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By Kellene Bishop

The second most important aspect of preparedness is your Mental Preparedness. This category isn’t just about attitude, it’s about knowledge as well. Today you will receive some resources for mental preparedness that I have found incredibly useful, all in one article.

James Wesley, Rawles, author of www.survivalblog.com

James Wesley, Rawles, author of http://www.survivalblog.com

To start with, yes, there is an abundance of information available on the internet. However, a word of warning. In order to get the most reliable information for your mental preparedness, use the internet to access university studies, copies of speeches, and previous news articles. Obviously, if you have a website that you trust, use that as well in order to maximize your learning time. I believe that Preparedness Pro is one of those sites you can rely on. Personally I go to www.survivalblog.com since this is founded by James Wesley, Rawles. (He’s the author of “Patriots”, an excellent novel that teaches sound preparedness strategies. He’s truly an expert on matters of preparedness and is also a former US Intelligence Officer.) He has written on his blog every single day for five years, but recently his wife passed away after struggling with cancer. So I’m sure he’s taking a break. In the meantime, you MAY have a chance to catch up on a great deal of his content. I also love everythingunderthesunblog.blogspot.com (corrected link). This is created by one of my heroines, Wendy DeWitt. She was employed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for years to travel all over to teach various aspects of preparedness. The girl knows her stuff! (You can also find some video footage of her classes on YouTube.) Although she doesn’t update her site regularly, there’s a feast of information available otherwise. One last site that I would recommend is www.theheartlandusa.com by Dr. Gregory Evensen. (The site isn’t pretty, but the content is riveting.) Read his editorials and if you get a chance to attend one of his events—DO it! My husband and I attended an all day event of his last Saturday and I can assure you it was worth just about every minute! It’s great to associate with like-minded people, get to the root of concerns, and be educated by knowledgeable individuals instead of just web-spinners.

In addition to reading sites, I’ve found it VERY helpful to get to watch instructional videos for my mental preparedness as well. Videos on making solar powered heaters, or pressure cooking, making wheat meat, etc. I know, I know. You’re probably hollering at your screen right now wondering when I’M going to get on the stick with instructional videos as well. Well, it’s going to be THIS week, so there! :))

This may sound a bit self-defeating, but when it comes to getting information on preparedness, focusing on the internet should not be your only resource. In fact, I smirk a bit every time someone asks me to “post links” to my resources when I write an article—as if we no longer had telephones and libraries anymore. I mean really, folks, not all “facts” are backed up with links to other websites. Seriously though, books are a great resource to have on hand every day—now and even in the midst of calamity.

I personally enjoy and highly recommend the following books for your mental preparedness:

  • “Alas, Babylon” by Pat Frank. (A real eye opener! This is the first book I recommend everyone read who’s thinking about getting into being more prepared.)
  • “Passport to Survival” by Esther Dickey. (Marked up all over with tags, etc.  I use this book all the time. Packed full of information on the use of only 4 food items for long-term survival, it’s also got lots of recipes.)
  • “The Amazing Wheat Book” by LeArta Moulton. (Another book that is all marked up. I’ve never understood the value of wheat so well and felt so confident using it as I did after reading this book. It’s invaluable!)
  • “One Second After” by William Forstchen. (Opened my eyes to components of a disaster I hadn’t thought of before…unfortunately. Note the realistic language in this book does make it “PG-13”.)
  • “Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse” by James Wesley, Rawles.
  • 5000-year-leap“The 5000 Year Leap” by Cleon Skousen. (This one is critical reading to me because it helps me study what kind of a government must be put back into play after the crisis, as well as what kind of government I need to strive for now in order to ensure that our freedoms stay in place.)
  • “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It” by James Wesley, Rawles. (This book just BARELY came out but I’ve already devoured it.)
  • “Cooking Under Pressure” by Lorna Sass. (I consider her the foremost authority in cooking with a pressure cooker and MOST of her recipes have been great! She’s got many great cookbooks for pressure cooking that I would also recommend.)
  • “When There is No Doctor” by Jane Maxwell. (Great resource book!)
  • “When There is No Dentist” by Murray Dickson. (Another great resource book!)
  • “The Bible” by…well, you know who all wrote that.
  • “The Boy Scout Handbook” (This is also a regular read in my house—and not just by my husband.)

The key is that you actually READ these books–not simply have them on hand as some informational reading DURING a crisis. The time for preparatory learning is before the opportunity manifests itself. I heard a gal the other day claim that one of her preparedness “assets” was the fact that she had so many books on preparedness. Uh, nope. Not unless you think you can learn by osmosis.

If you’re inclined to read books from the LDS genre, I highly recommend Chris Stewart series, “The Great and Terrible.” This 6-book series is addictive! It’s like “Alas, Babylon” but on steroids and I absolutely loved it—when I could sneak it out of my husband’s clutches, that is. I also LOVED the book “Prophetic Statements of Food Storage for Latter-Day Saints” by Neil H. Leash.

Ok, those are the books that I’ve read that are fit to recommend for mental preparedness. (Unfortunately there are at least 50 others I’ve read in the last 18 months that AREN’T fit to recommend.)

May I also recommend that you go to as many classes on preparedness topics that you can possibly handle! Anything that fits within the 10 Areas of Preparedness would be worthy of your time. Take your family with you as much as possible, and understand that getting this kind of information is an investment in your family. I had one gal who drove 200 miles last Friday to attend two of my classes. There is another delightful woman who regularly drives 3 ½ hours to attend my classes whenever she can as well. (Yes, I call her a stalker. Hee hee.) And I don’t want to hear any griping about how I’m not any closer to YOU or in your area. I’ve told you a hundred times that I’d be willing to teach in your area if you just took care of travel expenses. All you have to do is contact my assistant Sarah to arrange for dates. We don’t charge anything to teach the classes–yet. It just can’t cost me anything except for time—otherwise I’d definitely go broke.

Bottling butter photo c/o Adventures in Self Reliance

Bottling butter photo c/o Adventures in Self Reliance

Attending classes is an investment in time, and sometimes money, but with as much as you all think I know, you should be aware that I also attend classes at every possible chance I get. It also presents a great opportunity to “interview” other individuals. In doing so, I’ve been turned onto aspects of preparedness that I never would have thought about otherwise—such as cheesewaxing, bottling butter, canning meat, diatomaceous earth, etc. In fact, last Saturday my husband and I spent a rare “free” Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at a Dr. Greg Evensen event. I loved it. It was also great realizing that my husband isn’t crazy. Hee hee.

To be perfectly blunt, if I could do a “mind dump” to share what I know, what’s in these books that I’ve recommended, and what Dr. Evensen teaches to only 500,000 people in America, I would sure sleep better at night. And frankly, every other American could sleep better at night knowing that there are people like you who care and are prepared.

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

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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