Spicing up the End of the World…

Ok, blame it on this book I just read, World Made By Hand by James Howard Knutsler, which I might add was SUPER good and interesting…. but I digress. I must blame it on that book and then I stumbled upon a blog/forum where the participants are playing out a What If the world’s ready made food supply went bad and you could get no more… and the people participating are posting “What If” journal entries of each day and it’s very fascinating. Visit HERE….

Well, I have come to some interesting thoughts. Everyone seems to gets by eventually. Oh sure a great many of the ordinary folk in the big city croak, or start fighting and looting and basically acting quite uncivilized, but eventually people settle in to this sort of simple peasant exsistance and have to eat squirrels and stuff they find on the side of the road and weeds, that kind of thing. And of course, those left eventually start trading and swapping stuff, but they all want the same things….

The special things that spice our world… yep…. Sugar, honey, salt, spices, condiments, coffee, tea, oh yeah and hard liquor, ammo and smokes. Haha. Yep. Those are the top trading items and everyone gets all freaked about these little treasures surfacing in some abandoned house or whatever. So I got to thinking… instead of storing up TONS of wheat and all, I think we should also make sure to stockpile up some of the things that make life bearable. Yep, I’m talking about garlic powder, vanilla and soap.

All fun aside, I was really surprised to learn that plain old white sugar is one easy keeper in the world of hoarding. Hardly nothing seems to make it go bad… (I can attest to that, we have some christmas sugar shakers that are open and I think I came over with my family from Europe back in 1845) ((And they’re still good!)) Yet sugar is something that all these fictional tales talk about as being like GOLD at the trading table. Hmm…. So it sounds like sugar would be a good thing to really keep on hand.

Spices! Another thing that seems to be in big demand. After all most of us have just that teeny little jar of .3 ounces of this and that. When you’re trying to make squirrel taste good, you’re gonna need a LOT of spices and stuff to make that taste good to your 14 year old daughter. Trust me. And to be honest, when you gotta finally start eating raccoons and ground hogs and all those weird little gamey animals, you’re definitely going to like a good Montreal steak rub on that whistle pig!

Well, guess what? Not only are they lightweight and pack a HUGE punch in teeny bits, spices are really pretty stable and long living if you do some preventative care. Whole spices can last years and still be good. Store them in airtight jars, bags or seal-a-meal them and THEN stash in a jar. Keep them in dark places, low humidity, that kind of thing. Chilled is even better. And like I said, you can get a LOT of spices in a very small area. A pound of cinnamon versus a pound of flour… hey, that cinnamon is going to get you 150 times it’s weight in flour and basic staples around Christmas time. And pure vanilla! It’s has a super long shelf life if keep sealed and in a cool dark place.

Some people will tell you… spices will loose a lot of their potency after even a few months. Well, every National Geographic I read that shows these open air markets, well, those people have HUGE big piles of the stuff, and it’s out in the sunshine and air, and I really doubt they sell all it in a day and that everyone rushes home to hermetically seal their purchase in seal-a-meal fancy canisters and all that. I mean, they used to drag that stuff thousands of miles on the back of a camel in the old days, in a old sack and it was still pretty darn good and special when they got to whereever they were going. I just can’t imagine some post-civilization day when some ragged survivor won’t trade you his rooster for that bottle of Lawrey’s Seasoning Salt because it expires the month before! Heck no, that stuff is going to be gold for a long time! You’ll just have to use a bit more for the full fresh kick, and that means your stash will be even more valuable!

At first I thought you should probably go for big bulk of these things, but then I thought, no, if the world is really in a handbasket… you’ll want smaller portions to divvy out. It would be like buying 4 apples with a thousand dollars! (If you had like say, a 5 pound can of coffee.) You’re gonna want like a pony or oh 20 chickens or something good for a 5 pound can of coffee. I just don’t want you all to be cheated at trade day down at the post-civilization fair. So I think watching for these things in the smaller, easy to barter and trade sizes will be a good thing to add to your stash. LIke 1 pound cans of coffee, and small spice jars and such. Sugar I guess you can get that in big bags and then just watch that when you open them to trade, you don’t get ripped off because you think you have a lot.

Oh yeah, and canning lids. Another good thing to stockpile. And soap. Cuz yeah sure, you can make your own soap. But how many people have lye and coconut oil laying around in bulk? Sure if you have some of those cool FoxFire books you MIGHT be able to figure out how to make it with lard and fireplace ash and all that, but we’re talking some pretty nasty stuff. Nope, seems to me that a bar of soap is cheap and easy to stash ALL OVER YOUR HOUSE… and will make a sweet trade item when the end of the world comes around.

They keep a long time you know.

Hard liquor is another good commodity, even has good medicinal values as well. (And it will help to calm the no-internet and electronic jitters that folk are going to have for a few months after the fall. I know I’ll have a hard time adjusting to that for sure. haha) Having a good stash of those little airplane bottles would be good because you could pretend to only have a few of them and that way you won’t attract the attention of thugs that might think you’re well stocked. I think that’s something you really have to be careful of… appearing to have a HUGE stash when everyone around you is dirty, and complaining about their food being bland. They start smelling cookies and seeing you wash a good deal and that is going to attract attention. Best to keep things hidden and in small quantities so that you can pretend to be as bad off as everyone else is, on the surface. But if you’re going to flaunt it, you better make sure you have stockpiled a lot of ammo as well. You might need it.

Another thing I’m learning is that if you’re going to expect NOT to eat your pets, then you should probably do your best to know what kind of gross things your pet can and can not eat. Fish heads, innards and just random dead things can work in a pinch, but you’re going to want to stash some pet vittles as well. Probably cans of stuff, and make sure it’s good quality, because in a pinch, you can dine with Fido on his prime rib Alpo!

Isn’t it amazing what you can learn from just a good book or two? And a slightly over-active mind?

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About Mobymom

the banjo player for Deepwater Bluegrass, and the editor of BuckeyeBluegrass.com as well as the main graphic designer of the Westvon Publishing empire. She is a renaissance woman of many talents and has two lovely daughters and a rehab mobile home homestead to raise.


Spicing up the End of the World… — 4 Comments

  1. Sherri, You got me to thinking!! I also visited the What IF? you had a link to. Boy, I have to look for that book. I want to read it. Thanks for sharing…

  2. I’ve read that book–it’s great! A story where a small town is cooperating to get by. Sure, there are bad guys, but there is hope. Kunstler wrote The Long Emergency (non fiction) and that one was hard to slog through. Lots of details.

    I don’t like how most of the stock-up or preparedness sites are full of political ranting. I say “Get over it and give me some common sense (affordable) advice, please!”

    thanks for the What If site. Going there now…

  3. Oh be warned… you’ll probably be reading it all afternoon! The What If Colony site! haha… I know I did.

    Yeah, I figure, if you look at history, which I am a fan of, you are going to see that it’s FOLLY to think that we’re all the sudden so civilized and at some special point that it’s going to be stable and perfect from this point onward. Heck, I remember the chaos of the gas shortage in in the 70’s and I wasn’t that old. I tell my girls, I’m not thinking there is going to be some sort of Dark Ages anytime soon, but I do think there WILL be some various unsettling things here and there and being a bit prepared is not a bad thing. Could be weather, like Katrina, or terrorism, like 9/11, or some sort of ecological issue, oh, like all the bad food being recalled these days or even something medical, like a bad flu or influenza, like bird flu and other issues we’ve seen. The Spanish flu epidemic in 1918 killed 50 to 100 MILLION people in a space of 6 months. It’s a medical emergency like that which will really mess things up badly for awhile. And apparently, it’s our number one threat to our fragile security. Hospitals would be quickly overwhelmed and staggering numbers of people not able to work and keep the network of supply and demand together, we would see rushes on stores and there would be shortages and all sorts of difficulties. It’s so easy to think that we’ve got it all under control now, but I think how arrogant we are to think that when the rest of history is one major issue after another. They probably thought they had it all under control, too.

    We have about a month of stores available to us. Water is still a little dicey, I know that I need to get a couple of those big 5 gallon jugs to stash in the shed or something. And I want to look into some sort of water purification device. Even if it’s smallish, being able to clean up a quart of water at a time might really save the day. You can ration out food all day long, but it’s water that is the REAL problem in many of these scenarios. The nearest creek or body of water for me is at least half a mile or more. Actually, it’s a subdivision fake lake they dug. I suspect that it will be guarded or off limits to foragers. There’s a creek not too far away but it’s barely a foot deep and again, hard to get to. So, yeah, water is going to be a serious issue for me in any what if scenario. I’m definitely getting a rain gutter installed on the side of my moby this spring and a pair of rainwater barrels. Mostly for my garden, but hey, having 100 gallons of potable water is not a bad thing.

    Okay and a good stash of coffee, sugar and booze! (For trading purposes!) haha

  4. Great post, Sherri!

    The What If scenario sounds like a return to the pre-colonial days or the frontier expansion, where there was no currency and the most valuable thing you had to trade was a black powder rifle mini-ball or “shot”. And when the frontiersmen and trappers came to the trading post, they could get a small measure of whiskey for a round of shot. That’s how we got the “shot glass”.