Planting a Native Edibles Food Forest

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Planting a Native Edibles Food Forest The move to replace invasive species of plants with natives is a very interesting one. Its an admirable goal that makes a lot of sense. Its beneficial to the environment and the wildlife.  I think we are going to see an incredible uptick in people and businesses pushing for …

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Seven Survival Keys That Every Hunter Should Know

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Seven Survival Keys That Every Hunter Should Know Hunting is exploding. There is no doubt. Some people think its a great thing while others think it will lead to lots of wounded animals. I don’t know the answer but I will tell you that when you take suburbanites and thrust them into the woods there …

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Planting Potatoes … the Easy Way! (VIDEO)

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Here in Central Texas, the rule of thumb for planting potatoes is to get ‘er done around Valentine’s Day. My TGN friends in colder climates tend to wait a little longer—say mid-April or even later—until their soil has warmed up to at least 45°F.

Since I spent this past Monday doing spring garden prep and getting my potatoes in the ground, it seemed like a good time to share this video with you:

In it, Paul Gautschi (of Back to Eden gardening fame) talks about:

  • His easy method for harvesting and planting potatoes in the same day, in the same place;
  • Why cutting potatoes before planting them is a waste of time and potential; and
  • A really cool way to get the biggest and best potato harvest possible.

He also gives his No. 1 reason why you should never buy root veggies from the grocery store.

(And, if you’ve got a little more time, you can watch Paul harvesting his potato crop without any tools in this video from Justin Rhodes’ Great American Farm Tour.)

After you watch, I’d love to know—what’s your favorite way to grow potatoes?


The post Planting Potatoes … the Easy Way! (VIDEO) appeared first on The Grow Network.

25 Survival Foods That Should NOT Be Stored in the Original Package

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For many people, stocking up on food is a huge part of their family’s preparedness plan–as it should be! While this may seem as simple as buying a little extra food each time you go to the store, it’s actually a bit more complicated. You can’t just stick your food in the pantry and forget […]

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A Deeper Understanding of the Food Supply: Composting

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A Deeper Understanding of the Food Supply: Composting Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust. All things in nature are a cycle, and the food cycle is perhaps the most crucial of all. Understanding how that cycle works in as much depth as possible is crucial to survival, if SHTF. Many already understand the value and …

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Chickens are moved and Kennel chicken run built.

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Mom has been living in her new house this weekend.  We tore down the kennel that Mom uses for her chicken run and move it out to her new home.  We both knew it would bee a tough job and having an weather change with an ICY wind really made the job suck!  One of the kennel walls has a 4 x 8 foot chunk of OSB that made a bitch to move, but that OSB wall cuts the wind blowing into the little chicken door to the chicken house.  It was about 45 minutes prior to sunset when Mom opened the chicken door to the kennel and the birds had a blast scratching around in the protected ” Chicken Run”.

We still need to add a some top fencing to the kennel to keep out predators but we are looking at using green plastic garden/snow type fencing rather than adding chicken wire.  Mom likes to add a tarp to the top of the kennel to protect the birds from the weather and the plastic fencing won’t tear up the tarp like the metal chicken wire.  I’m still working on adding a light weight wood frame to support the kennel “roof” that will angled so snow will slide off rather than way down the fencing on the top of the kennel.

The weather has shifted, so instead of all the cold weather running down the east side of the Rockies and freezing you all back east it is our turn for cold weather with coming down the western slope of the Rockies.  Looks like Mom was right that FEB. and March being our cold months locally.  Heck you folks back east need some warmer weather and I hope flooding won’t be a problem.  I am doing very good on wood as all my pine seems to be burning well after having a couple of months to season naturally.  I prefer burning fruit wood or even Douglas fir rather than pine but after my mad scramble to find wood to burn last fall I have several full wood racks and even better a good plan to get a mix of fast & hot burning wood.  Plus the Dually pickup to get long burning fruit wood from the local Orchards.

I did have a have some bad news on my Dogs.  Diana the Peke passed away in her sleep after a great 15 years of life.  Tucker the peke got into a fight and pop out an eyeball and the eye could not be saved.  So the vet removed the eye and sewed the lid shut.  Tucker is doing darn good around the place thought he looks a bit like Popeye with his sewed lid.  Another $700.00 for Tucker’s surgery killed my newly created “emergency fund”.  Well it was an Emergency, so I guess it all worked out.  Going to take a few months being tight with funds to start building a new Emergency fund and get the new garden beds installed.  At the very worst I’ll have to use last years garden beds, which is not so bad in the grand scheme of things.


10 Stockpiling Tricks That Will Make Your Food Last Longer

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10 Stockpiling Tricks That Will Make Your Food Last Longer

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada

You would think that stockpiling food would be easy, right? Just buy a bunch of food, stash it away somewhere where it won’t be eaten, and you’re good, right? Uh, wrong. Building a stockpile and making it last is a lot harder than it looks.

The basic problem is that food, as it grows naturally, isn’t intended to be stored for years. For that matter, food the way it’s package at the grocery store isn’t intended to last for years. The manufacturers of that food assume that you are going to eat their products within a few months — and they pack it accordingly. So, if you want to keep your food around longer than that, you’re going to have to do something with it yourself and not trust their packaging.

The good news is that people have been hoarding food for millennia. Preserved food has been found in the various tombs of the pharaohs, demonstrating that mankind has been preserving and storing food for much longer than we would expect.

Fortunately, you and I don’t need to make our food stockpile last for thousands of years. It behooves us, though, to make sure that we store our food as well as possible, ensuring that we will have something to eat when everything suddenly goes wrong.

Here’s 10 ways to make your food last as long as possible:

1. Rotate Your Stock

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your food stocks last is to borrow a page from the stores you buy your food in. They have a rule called “first in, first out.” This merely means that they sell the oldest first. You should use the oldest first. If you are stockpiling a year’s worth of food and you always use the oldest can, box or bag of a certain item, you’ll never have anything in your stockpile that’s more than a year old.

This is especially useful for things you use all the time, like spaghetti sauce. To ensure that you’re actually using the oldest first, make a habit of marking the month and year of purchase right on the label. That way, you have a quick reference and don’t have to try and remember which style label is older than which.

2. If It’s Wet, Can It

Canning is one of the most effective and long-lasting means of food preservation out there. So make good use of it. The basic rule of thumb is that if a food item is wet, it can be canned. So, start canning meat loaf, extra produce from your garden and the fish from your latest fishing trip. If canned, it can stay usable in your survival stockpile for years. Some canned foods that are over a century old are still edible and nutritious.

3. Salt Does More than Flavor

Salt is nature’s preservative. So is sugar for that matter, although we use salt for preserving more than sugar. Other than fruit, just about anything you are trying to preserve probably needs salt added. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about canning food, dehydrating it, making your own cold cuts or smoking a ham; salt is the key to ensuring that bacteria don’t spoil your food.

4. Overdo it With Oxygen Absorbers

If you’ve heard about packing dry food in aluminized Mylar bags and five-gallon buckets, then you’ve probably heard about oxygen absorbers, too. These are added to prevent food from oxygenating and losing its freshness. But oxygen absorbers also make an inhospitable environment for bacteria and insects, both of which need oxygen. So, when adding oxygen absorbers to dry foods that you’re packaging for your stockpile, go for a bit of overkill. Don’t just use the minimum recommended; step it up a bit and ensure that the oxygen has really been absorbed.

More than anything, this is about ensuring that insect eggs can’t hatch, creating a population of insects inside your preserved food. Any insects which did manage to hatch from their eggs won’t be able to survive without oxygen.

5. Don’t Forget the Silica Gel

Few people mention it, but adding a packet of silica gel to dry foods when packaging them for long-term storage can help ensure that they stay fresh. These foods turn stale when they absorb moisture. While you probably already try to make sure that there is no moisture in the container, when packaging those foods, things can happen. The addition of a silica gel package can ensure that any moisture which does get into the package is absorbed by something other than the food.

6. Keep Track of it All

Make sure that you develop and keep a good spreadsheet of everything you’ve got in your stockpile. This should mention package size, quantity and the location or locations you have it stored. Always be sure to update your list. Don’t just have that spreadsheet on your computer, either. Print a hard copy and keep it in a notebook.

7. If You Use it, Replace it

This is one I have to keep after my wife about. It’s easy to just dig into your stockpile if you need something and pick an item without realizing it’s the last one. Make a note so that the next time you’re shopping, you can pick up a replacement and put it in your stockpile.

8. Keep it Cool

Heat will cause many foods to alter while stored. It speeds up chemical reactions and in extreme cases can slow-cook the food. Always try to keep your food stored in cool, dry places rather than in hot ones. The attic really isn’t a good place for food storage for this reason. You’re better off hiding it under the bed or putting it in the basement.

9. The Tougher the Better

When it comes to packaging, the tougher the better. Never settle for “just good enough.” Go for something that’s overkill. I can show you five-gallon bucket lids which have been gnawed through by rodents. Bacteria and insects aren’t the only things that want to eat your food stockpile; there are plenty of mice and rats in the world that would love to have a picnic at your expense, too.

10. Spread it Out

Whatever you do, don’t store all your food stockpile in one place, or even all of one type of item in one place. Let’s say that your basement is your main food storage area. That’s probably pretty good. But if your basement floods, you aren’t going to have access to that food. So, make sure that some of it is stored under the bed or in the upstairs hall closest.

For that matter, you should have one or two food caches off-site, as well. You never know what could happen. The people of Southeast Houston probably weren’t expecting to have to abandon their homes before Hurricane Harvey came along.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Better Ways than Hunting to Provide Food!

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Better Ways than Hunting to Provide Food!

Better Ways than Hunting to Provide Food for Yourself in a Survival Scenario!

There are a lot of fallacies when it comes to prepping for the next big natural disaster or other SHTF scenario. It’s great that you have managed to stockpile a large amount of food in the shelter in your home and you have greatly honed your hunting skills over the years too. Here is one thing that many preppers fail to consider and that is the fact you may be forced away from your home to survive.

Continue reading Better Ways than Hunting to Provide Food! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Angling, a Lost Art for Survival and the Soul

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Angling, a Lost Art for Survival and the Soul When the world is coming apart and you feel like you are going to be crushed by the pressure there is but one thing to do, go fishing. Well, you could argue that its time to start prepping as well. Truly, fishing is something that will …

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A Disaster is Coming! A 20-Point Checklist to Get You Prepared for the Next Disaster!

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A Disaster is Coming! A 20-Point Checklist to Get You Prepared for the Next Disaster! Its great content like this that makes you a better prepper. There is really no point in doing anything if you cant measure your progress. Unless it is completely and totally for leisure you need to measure it. Well, let …

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Homemade Energy Drink

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Homemade Energy Drink We know more about the importance of what we put into our body and how it affects us better than ever. This is something that is going to change lifestyles for the better. We know that good nutrition goes a long way. We also know that stuff has to get done. Sometimes …

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Rotate and replace – learn it, love it, live it

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As I’ve posted before, about a zillion years ago there was a sale on oatmeal at the local Albertson’s. I went long on it and wound up with a five-gallon Gamma-sealed bucket full of vacuum-sealed packets of instant oatmeal. And there they sat. Quietly waiting. Until one day about ten years later when I decided to pull ’em out and get ’em into the rotation.

Well, that means that what came out of long-term storage must be replaced, no? As I was flipping through Costco’s little sales flyer I see that they have 52-packs of oatmeal on sale for $5.99. That comes out to about twelve cents per package of oatmeal. Being the curious sort, I checked the scale and the packages do weight the same. However, and this surprised me, the apple flavor oatmeal packages contain almost 25% less product than the brown sugar or cinnamon flavor packets. Interesting.

But the point is that in the course of around 12 years, the sale price of the oatmeal products has remained virtually unchanged. Which I found rather interesting. It also nice to see that my food storage program has been going on long enough that even somewhat-long-term stuff hasstarted getting rotated and replaced on a regular basis. Go me!

Anyway, these things will get packed a dozen to a bag and sealed up for the Deep Sleep. Oatmeal isnt anyone’s favorite food, but it is very difficult to argue against it’s convenience. Some boiling water, freeze dried fruit to mix in, and you’ve pretty much got a decent breakfast. In the Venezuela-of-the-future you could have oatmeal, fruit, eggs, bacon, and orange drink all out of a can you put away twenty years ago. Kinda comforting, that. Speaking of Venezuela…this was too good to not share:

How to Store Backup Water in Your Garage in 55 Gallon Barrels

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When I first started prepping, I knew I needed to store plenty of water, but I didn’t realize how much. Every time I went shopping, I would pick up a case of 32 half-liter water bottles. I did this for a couple months, at which point I was satisfied that I had more than enough […]

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Planning Your Own Survival Prepper Garden Pt 2

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Planning Your Own Survival Prepper Garden Pt 2 As a survivalist you must always be prepared for the time when things go south and you and your family will need to bug out. In order to do that, many survival experts suggest tips for setting up a perfect bug out location and even if you …

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Don’t Forget to Stockpile Condiments and Seasonings

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Have you ever watched an episode of the reality TV show, ‘Survivor’? The premise of the show is simple: a group of Americans is left to survive on an isolated island with only a few resources. While these mid-life crisis contestants do have an emergency medic on site and a camera crew filming their every […]

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Hen Fruit (Eggs) to the Rescue!

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Hen Fruit (Eggs) to the Rescue!
Host: Lynna… “A Preppers Path” Audio player provided!

Did you remember to eat your fruits and vegetables? Truly a positive behavior when it comes to our health. Most of us don’t get nearly enough whole foods including our fruits and vegetables which provide us nutritious and healthful benefits. While hen fruit isn’t actually a fruit or vegetable the benefits of hen fruit are incredible.

Continue reading Hen Fruit (Eggs) to the Rescue! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Gardening for Food Production

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Gardening for Food Production What better a goal than gardening for food production. I feel like this is something we should all be looking to achieve in 2017. Our ability to provide, at least some, food for ourselves is a key element of enjoying freedom. When you are beholden to the supermarket and restaurants for …

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How To Build An Herb Spiral

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How To Build An Herb Spiral Spring is just around the corner and winter is starting to wind down, for some of us anyway. Build one of these beauties and have plenty herbs for the rest of the year. I found an article that shows you how to construct these simple herb gardens in a …

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How to Identify the Elderberry Bush

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How to Identify the Elderberry Bush The importance of getting out in the wild cannot be denied. For the prepper and survivalist its all just a game until you put yourself out there. Even a weekend hunting trip can familiarize you with the feelings of real survival. One of the very best feelings is when …

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Food… it’s whats for dinner

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The usual scene: me carefully scrutinizing the meat department at my local Albertsons for remaindered meat. Annnnnnnnnd….pork tenderloin:So, the pork tenderloin was marked down from $10.99 to $5.00 each. Not bad…but not good enough for my tastes. Fortunately, they were marked down to 30% off because today was the last day to Sell By:

I head over to the meat counter.

“You’ve got nine of those pork tenderloins marked down 30%. I’ll take ’em all and empty out your bin if you’ll markk ’em down to 50%.”



And thats how you wind up with receipt that says “You saved: 77%”. Or, put another way, dang near $99 at regular price but in my freezer for $22.50.

So…that’s a nice little score to go into the deep freeze. And it frees up a chunk of cash to buy silver today since it took a bit of a tumble and dropped down to a low of $16.55 before bouncing back. I caught it at $16.75 but still feel good about it.

Planning Your Own Survival Prepper Garden Pt 1

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Planning Your Own Survival Prepper Garden Pt 1 If you want to start growing your own food and have a backyard that can be put to use, then you should start right away. With the current situation of the economy it wouldn’t hurt to become self-sufficient. We know that it is hard to grow your …

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52 Weeks Savings Plan: Watch for these February bargains

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If you’ve been following the 52 Week Savings Plan, you should have a whopping $10 set aside. Don’t worry, that little bundle of money will continue to grow! Each month I’ll be sharing tips for making the most of the money you have to enable that nest egg to grow and grow and grow. If […]

Weeding Our Homeschool (and the Living Books Curriculum that Cultivates Good Soil)

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Weeding Our Homeschool (and the Living Books Curriculum that Cultivates Good Soil) When it comes to homeschooling its a choice today but in the future it could become a necessity. In our blooming economy we are still seeing schools closing. We are still a nation filled with failing schools. Imagine what education would be if …

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Amazing Blue Balls The Blueberry!

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Amazing Blue Balls The Blueberry!
Host: Lynna… “A Preppers Path” Audio player provided!

The blueberry, you know that pretty little orb of blue we make muffins, smoothies and more out of. The one that is delicious all by itself with nothing added. They get their name from their deep blue color and are one of the few fruits native to North America. We all know they are tasty but do you know how beneficial they are and what a boom to a prepper based home they can be.

Continue reading Amazing Blue Balls The Blueberry! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Vandana Shiva talks ‘fake cheap’ food (VIDEO)

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Just saw this video of Indian scholar and sustainable-agriculture advocate Vandana Shiva talking about the true cost of cheap food and three keys to ending what she calls “the final stages of a very deceitful system.”

(By the way, Shiva is on our list of 50 Global Changemakers, here.)

She makes some excellent points, and I thought you might enjoy the video as much as I did.

Some of my favorite quotes from the video:

  • “We are living the final stages of a very deceitful system that has made everything that is very costly for the planet, costly for the producer, look cheap for the consumer. So very high-cost production with GMOs and patents and royalties and fossil fuel is made to look like cheap food.”
  • “Every young person should recognize that working with their hands and their hearts and their minds—and they’re interconnected—is the highest evolution of our species. Working with our hands is not a degradation. It’s our real humanity.”
  • “We are not atomized producers and community. We are part of the earth family. We are part of the human family. We are part of a food community. Food connects us—everything is food.”

I also love the way she defines “true freedom” in the video: “Never be afraid of deceitful, dishonest, brutal power. That is true freedom.”

And hey, let me know what you think about her solutions to the problem of high-cost “cheap” food! What others would you add? Leave me a comment below. 🙂


The post Vandana Shiva talks ‘fake cheap’ food (VIDEO) appeared first on The Grow Network.

Homemade Hamburger Buns Recipe

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Homemade Hamburger Buns Recipe Arguably one of the best foods ever created, the hamburger is a beef sandwich that you can carry and eat with one hand. You can smother that meat in any number of things but the mobility and flavor is what makes it nearly perfect in this age of constant movement. Whether …

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Slow Cookers – Everything You Need to Know

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Slow Cookers – Everything You Need to Know Prepping takes time. Life takes time. We know now that a home cooked meal with clean meats and fresh vegetables is, in some ways, part of your preparedness. What you put in your body is what makes you go and what makes you healthy. Now you have …

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A Hunter’s Guide to the Best Lighted Nock

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A Hunter’s Guide to the Best Lighted Nock Bow hunting has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Just learning to shoot a recurve bow and do it consistently has been a struggle. That has nothing to do with shooting it under pressure and making a clean and responsible shot. Its not …

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Pear Varieties for the Deep South

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Pears are thought of as a cold-climate fruit, yet they are more adaptable than you might think. One of the benefits of being a garden writer is the many comments and ideas I get from readers. Today we’ll focus on pear varieties, thanks to some insight from gardeners in the south.

These originally appeared on a survival plant post on pears I created here.

Erik writes:

“Supposedly the ‘Chinese white pear’ (Bai li) cultivars Tsu Li (which is really ancient and supposedly good but quite slow to bear) and Ya Li (which need to be planted together, as they bloom earlier than even the pyrifolia Asians [‘apple pears’]) will both fruit with only 450 chill hours and are fireblight resistant.

I have had grocery Ya Li and am not impressed–crisp, watery, no flavor (that is also my opinion of most of the larger, pyrifolia types which someone must like because they are more expensive than aromatic, buttery European pears that taste like pears).

However, I found a delicious way to treat firm Boscs that also works with low flavor sand/oriental pears and Ya Li: Poach them in flavored syrup. The bland ones actually keep their shape better than good European types (turn a Seckel glut into pear butter instead). The flavor comes from the syrup rather than the pear, but hey, it works. (The French mostly use sweetened wine, but even stale coffee. In [Polish] Chicago, I can get blackcurrant juice or syrup and mostly use that. Vanilla and ginger blend nicely with most pears, even the aromatic ones that are mostly high chill and killed by fireblight.)

‘Warren’ is often recommended as a moderately low chill (NW FL and north), fireblight-resistant European sort similar to Bartlett, but I don’t have personal experience with it. Poached pears with vanilla ice cream may not be an option if the something hits the fan, but is nice in nicer times.”

And Carl responds:

“I have a lot of pear trees in Northwest Florida that are mostly grafted over pears I purchased in box stores or in flea markets. I pick varieties that were either developed in the deep south by normal people or were found after many years to do quite well.

Best fresh-eating pears and fire-blight-resistant so far for me are: Southern Bartlett (from Abbreville, LA), Golden Boy from Just Fruits and Exotics, and the Asian pear Olton Broussard from an old shipment to a nursery labeled ‘Oriental Pear.’ Kieffers and Orient pears for cooking/salads and for pollinating the Olton Broussards.

There are many new pears that I am trying out at the moment that are said to be very good. But the three I mentioned are about as sure of a thing as there can be in the South. The Olton Broussard may not fruit in zone 9 or during extremely warm winters in zone 8b.

The Hood is another good but early pear that is disease resistant and very low chill. It was university-developed unlike the other eating pears that I mentioned. See —  My Southern Pear interest group.”

Pear Varieties for the South

There are some nice field reports on pear varieties for the South at the link Carl provided. I recommend checking them out.

For North Florida (which also coincides with Southern Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, portions of Texas, and other subtropical areas), the University of Florida recommends:

  • Ayer
  • Baldwin
  • Kieffer
  • Flordahome
  • Orient
  • Hood
  • Pineapple
  • Tenn

The range of those pears probably goes a good bit farther north. For south of Gainesville, the only three pears recommended are:

  • Flordahome
  • Orient
  • Pineapple

Le Conte grows in the deep south and is apparently an excellent pear; however, it’s not as disease resistant as some varieties.

When I visited the Orange County extension office in Orlando to film my video on fruit trees for Florida, I noticed that the “Pineapple” pear was the only tree that was thriving. However, the trees were planted in a hot field.

I believe they would have done much better in a mulch-rich environment with a variety of other species, food-forest style.

Here’s that video:

In my North Florida food forest, I grew Flordahome, Pineapple, Hood, Kieffer, Baldwin, and other recommended pear varieties for the South, plus grafted branches onto some of them from an old productive pear tree of unknown variety growing in Gainesville.

People often don’t realize how far south you can grow pears.

It is good to see people having success. Don’t overlook pear trees — try some on your homestead!

Imagine homemade pear pie, pear sauce, canned pears, pear salsa … eating them fresh and sun-warmed from the tree. I never knew how good pears really were until I grew my own trees. Store-bought pears are a pale imitation of ripe fruit from the tree.


*Pear image courtesy Dave Minogue. CC license.


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Canning Dried Beans: Planning Ahead for Fast and Easy Meals

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Canning Dried Beans: Planning Ahead for Fast and Easy Meals Beans have been on the human menu for a long time. We have eaten beans in some of the worst conditions and we have eaten beans in some of the best times. Beans transcend things like wealth, race and religion. All throughout history it has …

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GMO! Gluten! Organic!

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GMO! Gluten! Organic!

GMO! Gluten! Organic!
Lynna… “A Preppers Path” Audio player provided!

GMO! Gluten! Organic! Free range and Grass fed! What are they? Why are they? Is it important? Some of the real questions we should be asking ourselves long before a trip to the grocery store. When I was a youngster non of these words were used. Not in mainstream conversation let alone as advertising buzz words. Today we are inundated with these words and catch phrases daily.

Continue reading GMO! Gluten! Organic! at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Throwback to a Good DIY: Wall-Hanging Canned Food Storage

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Throwback to a Good DIY: Wall-Hanging Canned Food Storage Well, you have finally saved up some money to make those important preparedness purchases. Maybe you are ready to make that big food storage investment. It may have taken you months to save up for one of these big investments. now that the time has come …

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Bagging For Bug-Free Fruit

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Bagging For Bug-Free Fruit Do you remember the magic of planting that first fruit tree? Did you get yours as a little sapling? You dig a nice big hole and back fill with nutrient rich compost. You protect the young tree from creatures by shielding its young trunk. There is something very special about the …

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The Laws of Nature: A Touchstone for Gardening

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As a rule, when we grow plants, we follow some known practices. The practices may be based on our own experience, on the wisdom of our parents and grandparents, or on scientific research. Whatever the source, it is useful to examine the practices through the lens of the Laws of Nature, sometimes referred to as ecological principles.

The Laws of Nature are broad and substantive statements for how nature functions.

So the question becomes, “Are our plant-growing practices in harmony with or in conflict with the Laws of Nature?”

What other criteria would we use for how we treat our lands, the soils, and all ecosystems, if not the Laws of Nature?

I think of this as a pyramid, with practices on the top, undergirded by Laws of Nature criteria. Then, the practices and Laws are undergirded by our personal land-use ethics.

9 Laws of Nature

Below, I’ve listed nine Laws of Nature.

This list is not fully inclusive; some may seem to be more pertinent than others; and someone else may choose to describe them in a different manner. Nevertheless, they are all statements that hold true, with rare exceptions.

In my garden, if a practice violates a Law of Nature, I look for a substitute practice that is in harmony with the Law.

This broad topic has deep implications and is worthy of further study. The more we understand and apply these Laws, the more we can grow healthier crops, become healthier ourselves, and more fully appreciate the magnificence of nature.

Calvin Bey - Harmony Gardens

#1: Everything in Nature Is Connected

It’s like a huge spider web. Every spot on the web is connected to the whole web. All the factors effecting growth and development—from the minerals in the air to the plant’s physiological processes to the soil microbes to hundreds of additional factors—are all part of the whole.

The implications of this concept are significant.

For example, apply too much nitrogen and the plants get a pretty green color, but at the same time produce an excessive amount of simple carbohydrates, which are ideal foods for the ever-present aphids.

Chemicals and other toxins that reduce soil microorganisms have impacts on soil mineralization and soil digestion processes, which all affect quality and quantity of production. For example, if your soil has a shortage of available calcium, a tomato plant is not likely to set fruit.

Laws of Nature - Mile-High Corn - Calvin Bey

#2: Plants Are Designed to be Healthy

Like humans and other living organisms, plants have an immune system that makes them resistant to insects and diseases that are native to their environment. Plants become weak and sick when they become stressed because of environmental factors, inadequate nutrition, and/or exposure to toxins.

Chemical pesticides and fertilizers create plant and soil conditions that are not conducive to the desirable bacteria and fungi in the soil. The soil microbiome is part of the plant’s defense mechanism.

#3: Insects and Disease Are the Appropriate Response to the Existing Conditions

Insect problems and disease are the result of plant weakness, not the cause of plant weakness. When we improve the conditions, we improve plant resistance. Diseases are nature’s demolition crew and insects are nature’s garbage collectors. Both are appropriate when plants are stressed. Unhealthy plants actually send signals to the insects so they can perform their meaningful designed role.

#4: Mineral Nutrition Supports Plant Immunity

When plant growth is supported with proper mineral nutrition, plants will create higher-order compounds—for example, plant secondary metabolites like essential oils. This and other enzyme developments can lead to optimum levels of health and immunity.

The thousands of enzymes needed in metabolic processes each require a mineral “enzyme cofactor” to function. Without the mineral cofactors, enzyme pathways collapse and plants accumulate soluble compounds in plant sap, leading to pest infestations as plant health begins to fall apart.

#5: Microbial Metabolites Are More Efficient Than Simple Ions as a Source of Nutrition

The ultimate level of plant nutrition and immunity exists when plants can absorb the majority of their nutritional requirements as microbial metabolites. In this model, the soil microbial community serves as the plant’s digestive system. A complex community of soil microorganisms digest and break down organic residues and plant root exudates. In this digestive process, minerals are extracted from the soil mineral matrix and released in a bioavailable form that plants absorb and utilize very efficiently.

Laws of Nature - Strawberry Harvest - Calvin Bey

#6: When Fruit Quality Improves, Yields Increase

When management emphasis is placed on plant nutrition to improve quality, the immunity of the crop increases, creating higher yields, longer produce shelf-life, improved flavor, and reduced dependence on pesticides.

This fundamentally different approach to plant nutrition can lead to yield increases ranging from 10–30 percent. Yield increases come in not only bushels per acre, but also in higher test weights, increased protein production, and increased nutrition per acre.

#7: Healthy Plants Create Healthy Soil—an Investment in Their Own Future

It is commonly understood that healthy soils create healthy plants. The reverse is also true.

Healthy plants create healthy soils.

Healthy plants with high levels of energy can, at times, send as much as 70 percent of their total photosynthates (manifested as sugars, amino acids, and other compounds) into the roots, and then out through the roots and into the soil. Those root exudates are the fuel that feed the soil microbial community and lead to the rapid formation of organic matter.

This process, called carbon induction, is the fastest and most efficient way to sequester carbon and build soil organic matter.

It is an advantage to the plants to invest in soil building. Root exudates rapidly build humic substances. Humic compounds last in the soils for many years. In the end, the entire process ends up rapidly building soil health. It’s another win-win for nature.

#8: Genetic Variability in Plants Serves as a Buffering System

Plant variability allows for selective fitting of plant genetics to specific qualitative differences in the environment. It’s like an insurance plan, with the goal of increased probability of improved plant survival and growth. There are positive synergistic effects, above and below ground, that result from creating diversity through the mixing of species.

#9: Weeds Are a Barometer of Soil Health

We know that different crops have different soil, mineral, and soil biology requirements. So, too, with weeds. When compared to healthy domesticated crops, weeds are usually pioneering (first to enter) species that thrive in soils with imbalanced microbial and nutritional profiles. As soil health improves, crops will improve and weeds will lose their vigor. The weeds are no longer needed to correct the soil imbalances.

Laws of Nature - Harvest Basket - Calvin Bey

Take-Home Lessons

To sum up how nature functions in nine Laws certainly does not do justice to the topic nor does it show the magnificence of nature. Still, despite the inadequacies, the nine Laws are sufficient to provide guidance as to which gardening practices fit the Laws of Nature model.

The following list of gardening practices, which I use in my natural/organic garden in Northwest Arkansas, respect the Laws of Nature. Furthermore, the practices fit my personal land-ethics values.

I do these things to eat healthy food, to teach others, and especially for the children and future generations.

I hope you will consider joining in the transformation.

  1. Use no or at least minimum tillage. Never use a roto-tiller. Besides destroying the natural soil structure, roto-tillers will seriously damage the beneficial fungi in all kinds of soil situations.
  2. Keep the soil covered with a vegetable crop, cover crop, or some type of organic mulch at all times. This practice will promote soil microbial life.
  3. Keep something growing on the beds for as long as possible throughout the year. Where you can, grow crops specifically for deep-root penetration and/or high carbon production.
  4. Wherever possible, encourage diversity of species. Use companion planting where you can.
  5. Use organic fertilizers, compost (sparingly), bio-pesticides (if needed), filtered or structured water, foliar fertilizer sprays, natural biologicals for organic matter decomposition, and natural amendments (like paramagnetic rock) for plant fortification.
  6. Among all things, “communicate” with your garden through positive intentions. Remember: “Thoughts become actions. Choose the good ones.”

Thanks to John Kempf of Advancing Eco-Agriculture (www.advancingecoag) for some of the ideas included in this article.

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Immortal Cheese the Secret Ingredient

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There is one ingredient that makes my food storage BETTER than my mama’s food storage. Growing up money was tight because my father worked seasonal jobs that paid well. This meant during the off-season we ate from our food storage. We ate a lot of stew during those […]

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Diseases Caused By Food And Water Contamination

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Even healthy-looking fruit can contain contaminants

Even healthy-looking fruit can contain contaminants

The primary necessity for survival is the availability of air. Once you have air to breathe, water, food, and shelter become the next requirements for your continued existence on the planet; that is, clean water and properly prepared food.

Even in normal times, there are many instances where an outbreak of infectious disease occurs due to water of poor quality. Ingesting food that was incompletely cooked caused the deaths of medieval kings in medieval times and may even have sparked the Ebola epidemic in 2014.

Epidemics caused by organisms that cause severe diarrhea and dehydration have been a part of the human experience since before recorded history. If severe enough, dehydration can cause hypovolemic shock, organ failure, and death. Indeed, during the Civil War, more deaths were attributed to dehydration from infectious diseases than from bullets or shrapnel.

More soldiers died from infectious disease than from bullets or shrapnel in the Civil War

More soldiers died from infectious disease than from bullets or shrapnel in the Civil War

Off the grid, water used for drinking or cooking can be contaminated by anything from floods to a dead opossum upstream from your camp. This can have dire implications for those living where there is no access to large amounts of IV hydration.

Therefore, it stands to reason that the preparation of food and the disinfection of drinking water should be under supervision. In survival, this responsibility should fall to the community medic; it is the medic that will (after the patient, of course) be most impacted by failure to maintain good sanitation.

Many diseases have disastrous intestinal consequences leading to dehydration. They include:

Cholera: Caused by the marine and freshwater bacterium Vibrio cholera, Cholera has been the cause of many deaths in both the distant and recent past. It may, once again, be an issue in the uncertain future.

Cholera toxins produce a rapid onset of diarrhea and vomiting within a few hours to 2 days of infection. Victims often complain of leg cramps. The body water loss with untreated cholera is associated with a sixty per cent death rate. Aggressive efforts to rehydrate the patient, however, drops the death rate to only one per cent. Antibiotic therapy with doxycycline or tetracycline seems to shorten the duration of illness.

This is the bowel movement of someone with Cholera

This is the bowel movement of someone with Cholera

Typhus: A complex of diseases caused by bacteria in the Rickettsia family, Typhus is transmitted by fleas and ticks to humans in unsanitary surroundings, and is mentioned here due to its frequent confusion with “Typh-oid” fever, a disease caused by contaminated, undercooked food.

Although it rarely causes severe diarrhea, Typhus can cause significant dehydration due to high fevers and other flu-like symptoms. Five to nine days after infection, a rash begins on the torso and spreads to the extremities, sparing the face, palm, and soles. Doxycycline is the drug of choice for this disease.

Typhoid: Infection with the bacteria Salmonella typhi is called “Typh-oid fever”, because it is often confused with Typhus. Contamination with Salmonella in food occurs more often than with any other bacteria in the United States.

In Typhoid fever, there is a gradual onset of high fevers over the course of several days. Abdominal pain, intestinal hemorrhage, weakness, headaches, constipation, and bloody diarrhea may occur. A number of people develop a spotty, rose-colored rash. Ciprofloxacin is the antibiotic of choice but most victims improve with rehydration therapy.

Dysentery: An intestinal inflammation in the large intestine that presents with fever, abdominal pain, and severe bloody or watery mucus diarrhea. Symptoms usually begin one to three days after exposure. Dysentery, a major cause of death among Civil War soldiers, is a classic example of a disease that can be prevented with strict hand hygiene after bowel movements.


Shigella dysenteriae

The most common form of dysentery in North America and Europe is caused by the bacteria Shigella and is called “bacillary dysentery”.  It is spread through contaminated food and water, and crowded unsanitary conditions. Ciprofloxacin and Sulfa drugs, in conjunction with oral rehydration, are effective therapies.

Another type is caused by an organism you may have read about in science class: the amoeba, a protozoan known as Entamoeba histolytica. Amoebic dysentery is more commonly seen in warmer climates. Metronidazole is the antibiotic of choice.

Traveler’s Diarrhea: An inflammation of the small intestine most commonly caused by the Bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli). Most strains of this bacteria are normal inhabitants of the human intestinal tract, but one (E. coli O157:H7) produces a toxin (the “Shiga” toxin) that can cause severe “food poisoning”. The Shiga toxin has even been classified as a bioterror agent.

In this illness, sudden onset of watery diarrhea, often with blood, develops within one to three days of exposure accompanied by fever, gas, and abdominal cramping. Rapid rehydration and treatment with antibiotics such as Azithromycin and Ciprofloxacin is helpful. The CDC no longer recommends taking antibiotics in advance of a journey, but does suggest that Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate (Bismuth Subsalicylate), two tablets four times a day, may decrease the likelihood of Traveler’s Diarrhea.

Campylobacter: The second most common cause of foodborne illness in the U.S. after Salmonella, this bacteria resides in the intestinal tract of chickens and causes sickness when meat is undercooked or improperly processed. It’s thought that a significant percentage of retail poultry products contain colonies of one variety, Campylobacter Jejuni. It is characterized as bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, and cramping which begins two to five days after exposure. Although controversial, Erythromycin may decrease the duration of illness if taken early.

Trichinosis: Trichinosis is caused by the parasitic roundworm Trichinella in undercooked meat, mostly from domesticated pigs. Trichinosis causes diarrhea and other intestinal symptoms, usually starting one to two days after exposure. Fever, headache, itchiness, muscle pains, and swelling around the eyes occur up to 2 weeks later. Recovery is usually slow, even with treatment with the anti-helminthic (anti-worm) drugs Mebendazole and Albendazole (Albenza).

Giardia Lamblia

Giardia Lamblia

Giardiasis: The most common disease-causing parasite in the world is the protozoa Giardia lamblia. It has even been found in backcountry waters in many national parks in the U.S. Symptoms may present as early as one day after exposure, although it more commonly presents in one to two weeks. Patients complain of watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, violent (often called “projectile”) vomiting, and gas. Metronidazole is the drug of choice in conjunction with oral rehydration.

There are many other pathogens that can cause life-threatening dehydration if untreated. Although we have mentioned common antibiotic treatments where applicable, most of the above will resolve on their own over time with strict attention to oral (or intravenous) rehydration. Many antibiotics (Cipro is an example) are associated with adverse effects that can be worse than the illness they’re designed to treat, so use judiciously.

It should be noted that some of these illnesses may be mimicked by viruses that are completely unaffected by antibiotics, such as Norovirus. Norovirus has been implicated in many of the outbreaks you read about on cruise ships.

Air, food, water, and shelter is necessary for survival. Bad air, food, water, and shelter leads to the next requirement, and that is medical supplies. Have a good medical kit and know how to use all its components. If you can accomplish this goal, you’ll be an effective medic if things go South.

Joe Alton MD

Joe Alton MD

Joe Alton MD

Find out more about infectious disease and 150 other survival medical topics in the award-winning “Survival Medicine Handbook“, now in its 700-page Third Edition. Plus, fill those holes in your medical supplies with kits and individual items from Nurse Amy’s store at

How to Make your Own Apple Cider Vinegar from Apple Peels + Cores

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How to Make your Own Apple Cider Vinegar from Apple Peels + Cores For a long time apple cider vinegar just meant barbecue sauce to me. I had no idea it was such a versatile and important ingredient to have around. In fact, apple cider vinegar is much more than an ingredient. I feel like …

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A Frugal Guide to Freeze Dried Food Storage

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A Frugal Guide to Freeze Dried Food Storage While freeze dried food storage is a crucial part of your prepping plan it should not cost you everything and you should not go in debt trying to stock your shelves. This is a very important thing to understand about prepping in general. Fight the panic prepping. …

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5 Helpful Tips on How to Get the Most Food from Your Survival Garden

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5 Helpful Tips on How to Get the Most Food from Your Survival Garden

5 Helpful Tips on How to Get the Most Food from Your Survival Garden

The amount of produce you can expect from your survival garden depends on your farming techniques as wl as your practices. Your physical strength is good enough but you may also have to deal with your mindset to lower the time and effort you put so that you can do more. Crop failure is something that stalks survival gardeners like their shadow especially if they are new to it.

Continue reading 5 Helpful Tips on How to Get the Most Food from Your Survival Garden at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Banana Trees: Tips for Planting and Growing (Even During a Cold Snap!)

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Living in Florida, there are lots of tropical plants around, among them fruit trees. Our new property is on the border of Zone 8 and 9, so it is still possible to grow tropical fruits as well as some heat-tolerant stone fruits such as nectarines and peaches. We planted several different types of food-producing trees on our property in expectation of having a house there and enjoying the bounty.

Banana Tree Missteps

One of the first fruit trees we acquired for free was a banana tree. I planted it among some large palms in an area that I knew would get lots of water.

I gave it kitchen scraps from making salads and other plant-based foods, and it thrived.

I made the mistake of giving it some cooked bone scraps, and it promptly died.

My second gifted banana tree was planted on property that is still undeveloped land. We had other tropical plants growing there such as avocado, mango, and guava, and I created a barrier around the garden area with old logs and branches piled up on three sides. I thought this would be sufficient to keep it from getting too cold during the winter, but again, I was wrong, and this banana tree also bit the dust.

Read More: “The Top 10 Tropical Staple Crops”

That was almost a year ago.

When the hurricanes whipped through Florida in September, a friend of mine who had a yard full of mature banana trees lost most of them. So, while Mother Nature sometimes conspires against us, at least I am not the only one who has had problems keeping banana trees around

Another neighbor who lives about a block away had a stand of banana trees along his fence and these managed to survive the hurricanes, although the fence was completely ripped up. When I noticed that he was replacing his fence and taking out some of the banana trees, I stopped my car to ask what they were planning to do with them.

Read More: Build a Community in 9 Easy Steps

I was told that the trees were going to be discarded, so I offered to take them away with the help of my husband and his truck. About an hour later, we took the truck over and filled the back with banana trees!

Planting Rescued Trees in Winter

Knowing that winter is upon us and can drop the temperature at any time, we headed up to our property with the banana trees, a load of abandoned bamboo, several gallons of graywater, a few weeks of kitchen scraps (all plant matter), and some shovels. Along the way, we picked up a few bales of straw and potting soil—some with fertilizer, some without.

  • We dug a trench about two or three feet deep and a bit more than a foot wide, then added the kitchen scraps (to provide moisture and heat from decomposition) and the potting soil.
  • Next, we added the banana trees, placing them close together the way they normally grow.
  • After that, we put the excavated dirt back in to hold up and secure the trees, and installed four-foot lengths of bamboo vertically around the hole and fairly close together.
  • You may be wondering what the straw is for…. Insulation! We packed the inside of the bamboo enclosure with straw about three feet high, and then watered the enclosure with the graywater we brought.

Since that weekend, we have had some fiercely cold weather in Florida—two inches of snow in the Panhandle!

What about the banana trees?

They are still holding up, but even in the worst-case scenario where the tops are frozen, the bottoms should still be okay. We will trim them down at the end of February to give new growth a chance.

Once we get our ducks, the duck pond will go in nearby to feed the banana trees and the other tropical plants that will appreciate the fertilizer-rich soup that the ducks will produce. A chance meeting with a person in our area who will be moving this year brought us a free liner for the duck pond and loads of other materials that we can use to improve our homestead.

Banana trees, bamboo, pond liners, and more all came our way through a little communication!


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Benefits of Trench Composting for Your Garden

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Benefits of Trench Composting for Your Garden Homegrown food is a “must have” for those of us who want to know our family is well taken care of no matter what. Having to bring loads of organic compost from elsewhere is not sustainable. It’s also expensive. With all the food scraps a family pit out …

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Planning Your Garden Season By Season

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Planning Your Garden Season By Season How many planting seasons does your area have? How many planting seasons do you take advantage of? This is an important consideration when it comes to maximizing food production. Are you growing any food through the winter. In my climate I find that the best way to grow in …

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The Cost of Free Range Eggs

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The Cost of Free Range Eggs The cost of good food is an interesting conversation as we move forward in our culture. There was a time when the cost of food reflected a social strata and the rich ate good expensive food. In our nation we have reached a point where the cost of good …

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The food label and what it means!

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The food label and what it means!
Host: Lynna… “A Preppers Path” Audio player provided!

Food and the prepared life seems simple enough, however, there are so many varied aspects or aisles to travel down. There is the often first heard of, storage, how much for how long, bulk or freeze dried or? Grow your own, farmers market, coops, buying clubs? They all have something in common, they are all about food but for all the hoopla in the prepper world have you thought of what you are eating.

Continue reading The food label and what it means! at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Mustard Greens: What You Need to Know Before You Grow (With Recipe)

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When I think winter, I think of lush, green garden beds. I know that might come as a surprise to some of you, but my garden is full of copious swaths of varied and vibrant delicious, nutritious, winter edibles. And by far, mustard greens are the most prolific.

Most of the growing guides say mustard can tolerate light frost, but in my experience, it can take a whole lot more cold than that description suggests.

Now, I do have a few tricks I use to keep mustard happy over the long winter. And I’ll share those with you shortly.

First, though, let’s talk about why you really ought to think about growing mustard in your fall, winter, and early spring garden. 

The Goods on Mustard

Ridiculously Nutritious

100 grams or 27 calories worth of raw, chopped mustard greens contains more than your daily requirements of Vitamins K, C, and A.1)

That makes it a powerhouse for building and maintaining strong bones; a great source for flu and cell damage prevention; and a promoter of strong teeth, healthy mucous membranes, and good eyesight.2) Those same 27 calories also give you 11% of your daily dose of calcium, 18% of copper, 21% of manganese, and 20% of iron.

Regular use of mustard greens in your diet may also prevent arthritis, osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, and high cholesterol, while offering protection from cardiovascular diseases, asthma, and colon and prostate cancers.


A lot of people find mustard too peppery or bitter. However, that is often because the mustard they have tried is grown in spring or later and never receives the sweetening effect of a few light frosts.

Winter mustard still has a bite, but it is much more palatable than the warm-weather stuff. And besides, an appreciation for a bit of bitter is easy to cultivate.

Cook your mustard greens in bacon grease and apple cider vinegar with dried fruit or a spoon of honey to turn them into a decadent treat.

Then listen to your body and see how that green goodness makes you feel. After a couple times of doing that, you might find yourself munching on raw leaves before those greens even make it out of your garden.

Easy to Grow

You can have sprouts in days, baby greens in just a couple weeks, mature plants to cut from in 45–50 days, and your own seeds to save and replant in 90 days.

They are vulnerable to certain pests and diseases, but these can be almost completely avoided by growing mustard during cold-weather months.

Mustard can grow in almost any soil type, withstand drought conditions almost as well as wheat, and self-seed to produce a continuous crop with almost no work on your part.

Help Control Pests and Diseases in Your Soil

When chopped and incorporated into your soil just prior to flowering, mustard greens act as a biofumigant. They suppress pests and diseases through the release of inhibitory chemicals created when water and soil enzymes break down the glucosinolates in the greens.3)

(For more details on mustard as a biofumigant, check out this publication.)  

When Allowed to Flower, Make Great Winter Forage for Pollinators Like Honey Bees

Until I discovered the wonders of growing mustard, I had a shortage of bee food for our coldest winter months.

Now, by starting mustard in waves about every two weeks, cutting greens until my new plants come in, and then allowing my old plants to flower, I have another pollen source for those brave foragers that venture out on sunny, slightly warm days.

Oh, and did I mention that mustard can also be grown for seeds to make…

Recipe: Homemade Mustard

Here’s a basic ratio recipe that you can adapt to use for whatever flavor profiles you like. Personally, I use an herbed vinegar infused with sage, thyme, and rosemary as my base and I sub in whey for water. But this is your personal mustard mix, so go crazy!

Mustard Ingredients

Easy Homemade Mustard Recipe

2 parts mustard seeds, finely ground (use a coffee grinder to make into powder)
2 parts mustard seeds, whole (for “L’ancienne” style)
1 part your favorite vinegar
2 parts water (or other liquid—beer, cider, etc.)
Salt and pepper
Whatever other stuff you want to add—tarragon, sage, thyme, rosemary, honey, etc. 

Mix ingredients in jar. You can put this in the fridge to meld for a couple days. Or better yet, if you like to ferment stuff, use live vinegar (i.e., with the mother) and go ahead and leave it on the counter with a coffee filter or cloth over the top of the jar, secured with a rubber band, for 3–4 days. 

If the mix is too thick after a couple of days, add a bit of water, or other liquid, until you get the right consistency. If you don’t love the whole-grain texture, then run it through the food processor or start with 4 parts ground mustard seed instead. If you accidentally make it too thin, add more ground mustard seed. Mustard is pretty hard to mess up, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

A Few Cautions About Mustard

Now there are also a couple of things to be aware of before you make mustard part of your garden and your diet. 

It’s a Cole Crop

If you are using rotational planting as a method for limiting pests and pathogens and managing nutrients in your soil, then even when you use mustard as a biofumigant cover crop, you should still count it as a cole crop in your four-year (or longer) rotation plan just as you would cabbage and cauliflower.

Health Concerns

Be cautious about eating mustard if you are taking blood thinners, need to restrict oxalic acid, or have a thyroid condition.

Those high levels of Vitamin K can be an issue for people taking drugs like warfarin.4)

Mustard contains oxalic acid, which can lead to oxalate urinary tract stones in prone individuals.

Components of mustard greens may be contraindicated in people with thyroid conditions.

Nutrient Overload?

You can have too much of a good thing. If 27 calories of mustard greens contain all that goodness we covered above, eating lots of mustard greens, such as by juicing them, might result in nutrient overload.

Most dietary recommendations for mustard greens include eating a couple of cups a week, on a daily or every-other-day basis. 

Concerns With Reheating

Reheating mustard greens should probably be avoided. Vegetables contain nitrates. Nitrates may convert to nitrites if you cook, cool, and then reheat your vegetables.5)

Since mustard greens are great raw or cold, and are easy to cook, skip the reheating to eliminate potential health risks. 

I love and eat mustard regularly, but I do so in moderation and I don’t have any special health considerations that would make it problematic for me.

Since I can’t possibly be considered qualified to make decisions or recommendations for you, as in all things, I trust that you won’t blindly follow mine or anyone else’s advice on what you put in your body (or even in your garden, for that matter).

So with the pros, cons, and necessary legal advisement that I am not telling you want to do behind us, if mustard is right for you, then I encourage you to get growing using the info and ideas below. 

Growing Mustard Greens 

Soil Preparation

Mustard is pretty forgiving of poor soil quality. However, if you want faster growing times and really tasty mustard, then plant mustard in loamy garden soil with a pH of about 6.5-6.8.

If you don’t have that, don’t fret—just incorporate a few inches of good compost into whatever soil you have, add a handful of granite or other stone dust, and water deeply a few days before you transplant or seed. Note: This will not give you the best garden soil ever, but since mustard is much less picky than other cole crops, it will get you started.

Seed Starting

Mustard can germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40°F. That means that, depending on your climate, some of you may even be able to start some in your garden now.

Keep in mind that things grow slower when days are short, so you may have to wait a while for seeds to sprout and plants to mature.

For those who live in marginal climates, you can try to start seeds under cloches or cold frames.

Failing that, starting under grow lights and growing out until plants have a few true leaves, then transplanting and protecting under cloches or row covers can also work. If it is just too cold where you live to grow winter mustard, then consider using mustard seed for microgreens to tide you over until you can grow some in the garden. 

Read More: “Grow Microgreens and Sprouts Indoors All Winter Long”

You can start your seeds in planting, potting, or straight-up ground soil. As far as I can tell, mustard doesn’t care as long as your seed-starting medium is disease free, loose enough for young roots to grow in, and kept moist.

Young Plant Care

If you are growing mustard in cold conditions, juvenile plants may need some additional protection during extended cold or frost periods. Cold frames, cloches, or row covers can all help protect plants until they develop strong roots and even after if you live in extra cold areas. 

Though mustard is drought resistant, for the best results in winter, you really want to water regularly until the plants are at least 6 inches tall.

I water the root zone of the plant until the soil is moist to about 3 inches down—which, conveniently, is about the length of my pointer finger.

I check the soil moisture every other day by sticking my pointer finger into my soil near my plants to make sure it’s still moist.

I can’t tell you exactly how much or how often to water because it really depends on your soil type and weather conditions. But by using the 3-inch rule, you are giving young mustard roots a good start.

Mature Plant Care

For best flavor and frost resistance, continue to water mature plants. Water at the root rather than the leaves for best cold resistance. Harvest leaves regularly and cut off any flower shoots that form until you are ready to let your plant flower and seed.


You can cut baby greens for use in salads with a pair of scissors. Be careful not to disturb the roots. You can also cut mature greens to chop up and eat raw, sauté, or steam. In addition, flowers can be tossed into salads.

Dry your seed heads in a paper bag, then shake the bag until the seeds fall out of the pods. Sift or use a fan to blow off the chaff. 

Varieties of Mustard

There are quite a few varieties of mustard available. Versions like Mizuna and Tatsoi tend to be a little higher maintenance than the Southern Giant, Green Wave, Florida Broadleaf, or Old Fashioned. There are also different seed colors—yellow mustard (called white mustard in Europe) is the most common variety used for seed and cover crops and is mildest in taste. Black or brown mustards are a bit tangier. 

Unconventional Growing Tips for Adventure Gardeners

Mustard is one of those plants that readily self-seeds if you let it. So, in addition to planting mustard intentionally, I also scatter seeds directly in my garden after they dry on the plant. Then I just let nature take its course—as in, don’t water or fertilize to force germination. Literally just let them lie until they eventually get buried in soil and are triggered by the right conditions to grow on their own. 

Some seeds will inevitably germinate in summer, and since I know they will perform poorly in my hot, humid conditions and be eaten by harlequin bugs or host the dreaded cabbage moth, I pinch those plants out and give them to the chickens or toss them into my salads.

I only allow the plants that germinate in fall or winter to continue growing. If I don’t like their initial location, I’ll transplant them to a bed of my choosing while the plants are still young.

Then, the plants that do well all winter long get to flower and seed. Those plants, rather than my intentionally planted mustard plants, become my seed stock for next year.

By doing this, I have created mustard plants that are adapted specifically for my growing conditions here and are more cold hardy than my initial seed stock.

I also use a cheap season extension trick to get the most from my plants until I let them seed:

  • I take a dark-colored 5-gallon bucket with a 1-inch hole drilled in the bottom and fill it with uncomposted materials like chicken manure, straw, late-season grass clippings, and kitchen scraps.
  • I put the filled bucket in the center of my mustard bed.
  • The mustard grows around the bucket and, as the materials in the bucket compost, they heat up and warm the plants.
  • Also, when it rains, the rain water trickles through the hole in the bottom of the bucket and makes a kind of compost tea that feeds the plants.
  • The dark-colored bucket also draws heat from the sun and cuts down on frost on the plants.
  • If stuff composts too fast, I just add more goodies to keep it composting all winter long. 

Mustard Bed with Bucket

The photo above shows a mustard bed planted in September 2016, that was still growing like mad in February 2017 when I turned over the rest of my garden for spring planting. (You can see my blue season-extending compost bucket in the picture, too.)

It was growing so well, that I harvested from that bed until May when I finally let it seed. That’s 9 months of prolific mustard greens during some of the most difficult growing months. While I can’t swear you’ll have the same results, if you are an experimental gardener like me, I hope you’ll give it a try!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on mustard and if you have any tricks or tips to share with all us winter-green growers. You can use the comments section below to share your experience and ideas. Thanks!


References   [ + ]

1, 5.

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52 Weeks Savings Plan: Watch for these January bargains

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It’s a New Year and time for all sorts of resolutions. Some people resolve to eat healthier, lose weight, and exercise more. These are all great goals, but one that many of us forget has to do with finances. Imagine having extra cash set aside for emergencies — the unexpected trip to the doctor, replacing […]

Fire & Security.

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This post is brought about from a link that was recommended by lonewolf. At that link & saw a popular image of an “all night burning fire”. Now on a winters night an all night fire may seem like a good idea, & there are several ways of accomplishing this, but post shtf an all night fire in my opinion is not a good idea.

Any fire small or large, day or night has the potential to attract unwanted guests, so an all night fire is going to at least double that risk. Post shtf, there will be no safe wilderness areas, people will be on the move, raiders are opportunists & a fire glowing in the night or the smell of smoke will draw them like ants to honey. Because I am a living historian, my historical treks have to be as authentic as possible. Now even today there are risks in camping out, but back in the 18th century those risks were far greater. So I set myself scenarios. Some nights I have camped with no fire, this requires knowledge of how to stay alive in winter with little bedding, because bedding is bulky & adds weight to your pack. It also requires knowledge regarding what foods to carry, because with no fire, you can not cook food, so you need to carry some food that can be eaten without having to cook it.

Other nights I do light a small fire in a fire hole. This is a scrape in the ground to contain the fire surrounded by rocks back & sides. The heat reflects off the rocks back into my shelter, & they help hide the fire from prying eyes. But a small fire does not last long once I have fallen asleep, & at some time in the night the cold will wake me & I will stoke the fire from my supplies under cover behind my bed & from a supply of wood at the end of my shelter. Despite the fact that I am always mindful & therefore alert to sounds in the forest, this waking up from the cold is for me a security measure. It is an opportunity to look & listen to the sounds around me before I make up my mind as to whether or not I should re light or stoke the fire.

If I had placed a large log on the fire to keep it going all night I would probably sleep soundly, certainly I would not be waking frequently because of the chill seeping through my bedding. This would create a security risk, one because as I have already said, the fire would be noticeably visible from a distance at night, & secondly because I would not be so alert. Just something for you to think about next time you are camping out & practicing your skills.


The Wonderful Plant Garlic

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If I could have put one plant to grow, I believe it would be garlic.

Garlic is one of the earliest documented plans to be used by humans in the treatment of disease and to maintain health. From Neolithic times in central Asia spreading to the Middle East and North Africa in 3000 BC, garlic has been used by man. Ancient medical text from Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and India, each prescribing medical applications of garlic. There are even biblical references to garlic, as well as garlic in the Jewish teachings and the Quran.

The wild plant of course was used first and then slowly domesticated over time, garlic has been worth its weight in gold.
Around 3000 BC, trading parties from India reached Middle East, where they introduced garlic to the Babylonians and Assyrian Empire. From these places neighboring civilizations found the plant to be useful as food seasoning, medical ingredients, and religious ingredients.

Garlic is highly nutritious but has very few calories. A 1 ounce serving of garlic contains, manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, vitamin C, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients. This includes 42 cal, with 1.8 g of protein and 9 g of carbs.

The medical uses for garlic are too many to name, the fact that garlic has been used for almost every ailment of the human body, is amazing. From cancer to insect bites, from athletes foot to heart problems, garlic has been used to treat almost any ailment you can think of.

There are a few drawbacks when soft prescribing or using garlic medicinally. Garlic especially fresh, may increase the risk of bleeding. Garlic can irritate the stomach and digestive track sometimes causing digestion problems. Garlic can lower blood pressure, people of prescription medication should be careful. And some people may be sensitive to garlic on their skin.

Garlic produces a chemical called allicin. This is what seems to make garlic work for certain conditions. Allicin also makes garlic smell. Some products are made “odorless” by aging the garlic, but this process can also make the garlic less effective.

As for using garlic and cooking, I think that stands for itself. Whether using the bulbs or the leaves, garlic is a wonderful addition to your culinary uses.

Garlic can be grown year-round in a pot right on your windowsill in your kitchen. I believe the fresh garlic is always better than aged garlic. I myself prefer wild garlic to the grocery store variety.

Yes, if I could grow but one plant, it would be garlic. The flavor, the culinary uses, and the medical benefits, outweigh that of any other plant that I know of.

By Rich Beresford

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Why You Should Consume Seafood … Despite the Warnings

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Food & Water

Many people have read the dire warnings about the health consequences of consuming fish and shellfish. These admonishments usually center on mercury contamination—most of which is produced by coal-fired facilities, chlorine production, and mining—which is converted to an organic form of mercury (methylmercury) by the action of various aquatic micro-organisms. This organic form of mercury comes to be located in marine animals and bioaccumulates as one ascends the trophic ladder as progressively larger animals consume smaller ones. Mercury is a real threat because it is linked to cognitive impacts in children (e.g., loss of IQ points, problems with attention, decreased memory function) and various health effects in adults (e.g., cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease). People are frequently told (through various media) to limit fish consumption to prevent mercury poisoning.
These warnings are most often directed toward pregnant women, with the intent of protecting the fetus. And, like most health sound bites, turn out to be overly simplified and mostly wrong.

Health is more nuanced than “do this” and “don’t do this”, and, as usual, the mercury story told in this country is based on faulty science, perpetuates an incomplete story, and leads to worse outcomes than if the health precautions were completely ignored. Therefore, despite the ever-present cautions, I would highly recommend you consume marine fish and shellfish, especially if you are an expecting mother, so long as you understand a few details. Read on.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain fatty acid crucial for human health. It is a fat that can be found in a variety of animal foods and some marine algae, occurring most abundantly in some ocean fish and shellfish. While adults suffer a range of problems when they consume a diet limited in DHA (e.g., depression, Alzheimer’s Disease, age-related cognitive decline), it is the fetal impacts I will highlight here. This fatty acid is necessary for brain development of the fetus and the growing child. Deficiencies in DHA affect intelligence, problem solving, and eyesight. I want to be very clear: low intake of DHA by the mother results in lower IQ scores and suboptimal brain development in children. This fat belongs to a class of lipids called omega 3, which are essential to obtain in the diet because the body cannot manufacture them. Like many essential items we derive from our diet, there are different forms that occur in plants than in animals. This is another case where the plant form (called alpha-linolenic acid, abbreviated ALA) must be converted through a complex process to create DHA. This conversion process is inefficient, and even in healthy adults only 5–10% of the consumed ALA ends up becoming DHA. Further, many factors inhibit this process, including high intake of omega-6 fatty acids, which are exceedingly common in the Standard American Diet and in vegetarian diets. Therefore, it is important to consume preformed DHA—which is the kind found abundantly in many fish and shellfish. But wait, aren’t these dangerous to consume?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set guidelines for fish intake by pregnant mothers to protect the mother and, especially, the fetus from the effects of mercury. For decades, these warnings have limited the intake of foods that are an important source of DHA in the diet.
But, like the fat and cholesterol warnings, the mercury warnings also turn out to be based on cherry-picked data and an incomplete understanding of the topic.

Three major studies occurred in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s to ascertain the safety of consuming fish. Two of the studies demonstrated no negative impacts and one of them (the Faroe Islands Study) did. This latter study was used to demonstrate the harm of mercury contamination in fish and establish the warnings we are all familiar with. Because we are a reactive society that responds to fear-based recommendations, the warnings were so effective that a 2010 study found that pregnant women were not eating the suggested number of fish meals per week.

There are several pieces of this puzzle that must be explained to help you (the reader) understand why the dietary mercury warnings may be misguided. To begin, mercury is not directly toxic to the body, but instead wreaks its havoc by deactivating very important enzymes that contain selenium. These enzymes—selenoenzymes—function as antioxidants to protect fats and proteins from damage by oxidation. If the body contains ample stores of selenium, mercury cannot catastrophically interfere with these enzymes. In other words, selenium is protective of mercury toxicity. Of importance to this discussion is that many fish and shellfish contain abundant selenium in their tissues (or, put another way, the ratio of selenium to mercury is high). Through providing dietary selenium, these foods are not the danger we have been told regarding mercury. While single fish meals are not the issue here (it is the cumulative selenium and mercury ingested in the overall diet), it is useful to note that some fish, such as shark, contain little selenium compared with the mercury they provide (i.e., the selenium to mercury ratio is low). Therefore, such fish might best be limited without a good intake of selenium in diet. On the other end of the spectrum, fish such as tuna, flounder, pollock, and salmon supply much more selenium than mercury. (Note: plant foods such as Bazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and several grains can also supply substantial quantities of selenium and can be part of the overall strategy to protect the body from mercury in the diet).

Now, back to the studies used to demonstrate harm from ocean foods due to their mercury content. The Faroe Islands study turns out to be a terrible study to use for several reasons. Most importantly, the residents of the Faroe Islands were eating pilot whales (genus Globicephala), species that contain extremely high amounts of mercury in its tissues—far too much to be mitigated by the co-occurring selenium. Not to mention, this study had many other confounding issues, including (but not limited to) additional environmental toxins found in the pilot whale that could be responsible for the observed health issues, the study methods themselves, and the genetics of the resident population.

Another important part of this discussion that is not addressed by the warnings to limit fish and shellfish is that some foods help to bind ingested mercury and prevent its absorption by the body (the mercury is ultimately excreted during evacuation of the large intestine). This strategy changes the effective selenium to mercury content of the food as experienced by the body. These foods offer another layer of protection from mercury. Two important foods to mention (among several) are chlorella and plants containing insoluble fiber. Examples of the latter include fruits like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. These foods are effective at trapping consumed mercury and carrying it out of the body. Chlorella (a blue-green alga) and the insoluble-fiber-rich foods can be ingested in the same meal as the fish and/or shellfish and prevent a large proportion of the mercury from entering the bloodstream.

As are often the case, the dietary recommendations supplied to the public in the United States are overly simplified and lack the necessary nuance reflected by the complexity of issues involved. Whether or not a person will experience harmful effects from ingesting mercury in food depends on many factors, including the species consumed, the intake of selenium in the diet, and the amount of insoluble fiber eaten in the same meal. Importantly, the avoidance of foods rich in DHA have consequences, especially to developing humans, that can limit full intellectual development (among other real risks).
The general tact in many dietary circles is complete avoidance of foods believed to be dangerous, despite the fact those foods supply critical nutritional elements that may be difficult to acquire in sufficient amounts elsewhere.

I suggest it might be advantageous to utilize strategies to minimize the harm from such foods, rather than avoid such foods outright (there is net benefit using this approach). Sustainably harvested fish and shellfish represent some of the only wild foods that can be acquired in the marketplace. These foods that are extremely valuable due to the DHA and selenium they supply, and other items not discussed here (e.g., vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins). The story of mercury in fish and shellfish is a good example of what happens when we allow fear to rule our dietary choices.


Tagged: seafood, mercury, health, healthy eating

By Arthur Haines
Original here

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How to Grow Shoots for a Supply of Leafy Green Vegetables This Winter

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How to Grow Shoots for a Supply of Leafy Green Vegetables This Winter That crispness of fresh vegetables is one of the things you miss most in the winter. While you will have the ability to tap into those canned vegetables from the previous growing season you will miss that crispness of a fresh vegetable. …

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Food Supply: What Emergency Food Do You Need In A 72-Hour Kit?

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Food Supply: What Emergency Food Do You Need In A 72-Hour Kit? What types of foods do you carry in your bags and in your kits? There are a tremendous amount choices out there when it comes to packing food for your survival needs. Because we have a category now that is called survival food …

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20 Cold Weather Crops to Farm or Forage

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20 Cold Weather Crops to Farm or Forage For most of my life I thought winter was a time to bundle up, stay inside and complain. It’s a time for football, family and spending money on trinkets that end up in the garbage. That was the winter I thought existed. In reality, winter is just …

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Survival Food Most Common In Preppers Deep Pantry Storage

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most common survival food

By Ken Jorgustin – Modern Survival Blog

Which survival food choices are the most common?

If all preppers were able to peek into the deep pantry food storage of others, what survival food types would be the most commonly found?

What is Survival Food?

It’s any food that you have purposely acquired and set aside (or rotate through) for preparedness.

Typically a well thought out storage of survival food will include a variety of foods and food types. Not just a case of MRE’s and we call it good…

Continue reading at Modern Survival Blog: Survival Food Most Common In Preppers Deep Pantry Storage

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Using Butter Powder: A Tutorial

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Most food storage products purchased from food storage companies are pretty much the same all across the board. Foods like wheat and freeze-fried fruit are all very similar no matter what brand you choose to buy. Other products, and dairy products in particular, are not that way so much. They vary from company to company, and […]

Which Rice has the Least Arsenic?

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The Chinese Take on American Cuisine | Understanding China

Rice is a classic staple in the survival pantry.

It is shelf stable, can be stored for years if kept in vacuum sealed mylar bags. It has good nutritional value and can be easily integrated into your daily meals.  You’re supposed to store what you eat, eat what you store.

Since you not just stock up this for when SHTF, it’s important to understand what you’re eating. What you eat daily is the most important decision you make every day, directly impacting both your quality of life and survival rate.

Therefore it’s important to understand what food you choose to eat. Rice is a fantastic staple, but not all rice is created equal. One important piece of information to take into account is the amount of arsenic in rice. Some rice has more arsenic than other and eating it as a fixed staple in your pantry means you should try to consume the one with the least amount.

Check out this article from Consumer Report.

How Much Arsenic Is in Your Rice?


Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

30 Day No Cook Menu Plan

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30 Day No Cook Menu Plan I am always worried about feeding my family, that’s one of the biggest reasons why I prep. That being said, I went looking for food related articles and I can across this great article I am sharing with you today. See how a 30 day no cook menu plan …

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You’re Just Not Prepared For What’s Coming

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You’re Just Not Prepared For What’s Coming Can you handle a well armed and group of people who want the goods that you have? Is there a chance that you will have the resources to fight a war against other desperate people? There are dark days coming. Of course, the American people and the American …

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Small Greenhouse Kit

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Small Greenhouse Kit The evolution from backyard gardener to greenhouse operator is a big one. It would seem that most of us are content with what we achieve in our raised beds from spring to fall. That being said, its impossible to deny that hole in your life when the fresh veggies, lettuces and fruits …

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How to Protect Your Garden During the Winter

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How to Protect Your Garden During the Winter For many people the winter is a time to forget about all things garden. You begin concerning yourself with things within the four walls of your home. The winter is a time to keep warm and protected from the heat. The same could be said about your …

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The BEST Fire-Roasted Jalapeño Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe

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The BEST Fire-Roasted Jalapeño Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe Are you looking for something to do with the last of your jalapeno harvest? Are you looking for a way to take advantage of all the peppers that you have from your garden. Fire roasting is an incredible way to take advantage of peppers in general. When …

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8 Herbs for Your Indoor Herb Garden

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8 Herbs for Your Indoor Herb Garden For most people herbs are something that you use in your kitchen. Herbs are used to sprinkle around a plate to make it look pretty on special occasions. It’s hard to believe that there are tons of people out there that look at a bunch of thyme or …

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Dehydrating Kale And Apples: Step By Step

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Dehydrating Kale And Apples: Step By Step It is amazing how much kale has taken over. When the nutritional benefits of kale came to light it seemed that people just flocked to it in a way no one could have ever seen coming. Apples are packed with all the right ingredients for health as well. …

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How to Build Your SHTF Kitchen

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How to Build Your SHTF Kitchen Whether you believe the end of the world is nigh or think it’s a really good idea to be prepared just in case, building a SHTF home begins in the kitchen. You see it in every disaster-struck area: food and water are the first things to go scarce. There …

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Business Is Booming for America’s Survival Food King

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Business Is Booming for America’s Survival Food King Survival food is an essential part of your prepping plans. It is important to have renewable food sources, fresh food, access to eggs or meat producing animals as well. Still, if it all goes bad you better have some survival food. If you are facing a chemical …

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70 Gardening Hacks That Will Blow You Away

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70 Gardening Hacks That Will Blow You Away While the gardening days have come and gone, for most, there is no better time for planning next year’s garden. After that first frost there are tons of people who get out of the gardening game. They surrender to the icy winter. The leaves of those popular …

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A Short Guide To The Proper Storage of Cookie Ingredients

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If the #1 rule to purchasing a home is, “Location, Location, Location,” then the #1 rule of food storage is, “rotation, rotation, rotation.” I mention it because some thirty-year-old brown sugar and chocolate chips recently came into my possession, and it probably would have been good if it had been rotated out a few decades […]

7 Staple Crops for Northern Gardeners

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If you live in a cold climate and have to garden to feed yourself, what staple crops would you grow?

There are plenty of staple crops in the tropics (I cover 10 good ones in my Top 10 Tropical Staple Crop Countdown video), but as you move farther north it gets harder to produce a lot of calories on your land. Seasons are short and sunlight is less intense, plus the variety of plants you can choose from is greatly limited.

Yet all is not lost.

Here are a few tried-and-true survival crops for the north, plus one that shows great potential.

7 Staple Crops for Northern Gardeners


Your best bet as a survival staple in northern climates is the trusty potato.

staple survival crops - the potato

Potatoes are really hard to beat on yields and caloric content, plus they take less space and a lot less work than small grains.

I’ve grown wheat, oats, barley, and rye. Though they’re pretty easy to grow, processing makes them a serious pain. I outlined the pros and cons in this article–go read for yourself. Potatoes are much simpler.

The Three Sisters

This is a classic method of gardening practiced by American Indians, as seen here.

Interplant corn, beans, and pumpkins/winter squash for a three sisters garden.

Let’s cover them individually.


I love corn. It’s a ton of fun to grow, and it’s much easier to harvest and use than most other grains. It’s also beautiful.

staple survival crops - corn

The number of grain corn varieties is staggering. Up north, I recommend sticking to “flint” corns, as dent corn takes much longer to mature.


In the three sisters garden, pole beans are used. For a survival crop, look for types you can shell and save–not green beans.


Beans aren’t high on yields compared to a root crop, but they do contain a good amount of protein.

Pumpkins/Winter Squash

Pumpkins and winter squash will yield you a lot of weight in long-storing calories if you pick the right varieties. Vermont Harvest of the Month has a great illustration and recipes on their site.


In the north, gardeners should mostly stick to C. maxima and C. pepo varieties. In the south, C. moschata usually does better.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Steve Solomon and I were talking about northern staples earlier this year, and I suggested the Jerusalem artichoke as a super-easy root crop; however, he pointed out that the difficulty most of us have in digesting them makes them a lot less attractive in the long run.

I love their productivity, but the tubers mess up your digestion unless you’re very acclimated to them. They are likely a better choice as an animal feed, particularly for pigs.

staple survival crops - Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes are beautiful and make a great addition to the edges of a property or in rougher soil where regular vegetables don’t grow.

I planted these along a rough drainage ditch in hard Tennessee clay and rocks, and they grew like crazy.


Another option is turnips. I planted big beds of turnips one year and had great success . . . but eating turnips daily gets old fast.

Turnips: staple survival crops

I knew we grew too many when my wife Rachel presented me with a turnip pie she baked for dessert one evening.

After weeks of turnips stewed, mashed, roasted . . . then in pie . . . I didn’t want to see another turnip for a long time.

On the up side, the greens are very good to eat and quite nutritious, making them a dual-purpose crop.

Chinese Yams

Some northern gardeners have had luck growing the cold-tolerant Chinese yam, a.k.a. Dioscorea batatas.

a staple survival crop chinese yam

Experiment and see how it does. As a bonus, the Chinese yam produces tiny little roots on the vine. Cook them up like mini potatoes!

See those here:

Try Chinese yams in your garden and tell me how they turn out–they did well for me in North Florida, and Eric Toensmeier grew them successfully in Massachusetts. I think they have a lot of potential as a staple survival crop. Just be careful, as they may be an invasive species in some areas.

BTW, I mentioned their invasive nature in my newsletter and reader Sharon wrote back, the real invasive species is soy and GMO corn. Wild yam will feed you along with many other weeds.”

I agree. Feeding yourself is of high importance, and if a vegetable grows like a weed and produces calories . . . I find it hard to demonize.

You can buy Chinese yam bulbils from Sharon in her online store here, along with an assortment of other obscure and wonderful plants.


There you go: seven staple survival crops for northern gardens. Did I miss any of your favorites?

Let me know in the comments.

And check out my book Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening for serious help in a collapse.

Another great title is Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times.

And the must-have Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series), by Steve Solomon.


* Beans image by Kenneth Leung. Creative Commons license.


TGN Bi-Weekly Newsletter

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Brick Oven How To

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Brick Oven How To Cooking off the grid or cooking during a disaster has to be a priority. Many people have electric stoves and as soon as the power goes out they lose their most effective means of cooking. For many this comes as a surprise and most people make it an excuse to go …

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“But Wild Food Is…”

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I lecture on wild food frequently, discussing various issues that concern this subject to a wide variety of people. For years, the information was received with interest and people appreciated learning about this part of our collective human history and what wild food can mean for human and ecosystem health. In the last year or so, there has been an increasing number of criticisms about the message of wild food. While these arguments center on important social issues, they are representative of a broader narrative that has become very pervasive and sometimes applied to topics that may not be core to the subject of privilege and power. In fact, it has become customary to disparage anyone who does not demonstrate perfect agreement with all arguments against those assumed to be in power—regardless of the intentions and merits of the arguments presented.

Here, I suggest that views linking wild food to power and privilege have, perhaps, been taken too far by those who seek social accountability. The two most frequently raised arguments are as follows.

1. “But Wild Food is Not Abundant Enough to Feed the World.”

That’s correct, the world is too populated and the wild places too fragmented to feed the entire world strictly on a wild food diet, even though anatomically modern humans consumed wild food exclusively for ca. 315,000 years (i.e., for over 97 percent of our time on this earth). Despite the fact that agricultural and industrial societies consistently degrade the land base through over-population and poor ecological practices, many believe cultivation and animal husbandry are the only strategies that should be used to feed the world’s population. Let’s discuss this idea a bit further.
I generally answer this concern (regarding the abundance of wild food) by noting that there is also not enough organically raised food to feed the earth’s population; however, no one is suggesting we should stop growing organic produce.


For them, agriculture is our cultural norm—and they always start from this context when discussing food availability (rather than our species’ biological norm—wild food). Because there is not enough undomesticated food does not mean those who can procure it should cease doing so. In fairness, this would mean that some hunter-gatherers would have to stop eating their ancestral diet (though, in general, the indigenous are considered to have rights to local wild foods, but other people living in the same area are not). It would also mean that those of us living in industrialized countries do not get to consume some of the only foods that leave the forests standing, the prairies untilled, and the marshes filled with water. The conscientious gathering of wild foods does not degrade landscapes.

Keep in mind, this argument could be used on a variety of scales. Should those who practice permaculture (a strategy that also cannot feed the entire world) consider ceasing their craft? Likewise, are there enough pumpkins to feed the world? Of course not, but some people still grow these foods and make them available to those who can pay without criticism. It may be important to offer here that there are not enough computers or iPhones for all the world to have one (but we are sure to keep such devices for waging our social concerns).

2. “But Wild Food is a Privilege.”

No, it is not. It is a birthright, one (unfortunately) that very few people today get to experience. It is the biologically appropriate diet of Homo sapiens, and without it, people experience a host of chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, neurovascular disease, depression, digestive disorders) that were essentially absent in populations who consumed wild food (i.e., in hunter-gatherers). Because only some people can now acquire wild food, as any proportion of their diet, it is considered a social privilege by those who do not fully explore the topic at hand. By assuming wild food is a privilege, it can be regarded as something no one should have access to unless everyone has access to it.

Let’s us use a comparison to understand how this argument (that wild food is a privilege) might not be well-supported. Breast milk is the biologically normal food for a human infant (and, in part, for toddlers and young children). However, for a variety of reasons, many children are not breastfed. Approximately 19% of children (according to the most recent CDC breastfeeding report card) are not breastfed in the United States, and, instead, receive some type of formula through a bottle. Formula feeding has a variety of impacts, including an increased incidence of leukemia in people who received this form of nutrition as an infant (see below). Breastfeeding is sometimes influenced by education level, income bracket, ethnicity, and nutritional status of the mom. For example, poorer moms may need to work soon after birth and are not available to breastfeed their infants or pay for a breast pump, malnourished moms do not always produce adequate milk, and some minority women don’t breastfeed because they believe it creates the image of being poor. These issues mean that breastfeeding could be regarded (by those seeking to create a negative label) as a privilege of the wealthier people of European decent. Now, the manner in which human infants have always been fed can be considered a privilege (i.e., provided a negative label).

Using the breastfeeding example one more time, it can help illustrate an important concept in this entire discussion: historical normalcy. Recently, an article was published with the title of “Breastfed children have slightly lower risk of childhood leukemia”. The study demonstrated a 14–19% decreased risk of pediatric leukemia in breastfed babies. You may have missed how this title distorts the idea that humans have a biological norm. Breastfeeding is how Homo sapiens have always fed their infants (until quite recently). To create the image that breastfeeding has benefit misses the point entirely. It isn’t that breastfeeding has benefit, it is that deviating from our ancestral patterns has detriment. The title should have read “formula-fed children have a slightly higher risk of childhood leukemia”. We should start from the perspective of our biological standard, and then discuss deviations from this. Titles worded like this provide evidence of contemporary humans not understanding the ancestral context and how it relates to our health. Likewise, arguments that consider wild food to be a privilege fail to grasp this is how humans have nourished themselves and their offspring for most of our existence. It is not a privilege to consume wild food—it is the re-establishment of our natural diet.

I understand that many people, for various reasons, cannot consume wild food. I truly wish this were different. However, the way we view many issues is becoming harmful to respectful dialogue. When one group of people experience poor conditions, it doesn’t automatically mean that those who don’t experience those conditions are privileged. It may mean, in some cases, that those who experience poor conditions are simply unfortunate. Are cows who are pasture-fed and consume green plants privileged over those that are captive-raised and eat grain? I would emphatically state “no”, the grass-fed cows are receiving the diet they should experience, and the captive-raised cows are unfortunate. (Note: you may not like the example of cows, but it is quite relevant given that both cows and any human reading this are domesticated.)
I would love to have ostrich eggs to consume regularly, but my landscape doesn’t provide them. Are the residents of the Kalahari Desert privileged because this food source is available to them? Of course not.

People always want to apply negative labels—and many who do represent the world’s one percent (in terms of income and privilege). Further, they constantly suggest blanket strategies to solve the world’s issues. However, these rarely succeed in realizing tangible benefits because the lands and people are different. The juxtaposition of locally available foods and the diversity of world views held by the area’s inhabitants means that each region needs to find its own unique solutions to human and ecosystem health.

Suggesting that people follow a diet (of cultivated foods) that harms landscapes and creates chronic illness in such a high proportion of the population isn’t a solution that should be followed by anyone who has a better option, especially when you consider that sick people use more of the world’s resources.

And what about the privilege to purchase cheap food made from crops sprayed with harmful chemicals? These foods have significant external costs and create illness in humans and other-than-human persons who reside near and downstream or downwind of the fields the plants are grown in. Isn’t that a privilege worth discussing (one of no accountability)? I recently met a person who refused to purchase organically raised foods, despite knowing the harm that chemical agriculture causes, because they felt the higher cost associated with these foods represented privilege they did not want to partake in. Using social privilege concerns as a justification to pollute landscapes (when other options were present to the individual) is another example of how slanted this discussion of power has become.

While I do feel this conversation about wild food abundance and social privilege has value, the criticisms waged speak volumes to an attitude that is pervading the entire discussion of privilege and power, overlooking ideals such as personal sovereignty, ecological responsibility, and the need to apply regional solutions. Further, this attitude usually ignores our biological norms. I am not intending, with this writing, to suggest social hierarchy and the consequences of such be ignored. I am meaning to propose that when a conversation becomes more about condemnation than about finding solutions, it loses some of its original values and alienates people who would otherwise be allies.

By: Arthur Haines

The post “But Wild Food Is…” appeared first on WWW.AROUNDTHECABIN.COM.

28 Survival Foods The ‘Mountain Men’ Ate

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28 Survival Foods The 'Mountain Men' Ate

The American Mountain Men of the early 19th century are one of our country’s enduring heroes. Men like Jim Bridger, Hugh Glass, Jedediah Smith, Andrew Henry and Kit Carson were the first people of European descent to explore our western regions.

They drew maps, discovered travel routes, and offered input on economic activities settlers should pursue in different regions. Clad in buckskin clothing of their own manufacturing, they traversed the continent using only the store-bought goods they obtained once a year. Everything they couldn’t obtain at a rendezvous came aux aliments du pays, or from “the nourishment of the land.” These days, we would say they were living off the land.

One fascinating area of the mountain men life is their diet. Obviously, finding food was a major issue these men faced each day. They couldn’t just amble down to the supermarket and pick up what they needed. These weathered men generally had to glean their sustenance from natural sources they found in the wild.

At times, the land offered periods of abundance, and at others it would appear to be a wasteland. Today we have grown accustomed to three meals a day. We likely would have a hard time adjusting to this cycle of feast and famine. This cycle was a way of life for the trappers.

One Mountain Man worth studying is Rufus Sage. Rufus Sage was a Mountain Man who headed west in the early 1840s. For three years, he crisscrossed the American West on a grand adventure certainly deserving a place in history. After his journey was complete, he compiled his deeds, experiences and thoughts into a journal titled “Rocky Mountain Life.” This journal provides us with a great insight into his life.

One area Sage detailed was his diet. Although the journal doesn’t dedicate tremendous energy to the topic, he is thorough enough to give us some insight into his diet. He records many of the wild foods he enjoyed as a Mountain Man.

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The following list is a record of the foods eaten by Rufus Sage, as noted in his journal. They are listed in the order they appear in the journal.

Buffalo. This was a mainstay, as the large majority of his meals consisted of this grand prairie grazer. As tradition teaches, when time permitted, the men ate all parts of the buffalo, including the meat, tongue, liver and intestines.

Dog. He noted the taste was not inferior to pork.

Elk. During his time, many elk were still living on prairie regions.


Pomme Blanc (White Apple): This root was eaten by the men. He mentioned that at times the root gatherers were better at providing sustenance than the meat hunters.

Commote: Another root they gathered.

Wild Cherry Bark Tea: Very common drink by the sound of the journal. He noted the positive effect the drink had on health.

Deer: Another common meat eaten. Deer were speedily consumed by a band of hungry hunters.

Prairie Dog: This small rodent also made the journal and was described as tender and palatable.

Serviceberry: Gathered when ripe.

Box-Elder Sap: Noted as “not inferior to that of maple.”

Bear: Mentioned several times. Bear also provided men with fat which they rendered.

Mountain Sheep: Seemed to be a favorite of certain mountain men.

Mountain Fowl: Difficult to discern from the description, but possibly a ptarmigan.

Bilters: Juice made from the gut juice of a buffalo. Sage described it as “exhilarating.” He also mentions that the drink caused vomiting, but after a few attempts the stomach would accept it.

Bald Eagle Fledgling: Noted they made “a fine meal.”

Waterfowl Eggs: Enjoyed while on a river.

Antelope: Another bountiful prairie meat supply.

Greens: Although not much description is given, the notation of greens is another indication of how much gathering the Mountain Men did.

Prickly Pear Cactus: He described the practice of eating boiled prickly pear as not uncommon.

Turkey: On several occasions Sage noted they hunted turkey on the roost. In this manner, they shot them by the dozens.

Salmon: One of the few fish he notes having eaten. These were consumed while spending time in Oregon.

Wolf: A man named “Chance” threw Sage and his companions a wolf while they were starving. The writing makes it seem like predator meat was saved for extreme situations.

Horse/Mule: It was not uncommon for Mountain Men to eat their pack, or riding, animals when faced with starvation.

Crow’s Eggs: He gathered and ate six to 10 dozen!

Catfish: On one occasion Sage notes having caught many catfish. Besides for this, and the one entry about salmon, fish do not have appeared to have been regularly eaten.

Prairie Potato: Better known today as the prairie turnip.

Nothing: One item too often on the menu for Sage was nothing at all. Throughout his journal he notes stretches of three, four and five days without food. Hunger was an enemy he was certainly familiar with.

As you can see from this list of wild foods, the Mountain Men would have had a very diverse diet. They not only consumed huge quantities of meat, but also gathered wild roots and berries along the way. In order to survive, they had to take what Mother Nature threw their way. At times, that was a hearty meal of buffalo ribs, and at others it was a straggling wolf.

It is tempting to view these American heroes clad in clean buckskins and riding into the sunset. However, we shouldn’t over-romanticize their lives if we are to truly appreciate their accomplishments. Their hardships paved the way for waves of settlers that were to come. It was the nourishment of the land that kept them going – and that can keep us alive, too.

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Homemade Lunchables!

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My kids both love Lunchables as a special treat. Unfortunately, the cost can be high and the foods aren’t always that great.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on Bento boxes and moms making homemade Lunchables and a few weeks ago, I started making my own.

Here’s an example of a homemade Lunchable box I made this week. This one has:
-Fruit cup

You can pretty much put whatever your kids like in your box. I like to make a bunch at the beginning of the week and then my kids can go grab a healthy box when they feel hungry.

Here are some other things you could put in your homemade Lunchables:
-Turkey slices
-Goldfish crackers
-Wheat thins
-Apple slices
-Dehydrated fruit
-Beef jerky
-Half a sandwich
-Chips and salsa or cheese dip (I make this one for my husband)

One thing some moms worry about is that their kids won’t get a prize or treat with homemade Lunchables. To combat this, consider putting a piece of chocolate or a prize in each box.

Have you ever tried to make your own Lunchables at home? What did your kids think?

The Simple Life

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The Simple Life

The Simple Life

Thoughts and recipe contributed by Dakota

The stove crackles, the coffee pot gurgles. The herd of deer have been fed, the wild barn cats as well. Quiet time in the cabin, nestled in a grove of majestic cedars and snow frosted hills……Its chilly this morning. I sigh with gratitude and contentment for our simple life without excessive needs. To sit and ponder, to let the day unfold, unscheduled.

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