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By Kellene Bishop

expiration-date-browniesIf you’ve read my articles in the past, then you know that I usually take issue with folks who are naïve and spread their ill-informed opinions around—usually to the demise or hindrance of other’s preparedness efforts. Well, yesterday I was commenting on a couponing forum to a gal about how her addiction to brownies no longer needed to be hindered by the expiration dates on her mixes if she was properly equipped with a FoodSaver. Unfortunately, a naïve, very ill-informed person got after me and claimed that it was unethical and just plain wrong for me to tell anyone that they could store any food product for that long. She even went so far as to present the grid that FoodSaver publishes which is their official claim in terms of how long food can be preserved with the benefit of a FoodSaver. (Obviously, the claims were nowhere near the time periods I had expressed.) So, today’s article is in honor of those who have been duped into believing that the expiration dates printed on a food product are some kind of a Cardinal rule to live by. And I’m even going to tell you exactly why they are not.

In a previous article I shared with you that “expiration dates are created for one reason and one reason only” and that was to protect the food manufacturers from any legal liability. It’s not liability from food poisoning so much as it is false advertising. For example, if you store your cereal that claims it has 100% of a days worth of Vitamin C, well, that won’t be accurate if you store it forever, right? Eventually the nutritional value will be lost and yet they will still have printed on the box an assertion regarding the Vitamin C content. With this article however, I’m also going to show you a couple of other darker sides in the use of expiration dates.

One of my food storage heroes, Wendy Dewitt

One of my food storage heroes, Wendy Dewitt

First of all, let’s face it. Food doesn’t poison a person. Germs and molds IN the food do. So let’s make sure we’re battling the correct culprit here. If you can store a food in such a way that you inhibit the growth of “critters,” then you will outlast the deadline of any expiration date on the planet. Oxygen, light, and heat are your enemies when it comes to preserving food. If you can control the exposure your food has to those beastly enemies, then you can control the longevity of your foods. One of my personal food storage heroes, Wendy DeWitt, has successfully stored Snickers candy bars for eight years by adhering to this battle plan. (How she refrained from eating it that long is beyond me.) The Snickers tasted just as wonderful as it did the day she bought it. I have successfully stored brown sugar, brown rice, oats, Keebler Fudge-Striped Cookies, nuts, chocolate chips, Peanut M&Ms, pudding mixes, Rice-a-Roni, and other packaged foods (even with hydrogenated oils) successfully in my cool, dry, basement for over 10 years by eliminating oxygen, light, and heat!

Of course there’s no manufacturer on the planet that is going to say “You can store this $2 box of cake mix for 10 years, so stock up when they are on sale and never think about buying them again for 10 years”, right? Think about this for a moment. You can store sugar for years and years. You can store cocoa for years. You can store spices for years. And you can store oils for years. So what makes a package of brownie mix exempt from being stored just as long? Oh. It’s that mean, ole’, ugly, expiration date on there, eh?

Rotting macaroni. Photo c/o wichita.edu

Rotting macaroni. Photo c/o wichita.edu

This leads me to another one of the dirty little secrets of the food manufacturing industry. Another key reason for issuing an expiration date on a particular product (and in some cases their 1st consideration) is for marketing purposes. They don’t want you to take advantage of that special at the grocery store in which you can get a box of brownie mix for only .47 cents, stock up, and not buy their brownie mix again for years. Their strategy, when they work with retailers to create a special sale, as well as print and distribute coupons, is that you will TRY a product that you may not have tried otherwise, and/or to increase their sales by 3-12% in order to keep stockholders happy. But darn it. They can’t combat the savvy couponers out there who will stock up on products when such deals come along and who then buys 10 boxes of brownies, or cereal, or pasta sauce, etc. So what counter measures do they employ in order to force even the coupon crazies to fall in line and buy the product again and again? They convince the consumers that the food will be rotten, disgusting, and just plain scary after the expiration date. This isn’t about rationing food or keeping you safe, folks. This is about selling more product. Tell me you haven’t fallen for it before? Sure the cereal tastes stale after it’s sat in your pantry for too long. But you didn’t repackage it, did you? Sure you’ve had salad dressing that goes rancid after being stored too long. But that doesn’t make the expiration date rule the be all and end all for every food. (Note: I haven’t found a way to make salad dressing last much longer than 6 months outside of refrigeration past the expiration date. So instead I like to also store items that I can successfully MAKE dressings with to use on my sprouts.) 

Also, here’s another little secret to let you in on. When the coloring changes in a food, it does NOT mean that the original nutritional value has been altered yet.

About 8 years ago I read a study that the Army had done to determine the expiration of MREs. (I WISH I had known that I would be writing like this professionally many years later so that I could provide it to you. But even a lengthy look on Google didn’t turn up anything—yet.) While MREs are indeed created to undergo more extreme storage conditions, the key results of the study were interesting. The Army study discovered that despite the intended expiration date of 3 years the meals continued to provide their original nutrition value for 25 years and only then began to have coloration variances.

Just in case some of you are wondering what the heck a FoodSaver has to do with significantly extending the life of your foods, I’ll remind you of one of my well-used tactics.

Foodsaver lid. Photo c/o cabelas.com

Foodsaver lid. Photo c/o cabelas.com

You can stuff a Mason jar with any dry ingredient such as rice, nuts, chocolate chips, granola, etc. Place the lid, no ring, on the jar. Connect the air port from the FoodSaver to your Mason Jar attachment with the hose that comes with the FoodSaver. Place the jar attachment on top of your jar. Turn on your FoodSaver, and bzzzzzz…a moment later you have successfully sucked out the oxygen from your jar. After doing so you should store it away from heat and regular light. As such you will win the battle against expiration dates.

Foodsaver Canister

Foodsaver Canister

Here’s some really good news. As it turns out, if you have the canisters that typically come with the FoodSaver, you don’t need the Mason Jar attachment. All you have to do is put the jar with the lid on it inside the canister and then seal the canister like you would with anything else inside. Doing so actually sucks the air out of your jar. Simply remove the seal to the canister once you’ve done the seal process and then store your jar. Pretty cool, eh? (To be on the extra safe side, I would use the jar sealer though if I had my druthers.) The nice thing is WHEN you do get into that jar of Peanut M&Ms, so long as you don’t ruin the lid trying to dig in feverishly, you can simply reseal the jar again and again. In fact, since your seal is not reliant on the rubber ring getting hot, you can even use old lids that you may have left over from other canning projects. Simply make sure they are nice and clean when you use them.

Just in case any of you are looking for the jar attachments, FoodSaver isn’t offering the regular sized one right now, only the wide-mouth. But a Google search will easily pull up several options for you.

Well, I hope that clears up expiration dates for you. And I hope that you are never duped by them again.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Photo c/o Self-Reliant Sisters

Photo c/o Self-Reliant Sisters

Far too many folks I’ve spoken to have shared with me that they have their 72 hour kit and thus are ready for an emergency. Before I go into detail about the contents of 72 hour kits, I’d like to make perfectly clear that 72 hours kits serve one purpose and one purpose only – to aid you IF you are forced to flee your home and relocate somewhere else for safety and supplies.

That’s right. A 72 hour kit is not to live off of through the duration of a disaster. For crying out loud, you’ve got teenagers whose meltdowns last longer than 72 hours. What kind of a silly person would think that a 72 hour kit is intended as survival for anything else but to aid in a “bug out” scenario? 

I will admit, I have 2 levels of “72 hour kits.” I have one that is VERY minimalistic in a large backpack, and I have another one that is much more inclusive and requires my rolling suitcase or a hand-pulled wagon to be mobile. If I’m unfortunate enough to have to travel in the midst of an emergency, then there’s a pretty good chance that I would be able to throw on the backpack and still pull the rolling 72 hour kit behind me as well.

That said, I want to remind folks that there should be sufficient consideration for providing mobility for those in your home who may not be able to carry their own 72 hour kit. I’ve seen folks pack enormous 72 hour backpack kits for their 4 year old daughter. Ugh! If you’ve got young ones or fragile elderly that are accompanying you on your emergency trek, be sure to pack sufficient supplies AND make sure that you’ve got a wagon or something to ensure that everybody and everything is mobile in case you aren’t able to travel via automobile. 

HugaMonkey Baby Sling

HugaMonkey Baby Sling

Wagons, bicycles, bike side-cars, jogging strollers, carts, and rolling suitcases are great resources to transport your belongings. Be sure that you also consider a carrier for the young ones that don’t interfere in your own mobility. (I HIGHLY recommend the HugaMonkey Baby Slings. They work well with newborns in sleep/nursing position, as well as babies a bit older in the forward or on the hip position.)

Another consideration is the transportation of your pets. Are they the kind that can safely join you on a voyage or will they require that you carry them? Do you intend to take them with you? If so, do you have the necessary supplies so they can endure a 72 hour period safely as well? I’ve managed to raise two “sissys” with my little pooches. They aren’t the big husky kind of dogs. So a leash WITH a harness would definitely be necessary for them but so will some accommodation for relief from lengthy walking. I have foot covers for them so that they won’t experience too much strain on their feet in comparison to the carpeting. (Yes, I am embarrassed to say that I’ve raised two wimps.)

The key to a quality 72 hour kit is to minimize the impact of the size and space of everything you are packing. This is why I use coupons to obtain trial sizes of items (for free usually). Bug out or not, you still need to have everything available that you use on a regular basis. Hygiene, clothing, sanitation, food, water, clothing, medical, light source, utensils, shelter, self-defense, communication supplies, bug spray, sunscreen, sunglasses, some currency, etc., etc., etc. It’s not a bad idea to have a 72 hour kit available in your office as well. The likelihood of you being at work when all heck breaks loose is substantial.

You also need to be sure that you’ve properly packaged the items in your 72 hour kit. When I’ve done home assessments for emergency preparedness, 72 hour kits are frequently accompanied by granola bars that are old, dry, and pungent! Yuck! So, not only do you need to package items so they stay usable, but you also need to refresh items in your 72 hour kits. You can’t afford to create them and then forget them.

72-hr-kit-living-willImportant documents are also critical to have on hand in your 72 hour kit. Let’s face it. If you’re having to use your kit, it won’t be under ideal circumstances. Having copies of items such as your will, deed to the home, title to the car, drivers licenses, birth certificates, wedding certificate, etc. should all be a part of your 72 hour kit. Such evidence may make the difference between you being allowed into “door number 1” or a less desirable “door number 2.” You may also want to sock away an emergency debit or credit card in your kit as well.

Tomorrow I’ll provide for you a detailed list of supplies I recommend for your 72 hour kit. Until then, keep prepping!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

(Sorry folks. It had to be addressed eventually.)

This will either be the worst article you’ve read from me, or, if you’re female, it may be one of the best.

menses-preparation-TampaxLadies, exactly what do you intend to do during a prolonged emergency survival situation when you’re not able to obtain feminine products which you’ve grown accustomed to? I admit, I’m storing loads of these kinds of products, but frankly, I’m intending to use feminine pads as bandages, if necessary.

Keeping in mind that sanitation is critical to the health of everyone around you, and the fact that a hot running water shower won’t come easily, I think it’s important that women take alternative options into consideration in dealing with their menses.

Realize that the comfort and care of a female during this period of time may not be isolated solely to experienced women. If you are the mother of a young daughter who happens to enter this phase of her life during a survival situation, it can be pretty traumatic if she has to do so the way the pioneers handled it. (ie: stuffing rags, ergo the term we hear sometimes today, “on the rag.”)

So what are your options? Well, you can store a lot of feminine pads and tampons and take up a lot of valuable space in your storage. Or you can plan on doing it the pioneer way by ripping strips of rags to use in lieu of a tampon and constantly change them, thus using lots of fuel and water to sanitize them. Or you can use a menstrual cup.

DivaCup photo c/o gladrags.com

DivaCup photo c/o gladrags.com

A menstrual cup resembles a diaphragm. It is reusable and easy to sanitize with some potable water and a mild soap. They are about 2 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter. The good ones are made of a soft plastic silicon for comfort. (Beware of those made with latex!) They are inserted much like a tampon would be and they collect the menses flow. They do not absorb the flow. Unlike tampons, there have been no reports of Toxic Shock Syndrome associated with their use. A menstrual cup can even be left in place for 12 hours on light flow days without any adverse consequences.

You should plan on having one menstrual cup per year per person—contrary to what the advertisements say about using one for 10 years. I definitely would NOT plan on relying on that statement. A menstrual cup should not be used for any other purpose and it should not be shared with any other person after use.

The cost of a quality menstrual cup is about $35-$40. Frankly, considering the cost of feminine pads and tampons, it’s no wonder menstrual cups are used regularly in many European countries. I recommend the DivaCuptm.  It has extensive benefits vs. more generic and less researched brands and it does not contain any latex or nitrosamine. You can obtain them easily at drugstore.com where there have been times when I’ve seen great discounts there for any item you purchase.

Ok. Well, now that I’ve gotten that topic out of the way, tune in for less “icky” topics. :)

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Pandemic or not, the time to prepare is now. Photo c/o ehow.com/

Pandemic or not, the time to prepare is now. Photo c/o ehow.com/

A lot of folks are e-mailing me or commenting that they don’t buy into all of this “hoopla” about the Swine Flu. My response is that it doesn’t matter whether or not the Swine flu amounts to anything at this moment, you STILL need to prepare for it. The point is that you should be preparing for the Swine Flu, Avian Flu, or Alien flu (yes, I made that up) the same way that you prepare for any other “disaster.” The only significance of the Swine Flu is the matter of timing. Due to the flu season and school starting back up, we MAY be looking at an imminent pandemic threat very soon. The fact of the matter is, you all still have a lot to do to get prepared to survive without all of your niceties that you’re used to. Just because the Swine Flu flurry may be perpetuated unnecessarily doesn’t make it any less of a circumstance to reckon ourselves with. I think that the issue with the Swine Flu being so pervasive in our minds is simply that it’s something that’s a bit more real to us. The timing of it is more visible. No one (who’s willing to admit it anyway) saw 9/11 coming. No one saw the damage that the tsunami was going to bring with it, and no one saw the complete disaster and horrible aftermath that Hurricane Katrina let loose on Louisiana either. Ask yourself, if you had a major earthquake tomorrow, would you be prepared? If your children all came down with some nasty flu and you were quarantined, would you be prepared?

Whether or not the Swine Flu ends up being equivalent to the Spanish Flu of 1918 is irrelevant. Yes, the Spanish Flu killed hundreds of millions of people. Yes, it affected virtually every part of the earth, even the Arctic and remote islands of the Pacific. But its biggest danger was that it came to people who were unaware, unlearned, and unprepared for such an instance. Thus what’s truly important is that you prepare for a pandemic situation like it right now while you can.

Here is a list of items for you that I recommend you have on hand in case you do end up having a patient who’s ill with a highly contagious flu virus. You will want to cordon off a room in your home for the care of such a person in order to avoid the unnecessary spreading of the virus. This list takes into consideration that you may or may not have electricity. (Obviously, this list is not all inclusive)

Items to Cordon Off a Sick Room

  • Air filter                     
  • Fan                                         
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Shower Curtain        
  • Sheets/pillow cases               
  • Heavy blankets          
  • Cot/bed                      
  • Bleach                                    
  • Rubber gloves            
  • Air masks                   
  • Hair ties                                 
  • Shower caps              
  • Thermometers           
  • Multiple sets of sheets                       
  • Ways to keep sick room dark           
  • Washcloths                
  • Portable water bins               
  • Capacity to heat water w/o electricity
  • Towels (paper and cloth)

 Items Necessary for the Comfort of Patient

  • Fabric for bandages (sanitize) 
  • Baby wipes
  • Anti-diarrhea meds
  • Anbesol                                      
  • Listerine
  • Chloraseptic
  • Whiskey
  • Honey
  • Lemon juice
  • Water, water, water
  • Salt
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Herbal teas
  • Essential oils
  • Lotions
  • Washcloths
  •  Towels
  • Multiple sets of sheets

    Thieves Oil photo c/o aromatherapyliving.com

    Thieves Oil photo c/o aromatherapyliving.com

  • Air flow
  • Visine
  • Hot packs
  • Cold packs 
  • Lavender
  • Garlic/garlic oil
  • Thieves Oil/products
  • Lanacane
  • Pain/fever relievers*
  • Vaporizers (battery operated)
  • Oversized T-shirts 
  • Gowns
  • Vicks Vaporub
  • Icy Hot
  • SOFT facial tissues
  • SOFT toilet paper
  • Gauze            
  • Medical tape
  • Neosporin                           
  • Hot water bottle
  • Straws
  • Allergy meds                          
  • Ensure               
  • Band-aids
  • Q-tips                         
  • Cotton balls 
  • Meal-in-bed tray
  • Eye dropper               
  • Mouth dropper
  • Books
  • Juice                        
  • Baby monitor
  • Pen/notebook for records
  • Anti-bacterial soap    
  • Olive leaf extract
  • Yarrow root
  • Goldenseal                 
  • Hot Toddy

    Hot Toddy

    Red sage

  • Raspberry leaves
  • Catnip                                  
  • Oregano oil
  • Sage oil
  • Bragg’s Amino acids                         
  • Scar therapy pads      
  • Hemorrhoid ointment
  • Baby bottle                                        
  • Rubbing alcohol        
  • Bed pans
  • Deodorizer                                         
  • Walker                                   
  • Sleep aids          
  • Crackers                     
  • Cough medicine* (or makings for a hot toddy: 1 T of whiskey, 1 T honey, 1 T lemon, 1 C. of hot water)
  • Pain relievers (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen)*                     
  • Simple proteins (peanut butter, canned chicken)
  • Pedialyte ( Recipe: 1 liter H2O, 2 T sugar or honey, 1/4 t salt, 1/4 t baking soda)
  • Hot cereals (cream of wheat and oatmeal are best on the stomach)
  • Anti-Nausea treatment (crystallized ginger, chamomile, mint tea, crackers)

*Remember infant versions too

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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food-challenge

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Don’t forget, folks, that you still have one more week to participate in the Preparedness Pro Food Challenge! The Preparedness Pro Food Challenge goes through the entire month of August and constitutes going an entire two weeks without going to the grocery store for any food or household supplies.

Even if you haven’t started yet, or this is the first you’ve heard of the Preparedness Pro Food Challenge, I would challenge you to jump in with both feet and see how you do without any preplanning or hitting the grocery store to “stock up” on the way home.  As you accept and experience this challenge, visit the original Preparedness Pro Food Challenge blog and document your experiences. Each comment will count as an entry to win AMAZING emergency preparedness prizes! There is no limit to the amount of comments you can leave. We have 12 gifts that will go to randomly drawn winners on September 1st.

ALSO, here are 3 easy ways to enter the contest and increase your chances of winning great prizes! Become a fan of Preparedness Pro on FacebookFollow @preparednesspro on Twitter or subscribe to Preparedness Pro – these will each count as an extra entry! Does it get any easier than that?!

Leave your comments on the original Preparendess Pro Food Challenge blog HERE!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

Communication Breakdown by Spencer Wood

Communication Breakdown by Spencer Wood

If there were an occasion in which our nation’s communications systems were disabled for more than 24 hours on a weekday, you would see the first domino fall in the creation of a complete financial collapse. We are painfully reliant on our communication systems to keep our nation financially afloat. Land lines, internet, cell phones. These inventions have become the heart of our economy. Our health care system. Our banking system. Our trade system.

communication-collapse-lose-moneyHaving participated in the commercial finance industry for years, I had opportunity to consult in one of the highest echelons of commercial finance—you know the one where folks are dropping the word “billion” as casually as they order lunch. Whether you realize it or not, a great deal of our economic strength comes from the manipulation of seconds and small margins of profit on large sums of money. If communication lines were down and trades could not be executed, our nation would lose billions of dollars which would easily domino into trillions in less than 24 hours—and that’s just in the trading world. As you are aware, now is not a time in which our tenable economy could handle such a hit from a communication collapse.

Now let’s look at the great financial impact that would be felt by all of the other businesses in our nation. Deals would not be closed. Shipments of medical supplies, necessary hardware equipment, fuel, and food would not be requested or sent out. Credit cards would not be processed for payments. Just as so many consumers live hand to mouth or paycheck to paycheck, so do the majority of businesses in our nation. One day of communication collapse in which they are cut off from communication with their suppliers and their banks would literally be catastrophic.

communication-collapse-hello-anyone-thereThen there’s the world that may hit a little closer to home for you in a communication collapse.  9-1-1 would be useless. News updates would not be received. Even if we had electricity to watch the television, we wouldn’t know what was occurring right in our own backyards without the critical resource of communication. Without your cell phones, internet, and land lines, how would you locate your children who are usually scattered in all directions at any time of the day? How would you check up on your elderly parent? How would you coordinate with the rest of your family to ensure their safety and well being?

Out of all 10 areas of Emergency Preparedness, the component of communication is the only one in which you’re reaching out to others. And yet, as you can see, it’s not an area that can be taken for granted. Your primary concern in an emergency will not be what’s in your bank account. It won’t be how much food you have on your shelves. It will be about the well being of those you love. Thus you MUST have prearranged plans of action for how you will communicate and gather in the event of an emergency and subsequent communication collapse. If it is to be a long-term scenario, you must even have a plan for family members that live far from you. Will you all gather to a particular location? Will you get communication through to each other in a different medium? Taking a few moments to discuss these plans will save you and everyone else in your life a lot of stress and worry. And more importantly, it could save lives. Being at the right place at the right time is critical in surviving an emergency. Discuss this plan regularly with your family and close friends.

Photo c/o tlc.discovery.com/

Photo c/o tlc.discovery.com/

On a lighter note, I have been stocking up on pencils, pens, and paper during these “school sales.” (It’s not hard when the pencils are selling for 25 cents a package, pencil sharpeners are only 10 cents, and note pads are only 1 cent.)  What may seem trivial now, may be highly valuable in a world in which we can no longer rely on our traditional means of communication. Also, protecting our HAM radio and ensuring proper licensing and skills to use it is a critical part of that plan as well. (Now, if I could just get the rest of my family on board with that, I’ll sleep much better.)

Take a moment to stop and plan for an instance in which your communication methods are interrupted.  You’ll be SO glad you did!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

As you all know, I’m big into using coupons to build up my food and other emergency preparedness supplies. With the coupon culture comes some unexpected consequences that one may not anticipate. The most obvious consequence is that I buy a lot of the smaller containers as opposed to the large, warehouse size. The good news is that smaller containers are actually a good way to store your food in preparation for an emergency. In an emergency survival situation, smaller is definitely better. Here’s why.

Post Cereals on display in Palo Alto, CA. Photo c/o AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Post Cereals on display in Palo Alto, CA. Photo c/o AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Smaller is Better Reason #1: Cost. We all know that you usually get better value on bigger containers of an item. However, when it comes to using coupons, I’d much rather get 5 free small jars of mayonnaise than pay over $5 for a large one. Most coupons do not come with size restrictions on when you can use them. Some do exclude use on trial/travel size, but not all of the time. And most coupons only require that you buy at least their smallest “regular” sized item in order to use the coupon. So let’s compare for a moment. The other day I got 5 boxes of Post Raisin Bran for 88 cents each in the 20 oz. size. The Raisin Bran cost 04 cents per ounce. Now, at Costco, I could get it for 15 cents per ounce. (Keep in mind there’s a membership involved to get that price as well.) So, perhaps now you can better understand why I believe that I can’t afford to shop at the warehouses in most cases. I reserve my warehouse spending to meats, cheeses, eggs, and perhaps some other specialty items like the tarps I like so much at Costco. At least these items can be canned or otherwise preserved. Even then, I still keep my eyes open with the coupon usage in regular grocery stores. I got a gallon and a half of milk for only 17 cents and 2 pounds of block cheese for $2.99 the other day. Costco and Sam’s Club can’t match that.

Condiment Packets photo c/o clubheinz.com

Condiment Packets photo c/o clubheinz.com

Smaller is Better Reason #2: Waste. Obviously in the event of a long-term emergency survival situation, we will be without the luxury of refigeration. This is another reason I’m a big advocate of buying small. When I open a warehouse size of Miracle Whip in the midst of an emergency, I’d better plan on using it all to feed an army or throwing it out due to spoilage. However, when I open a small 15 oz. jar of Miracle Whip, it’s probably just the right amount for a pasta salad or white sauce. I am also a big advocate of saving small condiment packets you are given at the fast food restaruants. I’ve got a lot of salt, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, and other items this way, so when I want ketchup for a sandiwch, I don’t have to open an entire jar. I can just open a couple of condiment packages instead. No wasting. No refrigeration necessary.

Smaller is Better Reason #3: Trade. Just as I advised my clients to only keep small bills of U.S. currency on hand for an emergency, the same goes for food items as well. It’s a heck of a lot easier to trade a small can of tuna for what you may need rather than trying to get the best bang for your buck with a large warehouse size of it. In a time of emergency in which food, water, and ammo is king, you may have a hard time “finding a market” for trading your larger items for something that you really need, and thus you’re likely to “under trade” for it. 

Smaller is Better Reason #4: Portability. I’d much rather stuff a small can of Vienna Sausages and a couple packages of ketchup in my travel pack than a big 24 oz. container of chicken and a large bottle of ranch dressing, wouldn’t you? In an emergency, even if you have to leave your home temporarily during the day, you shouldn’t do it without some food and water supplies on you. You may be able to assist someone you find along the way, or you may get held up somewhere as well. Regardless, it’s obvious that the smaller containers will travel better than the large ones.

Square Bucket Storage photo c/o Preparedness Pro

Square Bucket Storage photo c/o Preparedness Pro

Smaller is Better Reason #5: Storage. It’s easier for me to safely store a lot of little items in containers and place on the shelf rather than large items. For example, when I find a great sale on plastic bins, I’ll take them home and stuff them with toothpaste, or mustard bottles or baby wipes. I’m able to get a heck of a lot more in that enclosed container than I would be able to stack on the shelf or slide under the bed and have them remain there–organized. Given that we’re all struggling to find room for everything, the easier storage component of the smaller items shouldn’t be underestimated.

Dollar for dollar, I’ve discovered that the smaller items make more sense for an emergency. Smaller definitely is better in an emergency. 

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Dharma Food Supplies

Food Storage photo c/o westword.com

If you could only store four foods for you and your family, what would they be? Come on, take your best guess. The good news is you could indeed survive with some knowledge and creativity on just four foods for you and your family for an entire year, and you wouldn’t necessarily get bored either. The reason I share these four foods with you is in response to so many pleas to simplify food storage. Although I feel more strongly about storing what you eat and eating what you store using the “meal method”, some folks just simply won’t tackle their food storage needs unless it’s broken down to ultra simple. Well, here’s ultra simple, broken down to just four foods.

Allow me to share with you what I call “The Vital Four.” I don’t call them that to be cute or cunning. These four foods are not only ideal and relatively simple to use, they are also still relatively affordable.

Hard White Wheat photo c/o pgward.org

Hard White Wheat photo c/o pgward.org

So, what would The Vital Four be? In order of priority:

  • Wheat
  • Powdered Milk
  • Honey
  • Salt

Now, before you get crazy, these foods would NOT be appropriate if you currently aren’t eating wheat. Remember that due to the significant lack of fiber in our diet today, if you were to go on an all wheat diet, you would be dead within 30 days due to the shock to your digestive system. So don’t plan on using these foods “cold turkey”, folks. You’ve got to get your body used to this kind of fiber ahead of time if you intend to survive on it. With four of the most simple foods, could this list be any more “ultra simple?”

So why this particular order?

Vital Four #1: Wheat. Wheat is at the top of the list due to its enormous amount of protein, multiple uses, fats, amino acids, carbohydrates, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins—not to mention its longevity in your storage. An unbroken wheat kernel has the ability to retain its fat without going rancid. For those of you who don’t know, wheat was discovered in the Egyptian pyramids dating back to 2500 BC. The story is told that 36 of the kernels were planted and grew and thrived into 1,500 bushels of wheat over six years. Even those who are gluten intolerant can still use wheat by sprouting it. Once you sprout it, it’s no longer a gluten compound. It’s a vegetable—particularly high in vitamin C and B which is great for blood sugar regulation and energy. (1 ounce of sprouted wheat contains an entire day’s supply of vitamin C.) In other words, sprouted wheat can compensate for the absence of fruits and vegetables in a diet. As you’ve heard me say, sprouting is ultra simple.

Milk is Good for Bones. photo c/o franklinpierce.edu

Milk is Good for Bones. photo c/o franklinpierce.edu

Vital Four #2: Milk.  An important part of the “promised land” duo, milk has a great nutritional content–particularly protein and vitamin A and D, multiple convenient uses, and also stores very well–especially with today’s technological advances. Milk is a quality food which is found to be important for the proper function of the muscles and the bones, but even more so in times of stress. Very few foods can claim to assist the body in these two critical areas in one fail swoop, and none of the others I’ve found which do assist the body in this manner taste very good in baked goods, cheeses, and sauces like milk does. I mean really. Whoever heard of spinach cheese?  There’s nothing difficult about using milk. Measure it. Water it. Mix it. That’s it. Super simple!

Vital Four #3: Honey. Honey is the ONLY food which stores indefinitely (except maybe Twinkies. But it remains to be seen whether we can really call the Twinkie “food”). It was also found in the Egyptian pyramids, and serves as a necessary sweetener in everything which may call for sugar. As you may have read in a previous article, it also has amazing medicinal virtues. One aspect you may not have considered is that the sweetness of honey is so fulfilling, it’s not likely to be over indulged in. The last thing you need in an emergency is to be addicted to a particular food. Unlike so many other sweeteners out there, honey is NOT addictive. In fact several university studies have shown that withdrawing from sugar is just as challenging to most humans as withdrawing from heroine. Honey also has small amounts of protein, iron, and vitamin C. Hmmm… sweet, nutritious, and an indefinite shelf-life. Sounds like a food storage dream.  

Vital Four #4: Salt. Many folks are surprised to hear “salt” on my list of The Vital Four. Frankly, I’m surprised as well. I’m not one to “salt my foods. I rarely use it in my cooking, preferring other sources for a salty taste instead. In actuality, our bodies are just as reliant on salt as we are on water. In fact, it keeps our fluids in balance. It is necessary to all of the cellular processes in our body. ALL of them. It’s particularly necessary for muscle contractions, such as your heartbeat, nerve impulses, and the digestion of proteins. Our bodies do not produce salt. We deplete it through normal function. And we deplete a lot of salt when we’re involved in heavy labor or intense stress. Thus we must conscientiously feed it to our bodies. In addition to all of this, it’s also a great preservative for meats and vegetables without the need of any fancy equipment. Better yet, working salt into your diet doesn’t take any trickery.

If you want to still keep things ultra simple but add a few more “luxury items” to the list, I would recommend vegetable/olive oil, peanut butter, legumes, yeast, molasses, and dried fruits.

Passport to Survival photo c/o amazon.com

Passport to Survival photo c/o amazon.com

In summary, I find it interesting that The Vital Four are referred to in the Bible as foods of prominence: wheat—“the staff of life,” “land flowing with milk and honey” (mentioned 70 times in the Bible), and salt—“the salt of the earth” and “savor.” If you want a bundle of easy and creative recipes to use with your ultra simple food stores, I highly recommend Esther Dickey’s book, “Passport to Survival.” It was published in the late 60’s so you will most likely acquire a used copy on Amazon. But I find my copy to be just as useful—if not more so—today than perhaps it was intended to be several decades ago.

So I’ve made food storage as simple as is absolutely possible. Got any more excuses for delaying your food storage?  :)

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

Ok, here it goes. I’m going to challenge you…nah—perhaps the better word is “DARE” you. In fact, I’m going to DOUBLE DOG DARE YA to take this Preparedness Pro Food Challenge.

food-challengeWant to find out if you are really ready for an emergency? Here’s a genuine challenge for you. Your ability to implement it will say a LOT about your ability to truly survive a real emergency. The Preparedness Pro Food Challenge officially begins August 1st and goes throughout the month of August. During the month I challenge you to go an entire two weeks without going to the grocery store for any food or household supplies. 14 days. No grocery purchases, no household cleaners, no produce. Can you and your family survive? No big deal, perhaps? Yeah. Say that after you’ve done it. Then I will bow to you and call you “The Preparedness Queen/King.”

Now take this seriously. No cheating. Don’t go to a restaurant or get one of those free hot dogs at the furniture store promotion either. If you go to the farmer’s market, you’re cheating. Rely on all of your food and household needs strictly based on what you have available to you right now. Do it the entire 14 days. Don’t cut corners. Don’t rationalize. And for goodness sake, don’t starve your family for 14 days. :)

Obviously, a disaster is no respecter of bank account balances, professional positions, or “time of the month.” It’s a true equalizer of all mankind. So, at the end of 14 days, what kind of man or woman will you be? I bet you have no idea just how often you “pick up a little something” at the store.

This challenge is pretty straight forward. It doesn’t need to be made harder than it is. The challenge does not require you to go without electricity or any of your other luxuries in life. Just go two whole weeks without going out and buying anything you need for nutrition or household care.

Groceries photo c/o Shannon Steele

Groceries photo c/o Shannon Steele

The key to this Preparedness Pro Food Challenge is to do it without any notice or preplanning. That means that you don’t go out today and buy all of the groceries that you think you might need to last you two weeks. (Although, if I at least get you to do that much, maybe it’s a good thing. :) ) Interestingly enough, I bet that even if you were to go shopping, you would still find yourself struggling. During this challenge I anticipate that you will struggle with what to cook. You will struggle with eating what you have instead of eating what you’re in the mood for. Bottom line, you will be challenged without all of the modern-day pampering we have when it comes to food.

So, can you take this challenge to heart? Can your family endure it without threatening a mutiny? Remember, I’m not challenging you to go without your other comforts of life. You can still watch television. You can still use your running water. You can still use your microwave and all of your other favored kitchen gadgets. Just abstain from the purchase of any kind of grocery or household items for two whole weeks. Prepare your meals any way you want. Ramen noodles? Frozen pizza? Using the microwave? Fine. Then again I would recommend you actually cook real food during this period as well, but I won’t hold you to that. Just don’t bring any additional supplies into your home to sustain you during this two week Preparedness Pro Food Challenge. Pick any 14 day period you want. Get your whole family on board. In fact, invite your friends and extended family to do the challenge with you as well. Come on, it will be a GREAT experiment!

As you accept and experience this challenge, write your comments on our blog. It will help all of our readers see some of the most basic areas of preparedness which they haven’t considered previously. I guarantee there will be some eye opening experiences.

Giveaway with GREAT Prizes! Photo c/o rei.com

Giveaway with GREAT Prizes! Photo c/o rei.com

At the end of August, we’re going to have a drawing for GREAT emergency preparedness giveaway items. We’re going to give away all kinds of preparedness items such as an EZ Sprouter, non-electric hand mixer, solar head lamp, and more. There’s a cluster of some of my favorite emergency preparedness items and I’m excited to give them to some lucky participants! The more times you write your comments on our blog on this topic, the more times your name will be entered in the drawing. We’ll hold the drawing on September 1st and notify all 12 winners! You may win a solar light/radio, private consultation time with me, or you may win a food storage cookbook. But more importantly, you’ll gain invaluable insight into whether or not you’re prepared in this one simple area. Obviously, if you aren’t able to last 2 weeks comfortably, you’re going to have a lot of trouble lasting a year. But what I really hope is that many of you will gain a sense of confidence and peace seeing that you can truly make it if need be. You can be creative with your cooking. You can be independent of our traditional commerce system. And you can successfully troubleshoot as the two weeks progress.

The question is, why wouldn’t you accept the challenge? There will always be excuses. And I can assure you that an emergency never waits until you are completely ready. Life will still have to go on regardless. But I assure you that none of your excuses will hold much water when you consider the invaluable experience you will gain from this. This is only a two week challenge. You get to keep everything else normal in your life. But through this Preparedness Pro Food Challenge, you’ll begin to see where the gaps may be. You’ll realize perhaps just how reliant you or your family members may be on the conveniences of our society. Your kids will learn what they are made of. You’ll all learn to think and strategize just a bit differently. If I have a vote, I say heck yeah! Take this Preparedness Pro Food Challenge! You’ll be SO glad you did!

The winners have been drawn! Click here to see if you were one of the 12 winners!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

Paying attention can get you some great laughs, memorable moments, or vital warnings. Yesterday I was driving behind a police car and noticed that he had a license plate border that said, “Actually, I prefer bagels.” I got a much needed laugh off of that one. Glad I was paying attention.

Photo c/o globalcrisisnews.com/

Photo c/o globalcrisisnews.com/

Most Americans are unaware at just how tenable the financial culture is in our nation right now. But seriously, to not know it is simply a matter of not paying attention. It’s not like we have to trust in some kind of a prophet to see for ourselves. There is a bounty of evidence right now that begs for our attention so that we can be prepared for an inevitable challenge. This evidence spells out the critical need for us to get our own homes in order so that we can survive through the looming financial crisis.

In 1962, the “Cuban crisis” suddenly left the grocery shelves of stores nationwide empty overnight. Yet there was plenty of warning ahead of time to those who were paying attention. These persons had the ability to be independent of panic and price gouging. Yet did anyone pay attention to a looming financial crisis a year in advance of the triggering incident?

Didn’t Americans wake up to what they thought was a routine day on December 7, 1941? Unfortunately there’s some evidence military didn’t pay attention to and we were tragically caught unaware. 

While the “great depression” erupted in a matter of hours, its effects reached millions of Americans for years, in spite of numerous warning signs. Unfortunately, the indicators of today’s looming financial collapse are more rampant and indicate a much more severe collapse than that of 1929. Here are the reasons why I state as such.

1)     Financial Crisis Clue #1: A new batch of over $12 billion (yes, that’s a “B”) of pay option arm mortgages are coming due this fall. We’ve seen how those due dates have affected the market thus far. With unemployment rising, finance restrictions getting tighter, and the mortgage market being so stale, this is NOT going to be a pleasant ride, folks.

Australian Lacrosse Team Quarantined in South Korea Because of Swine Flu. Photo c/o theage.com.au

Australian Lacrosse Team Quarantined in South Korea Because of Swine Flu. Photo c/o theage.com.au

2)     Financial Crisis Clue #2: Flu outbreak. You do realize that one simple interruption in our nation’s transportation industry will cause a serious financial domino effect, right? There are over 250,000 trucking companies in the U.S. alone. The majority of them are “small businesses.” Just as you live hand to mouth, so do business owners. The trucking industry is no exception. We are due for quite the outbreak of this Swine flu this fall. I’ve never seen a more real potential for a quarantine in the last several decades as I do now. We’ve been warned of a possible quarantine as recent as the first of this month. I’m certain that the delays are being extended as long as possible holding out hope that it won’t be necessary due to the financial domino effect it will have. Other countries have begun some quarantine procedures, costing them over 5 billion dollars a day in lost commerce. I don’t think our economy is healthy enough to endure such a financial hit. The transportation industry is just the tip of the iceberg. Look at the effect a quarantine would have on everything else that doesn’t get paid as a result of consumers not being permitted to go to work. Then look at the businesses that could fail as a result of employees not being able to go to work. Look at the travel industry, hospitality, gasoline, groceries, utilities, credit, entertainment, etc. The cost of a quarantine on our nation would be immense and just by itself bring about a huge depression that would take us 7 years to recover from.

3)     Financial Crisis Clue #3: Hyper inflation. This year the U.S. needs to sell the equivalent of 1.5 times its national deficit amount in the form of foreign investments in order to survive the present financial set back. Unfortunately, we’re almost into August and we haven’t succeeded at that yet. This year our deficit is “only” $1 trillion. However, next year it is $3 trillion. If we aren’t able to raise enough foreign investors for the $1 trillion this year, how are we to expect to raise 1.5 times our projected deficit for 2010—a process which USUALLY begins the quarter preceding the year the investments are needed? When hyperinflation occurs, the only solution is to raise taxes, print more money, or sell foreign bonds. They’ve already raised taxes. We aren’t being successful in selling the bonds. So, what happens if we print more money?

emperor's-new-clothes4)     Financial Crisis Clue #4: Currency value is highly questionable. As I’ve attempted to explain previously, national currency only has value in a fully functional economy.  It only has value when there is a healthy balance between supply and demand. As we see in our news on a regular basis, we’ve long surpassed the criteria for a functional economy. I firmly believe our economy is as dysfunctional as Jon and Kate Gosselin’s marriage. Since the Federal Reserve refuses to publish the M3 report anymore which tells the American people just how much currency is in circulation at one time, we are seriously in store for an “emperor’s new clothes” scenario.  The fact that we don’t know how much money is in circulation does not change the fact that we’re seeing significantly higher amounts of currency being exchanged than ever before. The reason why our government has been staking claim to so much land (in spite of the fact that it’s unconstitutional) is so that there is more “collateral” for our foreign bonds. Fort Knox is empty, folks. Even food commodities which we have had in store in abundance in decades past have been exported in desperation to bring cash flow into our country’s government. The clouds are getting awfully dark in this warning, folks.

5)     Financial Crisis Clue #5: Credit crisis. Why in the world would credit card companies—who know full well that the economy is in serious trouble—start increasing minimum payment requirements to more than double the amount they’ve been in the past? What kind of financial sense does that make? Surely they will lose customers in doing so, or cause bankruptcies due to the irresponsible pool of consumers they cater to, right? So why would they make such a seemingly desperate move? It has to do with the fact that their money isn’t as valuable on the international trade markets any longer. As a result, the credit companies themselves have over extended themselves and thus have to cannibalize their source of income in order to bail themselves out. In addition, if you were to go to a grocery store consistently and find them out of milk each time, wouldn’t that start affecting your confidence in the availability of milk? You might start hoarding it when you did find it, or suspect there was a problem with it. The same is happening with money. Consumers are finding the “money shelves” bare at banks, credit companies, and lending companies. This directly affects consumer confidence so they are not parting with their “milk” quite so easily. Consumer confidence has a HUGE effect on currency value.

Utility Bills Could Bankrupt You. Photo c/o co.fort-bend.tx.us

Utility Bills Could Bankrupt You. Photo c/o co.fort-bend.tx.us

6)     Financial Crisis Clue #6: Credit crisis affects power companies. Most power companies purchase their power in bulk. They are able to do so based on their credit ratings through contracts known as power purchase agreements (PPAs). However, as the credit crunch in our nation becomes more obvious, even power companies are losing their stellar credit ratings and thus have difficulty renewing power purchase agreements, or at the very least, negotiating the best prices. This means, of course, that the power costs are going to go up this fall when many of these agreements are up for renewal. Couple that with the Cap & Trade “TAX” and you have a recipe for yet another financial disaster. It could come to the point where an employee literally cannot afford to drive to work. Your utility costs could bankrupt you. If this type of domino effect occurs, not only would there be a financial collapse, but several utility companies could go bankrupt with no one and nothing to rescue them. Imagine a power company sitting there looking like a ghost town.

Well, I think that suffices for now, folks. My purpose in sharing this with you is to give you yet one more reason why those of you who are preparing for “something” AREN’T crazy, and why the rest of you need to wake up and take advantage of the good times to get ready now. It sure would be a shame if the times of plenty lulled us into a sense of numbness to common sense, wouldn’t it? My friends, I beg you to please wake up and pay attention to the looming financial crisis and prepare accordingly. When this occurs, currency will be useless. Items which have an inherent value to them such as food, medical supplies, fuel, etc. are the only thing that will be worthwhile. Right now you can still obtain such items with our questionable currency. But how long will that last? Is that really a gamble you’re willing to make on your family’s life?

Wake up and smell the currency folks. The financial collapse is indeed looming.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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