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Now, lest you think I’m kidding, I’m not.  The zombie apocalypse is coming.  I have it from the best of sources (those who kill zombies in video games) that they’re preparing for The End and will protect us from The Zombies (who want nothing more to eat your brains, by the way).  And if you need more proof, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) have gotten in on the act.  For serious.

The CDC has a blog post and is launching a preparedness campaign based on a Zombie Apocalypse.  It’s not April 1, so it’s not a joke.  The blog post in question appeared on May 16 and has gotten quite a bit of buzz on Twitter and in other forms of social media.

What’s the CDC doing?  Educating people!  By using the common language of “zombie apocalypse” and linking to brain diseases (that are supposed to be at the root of a zombie’s problems) like prions, mad cow disease, and measles, they’re getting people’s attention.

And by talking about making an emergency preparedness kit, they’re encouraging people to think ahead.  In the midst of talking about the coming zombie apocalypse, they’re also talking about preparing for a natural disaster. Under the heading of “Better Safe Than Sorry,” the post talks about how much water is needed per person, per day; what hygiene/sanitation is needed, how much food to store, what medications to have on hand, and other aspects of preparedness.  The author of the post assures readers that he will be assigning disease detectives to the field if indeed the zombies come out with sharpened spoons to eat our brains.

The approach is novel, but I love it.  Not that I’m a-feared of zombies (I know too many people who are versed in killing zombies who would protect me), but I love that the government is using a bit of current culture to reach people with the message of preparedness.  Of course, it’s my belief that by the time the government jumps on the “be prepared” bandwagon, there’s probably not adequate time to actually prepare properly, but hey!  At least it’s something.

Preparing a little is better than preparing none at all, because at least you’re thinking about things like supplies, evacuation routes, and caring for yourself and your family in a time of emergency.  Will zombie-killers be prepared for an EMP? Probably not.  But will they be better prepared than those who don’t read this ad campaign and think about being ready for a crisis?  Most likely.  And that’s a good thing.

If you want to read the whole article, you can find it here.  In the meantime, I’m going to go listen to “Re: Your Brains” by Jonathan Coulton and pack up my food storage for our impending move.  I’ve included a fan video here of the song – hope you enjoy!  :)

16
Mar

I’ve done it!  I’ve hit the one-year mark on our food storage.  I actually have more than what the Food Storage Analyzer says I do, just because there are things I’m storing which aren’t in their system.  The system is designed to be edited by its users, but when you have bulk nuts, for example, the nutritional information isn’t included, so it’s hard to enter non-existent information.

I knew I was close to the end with my last two Azure Standard orders (that link isn’t to Azure Standard’s website, but to Heavenly Homemakers, where Laura explains how their co-op works).  I added 2 more gallons of honey, 10lbs of raisins (which might actually be the BEST raisins I’ve ever had), and several pounds of spices.  Today, we went to Honeyville in Chandler for a class based on the book “Dinner is in the Jar,” by Kathy Clark and after tasting lentils in chicken noodle soup (which tasted *amazing*, by the way), I decided to pick up a 25lb bag of them.  I’ve never cooked with lentils more than split peas or chana dal, but when thinking about upping the protein content of chicken noodle soup, I decided it was worth adding to the storage.  Unfortunately for me, Honeyville didn’t have a #10 can of them, only a 25lb bag.  So now we have a LOT of lentils.  :)

I still want to get some more pinto beans and white beans (Great Northerns are my favourites) before I consider myself fully “done,” but it’s nice to see the number on the analyzer’s read-out.  I’m feeling quite good about this accomplishment, and the next food-storage task will be building ready-to-cook meals with what I’ve got stored.  I purchased the book I mentioned; when it comes in, I’ll get some more oxygen-absorbers and set to work.  I’ll blog that one, so if you’re interested in having stuff that’s ready to go and things that your family will love, watch for that post.  :)

But for now, I leave you with this glorious (well, to me, at least) image.  :)

foodstorageanalyzer.com/MemberPages/Search.aspx?search=raisins

When we started our food storage, we weren’t really sure why we were doing it, other than to be obedient to what we felt God was telling us to do.  There have been rumours of runaway inflation (where the cost of items doubles every 1-2 weeks), of a double-dip recession, and of other economic catastrophes.

Lately, with the cost of gas increasing (I paid $3.50 per gallon this morning, up from $3.39 on Sunday evening – yikes!), grocery prices have been stealthing upward.  Regular stores like Kroger (Fry’s, out here) used to run “Buy 10 get $5 off”-promotions and now they’ve lowered it to “Buy 10 get $3 off.”  Prices are increasing at Costco, but prices there tend to flux a bit, so I’ve not thought too much of that.  Let’s face it – as it costs more to get the items from a distribution center to the stores, the increased cost of that fuel is tacked on.  The troubling thing to my mind is that the trend of increasing grocery prices has always had a six-month lag behind the actual hike of fuel prices, and this bucks that trend.

My case in point today is Trader Joe’s.  I love TJ’s for food that is largely unpolluted, simple, and inexpensive.  I can get a pound of frozen mixed (organic) vegetables there for $1.69, and we scarf down the veggies when I serve them at dinner. Bananas have always been $.19 per, and the cost of dry goods has been stable for at least the past 4-5 years (as long as I’ve been frequenting the retailer).

Until today.  While the bananas and mixed veggies haven’t increased in price, absolutely everything. else. in. my. cart. has. Ugh.  Up $.10 on my pizza sauce, up $.30 on cocoa powder.  Up a whopping $.50 on the blue corn chips we like….  It made me particularly grateful that I’m only there for incidentals (what food storage experts call “the three-month supply”) every other week or so.

It will be interesting to see how this trend goes – if, once the unrest in the middle east ends, prices will begin a downward movement or not.  It will also be interesting to see how the media picks up on this (or doesn’t – sometimes they just ignore this stuff when it doesn’t play in to what they want to report).

We’re okay at the moment, in spite of increasing prices.  But it makes both of us really grateful that we have this store of food to “fall back on.”

As we dig further and further in to a self-sufficient, food-storage inspired lifestyle, I’m always on the hunt for new things to make that I either a) don’t want to spend the money on at the store, or b) don’t like the GMO or added ingredients in the store-bought variety.  Happily, granola fits the bill on all criteria.  It’s easy to make, uses food storage supplies, tastes really good, is stupid-expensive at the store, and has undesirable ingredients when it’s store-bought.

I made granola bars last year and love them – but finding the right proportions on a loose granola was a little trickier for me.  I’m pretty good with substituting things, and although I used a recipe from Food Storage Made Easy as my base, my actual recipe really doesn’t look very much like the original.  Funny how that happens sometimes! :)  We love this to snack on or in my Greek-style yogurt (regular goat-milk yogurt that is strained for 12 hours).

It’s easy for me to burn my granola – I’d love to blame the dumb oven in this apartment completely, but I think lowering my second-bake time from 20 minutes to 10 is the way to go.  :)

Another trick I use is to plump up the dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries – your choice) in heated, distilled water before using them.  When I do this, I don’t end up with little hard pieces of charcoal that once were raisins – they actually look and taste like raisins!  Adding the moisture to the raisins first insures that you’re not dehydrating them too much in the oven.  It’s a worthwhile step and is easy to cover the raisins with water and simmer them for a bit before adding them to the raw granola.

Sue’s Homestyle Granola
  • 4 c. of quick oats (or regular – I have quick oats stored, though)
  • 2 c. of chopped almonds
  • 1 c. roasted sunflower seeds (this adds a certain YUM to the finished product)
  • 1 c. raisins/dried cherries/craisins (your choice), rehydrated & drained
  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. Real Salt
  • 3/4 c. honey

Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer and begin adding in the wet items – the raisins, coconut oil, vanilla, and honey.  Allow the mixer to do the blending until everything looks evenly incorporated.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 20 min. at 350F.  Stir at the 20 minute-mark (scraping the tray and turning the granola over as you do) and stick the tray back in for another 10 minutes.  Remove tray from oven and stir; allow it to cool completely before bagging it up and watching it disappear.  :)  This recipe makes about 2 pounds of granola, and if it gets soft from the moisture in the air, laying it on a tray at 200F for 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time to put the crunch back in to it.  :)

Bon apetit!

 

foodstorageanalyzer.com/MemberPages/FoodStorage.aspx

We are so close I can almost taste it.  No pun intended, but after working diligently for the better part of January, we are within 40 days of finishing up the food storage.  Well, 38.16 days, to be exact.  :)

We’ve added an insane amount of wheat and about 78 pounds of quick oats (all purchased at Costco for less than $80 – w00t!), although at the rate my guys are gobbling up granola, I’m thinking it might be a good thing to add another 26lb bucket of oats. Hmmmm.

We also added in quite a few #10 cans of freeze dried vegetables and 2 cans of popcorn – there’s no point in having microwave popcorn hanging around when Mark makes SUCH a delectable batch of real popcorn, popped in coconut oil and lightly seasoned with Real Salt.  Holy COW it is good.  :)

I added in 25# of sugar, as well.  I think to finish it up, I’m going to procure some more honey (local, raw), another 25# bag of sugar, some more beans (probably white & black), and another bucket of oats.  I’m pretty sure these things will toss me over the 365-day mark, but it feels well-rounded to me to have things things and be able to stop thinking about procurement and building all the time, to simply keep a tally of what needs to be replaced as we rotate through.

I’ve also been adding things in more #10 cans than I did in Michigan – my pantry in Michigan was limited and #10 cans took up too much space in the basement pantry.  Here, despite the fact that the apartment is smaller (by FAR) than our home in Michigan was, I’m finding more creative ways to store the stuff.  So the #10 cans are in boxes (labelled on both sides – remember this one, Betsie? :mrgreen:) and the boxes are currently stacked in a cubby-space behind the bookshelf.  The cubby space was designed for a large TV set (I think), but we have a bookshelf in there and there’s plenty of space back there for at least 12 boxes of #10 cans.  They are visible through the open-back of the bookshelf, however, which has us thinking of disguising the storage space a bit.  Mark thought we should staple black fabric to the back of the bookshelf, which would work, but my mom suggested we buy a cheap tension-rod (for a cafe curtain) and make a rod-pocket in the black fabric. That way, there are no gaps between the wall and the bookshelf which might look unsightly.  So I’ll be popping over to a Big Box Store and picking up a tension rod this week – and I’ll probably hand-baste a rod pocket in to the top of the fabric and make quick work of it.

I’m really happy to be so close to being done.  Based on the budget for February, I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish all of it this month, but I should be able to be done by the middle of March, at the latest.  :)

One Second After is a novel by William Forstchen and is possibly one of the best books you’ve never read.

Forstchen sets the stage in a quiet, almost Norman Rockwellian-town in North Carolina and follows the story of a family and the town’s members through an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack that disables everything electronic and/or computer-chip dependent nationwide.

The book is well-written and the details were enough to hook me in the first few pages; I soon wanted to keep reading and find out what happened to John Matherson and his family, comprised of his two daughters and in-laws, having lost his wife to cancer years prior.

To say that this book is a cautionary tale is an understatement:  the book’s premise is more than real-life and completely scary – at any point, enemies of our country could readily launch nuclear warheads that don’t hit land and create the scenario I learned in junior high, namely one of nuclear destruction and fallout, but that explode in the stratosphere and leave no nuclear destruction on the ground.  The resulting electromagnetic pulse, however, would take out anything and everything electrical, computer-driven, and/or that hasn’t been “hardened off.”  The enemies would destroy our country without laying a hand on us; as society collapses upon itself, we would destroy ourselves for them.  We are a country of consumers with very little knowledge of how to care for ourselves without the creature comforts our 21st century existence provides.

Think about it:  it’s one thing to not have an iPod or Android phone that works.  But your stove wouldn’t work, your refrigerator wouldn’t work.  Neither would your freezer, your car, your light switches, or your watch.  No clocks, no heat, no air conditioning.  If you live in the country and have a well, no water will be dispensed, as most wells have electric pumps.  Most of us don’t have an ability to withstand this sort of hardship, much less feed our families and sustain our livelihoods.  Your money would be unavailable for an extent of time – we are about as close to a cashless society as possible, and most of us use debit cards to withdraw monies from our accounts, pay for things, and generally make life easier.  But without computers…. Well, the picture ain’t pretty.

And God-forbid that you have a disease which is kept in check with medicine on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.  Without refrigeration, diabetics dependent upon insulin would die quickly – the insulin would be rationed and loses potency without refrigeration.  Nursing home patients would succumb to disease and pass quickly as well, which after reading the scenarios in the book, is a merciful thing.  Hospitals only have so much ability to run on reserves, and because very few vehicles will run after an EMP (those which have carburetors and no fuel injection will turn over), there is very little way to get supplies – not to mention that communication lines will be down, so calling for supplies is next to impossible.

It’s truly a dim picture when you consider the far-reaching effects of something like an EMP and how it would disable our country and society.

I’ll be honest:  I read this book as part of an online-read-along for one of my preparedness groups (at Food Storage Made Easy), and  I almost didn’t read it.  Sometimes, my ever-fertile mind and imagination can take things I read or see and expound upon them to a point of panic.  I really, really didn’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction or live my life in fear.  These are unproductive things for me and I choose to live without them.

But I did find myself considering my food storage and preparedness plans a little differently after reading this.  A Sun Oven is definitely on my  To Procure List, as is a hand-powered grain mill.  I’ve looked in to making a Faraday cage and have looked at finding a hand-crank radio, some batteries, and some long-range walkie talkies to keep in the Faraday cage, protecting these items from the effects of an EMP.  There’s a guy in our apartment complex who drives a really cool, old truck – a Ford, circa 1940.  That beast would easily turn over and be functional after an EMP, but I confess that my own beloved Elsa would impotent after such an event.

There are some things that I simply can’t predict or prepare for – but if I can protect my family and friends at least in part, my preparations are worthwhile.  I still choose not to live in fear, but this book has really given us food for thought and changed how we consider our preventative planning.

Even if you never have plans to build a food storage, I highly recommend this book.  It’s compelling, the story is engaging, and most likely, your heartstrings will be tugged before the end.  You will not look at your life the same way after reading it – which in the case of most Americans today, is a very good thing.

We take having clean, safe drinking water for granted here in the States.  Even when I lived overseas, I was in “first world” nations that provided drinking water with a turn of the faucet.  It’s a blessing – but sometimes it doesn’t taste good enough to make you want to drink what comes from the faucet.

When we lived in Dexter, we had well-water.  I both loved and hated it – I loved being self-sufficient and not dependent upon city water.  I hated it when the electricity went out and we had no water (because the pump is electric).  I loved the lack of chlorine and other additives to the water, but hated the heavy iron and calcium deposits.  Boiling a pot of water for spaghetti reminded me of our iron-rich water because there were always rust-coloured bubbles on the water in the pot.  Bleah.

But moving to Phoenix was a shock to our system.  Our friend Ashley always used to say how fantastic our well-water tasted, but we thought it was less-than-ideal, having tasted well-water in the next county down which was much less iron-rich and had fewer sulfuric odors.  We had no clue how much we would miss our well water once we lived down here – until we went to brush our teeth and came up feeling like we had rinsed our mouths with pool water.  Blech.  The water here is that chlorinated – it smells like the community’s pool!

For emergency preparedness, I’d been stalking a Berkey water filter for several months, but moving put the plans to purchase one on the back burner for a bit.  We finally ordered one and have been using it for the last several days.  May I just say?

WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

Seriously.  The water doesn’t taste like chlorine, the tea tastes SO much better, the coffee is SO much smoother, and pretty near everything we cook that requires water tastes better now.  It is amazing.

The Berkey is definitely one of the more “powerhouse” purification systems out there.  There are installed units (under the sink or whole house), but this is portable.  We opted for the Berkey Light Max – it’s a clear (light blue) unit and it’s easy to determine how much water is there.  It’s easy to fill for any of us – Brendan can manage it readily.  The Berkey Light comes with 2 Berkey filters, but we paid a little more to have it upgraded to a Berkey Light Max – it has 4 filters.  It breaks down in to smaller pieces for transport very easily – which is great if a severe emergency ever required us to “bug out.”

The filters are easy to prime and install and filter out 99.9% of everything you don’t want in your water – chlorine, sediment, bacteria, even viruses!  Four filters don’t filter better than two, but it is faster, providing more surface area with which to filter.  Four filters will last for – get this! – TWELVE THOUSAND GALLONS OF WATER.  That’s mind-boggling to me.

For emergency preparedness purposes, not only is this portable, but it will filter potentially contaminated water to drinkable in short order.  This will cut down on the life of your filters, but in an emergency when you’re desperate for water, the life of the filters is less important than the ability to filter water.  And between living in the desert and being convinced that water storage is a huge part of any food storage plan, this fits in beautifully.

We did discover (accidentally) that you can’t put extra water in the filtering reservoir – as it filters, it flows.  And if the “ready water” reservoir is full, well… let’s just say we should’ve had a towel ready, just in case.  😮

We’ve already saved money by using this just a few days.  I drink close to 2 litres of water per day, and our monthly water bill (just for drinking) was somewhere in the $30 range for bottled water from Costco.  That was judiciously drinking water and not using it for cooking, coffee, tea, etc.  Our bottled water in the garage (other than our water-storage) is almost gone and I’ve already been able to skip one of the biweekly trips to Costco for just that – water.  Love it!

I’ll also be purchasing and stocking up on more filters in upcoming months just to have on hand.  The white (sterasyl) filters filter more water (for a longer life) than the black ones, but are harder to come by.  I’m so relieved to have this part of our preparedness done.  I’m gonna go get another cup of joe – it tastes so darned good now!  :)

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