I believe in being prepared for the bad times. It's in my DNA.
I'll give you an example. At the beginning of the Cold War era, my Finnish countrymen started to put things together for a rainy day – a post-nuclear or post-pandemic rainy day. They began to stockpile things like medical supplies, grains, agricultural tools, raw materials to make weapons, and yes, surgical masks.
When the coronavirus hit, they were one of the few countries that had plenty of personal protective equipment (PPE) to go around. Sure, a lot of it was old and was probably decorated with characters from the old Howdy Doody TV show and the Flintstones, but it worked just fine.
So it makes sense that I too prepare for the worst, but not by stockpiling medical supplies, ammo, or much of the usual survivalist gear. You definitely won't see me on an old episode of Doomsday Preppers wearing some lead-lined Jockey shorts.
Instead, I stockpile a modest amount of food and water; just enough to keep me and the missus alive and healthy for about a month if the supply chains of food and water are severely disrupted by a catastrophe of some kind.
It's really not so radical. After all, even the Mormons are directed to store a three-month supply of food for themselves in case they see the angel Moroni jumping off his perch atop the temple and high-tailing it out of town.
Besides, I live in Southern California, where 90% of our water supply is piped in through four aqueducts, all of which are vulnerable to sudden disruption by earthquake. It hasn't happened yet, but it'll definitely happen – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day.
Bear in mind, though, that my emergency stockpile wasn't designed to build or even maintain muscle, which, I hope we can all agree would be somewhat superficial given the presumed circumstances. It's not even based on calories – just bare nutritional needs and pragmatism.
A stockpile has to be practical. The items in it have to have some sort of shelf life. Your mom's lasagna would do your soul a lot of good after 30 days of deprivation, but we're assuming your refrigerator is either covered from the acid rain that fell after Trashcan Man set off his A-bomb, or, less dramatically, plain isn't working because there's a power outage.
You don't want food items that are heavy, either, if you can help it. Water is of course heavy but it's a necessity. Canned hams, also heavy, are not.
The major concern, though, is nutritional requirements. Each of us has varying needs of specific macro and micronutrients based on our own unique physiologies, but we're only talking about a stockpile of food and water to last for a month or two, which is too short a time period for most severe deficiencies to manifest themselves.
However, there's little controversy that all humans need the following major categories of nutrients to survive:
And that's what drives the contents, listed below, of my Doomsday Closet. I don't bother to list amounts because they're not only highly individual, but any extra space in your bunker might already be taken up by your jet ski and you might only have room for a seven-day stockpile instead of a 30-day one.
The National Academies of Sciences recommends that men need about 125 ounces of water a day and women need about 91 ounces per day. Obviously, these are just approximations and they'd vary enormously based on individual needs and environmental conditions.
Based on those numbers, a man and a woman would need about 50 gallons of water a month. That's a helluva' lot to store. You could practically open up your own water park with that much H2O, so I decided to screw the math and just try to keep several of those jumbo Costco cases of 12-ounce bottles on hand and assume that I might have to do some rationing.
As far as general amounts of whole protein, we could probably get by for a time on as little as 35 to 40 grams a day, but for general health we need about 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight (about 72 grams for a 200-pound man and about 45 grams for a 125-pound woman) per day.
Again, we have to be practical here. A cooler full of steaks won't do because you can't count on continued refrigeration. Besides, the meat would attract mutant bears. It's also not practical to store dozens of cans of tuna, either, because you may not be able to stay in one place and 50 pounds of metal and fish meat isn't exactly portable.
This is a job for protein powder. An entire pouch of Metabolic Drive® contains about 630 grams of protein, which is equal to about 7.5 pounds of steak, protein-wise.
Metabolic Drive is portable, has a long shelf life, mixes easily with water, and, most importantly, supplies you with ample amounts of easily digestible protein (along with substantial amounts of calcium, a crucial mineral).
Only two fatty acids are crucial, alpha linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Generally speaking, though, about 20% of total calories should come from fat, even when in survival mode.
Taking fish oil capsules would supply the omega-3s you need for good health, but they wouldn't supply enough total fat. That's why I go with sardines packed in oil. They contain the essential omega-3s and omega-6s, along with providing the fat I need.
The cans are also much smaller, lighter, and more portable than cans of tuna or salmon.
While they're also a source of protein, I just consider it a bonus. Using sardines as my sole emergency protein source wouldn't work because I'd have to store too many of them for it to be practical, but they work just fine as a source of essential and non-essential fats.
A can of sardines also contains a lot of sodium, which is our most important extracellular electrolyte. Without sufficient amounts, you risk failing to achieve proper hydration in tissues, healthy blood pressure, or the ability for nerves to function properly.
Normally we don't have to worry about sodium because our diets are saturated with the stuff, but we're talking about a hypothetical, post-apocalyptic scenario and we wouldn't be eating a normal diet. We might also be sweating more than usual and thus losing more sodium because Lord Humungus and his marauders are chasing us.
Granted, the multi-vitamins I mention next up in my list contain sodium, but each tablet has about one-sixteenth the amount in a single potato chip. That won't work in this scenario.
The FDA says to aim for a maximum of 1500 mg. a day, but you can get by with a minimum of around 200 mg. a day, which the sardines will easily supply.
We need vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folic acid, biotin, B12, C, D, E, and choline to survive.
Likewise, we also need the following minerals: calcium, chromium, sodium, chloride, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
While you could easily get by without getting some amount of each of them every day, all are essential in the long run and while I'm well known for dissing multivitamins in general (bad formulations, possible interactions, dubious dosages, etc.), I make an exception for apocalyptic conditions.
You might have noticed that carbohydrates weren't on my list of essential nutrients. That's because they aren't essential. Unlike protein and fats, there's no daily minimum amount required. You could go a long time without so much as having a gram.
That being said, your brain functions a lot better and is much better suited to making life and death decisions when it has access to some carbs.
Beyond that, you plain need some calories to function well and eating only protein powder and sardines isn't going to fuel your attempts to repopulate the earth. That's where oatmeal comes in, especially if you blend it with the Metabolic Drive®.
It's also an ideal food source for apocalyptic conditions because you don't even have to cook it. Just soak some oats in water for a few hours and they'll soften right up and be ready to eat.
Suffice it to say, you're not going to storehouse a lot of fruits and vegetables. Neither will you be nibbling on any Edible Arrangements. They just don't have the shelf life or portability we need for a doomsday food.
This is why Superfood is a vital component of my stash. Superfood consists of the freeze-dried extracts of 18 different plants, including fruits likes pomegranate, blueberries, and acai; vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli; and miscellaneous nutritional powerhouses like coffee berry and green tea.
People use it for its antioxidant potential, which is considerable (one serving has roughly the antioxidant potential of 10 to 12 average servings of fruits or vegetables.), but its real power lies in its polyphenol content.
One serving (two tiny scoops) contains a hugely diverse grouping of polyphenols, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid, sulforphanes, glucosinolates, and hundreds of other polyphenols, not to mention other phytochemicals in general and, yes, vitamins.
Granted, going up to 30 days without fruits and vegetables isn't going to kill you, but I'm assuming being shut off from most of civilization's comforts is highly stressful, so anything that can fortify my body against that stress deserves a spot in my stash.
You can mix Superfood with plain water to make a sort of mild-tasting tea, add it to your Metabolic Drive® protein drink, or mix it into your oatmeal.
The preceding list of foods and nutrients is based on needs, but there are other things you might want to include in your emergency stash for a little variety; things that are tasty, nutritious, and don't need to be prepared:
- Protein bars
- Trail mix
- Peanut butter
- Beef Jerky
While most of the things I keep in my emergency supply kit, including the Metabolic Drive® and the Superfood, have an indefinite shelf life, they should probably be swapped out for fresher versions after 12 to 18 months.
Oddly enough, the thing I worry about most is the water. While there's no evidence of water "going bad" (especially if it's not subjected to high temperatures), I'm concerned about the possibility of antimony (a toxic heavy metal) leaching into the water from the plastic bottles.
As far as storage in general, think about keeping your stash in someplace accessible, like the garage or maybe a closet near the living room or bedroom. Again, I realize that some of you may find it implausible or impossible (because of a lack of space or finances) to put together a large emergency stash.
If that's the case, consider putting together a small, maybe a seven-day, emergency stash. While that may not be long enough to ride out a Walking Dead scenario, it might be long enough to keep you fed, healthy, and comparatively comfortable after an earthquake, tornado, or some other man-made or natural catastrophe ravages your town.