Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: western Maine
Thanked 16 Times in 14 Posts
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If you store large amounts of food, remember it does get old and gradually lose taste and nutrition. You need to occasionally toss it and replenish it (wasteful). The other method is to actually eat from the storage supply at all times, carefully rotating the stock. This has the advantage of teaching how to prepare and enjoy the stored food, discovering shortcomings and better ways of doing things.
Living food (whole beans, whole corn, etc.) has the advantage of lasting a long time, and it's easy to test it for life by sprouting it. Take 20 beans or whatever and soak overnight, then cover with a wet paper towel or something. In a couple of days count how many sprouted and figure the percentage of living seed. The living seed is fresher, and has the advantage of being plantable if you carry open pollinated varieties. Typically, food you buy is a hybrid and will not grow true to type when planted, likely will not be anything you want to eat. Most beans are an exception.
I've been growing lots of my own food most of my life, and saving my own seed. It's fairly easy to pay attention to the characteristics I prefer and select the better plants and save the seed from them. This means my food (seed) has a proven track record, and I'm used to cooking and eating it. My watermelons are fast and "sickeningly sweet", the two characteristics I select for.
When young I collected various corn lines from Indians in the US, and grew lots of test plots. I have one variety that I've been growing for more than 40 years, always refining it to each area I move to. I kept one jar of seed and had some sprout after 20 years. At thirty years none sprouted. (In my experience the tall tales of seed remaining viable for long periods is bunk, 5 yrs will kill most seed, many won't last 3 years.) I really wanted to grow the blue corn I got when planting corn with the Navajo in Canyon de Chelly, but it did not perform well in the northeast cool climate. I have in the last 20 years finally (small plots, keep selecting) gotten a line of very fast blue corn, but it's dark "blue jeans" blue instead of light "sky and stars" blue. I eat these various corns daily.
I stopped eating beans for awhile due to digestion problems, but since then have learned how to cook them better (takes more fresh water though). During the time of not eating beans I lost my line of super good true bush Jacob's Cattle (trout) beans that I got in Nova Scotia. Beans do not keep their life as long as corn. I've been trying various varieties and so far the best overall (not quite as delicious as the trout beans) is an heirloom light red kidney bean. I also like and eat yellow soybeans, which I buy. Very high in protein, I need to try to develop a line that grows here in Maine.
So, to summarize, rotate your stock, and use living open pollinated food where possible.
I'll also mention that survival skills are just that, skills. They are difficult and best practiced while things are going well. I grow food and hunt to obtain clean healthy food and pleasure, not really for practice. But it shows me that civilization is where it's at, rah rah survival books are over simplified. If hunting/gathering were wonderful, everyone would still be doing it.