Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eat Mud...

A child sits in a pile of mud...making "Mud Pies". Perhaps we might tell the child "They are only for make believe!"...hoping that they don't succumb to the temptation of sampling their culinary creation. Interestingly enough...there are some circumstances under which eating mud...or "geophagy"may make sense. The main circumstance...of course...will most likely be that you are starving!! ...but there are other reasons too.

In Haiti not too long ago "mud cookies" became the common fare of people unable to afford any other food. The reporter who tried the Haitian cookies didn't like it...but there are others who love the taste of clay.

Some American Indian tribes added clay to their acorn meal to bind the tannins so they could be consumed.

In the Southern United States back in the 1940's...eating dirt was a common practice that came over from Africa.

Some people eat it because they believe it has various healing as a cleanser of one's system. It has been used to detoxify after ingesting poison. It has also been used to relieve nausea.

Pregnant women the world over reportedly can feel compelled to sample the soil...and do. Some surmise that this may be due to a drive to have certain minerals to help with the babies development.

In their "Professional Guide Manual", George L. Herter and Jacques P. Herter wrote about the food value of mud...

"The silt or mud on the bottom of lakes, ponds, and sloughs that have or have had some vegetation in them has a high food value for humans. Such silt or mud contains the accumulated organic food riches of thousands of years both from plants, insects, and in some cases from such things as clams, fish, and crayfish. The best way to eat such silt or mud is to make a soup. It tastes surprisingly good. Laurel leaves, wild grape leaves, juniper berries, wild leeks, or dandelion will add to it's flavor.

If lost in the wilderness, mud soup alone will bring you through in fine shape.

This is a proven scientific fact, not my personal opinion. The world famous scientist Robert Beauchamp, director of the East African Fisheries Research Organization, made a great many scientific tests on the food value of mud and silt from the bottoms of lakes. He found, for example, that the mud from the bottom of famous Lake Victoria in Africa was especially rich in food for humans. He proved the point by feeding himself and his family on the mud and in all cases the individuals gained weight."

How would you have liked to be one of his children!!?

While there may be potential health benefits of mud is not something that I would recommend to people...except in a worst case scenario sort of situation. Most would probably have to be in that sort of situation to consider it anyways! It is reassuring to know that in the absence of plant life to forage...that if it came to could eat mud...and that it could actually make you GAIN weight!!

Still...without a lab to test ALL of what is in the are taking a chance of consuming lead...or chemicals...or something else that is unhealthy or hard to digest. Also...eating foods with lots of grit can work like a sandpaper on your teeth. The CDC also has an article that discusses various health benefits and some sobering risks. This should hopefully dissuade casual mud eating...and make you want to become more informed about any soil you would want to consume.

I'd venture to say that to become a wise would need to become pretty good at recognizing soil types...have a good understanding of the nutritional values of the soils...and a really adventurous foraging spirit! If one get's good at it...perhaps they will make dirt brownies! Of course...a wise geophagist probably won't even practice his craft...and will save his/her knowledge for a time of real need!

Just one more arrow to put into our "worst case scenario food situation" quiver!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pack an Instrument...

Not a lot of piano's came across the US with the pioneers!  Nor were there a lot of full sized harps...tubas...or other large instruments being played around the campfires.  Most of the instruments that were brought across the US...out of necessity had to be small enough to carry wherever they needed to go.

While many of us have put together an emergency evacuation bag of some sort to last for the short term...had you considered that in a severe disaster...your family could have to be relocated long term...or even indefinitely?  If such became the case for your family...there is a good chance that you could find yourself looking for ways to increase your morale...and the morale of those around you.  Music is one of the best ways to help people to forget their troubles and to find a common bond.

Years ago on New Years family was on a train heading back from Montana to California.  While we traveled back...the tracks were so covered with snow...that the train had to stop overnight and wait for the tracks to be cleared.  When everyone found out that we would be stuck on the train for New Years...there were some pretty darned disappointed people.  One woman exclaimed "I'm a professional jazz singer!  I've got a concert tonight that thousands of people will be at!!"  There was  bit of a commotion as people related where they were supposed to be that night...and what a hardship it would be to stay overnight. Someone had a guitar and said..."Hey...let's make the best of this...let's go up to the dining car and play some music and have fun!  Anyone have some instruments?!"  One person said..."I have a flute!"...another said "I've got a clarinet!" and a few others had various instruments.  

In the dining car people gathered from all walks of life.  Initially it was kind of awkward as we tried to become comfortable with strangers.  We tried to figure out some songs that we all might know.  After a bit of warming up to each other...we sang everything from Simon and Christmas Led showtoons.  Classical violins played along with rock guitars.  Name a genre...and we played it.  This may sound funny was one of the most meaningful and memorable nights of my life.  By far the best New Years I've ever had!  
If you want to have music be a part of your emergency are a few things to consider...

It could/should be...

1. Small enough to pack.  
2. Durable.  
3. Complicated enough to give one pleasure in learning...but not so complicated that one can't master it.  
4. Can be played loudly for others to enjoy or softly to practice or not bother others or attract attention.  

 A few instruments to consider are...

1.  A flute.  I like one made by a company called Choroi.  The pentatonic one is simple and a good choice for someone with no experience.
2.  Harmonica
4.  Pennywhistle

I'm sure there are plenty of others that would work great. One could even consider having slightly larger instruments like a Ukulele.  Just understand that they aren't as easy to transport. Lark in the Morning carries wonderful instruments from all over the world that could really expand your musical horizons.

Don't forget too...the value of your singing voice!  You carry it wherever you go and it doesn't weigh anything!  A great addition to your longer term emergency bag is a mini hymnal (if you can still read that small)...or other books of songs to sing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Snickers Really Satisfies... does.  Especially during a time of great stress.  Various preparedness authors recommend packing away things like Snickers...Reeses Pieces...Cheetos...and a plethora of other "junk food" in one's emergency stash of food because "These foods cause the brain to release natural opiates, which in turn decrease pain and create euphoria and your body learns to gravitate toward them." (Levine, Kotz, Gosnell - 2003).

If you are driven from your home because of a disaster...and you are sitting in a noisy building with a bunch of other people who have been evacuated...stressed out and worried...are you going to want to reach into your emergency bag and pull out some health bar that tastes like cardboard...or a chocolate pudding and some corn chips?  The experts would say to eat the junk food...or more aptly put...the "comfort" short term you will be better off.  It will serve to ease your troubled mind.

Barbara Salsbury gives some great examples in her book "Time to Prepare Not Panic"of some comfort foods to put into an emergency pack that are lightweight.  If you are packing a lot of stuff for an emergency...keeping everything lightweight is a good you may have to carry it for a long distance.

While it is certainly not advisable to eat junk food for the main course of ones diet long it could make you fat...unhealthy...and starved of good nutrition...Vicki Tate would say that to NOT include junk food is a food storage mistake.  She says that if you are living on food storage..."Psychological foods" "make it more bearable".  They also serve to add variety to your diet which reduces the chance of appetite fatigue (where you are sick of eating the same thing).

It is possible to freeze some candies to increase their shelf well as some other methods...but most have a shelf life of less than a year.  This makes a rotation plan important.  I'm sure there are some children who would be happy to help...just make sure that they don't sneak your candies without your knowing or you may not have it when you need it!

Personally...just about the only candy we buy is for Halloween.  We purposefully purchase the candy that WE like to that if we have will go into our emergency stash.  Don't tell my kids...but a lot of their candy from trick or treating ends up in our stash too!

So...add some junk to your emergency evacuation kits...and your home storage and find some of the comfort that only junk food can give!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dollar Store Emergency Supplies...

I heard over the loudspeaker..."Let the 99c Only store be your headquarters for emergency preparedness.  Make an emergency bag and fill it with..."  It went on to list some ideas of things that are available at the dollar store that could be put into an emergency bag...or put into storage.  While not everything found at a dollar store is the finest of quality (of which surely you are aware!!)...there are many things that will work just fine.  Here is a list of some things to consider that I have seen at our dollar store...

Plastic Ponchos
Vitamin A&D Ointment - This is a product I highly recommend for it's multiple uses.
Medicine - A broad assortment of medicines for all maladies.  Headaches...allergies...muscle aches...etc.
Various Clothing - Shirts... socks...even underwear!
Hats - Brimmed for the sun and Beanies for warmth.
Firestarting tools
Knives -  A lot of these are really lame...but hey...they are better than nothing!
ziploc bags
Various Foods - Mostly short term storage...some long term...lot's of comfort food (junk food)
Work gloves
Sewing kit
Super glue
Toiletries - wipes...cotton swabs...etc...
Tools - For example to make a kit to do car repairs.
Trash bags - Have a variety of uses.  Keep yourself and supplies dry...warm...hold things...etc...
Cleaning supplies
Toys and games - To keep people entertained during disasters.

Another resource to check out is Harbor Freight.  They sell inexpensive tools and a variety of other items that are great for preparedness.  It is not a place to go if you want to buy only "Made in the USA".  I have picked up tarps...heavier duty gloves...latex gloves...dust masks...etc.  Perhaps there is a retail location near you.  

That is just off the top of my head.  If you looked through the stores...I'm sure you could find many more items to get prepared.  In a time when a lot of people are really watching how they spend every is great to have these resources available to inexpensively accumulate the items that will make our lives considerably more comfortable during a disaster!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Piteba Press Group Order...

Some of my posts are really short...and others are pretty long.  I know that because your lives are busy....that some of you put my blog posts aside until you can read them when you have more time.  Way the end of my last some information on a group order for oil presses...which will make the final cost less than if you had purchased it on your own.  

I thought I'd type a short note to bring it to your that if you planned on reading the post don't kick yourself for missing the opportunity to order!

We have already met the 4 press price break!!

Happy July 4th!!