Austere food

There has got to be a million books out there on growing your own food and field foraging for edibles.

Yet what you’ve got to ask yourself is “Can the modern digestive system stand REAL FOOD or the same diet day in and day out?” For example. SWMBO is a very versatile cook. With very few basic ingredients she will turn out a good nutritious meal devoid of the manufactured gunk that people call sauces in jars, or packet stir in flavourings.

Yet she has a few weaknesses. (Read on SWMBO before flattening me).
Too often in the UK you can get a variety of foods that are not native to our country OR should be seasonable foods but aren’t anymore as they are flown, shipped or some other way transported onto the stores shelves all year. As a home-grown example, the humble apple. As an ‘exotic’ I’ll quote you rice. Both available without too much bother and grown in deepest darkest wherever for the discerning foodies. Thus she has her favourites. Sweet peppers are one, pineapples, and bananas.

Until everything stops, the system collapses, and the UK has to survive on what it grows only returning to a simpler less chemical, no diesel so no machinery, more humble type of subsistence farming. Problem is that’s not a lot.

OK the humble potato can be churned out for most of the year but without careful cultivation and plenty of anti pest chemicals, you may literally have to kill for a single SPUD!

Yet there are alternatives. Other edible tubers.
As an example I’ll quote you the bulrush / bullrush / reedmace.

bullrushIn early spring, dig up the roots looking for the small pointed shoots (Corms).
Peeled they can be eaten like salad foods or added to stews
Late spring the leaf bases are full of flavour raw or cooked.
Bit later and the shoots above water can be peeled and eaten
In late spring to early summer, you’ll see the start of the cat-tails.
Boiled and eaten like corn on the cob or just raw.
Later the heads start to produce yellow pollen.  That’s a substitute flour and thickener.
From Autumn to early spring its roots time. Boil them to get a high yield starch which can be turned into a flour.
During this period and all the way through to spring, the most abundant food product, the root starch (loads more than the potato), is available.
The boiled roots also make a sweetening syrup.
Not forgetting the actual brown seed pod.
That’s full of nutritious seed and fluffy cotton material.
(Only a caution here. It can contain all manner of little “bugs” and insects).
Treat it with high temperatures to kill off all ‘wildlife’.

Still Not a bad plant with all year uses as a food.
So that’s us sussed, who needs the humble spud?

I’ve painted a nice picture I think and as it grows in wetlands, streams ditches, rivers and lakes, it’s easy to find, cultivate, and harvest.

Right up until I return to TEOT (modern) WAWKI.
Take our river. Many miles of navigable water and no less than 6 ‘automated’ sewage plants. It passes though 8 major towns and one city, past industrial centres, in short the sort of thing that makes environmentalists cringe let alone me thinking about the collapse of those automated systems. One word “YEUK!”

There are many other food stuffs but I for one have got to be careful as years of abuse i.e. Pizza, Chinese and Malay food (the real versions), and all things bad for you in British food have rendered me ‘sensitive’ to too much of natural foods. I suspect others will find the same. Still you really need to get one of those simple ‘foraging the countryside for natural foods’ types of books and start experimenting now before the main event.

Fungus (mushrooms and the like) is the number one cause of getting dead even by the experts. Identification can be a nightmare, poisoning can be slow and with no antidotes. I’ll probably get a bit of flack for saying this but my PERSONAL ADVICE is don’t take any chances and that also transfers across to berry picking. Just because animal life eats something that does not mean it’s safe for you to eat!

Only rabbit food is never the bottom line to diet (unless you are one of those weird vegan type people) and the rabbit is firmly on my list of stables.
Where to carry on from rabbit?
The list is endless including birds and furry things as I’m pretty sure it will be for most although I do draw the line at carrion eaters and especially rat burgers!
There is that river though. Fish, crayfish, shellfish and the like.

Except there is that thing about what’s in the water that can contaminate the living let alone plant life.

Finally no throw up talk about food would be complete without mentioning bugs, worms and the like.


Enough said!

Back to reality (sort of) and my banner
“You wanna know the funny thing about the end of the world?
The world is still there afterwards”.

Yes it will be, although the shops will have been stripped and homes ransacked.
Just about everything you can imagine BUT WORSE may have happened.
Only in the UK and the rest of the world there will always be stuff for foraging where people have lived. You’ll just have to be creative, cunning, and lucky.

Tinned and dried foodstuff will probably be everyone’s goal and rightly so but how many will take flour, rice, pasta, or anything that needs preparation. I watch in supermarkets at baskets being filled and I cringe. Processed foods are high on a lot of people’s shopping lists and I recall a story SWMBO told me about a cookery class where one girl did not know “how to work a lemon”she struggled to find the flip top to get the lemon juice out.
Not a lot has changed for many people so that alone will probably finish off a lot of the surviving population. Which leaves me and SWMBO, plus a few million more (unfortunately).

A list of long-term foodstuff will get you thinking about the value of what is left.
Gone will be the “Display to, Sell by, Best before, and Use by” rubbish labelling.
Canned food (subject to whether the contents are acidic or not and how it is stored) can far exceed the ‘Use By’ nonsense. As for dried foods, beans, pulses, rice, flour, and some pastas, can last for many years. Curiously so can dog food, ash content and all!

Now I don’t care how bad the devastation was (and I’ve seen some pretty heavy sh’t round the world to base this comment on) THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING LEFT.

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