us healthy and strong and able to live in a post-SHTF world.

But…but…I hear the protests and arguments already: 1) I can’t grow enough food in my garden to can or freeze-dry or dehydrate for a long-term SHTF scenario, 2) I have to buy my meat at Wal-Mart because there is nowhere else to purchase it affordably, 3) if I focus my resources on buying quality instead of quantity, I can’t stockpile enough.

Those are all valid concerns, but I would argue that the health benefits far outweigh the economic downside, and I’m going to show you how.

But the first (and hardest) thing we have to do is change our way of thinking. Most of us have a budget for food – it’s that portion of our income that we can afford to spend to feed ourselves. Did you know that the United States is arguably the least-healthy nation in the world, yet we spend one of the smallest percentages of our incomes on food? The populations of many other developed countries (France is one good example) choose to spend more of their income on food, and therefore, they tend to eat better, and yes, are healthier than we are. But how do we do this? Well, that’s the painful part. It means resetting our priorities – in other words, giving up one thing in order to re-dedicate that part of our budget to something else. For me, it meant giving up my weekly movies and diverting that money to buying more expensive natural food. For others, it may mean changing the way they eat overall, opting out of restaurants, or giving up/cutting back on some other budgetary item.

So yes, we all absolutely CAN afford to eat and stockpile higher-quality, healthier food…but it does require us to prioritize our health. Let’s break it down now.

Meats

This is a biggie. If you live in a city, it can be a huge challenge to find meat that wasn’t raised in an “industrial” environment (with antibiotics, hormones, and heaven knows what else in the meat). Those of us who live in more rural areas often have access to local farmers or ranchers who raise their animals in a healthy way and who sell directly to the public (or in local markets). Here are some resources to find them:

Local Producers

Local Harvest – this is a terrific all-around resource for finding healthy food in your area. Just put in your zip code, and select what you’re looking for (farmers’ markets, family farms, etc.), and it will bring up a list of local resources for you: http://www.localharvest.org/

Mail Order

Fiedler Family Farms – you can order online and have your meat mailed to you: http://www.fiedlerfamilyfarms.com/pricelist.pdf

Prairie Pride Farm – beef, chicken, and port mailed to you in insulated containers: http://www.prairiepridepork.com/index.php

Radiant Life – packaged seafood: http://www.radiantlifecatalog.com/

Applegate Farms – all kinds of meat and other natural and organic products: http://www.applegatefarms.com/

And yes, naturally-raised, organic meat is always going to be more expensive. Let’s face it, it IS much cheaper to raise animals in the jam-packed conditions I described above than it is to let them roam free and eat the natural foods they were meant to eat. But I would argue that in defense of our health (especially post-SHTF when we can LEAST afford to be sick), the trade-off is worth it. Here are some ways to save money when buying natural meats:

  • Find a local ranch or farm that offers CSA shares. This means that each week (or month) during certain seasons, you can purchase a pre-selected box of food. The ranch or farmer determines what they can provide in each box so you usually can’t choose the cuts you want (most CSAs guarantee certain cuts will be included in each box). But you can then freeze, can, or dehydrate it.
  • Go in with your neighbors, friends, or network members to split a large order. Most farmers and ranchers offer cheaper prices on larger orders, so splitting a whole or half cow or hog with others will save everyone money.
  • Farmers’ markets – many farmers’ markets are not just for produce and veggies anymore. Often, you will find local ranchers and meat farmers there, you can often purchase backyard chicken eggs, or at the very least, meet like-minded farmers and customers who may be able to turn you on to a local meat producer you didn’t know about.

The bottom line is that YOU have to your own advocate. You have to set your own priorities, look after your own health, and prepare yourself and your family for a time when being strong and healthy and not dependent on the medical system is paramount to your survival. Yes, it will involve some trade-offs. Maybe we don’t buy so much ammo, but we stockpile healthier meats. Maybe we look at alternative sources of protein (such as beans, nuts, cheese, etc.). Note: Be VERY careful about using or stockpiling TVP (textured vegetable protein, which often comes in powder form and is very attractive to preppers)…it is made from soy, and recent research has found that an abundance of soy in our diets can cause its own set of medical problems (especially for those with digestive problems or gluten intolerance). See the References section at the end, and please do your own research as well to determine whether this is something you want to put in your body (fermented soy is generally okay).

Vegetables and Fruit (Produce)

Compared to meat, eating healthy veggies and fruits is MUCH more manageable. First of all, no matter where we buy it, produce is much more affordable than meat is. Even at the hoity-toity gourmet markets, produce is still cheaper than processed foods, cheese, and meat. Produce is not really something you’ll want to mail-order, but thankfully, it’s much more readily available locally. Again, your own garden (organically grown whenever possible – stay away from those poisonous chemicals, and always, always use heirloom seeds) or your local farmers’ markets will keep you well supplied with natural, organic, healthy, in-season fruits and vegetables.

Think the way our ancestors did – eat seasonally and locally. Buy huge flats of berries in June (when they are ripe, cheap, and plentiful) from your local farmers’ market and dehydrate, freeze, or make jam out of them. Buy enough local veggies in-season to can, dehydrate, freeze, or whatever for a whole year. If you have a prolific cherry or apple tree and your friend or neighbor has a nut tree or grapevine, trade what you have for what you need. Our great-great-grandmothers spent most of their summers “putting up” produce they grew, traded for, foraged, or bought from local farms (because that’s what supported their family through the winter) – that’s what we should be doing too, albeit for different reasons.

Even if you don’t routinely shop at your local farmers’ market, you really should. In addition to finding the best in-season produce available, you will also find local farmers who offer CSA shares during the growing season, and again, like-minded customers who can (and happily will!) share their sources with you. (And of course for NETSEC reasons, you don’t have to tell them you’re a prepper – just explain that you like to have fresh food all year long and are a big fan of preserving seasonal food for later in the winter).

Use the Local Harvest website I listed above in the Meats section to find your local farmers’ markets, CSAs, family farms, etc.

Remember, preserving fresh, organic, chemical-free, in-season, ripe produce is going to be MUCH healthier for you in a SHTF scenario than bland, mushy, tasteless, preservative-filled 3-for-a-dollar Walmart green beans are.

Oils, Shortening, and Grease

Be very, very careful in what you believe. Modern medical science tells us that meat-based oils are bad, and vegetable-based oils (canola, corn, safflower, etc.) are good. Shortening is bad (Crisco). But when you get into the science of it (which I won’t bore you with here, but will provide references at the end of this article), you’ll find that this just isn’t true. Again, go back to what our ancestors ate – they didn’t have all the fancy vegetable oils we have now. Depending on where they lived, they used lard (pure pork fat), tropical oils (coconut oil or shortening), nut oils (walnut, peanut), ghee (a type of butter made from the raw milk of a buffalo or cow), and/or olive oils for their cooking. And again, this was before heart disease, Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, and all the obesity-related diseases came along. You have to remember that the food industry lobbyists in Washington and that fund many of these “independent studies” are incredibly powerful and incredibly influential….and what is profitable for them isn’t always healthy for us, no matter what the FDA says…and they are driven by profit. So, do your research and listen to science, not rhetoric (no matter how mainstream it is at the moment).

Coconut oil (semi-solid in its natural form) is one of the best natural oils for cooking (and it’s great as a moisturizer and make-up remover too!). It imparts a sweet taste, so is best used in recipes that can handle a little sweetness. It also stores well for a very long time. Leaf lard (from the organ fat of pork) has also been used by human beings in cooking for centuries. It can be used in anything from pie crusts to frying. Olive oil is a no-brainer – probably the best overall oil you can consume, but because of its flavor, it’s best used in savory (rather than sweet) recipes.

The bottom line is to stay away from traditional “shortenings” like Crisco. These are made by hydrogenating oils, which are basically triglycerides, which contribute to heart disease and high cholesterol. Lard doesn’t do this, because it’s a natural product (did you know that lard used to be used exclusively in baking until Proctor & Gamble figured out it was cheaper…and thus more profitable…to create shortening?). So again, it’s not a matter of which is healthier; it’s a matter of convincing the public which is cheaper…and P&G did that very, very well.

Stay away from “artificially-created” oils (canola, safflower, etc.) and margarine. These are all fats created by Big Agriculture to create a “demand” for products (like soybeans, corn, and the like) which are cheap to produce, subsidized by the government, and provide huge profit margins. When it comes to ANY food, natural, tried and true is almost always better than something we humans have invented – after all, if our bodies thrived on it for the millennia before this last century when science and industry converged, it is probably the best thing for us.

You’ll see in the References section, a book called Real Food (by Nina Planck). I’m not going to go into all the science behind the statements I made above about “artificial” oils, because this essay is already way too long as it is, but if you’ll read that book, it will outline all the medical studies, scientific background, and proofs you’ll ever want.

Natural oils can be found fairly inexpensively. You only need three: Olive oil (buy extra virgin, and you can find it in bulk at Costco), lard (can be purchased locally or at most of the meat resources I listed above that sell pork products – do NOT buy the cans of lard in the supermarket near the Crisco, as those are hydrogenated too; just buy the real stuff), and coconut oil (for baking). Coconut oil can be a bit hard to find, but look in local health food stores, or order online (Tropical Traditions sells a high-quality oil at terrific prices: http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/ ).

Processed Foods

Ah, the devil we know – processed foods. Processed foods are virtually anything that has been manipulated, modified, preserved, or otherwise had their natural state altered for safety, convenience, or cost reasons. Now, under this definition, everything from pasteurized milk to frozen veggies to whole-grain bread to Mac & Cheese could be considered “processed,” but for the purpose of this discussion, we are going to focus on the worst of the worst. Again, in a SHTF scenario, we want to have stockpiled foods that provide the best nutrition we can get, both to fill us up and give us energy, and to work with our bodies’ natural needs to keep us healthy and strong in the long run.

Most of the bad processed foods are made using chemicals, preservatives, the cheapest natural ingredients, all kinds of artificial crap, and lots of bad fats (pick up a package of darn near anything and you’ll find canola or safflower oil on the label…and we won’t even get into trans-fats), and tons of sugar. The bad processed foods are more about convenience and taste, and manufacturers will put anything legal in them to make them appealing to us. And “appealing” doesn’t necessarily mean “good for us.”

In our prepping, ideally we should try to stay away from packaged foods in general – dinner mixes, pasta mixes, baked goods (cookies, etc.), sugary cereals, etc. – a good rule of thumb is to avoid anything that contains more than 5 recognizable ingredients. We certainly don’t want to take any chances with our health at this time – we need foods that will provide us with nutrition, strength and good health. The second worst possible thing we can do for our prepping (the worst would be not prepping at all) is to fill our pantries and stockpiles with food that won’t provide the things we need and worse yet, may provide a lot of things that may hurt us.

So how do we reconcile this? Packaged/processed foods are cheap, designed to last a very long time, and are therefore apparently perfect for prepping…yet they are bad for us. There are two solutions here.

  1. Change our tastes. This is a hard one. As a lot of the studies show, many of the chemical additives in processed food (MSG is one that comes to mind) are actually physically addictive. Breaking that addiction is tough, but better we do it now than after TSHTF (will we really need that stress on top of everything else?). Additionally, our tastes become “conditioned.” This means that once we become used to eating stronger flavors, more salt/sugar, etc., regular food tastes bland without it. So we need to start now preparing our minds AND bodies for the change in diet that will come along with a SHTF scenario.
  2. Make “processed” food ourselves! This sounds a lot worse than it is. J It can be as simple as packaging our favorite dried herbs and spices together with smaller servings of whole-grain pasta to create our own “ramen.” We can preserve (via canning or in some cases, dehydrating) relishes and sauces to use later with our natural meat and whole-grain pasta or brown rice. Many flavors of sauce and soups can be canned, as can ground beef and chicken (throw some noodles and spices in a Dutch oven later, add your canned ground beef, and you have Hamburger Helper!). These types of “home-processed” foods are never going to taste the same as the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese we adore, but again, our tastes are conditioned to expect the strong cheese flavor of the fake cheese. Once we have been eating natural foods for a time, our tastes will revert back, and these foods will taste delicious to us!

Note: Don’t ever home-can foods containing dairy (milk, eggs, etc.). The risk of spoilage and/or botulism is much too high. If you want to can a favorite recipe that calls for dairy, can it without the dairy and add dry milk, eggs, or butter when you are ready to prepare the meal.

For more information about the health risks from commercially processed/packaged food, see the articles in the References section at the end.

Breads and Other Carbs

There is a school of thought out there (which doesn’t get widely published in mainstream media – again, because the food industry is so powerful and aggressive) which says that simple carbohydrates are treated the same way as sugar is in the human body…and is one of the main culprits in all of the insidious diseases I mentioned above (see the References section at the end of this article for a link to the research). So when we eat our normal diet, not only are we getting more than our share of the white sugars we routinely put in our coffee, our cereal, our baked goods, etc., the hidden sugars in our processed foods, but our bodies are also getting a huge load of additional “sugar” from all the bad carbs we eat.

Bad carbs are those that primarily come from “white” foods – commercial breads, pasta, rice, etc. These foods have had the wheat germ (the part that contains the fiber) stripped from them (to make them softer, tastier, more attractive, etc.) so they essentially offer no nutritional value whatsoever. They are filling (for a short period of time), and God knows we love them, but they are really, really bad for us.

They make us fat, they cause inflammation in our bodies (which is a big contributor to heart disease), they encourage insulin-resistance (which leads to Type II diabetes), and they strip us of energy (we’ve all experienced that mid-afternoon crash after our pasta lunch). So while they are cheap and plentiful, they really are NOT a good group of foods to stockpile.

Complex carbs and whole wheat (or whole fiber) foods are much healthier for us. While our ancestors ate only whole fiber foods, these have unfortunately become less attractive to us over time. I mean honestly, who can resist Wonder Bread, right? And whole-wheat pasta is downright butt-ugly and uncomfortably chewy, when compared to regular white pasta. But again, this is a situation where WE are responsible for changing our perceptions, changing our tastes, setting (and keeping) our priorities, and ensuring we are “eating to live,” NOT “living to eat.” Sometimes, the old ways ARE better, even if we’ve developed a taste for the new ways.

Stockpiling pasta and white rice is easy and cheap. All of our local grocery stores periodically have great sales on bags of different shapes of white pasta. Whole wheat pasta is a bit harder to find, tends to be more expensive, and doesn’t go on sale as often. But it can be argued that in a SHTF scenario, our focus will be on filling our stomachs, keeping us full as long as possible, and doing it in a nutritionally positive way. What I CAN tell you is that you will remain full longer (and gain much more consistent energy from) whole wheat foods than white foods. Maybe you only eat ½ cup of whole wheat pasta instead of the cup of white pasta you’re used to, but you’ll get more nutrition out of it and will stay fuller longer. So from a cost perspective, it’s fine to buy a little less of the whole grain pasta than the white kind, because it’s nutritionally denser. Same with rice. Buy the long-grain brown (whole fiber) rice instead of white rice, and you’ll come out about the same from a cost perspective.

I make my own bread to freeze. Some people don’t stockpile bread, but I love it, so it’s just sort of my thing. If you do too, you can experiment with different recipes to find one that is both nutritionally dense and tastes soft and good, but I like a combination of about half whole grain flour and half bread (white, bleached) flour. It’s more for taste than anything. I’ve made full whole-grain loaves, which were okay, but I prefer the half and half mix. In a SHTF scenario, I would definitely move to a full whole grain recipe.

A Last Word

And the last paragraph segues into three very good points:

It’s all about compromise. As much as we would love to eat a 100% healthy diet, in today’s world unfortunately, that would be very expensive and very time-consuming. And for some people that’s okay, but for the average person like me who has a family, a job, a household, and a “second job” (prepping!), we generally don’t have time to run all over the county looking for fresh, organic food and cooking/preserving it all from scratch. So set your priorities. For me, it’s about proportions – I try to stockpile as many “natural” foods as possible, but I also periodically buy commercial canned goods to supplement my stash. Eating 100% natural is, of course, optimal, but if I can only eat 75% natural or 50% natural, that’s going to keep me healthier and stronger than relying 100% on processed, fake, or chemical-filled food. Set your priorities and allocate your money and resources accordingly. For me, healthy meat is the biggest priority (because industrial meat is just so damn dangerous), so I allocate more budget to that, and offset that by buying some canned veggies here and there. As I said above, I love bread, so preparing delicious bread (half white flour and half whole-grain) is a good compromise for me.

  1. Learn about and employ the business theory of “economies of scale.” In its simplest form, it refers to the fact that improving efficiencies in whatever system you employ will reduce your overall costs. Translated to our prepper mentality, it means figuring out ways to make your shopping, preserving, processing, storage, and maintenance activities more efficient, and thus reduce the overall cost of your system. An example of this may be those huge flats of berries we bought on a bulk discount at the farmers’ market in June. Working alone, it might take me 2 whole days to make preserves out of 10 flats of berries (and how much jam does one family need, anyway?). But suppose I invite my neighbor over to help? I provide the berries, she provides the canning jars/lids. We each walk away with a bunch of jam in about half the time at about half the cost….and I can spend the second day I would have devoted to my jam-making to freezing all that corn I also bought at a bulk discount. Another good example a friend and I employ is “storage sharing” (this has to be someone you trust with your life, obviously). I have a whole garage in which to store my stockpiles. She, on the other hand, has only has a small room in her basement. So I store a lot of the space-intensive supplies (like toilet paper) for both of our families in my garage, and she stores all our batteries in her storage room. There are about gazillion variations of “economies of scale,” so get creative. Finally, another example may be time/cost-based. I.E., figuring out the cost of buying something already made vs. the time it will take me to make it myself can also add (or reduce!) inefficiencies. For example, I choose not to grow my own potatoes for storage because I can use the garden space for more expensive veggies. Instead, I go to the farmers’ market on the last day the market is open and buy a couple of huge 50-pound bags of potatoes from a local farmer for pennies on the dollar (they are practically giving them away at this point). I store these in the garage and they last about a year (in my cool climate – your experience may differ). In this case, it’s more efficient for me to buy them than to grow them because in the long run, I’ll save money in growing the things that are more expensive to buy.
  2. Related to the above, learn about and employ capitalistic buying techniques on natural food. I mentioned it above, but figure out how to buy in bulk (even if you have to share the cost with a friend, family member, neighbor, or member of your network) and cook or preserve the bulk foods in a way that is manageable for your stockpiling system or family needs. This can include everything from meat to produce to everything else. If you get into the habit of buying from family farms, the farmers’ market, or local ranchers, you can negotiate better prices when purchasing a lot at a time. For example, I make my dog’s food (she is of a particular breed that is HUGELY susceptible to cancer, so I don’t want her eating all the chemicals and preservatives in commercial dog food). Once a month or so, I go to the farmers’ market and buy bulk bags of chicken, and the veggies I use to make her food. The farmers there know me, are thankful for my loyalty, and thus give me a “special” price. Then I spend a weekend making a month’s worth of prepared dog food for the freezer and freezing the rest of the ingredients for next month (and the month after that, and so on). I priced it out and it actually costs less for me to buy in bulk and make it myself than it does to purchase commercial dog food. Plus, she’s getting a much healthier food! I also use capitalistic buying techniques when buying the natural meat I prefer my family to eat – if I buy a few packages of ground beef and some steaks and roasts, it ends up costing at least $2 more a pound overall than if I buy ¼ or ½ cow directly from the ranch. So I do, and either freeze it all or find a friend to go in on half of it with me (if I’m short on freezer space at the moment).

So the bottom line is – don’t just think in quantity; think in QUALITY. Expensive is not always better, but processed foods (no matter where you get them, even “natural” type stores) are almost always bad for our health. Think of the foods our ancestors ate, and try to incorporate them as much into your food supply as possible. Remember, we are stockpiling not just to SURVIVE, but to THRIVE.

References

· Dangers of soy (TVP) – http://www.foodrenegade.com/dangers-of-soy/

· “Artificial” food – Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck (available at all major bookstores, or here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Real-Food-What-Eat-Why/dp/1596913428/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339458945&sr=8-1 )

· Weston A. Price Foundation – a foundation dedicated to healthy, natural eating – http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/principles-of-healthy-diets

· “Bad” Carbs and their danger to our health – http://www.naturalnews.com/000885.html

· The documentary Food, Inc. (available most anywhere DVDs are sold or rented)

· Any book by Michael Pollan (particularly The Omnivore’s Dilemma – again, available at all major bookstores, or here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Omnivores-Dilemma-Natural-History/dp/0143038583/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339458985&sr=1-3 )

· Dangers of additives in processed foods – http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/food-additives.html (although this site is billed as an “alternative food site,” the list on this page is inclusive and comprehensive, and based on hard science)

· Overall good article about how processed foods negatively impact our health – http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/processed-foods.html

· Comprehensive article on food additives in processed (packaged) food – http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm

· Canning your own “convenience” foods (plus a TON of other canning and food preservation techniques and instructions) – http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/canningconvenfood.htm

This contest will end on August 7 2012 – prizes include:

First Place : 1 Year Subscription to AlertsUSA, 1 Radiation Safety Package consisting of the following;  (1) NukAlert Radiation Monitor and Alarm (5) Radsticker Peel and Stick Dosimeters (1) Box Thyro Safe Potassium Iodide. All courtesy of AlertsUSA. A $150 gift certificate for Federal Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo. And a British Berkefeld water fillter system courtesy of  LPC Survival. A total prize value of over $700.

Second Place : A six pack Entrée Assortment courtesy of Augason Farms, a Nukalert courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply and a WonderMill Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $550.

Third Place : A copy of each of my books “31 Days to Survival” and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of The Survivalist Blog dot Net and “Kelly McCann’s Inside the Crucible Set” courtesy of Paladin Press. A total prize value of over $200.

Contest ends on August 7 2012.

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Comments

  1. axelsteve says:

    This is a great article!! I only had a chance to scan it due to it`s length though, I will re read it later.I feel better since I quit drinking soda.I take medication to prevent seizures and aspertame is linked to seizures in some people. Imagine what some additives do to other people.Girls are mensrating younger from meat hormones for instance.My wifes family used to host Japanese exchange students and the girls did not start there periods intul they were 17 or 18 on average.

    • 17 or 18 no it can’t be correct. if you look just back into our countries history a boy became a man at 13 and a woman was married around 15 if not sooner they didn’t have to wait around til they were 18 to have children

  2. JP in MT says:

    Janet W:
    Wow, good article. It’s going to take me a while to go through everything you said. I understand the point you are trying to make. Thanks for the research notes.

  3. Tinfoil Hat says:

    Let me first say that this was a very well-written, well thought out, and well organized article. You broach a number of excellent and fair points, and offer many suggestions, so your article doesn’t come across as preachy or condescending. I enjoyed reading it, and will honestly look into some of the options you suggest. That said, I get frustrated when I hear people discuss how fewer diseases there were 150 years ago, how people were healthier and happier and everything was roses as Pa worked the farm from dawn to dusk while Ma did the mending and cooking of the natural vegetables grown 20 yards from the back door and roasted the pig that had been slaughtered last night. On average people were 30-50 lbs lighter etc etc etc.

    I’m not going to argue that Industrialization hasnt been a nightmare for the human race OVERALL. I’ll also be the first to say that man was never meant to sit in a boxed cubicle for 8 hours a day and then go home to watch an electronic box for 2 more hours before going to bed. HOWEVER, I would like to dispel a few misconceptions. One, people were no healthier 150 years ago than they are today. They may have been in better physical shape, on average, but that does not equate to healthier. Epidemics like flu, measles, smallpox, dysentary were frequent, violent, and deadly. Life expectancies were signifigantly lower due to the strenuous lives people led. I often wonder how many of these cancers and diseases people become afflicted with now are less a result of our modern lifestyles and more the effects of human bodies being alive longer than ever combined with better medical knowledge and diagnosis. For example, 150 years ago, how many men fell off a roof compound fractured there leg resulting in gangrene and death? How many people did that happen to last year? Get my drift? Less men developed prostate cancer 150 years ago probaby because less men lived long enough to be diagnosed with it. Or who’s to say that potential millions of deaths resulting from diabetic shock were misdiagnosed as heart attacks or just unrecorded cause of death because no one knew what diabetic shock was?

    It bothers me when I see all these claims about how terrible we are compared to our ancestors based on ASSUMPTIONS (and not very well thought out ones either) about there lives. Or worse, more insidious reasons behind fabrications. For example, I saw a government study not long ago lamenting that Americans weigh on average 25-30% more than than they did 150 years ago. Folks, 150 years ago, human beings weds on average significantly SHORTER! The average full grown man was 5’7. Nowadays a normal 6 foot tall man would be a giant to them! But the study ommitted that. Facts like that are bad news for future government research grant applications…
    Just as a disclaimer, I am a long distance runner, very active and by no ones definition overweight. I believe in healthy eating and living, and hate the physical laziness that pervades our culture. But I also dislike false reminiscent statements that aren’t entirely true.

    And I am sorry for the rant. Believe it or not, I really do like your article…

    • Bam Bam says:

      Tinfoil Hat,

      I’ve done some research here. Improved medical treatment and access has led to longer, healthier lives. People are living longer today than they were 150 years ago. Today people are dying from cancers and other diseases that were rare 150 years ago simply because people are living longer. It is not disease that is killing people–it is the diseases of affluence that are killing people.

      In terms of diet, the food we eat today is not as healthy as the food folks at 150 years ago–in terms of nutrients. But modernization of the food supply system as made food safer to eat in terms of contaminants. There are advantages and disadvantages of living today versus living 150 years ago. The main advantage of living today is the abundance of choice–we can choose to eat healthy or we can choose to eat processed food. Many people say that they are too poor to eat healthy. But these are the same folks that have the latest handy-dandy cell phone that costs $150 per month.

      • Cold Warrior says:

        Bam Bam,
        Very good response. So often urban legend and “food fadism” passes as “science”. Sorry folks, if it hasn’t been tested in a double blind study and printed in a respected medical journal, it can’t be trusted.

    • I mostly agree with you, but average height in north america is 5’10. Would that extra 3 inches equate to a 25% increase in weight? Besides, noone can really argue that americans (and Canadians) aren’t massively overweight. A walk through walmart shows that we need to lose a lot of weight. (ok, so not you and me, the collective we.)

      I recall reading that most people don’t actually expend enough energy in a day to require the amount of meat they eat. Most people only need about one bigmac’s worth of meat a week rather than lbs of meat every day. (No, I’m not any kind of vegetarian)

      As noted, Sedantary lifestyles are a major contributor to the obesity problem. Even relatively active people like farmers and construction workers aren’t immune. Doesn’t take much energy to steer a tractor and cutting boards is a lot easier with powertools than handsaws

      • Tinfoil Hat says:

        Dash

        You bring up good points about sedentary lifestyles and protein (meat) consumption. I LOVE my steaks, bratwursts, and (guilty pleasure) Killians Irish Red lager. All things balanced and in moderation though are fine, I’m convinced (except maybe smoking, no redeeming qualities there). You are right though, America (and Canada I suppose, though I can’t speak to that) are obese. I just think that’s more a product of the sedentary lifestyles you mentioned than anything else….

        • I’d toss meth and coke on with smoking as things with no redeeming qualities. I’m told pot has some benefits, but I’ll pass on that (and alcohol – just my preference).

          The only group I’ve never seen an obese member of is the amish. There’s a few slightly overweight old folks, but they’re old and not as active. And it’s not simply their diet, I often see them in at the bulk grocer and they’ll have pop(or soda if you prefer) and bags of potato chips in wth their 50lb bags of salt and sugar

        • Tinfoil Hat,
          Obesity is a simple mathematical formula that has little to do with whether or not you’re eating meat, or ice cream, although the types and mix of food do have a lot to do with your nutrition and health, separate from obesity.
          For obesity it’s simply Calories in vs. Calories burned, regardless of the calorie source. Take in fewer calories on average than you burn, and you will burn fat and lose weight. Take in exactly the calories burned and you will pretty much stay the same weight, although this is probably the hardest thing to accomplish. Take in more calories than you burn and you will store those calories for later use, and gain weight. Be sedentary and eat like an athlete and you will over time become obese. We live in a society that has become obese because we have lots of inexpensive calories sources, no will power, and not enough physical activity.
          At 61 I’m not as active as I used to be, and a few years ago found I had a little more weight than I was comfortable with. In the last 4 years I have managed to lose around 60 pounds primarily by keeping close track of everything I eat. I limit my caloric intake to somewhere around 1800-2000 calories per day average and that keeps me in the 160-170 pound range without much additional effort. I can also splurge on that big piece of pie and ice cream and then slack off over the next few days to keep that equation balanced.
          In my case, at 5’ 6” some years back I hit 230 pounds, and decided I had to do something. Heading back to 200 and below was a lot more effort, than heading to 300 pounds, and the weight came off only a bit at a time; however, in the end I can carry a 50 pound pack when I want to, not every waking moment, and that has made a big difference in my life and health.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      5′ 7″? Hey! I’m 5’8″! Towering over the average man (of 150 years ago)!
      Industrialization/westernization has increased the health and life spans of peoples all over the planet. I’m helping my folks out for a few weeks while my dad recovers from a serious surgery. Soon he will be back up to snuff. They are very active and take care of themselves for the most part. They are in their mid-eighties!
      Processed foods have been very very good to them.
      That said, I agree with you that organic foods (sans chemical foodstuffs) are preferred. I can’t stand eating what my folks eat. But to each their own. There are trade offs in everything.

      But I thank you for the effort and generosity of sharing your accumulated knowledge with us. You offer us all insights and a chance to make choices. Your post is well written and well thought out. Nice job.

    • here here I was ging to preach the same as you did ONLY you did it mush better. In the early days most women died during child birth maybe not the first one but maybe the 5th or sixth, also a veryhigh mortality in child deaths first few years Most men in there live time worn out at least two wives this way. average life ecpentance was low if you were 35 you were a old man.
      As for stock piling food if tshtf your food stock will be at most a few years what’s a few more years of processed food and we’ll be in better shape no more micky D’s
      BUT overall it a great article take the white flour want to lose weight stop eating just white flour products I dropped thirty pounds this way I’m now on a high protein diet my carb come mainly from fruits and veggies i said mainly not all :)
      Be very carful storing brown rice it will go rancid
      Our forefathers were very poor eaters and filthy a lot of deaths occured from poor hygene and dirty living conditions
      but then look at the american Indians it was not uncommon for their elders to live to be 100 on a very high protein diet

  4. Great article, but just to nitpick, ghee by definition cannot be raw. You have to heat it in order to melt it and separate the milkfat solids from the clear part. Perhaps though you could use the least amount of heat necessary to do this. (obviously you would want pretty low heat anyway or you’ll burn the butter).

    It’s pretty easy to raise greens and tomatoes. Even in the city you can grow greens in a window box. Lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas, potatoes would all do well in cool weather. Plant peas and potatoes in March and harvest in June. (do potatoes outside – but you can use old tires or a cut down trash barrel to make a deep place for them. Then stack more tires and put hay or grass cuttings on the plant from time to time to make it think it’s more underground, and it will make more taters but they will be easier to get)

    If you can’t garden at all due to some stupid regulations, you can still eat edible weeds. Look out for their seeds and spread them in places where people won’t bother the weeds. Right now is a great time to get plantain seeds. The leaves and the seeds are also edible. The leaves are good for swelling, bruises, scratches and bug bites, and they taste good. The seeds are a great remedy for irritable bowel (they are what psyllium husks are made from) and taste good raw or as an addition to bread. Plantain tends to be low to the ground and may escape the tender mercies of the lawn mower. The plant was brought over from England by colonists as a food plant. People forgot and now think it’s a weed. It is one of the best and most useful “weeds” out there.

    I think these anti-gardening regulations are stupid. The authorities usually have no idea how many edible plants are in their own lawns. (don’t tell them!) Also, if they don’t have an objection to flowers, you can probably do a landscape and sneak in some greens between the flowers. And get the edible flowers, like day lilies, evening primrose, nasturtiums, marigolds, and echinacea. Ha ha on them. So there.

    You can plant turnips, beets and sugar beets out in the woods. (but the deer might get them. In fact people plant sugar beets to attract deer).

    The more food you grow, the more exercise you are going to get, and the less crap you will eat. Win win.

  5. Echinacea – the root is medicinal. The rest of the flowers I listed you can actually eat the flowers themselves.

    • in a survival situation, you can eat the corms of day lilies as well. and the corms of a very tall sunflower called Jerusalem artichoke,

  6. Mother Earth says:

    Very well written article Janet! It’s obvious you put a lot of work into this. I truly believe we are being pushed into eating all the same crap. I’m sure the powers that be do not want us growing and creating our own food. That’s less control they have over us. I’m lucky not to have bought beef from a store in like 20 years. For pork or chicken, I have a local butcher. We grow the majority of vegetables we eat. And carrying buckets of water during this stupid drought is no easy task! And I do spend a lot of my summer canning, etc. sure going to the store would be easier, however, that stuff just scares me anymore. And yes I am blessed to have my rural home.

  7. Oh my…Janet. You are a blessing. I can not thank you enough. What an inspiring lovely piece about our food.
    Our family also plans to Thrive instead of Surviving.
    I am one of the those that Tinfoil Hat is talking about coming off preachy and condesending. Tail tucked in. I am so sorry. I own it. Just my personality. It feels like watching someone about to physically hurt themselves and I must scream “STOP!” Not the best approach.

    It is true, it takes conditioning to re learn how to buy food, and to store local clean foods. When I started on the “Just say NO to GMO” journey, I walked through the grocery store mortified that a multitude of corporations would go to such lengths to poison us, then the FDA/drug companies were poisoning us again with drugs for a profit.
    I experienced a profound anxiety that was difficult to process.
    I became a grocery cart lurker.
    I would look at what folks were putting in their carts.
    Then I felt like a horrible person for feeding this garbage to my children….
    Wondering why no one was trying to educate the public of the dangers of the fake food they were eating.
    Isn’t it the responsibilty of the USDA to make sure we are offered safe food? After all, we are Americans. Protected by the most powerful Military in the World. The mighty OZ of Planet Earth. And they sell us crap.
    They fine farmers for selling organic raw milk but it is legal to sell corn and soy drenched in Round Up and slammed in a box. (Please don’t ask to prove that scientifically, Youtube Monsatan videos and hold your own barf bucket folks.)
    I had to stop going to the grocery store.
    I took the 100 mile locavore challenge and it changed my life.
    I had to stop talking the talk and started living it. Then I got the family in on it.
    It was easier than I thought and it was FUN! The more we searched for things we needed, the more interesting people and treasured food we found.
    We had no idea there was a man who had 20,000 bee hives on a huge organic farm, 10 miles from our house. He sells raw honey once a year to locals. I bought 30 gallons.

    The rancher who sold us grass fed beef that only cost us 1.47 lb after processing. Rib eyes for 1.47 lb? Are you kidding me? Slap my face! That beef will make your tongue beat your own brains out.

    The old orchard that we are allowed to pick from that gives us a years’+ worth of cider, applesauce, apple pie filling and dried apple snacks. All for a case of jelly as trade. Not to mention the magical day we get to spend in an old growth orchard. Hundreds of 80+something year old standard trees. Six feet to the bottom branches, hanging heavy with cold crisp apples you can stop eating. Cool breeze, warm sun. The cows that beg for apple treats while we are picking. Amazing.
    I opened a jar of applesauce to spread on pancakes and am transported immediately to that place again.

    Farmers Markets are more fun to me than an amusement park. Getting to know the folks that grow your food is a relationship you will never want to give up. It will only serve you in the best way during ” A Fan Event” (thanks Bam Bam, I love it).

    I had no idea that what I was doing was in demand. A conversation at booth would turn into, “Would you be willing to teach a canning class?” Sure. Then the folks that came to can would want to buy my produce, eggs, and chickens.
    So my farm business started. Not just selling to the public but teaching them to do it. Sharing, growing with families, teaching them to grow for themselves. Hands on, planting, caring, harvesting, preserving. Many hours sitting on the shady porch snapping beans, drinking cold homebrewed beers, wine and even meads while listening to music.
    Farm produce potlucks created by teens to get them involved. Some of that was very interesting. Some of it very good.
    Tired kids snuggled in the laps of happy (equally tired) parents looking at 100′s of jars, bags of clean produce and meats they were too frightened to do alone.
    The money we made was not huge, but enough to fund some farm inprovements and prep efforts. A win win.

    Gulp and deep breathe….I could go on all day. My point was to show how fun the experience can be. This journey can be one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

    Thank you again for sharing this beautifully written article, Janet.

    • Mama J.,

      I would sign up to take one of your canning classes. We would have fun.

      • Oh yes, Bam Bam,
        One day we will meet and be great friends. I have no doubt. And have much fun.
        I would be honored to share space with you. One day (hopefully, before a Fan Event) the Pack will find a place for reunions or even a Prepping Festival, with a trade show, meet and greet, shooting matches, and classes.
        Can you imagine? How happy we would be, to be there? I would dearly love to meet all of you and still keep the OP Sec and the Mystery. But to know your faces, and become a Prepping family.
        Places that all of us could take sanctuary if we would become stranded or needed help thoughout the country. A home away from home.
        A girl can dream, right?

  8. Janet W,

    Good article. Thought provoking. The wife and I monitor our food eating habits per our doctors. Docs told us if there are many ingredients, especially ones you don’t recognize, stay away. We both beat the odds healthwise and really want to hang around a bit longer. Watched a program on TV years ago that looked into diseases and chemicals. Mankind, up to 1900 was exposed to few thousand chemical compounds and had years to adapt. Between 1900 and 1945 the number of new compounds increased dramatically and from 1945 the number of compounds went exponential. What the long term effects may be is still unkown.

    I agree that natural would be better. As someone preparing for the bad times, you want something that is light, takes up minimal space and and lasts a long time storage wise. Not eveyone will be or is able to plant a garden becuase of infirmities, climate, location etc. The object is survival short term and long term until a new normal is established. Not everyone has all sorts of space to store years worth of canned goods and jars. The other week oldest and family visited. Amazing what two extra adults and two growing boys can eat. You will never have enough, especially is you end up helping others.

    I used to believe it God, motherhood, the flag and apple pie. Mom is on the pill, few respect the flag and my apple pie is laced with pesticide. Oh well, back to prepping.

  9. Art-e-Mouse (NorCal) says:

    Extraordinary article! You have found my ‘prepping weakness’ and provided a prescription for it’s strengthening… Now if I can only ovecome my addiction to buying prepared foods and canned goods (to a lesser extent) and increase my utilization of ‘natural’ foods (to a larger extent). Of all of my ‘prep’s’, my food storage (though fairly substancial) has been my “Achilles Heel”. Thanks for drawing attention to this subject in a very elloquent and informative manner.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Yes Janet. Your “….eat 75% natural or 50% natural, that’s going to keep me healthier and stronger than relying 100% on processed, fake, or chemical-filled food. Set your priorities and allocate your money and resources accordingly.” smacks of my “prepare for a short term natural disaster” baiting of new preppers.
      Great advice for the Twinkies and Hormels canned chili eaters. Balance. It’s a start…..

  10. “Over the last 50-75 years, our commercially purchased food has been doing us more harm than good”.

    I guess that explains the increase in longevity initially experienced in the western world starting with people born at the turn of the 20th century and now experienced world wide except in the worst hell holes known as 3rd world nations.

    Grace Slick said, “Maybe it’s the preservatives in our food that is preserving us”.

    Perhaps you are overlooking medical capacity and practices prior to 1925. People died from “child birth”, TB, accidents, “consumption” or natural causes. People did not live long enough to develop cancers, diabetes, and heart attacks. Science did not have the diagnostic ability to identify something they had no words for. What we call “modern diseases”.

    Your conclusions are based upon error filled assumptions. However, if it makes you feel better and you have the economic means to buy only “organic” foods or what you think is organic, then more power to you. But please don’t confuse your opinion as knowledge.

    I have heard the same agenda for 40 years now. I for one won’t drink the organic kool aid.

    • Ron,
      You need to STFU. Your snarky conclusions are based on your error filled assumtions. How dare you talk smack about someone who truly cares about the food that we eat.
      In your new found silence , do your own research and cry your critical eyes out when you die of a Monsatan herbicide pecticide genetically modified illness. YOU drank the koolaid. I hope you have someone besides an Organic Hospise Nurse to comfort you.
      We don’t need you or your negativity.

    • as for the third world hell holes we have the western world to thank for that mess. through our so called compassion we dump tons and tons of food into these countries only to see the populations explode because we allowed to many people to grow and survive in a land that couldn’t support the population

  11. Janet,

    Enjoyed your article and appreciate the footnotes.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this.

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  13. Great “food for thought,” Janet W! Thank you for doing the research and putting all this info together for us. And thank you, MD, for providing such a helpful, accessible forum for us to improve our lives and our readiness.
    My dad and his brothers, born 1915-1930 in Iowa, often carried lard sandwiches to school — on their mom’s daily-made bread, of course. But they were so very physically active with farm chores and the usual boyish mischief, they were the picture of health and vitality. They went on to be active adults. None died of heart disease. Makes a person wonder, no?

  14. All good information. I know you are correct on every point because my wife tells me this same thing almost word for word! Seriously, this is important stuff and people just aren’t aware. It’s a bigger problem to resolve than the health care system in my opinion. Thanks for putting this out there and hopefully a couple of people have their eyes opened a little. Additionally, HBO and the CDC worked together on something called The Weight of The Nation. For what it’s worrh we enjoyed watching it.

  15. Very well-thought out article…

    But allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment…

    “Today people are dying from cancers and other diseases that were rare 150 years ago simply because people are living longer.” Could it also be that modern technology detects diseases better than 150 years ago, including autism, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases? The diseases today may well have existed in large numbers but just went undetected.

    Could it also be that modern man visits the doctor more often than man did 150 years ago? Thus such diseases are more often detected?

    If we truly were following the ways of our ancestors (whose average age was around 35-45, depending on the era), I suppose we should be hunting and gathering, possibly doing some farming. Yet nowhere in your article did I see any mention of hunting game or gathering wild edibles. Even in the city, there is game. And of course, wild edibles are everywhere. Just don’t gather them right next to a road.

    The end of the matter is that the closer we get back to directly taking what we need from Mother Earth OURSELVES and not relying on someone else to grow it for us, kill it for us, butcher it or can it for us, the healthier our foods will be.

    Just my theory… :)

    • CountryGirl says:

      I agree. Cancer is mostly a disease of old age and the longer you live the greater your chances are of getting it. Many cancers also have a genetic predisposition, even smoking caused lung cancer. Most people who succumb to an early death have a serious genetic disease.

      Autism rates have probably not increased at all. The “increase” we see today is the result of increased screening and “rewarding” parents and schools for having autistic children. If we took the financial incentive out of autism the rates would drop. Sadly I think many children today are being labeled autistic and this prevents them from having a normal life. We have seen the same thing with ADHD. Once you are labeled you are stuck with it for life.

      • True that. When I was a kid NO ONE had ADD or ADHD. It was not recognized as a medical condition back then. Yet I am sure that there were some that, today, would have been diagnosed with such. I’m sure the same goes for other diseases and conditions.

  16. Kelekona says:

    Well, this saying goes more for fad diets than whether or not industrial farming is killing us; we just don’t know for sure certain. Trying to avoid processed food is a good step, simply because being able to cook a huge variety of foods is a good skill.

    I’ve taken only the first baby step by being a low-grade foodie. Most of my grocery shopping is in the outer ring, and I build my meals by first looking at the produce section for the cheap buys, then at the meat section. I’m hoping I’m saving money on chicken by buying bone-in thighs and whole fryers, most of the “lard” we use is actually unrefined fat scrapings from making chicken stock. I do miss having a meat market that claimed “Amish Chickens” and was competitive with the grocery store. Now I gotta buy fryers because roasters look weird.

    I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t sign up for CSA. And considering how I normally come away from the farmer’s market with less than $5 worth of produce, it is only worth the effort to drive to the other one when I know they have a bushel of tomatoes and a pound of worthy impulse-buys.

    I cannot abide brown rice except for a few recipes. I have a cream-sauce noodle recipe that relies on whole wheat pasta because bleached pasta would fall apart. I still add tumeric when it’s supposed to be a cheese sauce, to the annoyance of hubby who knows that cheese is supposed to be white and annato is a marketing ploy.

    • Kelekona says:

      Oh, I forgot to mention, I do believe the sources that say frozen vegetables are just under local non-organics as far as quality.

      I did ask hubby about the latest meat deal he found. The last one was great because of the free freezer, but it tasted like they were chemically tenderizing low-grade meat. Putting the pre-seasoned “chicken breasts” into the crock pot ended up in a gross gelatinous mess. We’re not quite ready to commit to non-tortured meat, but I’d rather the shoulders come straight off the beast to my stove than eat pre-marinated steaks.

  17. Donna H says:

    My mom ate a lot of all the bad foods, oleo, sweets, processed food, white bread, white rice, smoked for 65 years, and is 89 now, still active, playing her piano and going places. …..her father ate the same way, he refused to retire at 84 and he lived until he was 93.

    Euell Gibbons, a food naturalist died young at 64 shocking the country.

    Does natural food make us live longer? I think genetics has a lot to do with it, but all this info how bad margarine, oils, and processed food isn’t healthy didn’t get to Bob Hope living 100 years. It was probably genetics, a good sense of humor, a stable marriage, wine, long working life, and his golf exercise that contributed to his good health.

    • It’s true, there are cases such as you mention that defy common sense and logic. Who knows? Perhaps cellophane-wrapped super-processed “American” cheese is better than the cheese that comes from your own cow or the farmer co-op down the road.
      In the end, I guess we must all follow our own conscience about what we put into our bodies, how we obtain our food (whether through our own hands or others’), and where we get it.

  18. CountryGirl says:

    I actually liked the article and thought there was some good stuff there. What I disliked and disagree with is this meme that all processed food is bad all commercial food/meat etc. is bad and that all things “added” to foods are harmful. It simply isn’t true. Our food supply is the best and most healthy on earth or throughout history. Almost anything else you can say on the subject is pure food bias.
    I will use one example from the article: That processed carbs are “like eating pure sugar”. 100% of the carbs you eat are converted to sugar by your digestive system. Sugar is absolutely essential to live without it you would die quickly. Processed carbohydrates don’t encourage insulin resistence or cause diabetes. Diabetes is a genetic disease that you get from your parents not from sugar. If you have it then your diet can absolutely be used to control the symptoms. But if you don’t have it your diet cannot give it to you. You can eat pure sugar by the handfuls and the only thing it will do to you is maybe give you a tummy ache.

    Another example is I agreed with your position that traditional oils and fats are not bad for you. There is nothing wrong with fat in your diet and in fact without fat you will become sick and die. It is essential for your health. But I see no evidence that vegetable oils are harmful or worse for you then traditional sources of fat. Some people have a genetic disease that causes extremely high blood cholesterol and those people do indeed benefit slightly from eating oils with low or no cholesterol. But for the vast majority of use cholesterol in foods is not a problem and our blood cholesterol is not substantially affected by what we eat.

    The problem/confusion on diet and health is mostly because there are indeed diseases (mostly genetic) that require or benefit from a special diet. But it is naive and superficial to assume that somehow those diet choices would benefit someone without those disease or worse that a specific diet can prevent some of those diseases.

    Much of the misinformation propagated about food/diet has it’s origin in Vitalism. This is a pseudo-science developed while humans still believed you could appease the volcano gods by throwing virgins into the volcano and it is equally nonsensical. Unfortunately there is a mountain of books and articles out there which pander to this superstition and try to impart truth to the lies and facts to the sperstition and naive people read these books and are thus confused.

    The bottom line is there are no magic foods or “bad” foods. Eat a varied diet and avoid fad diets and bad advice. If you have a health problem that requires a specific diet then by all means follow your doctors advice.

  19. Extexanwannabe says:

    There is a lot of good, useful information here. Thank you.

  20. Survivor says:

    Outstanding article, Janet!!! One other point I think just as important is not only what we eat, but how we eat it. Five or 6 small meals per day rather than 3 large meals keeps our metabolism, and therefore our energy, up and running smoothly all day. This is especially true of evening gestation. It does no one any good to shovel in mass quantities of GMO’s and then go to bed. A small evening meal to stave off hunger pangs should be followed up next morning by a small breakfast to kick start the metabolism. This takes care of the mid morning and mid afternoon blahs.

  21. Janet W
    A few Months ago I posted an article “I dont want to survive , I want to live” You hit the nail on the head. Alot of preppers are gong to have a rude awakening when they dash out in the woods with a 12 gauge and a weeks supply of MRE’s. Making food now is a no brainer, better for you and a skill that is good in any situation.
    I was poked fun at for mentioning making bread without yeast capturing natural yeast for sour dough. and a comment about surviving by making yogurt from fresh raw milk. The responses were yuck, yogurt sucks and sour dough tases funny. I feel bad any one who hasnt tried real food, and is addicted to the sugary fatty processed garbage passsd off as food.
    I have been forced to live on my preps , work has been scarce and with it, money too . I increased the garden space 400% this year, I have time to tend it. I was the recipient of a truck load of organic milk to give to a food pantry and they would not take it, it was 4 days pas the sell by date. I froze and drank it. Gave 100′s of galons away and used the rest for my garden. It lasted months and the food bank lost out due to regulations of waste My tomatoe plants are 4 foot high, the neighbors are only 18″ or so. Th emilk dunped in the gaden helped so much . I will can so much sauce I will sell the excess. Proceeds go to buy food for the food pantry. another good thing to start now learn to help thy neighbor.
    My freezer is still filled with organic beef i purchased last winter. Every saturday we enjoy pizza withmy sauce, home ground wheat dough and the organic beef. I need to learn how to make cheese. WE too still split the flour half and half, glutens from white flour rise well.
    Meals made at my retreat cabin are a labor of love, taking hours of prep time. haul water from the spring, gather wood for the oven. Gather more water for washing . Its work but doesnt feel like work Its LIVING. A good night sleep from Living a full day is your reward.