Seeing as though the traditional gardening season is coming to an end for most of us, it got me to thinking about the many months until the next gardening season starts, usually in March or April. Yes, yes, I know you can grow root crops and there are such things as cold frames and greenhouses but that’s not what led to my next line of thinking…
Many preppers seem to expect to rely on their SHTF vegetable garden when times get tough, which is a noble goal for sure, but one that I feel is unreachable for the vast majority of us. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a garden or even that you shouldn’t try to grow your own veggies for SHTF. Not at all.
On the contrary, I feel everyone should garden however they can, wherever they can, whenever they can… right now! It’s at least one step closer to being less reliant on “the man” or, at least, the folks at your local grocery store. 😉
Regardless of my opinion on the subject of attainability if/when SHTF as well as general self-reliance, there’s another problem that I feel most people are missing in their food prepping plan and you really need to look at your own diet to determine whether this is a problem for you or not.
The Most Likely Scenario…
I see is that most people do something like this along their prepping transition:
- They start buying MREs and other freeze-dried meals because somebody told them to. Don’t do that.
- Then they wise up and start stockpiling caned and boxed foods that they typically eat and eventually their pantry starts to overflow. That’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s probably a great first start and what most people, me included, would recommend.
- Eventually, they realize that if/when SHTF their canned and boxed food isn’t going to last very long so they start adding foods that will last a while, including rice, beans, grains, etc. Maybe they add it to their regular diet, maybe not. I’d suggest that you do add them to your diet for a variety of reasons, such as getting your body used to the food and so that you actually have a clue how to use it.
I’d imagine some people stop there and if you do it’s a bad move. Why? Because you’re like missing an important part of your nutrition that can only be found in foods like vegetables and, hence, the NEED for a SHTF vegetable garden. No doubt those who plan to have such a garden–and certainly those who garden already–have a huge “leg up” on those who don’t.
But, you know what I don’t hear?
I don’t hear a plan for their dietary needs (and wants) much beyond that.
For example, most Americans include meat and dairy as a large portion of their diet each and everyday. Regardless of whether you or I think it’s good to do so or not, there are going to be problems during SHTF if you expect to rely on whatever food you have in your pantry, the bulk foods you expect to subsist on, and your more than likely meager vegetable garden… and I mean “meager” in the nicest possible way. 🙂
The problem, therefore, is that by expecting to rely on a vegetable garden you’ve essentially made yourself a vegan and didn’t even know it!
Of course, I’m assuming a few things and I should say that know people who are vegan and they seem to do relatively well on it. But that’s by choice. There’s a huge difference in a choice to go vegan and doing so because you didn’t plan otherwise.
What’s missing, obviously, is the meat and dairy.
Let’s talk about meat for a moment…
Now, I’m sure some of you are hunters and fully expect to be able to bring home a nice catch whenever needed. I’m not a hunter so I cannot speak to the probability of this directly but I’d have to imagine that plenty of other people are going to have the same thought and, sooner rather than later, that food supply you expected to rely upon is going to dwindle or at least become much more difficult to acquire. By the way, if you’re an accomplished hunter you can come live with me for SHTF. 🙂
Perhaps some of you have a chest freezer full of meat. Great. Eventually that will run out and there is certainly the potential problem of having to keep the chest freezer running. Odds are that you’re going to have one heck of a meal or two shortly after SHTF when you find you don’t have enough fuel to keep your chest freeze going and now all that meat is going bad.
Yes, you can attempt to preserve it in some fashion (such as smoking the meat) but have you ever done that? How well is that going to work when you’re under a time crunch because your freezer meat is going bad? Perhaps there are other possibilities such as preserving in salt… do you even have enough salt to do that and will that even work with the meat you have stocked? These are just a few things off the top of my head to think about with regards to meats.
If you’d like options that can last for decades, try our various protein options that include diced chicken, sausage crumbles, ham, turkey, eggs, and more!
What about dairy?
People eat a lot of cheese and milk products as well as butter which are kind of hard to find in a SHTF vegetable garden. 😉 And, besides, these products don’t store well in almost any form except for being powdered. Moreover, I wouldn’t suggest trying to dehydrate these items on your own. I tried to dehydrate eggs once and made a big mess! But that’s not even the real concern with doing so. Commercially-dehydrated options are best for health safety reasons.
Apparently it is possible to can these foods if you’d prefer but I doubt they last very long, not nearly as long as powdered options. That said, dehydrated dairy products can get expensive so maybe it’s something to look into as a short-term SHTF solution. Regardless, most of us aren’t going to be able to replicate the quality of commercially-dehydrated options for safety and longevity. We carry a wide variety of dairy options, from instant and powdered milks to various cheeses, yogurts, and butter… most of which will last for years unopened.
Concluding Thoughts About a SHTF Vegetable Garden
The point is that you can’t just rely on your SHTF vegetable garden without also considering the rest of your diet. If the expectation is that people were to “rely on their SHTF homestead” then that would a different scenario altogether. But most of us don’t have that option.
My advice? Really take a look at your diet–whatever that might be–and think long and hard about the foods you have stored as well as your plan for replicating your diet during SHTF. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds but there are options. You just have to plan for it now!