One of the side affects to the impending demise of the Amerikan empire will be shortages, many empires have been known to use food shortages to force their will on the commoners in exchange for daily bread (Do a web search on "Biafra" to see what kind of horror this entails). Caching our vital supplies is an important part of bringing down the pig empire. It is also a good idea to disperse a few sets of travel or wilderness gear and a way to get around like a bicycle or cross country skiis.
The Mormons, besides being a little square, have one radical idea; storing food for a rainy day. A storm is brewing and we want to eat too, so here are some things that pack and store well, some of them even come from our own victory gardens.
- MRE Meals (medium-long life)
- Canned Foods (short-medium life)
- Coffee (short-medium life)
- Dried Beans and Corn (medium-long life)
- Dry Fruit and Raisins (short-medium life)
- Dry Milk (medium life)
- Flour - Preferably Whole Wheat (short life)
- Honey (long life, will keep indefinitely if kept sealed and cool)
- Hot Chocolate Mix (short-medium life)
- Instant Mash Potatoes (short-medium life)
- Oatmeal (medium life)
- Olive Oil in bottles or jugs (medium-long life)
- Oven Dried Meat Jerky (short life)
- Pasta (medium-long life)
- Rice (medium-long life)
- Salt & Spices (medium-long life)
- Sugar (long life)
- Tea (medium-long life)
- Vegetable Shortening in cans (long life)
- Vinegar (long life)
- Whole Kernel Wheat (long life)
- Whole Nuts (medium-long life)
- Wine (stored with corks down), Hard Liquor/Spirits (long life)
All shelf life estimates assume a cool dry and sealed environment:
short life=1-2 years, medium life=2-5 years, long life=10 or more years
Most of these foods can either be grown or bought in large containers, the bulk foods section can often order 50lb sacks or 5gal buckets of these foods. Get some clean buckets made from food-grade plastic with good undamaged seals. Drop a block of dry ice into the bucket and then fill with your food, loosely place the lid, after 30 minutes seal the bucket. This eliminates almost all of the nutrient damaging oxygen and safely kills any bugs without poisoning the food.
If a can is bulging at the top and/or bottom, there is a very good chance the food inside is not safe to eat.
Only use long life foods for buried storage. Rotate through storage foods using oldest first in your normal diet, try not to store foods you would not normally eat. (Helpful mnemonic: "Eat what you store, and store what you eat.") Try to store some treats like chocolate or hard candy in your stash; If times are rough, unpalatable foods might not be eaten by picky eaters and people have been known to starve this way.
If you know of a military surplus store, a good Army quartermaster, or if you're simply eBay savvy, try to grab some MRE's (Military abbreviation for "Meals, Ready to Eat"). We now also have DIY low budget pouch canning instructions for a MRE substitute from a research and support team who has been making these meals for radical activists at the bottom of Roadside Chow chapter. An MRE is sealed in a thick plastic pouch and contains an entree (they come in both meat and vegetarian versions), a side dish and dessert (often a cookie or dried fruit), crackers or bread and a spread (usually peanut butter, jelly or cheese flavored spread), a beverage powder to mix with water, and an "accessory pack" containing chewing gum, a moistened towelette, a matchbook, packets of salt, pepper and sugar, either a fork or a spoon, a packet of instant tea or coffee (which will come with a packet of creamer) and a small pack of toilet paper. Some even come with a tiny bottle of Tabasco pepper sauce and a "Flameless Ration Heater". That's a plastic sleeve used to warm your food. Put your sealed meal in, add water to activate the magnesium in it, let the water heat the food through the sealed pouch, and you have a hot meal (Yum!). Follow the directions printed on it so you don't burn yourself. (They're also a source of hydrogen if you want to make a floating weather balloon UFO from a big trash bag.)
One MRE contains around 2-3,000 calories, which is about what you need for a light walking stroll all day. If you're doing hill/mountain climbing, 1 1/2 to 2 should suffice. MRE's are known to cause constipation and stomach upset in some so drink lots of water, eat enough fiber, and carry baking soda to stop the gut burn. A few MRE's make a great caches to pre-stash along a possible evacuation route.
Don't feel like you're supporting the Amerikan Department of Destruction by purchasing these; most were probably stolen anyway, particularly the ones you might find at the gun shows. If they say "U.S. GOVERNMENT, COMMERCIAL RESALE IS UNLAWFUL" on the package, they're the real thing. Just a warning: Current MRE's are sealed in tan plastic. MRE's in dark brown were made in 1995 or earlier and may not be safe to eat.
You can tell how old a MRE or MRE component is by looking for a four digit code on the package. The first digit is the last digit of the year, and the next three is the day of the year it was packaged. So, an MRE with the code "5314" was packaged in the year 2005 (or 1995?) on November 10th (the 314th day). The shelf life of an MRE depends on what temperature it was stored at. If it was kept at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it will stay safe for about 5 years. At 60 degrees, it can stay safe for 10 years.
A trick in the field is to cut the pouch of the food open lengthwise so you can eat out of it like a bowl. The food is often more filling than flavorful, so if you feel like it, bring a long a few small packages of spices to perk up your meals.
A number of companies that make MRE's for the Military or other Government operations (Ameriqual, International Meals Supply, Sopakco, Wornick) also make knock-off versions for civilian sales. They typically have no more than 1,500 calories per meal, so adjust your planning accordingly. They're the ones with the brand names on them (aPack, Eversafe, Meal Kit Supply Canada, MREStar, Sure-Pak) or sealed in clear plastic, and the ones you'll probably find in camping or Army Surplus stores. You can read more info about both military and civilian MRE's at MREInfo.
There are some civilian versions of MRE's that are made with all off-the-shelf items, like Coyote Camp Fireline Chow, which are designed for forest firefighters and long distance hikers. The downside is that their shelf life is only one year.
Another type, often called "Menu C" and sold through MREDepot, is a dead-ringer for the military MRE's, except they have sightly different graphics on the pouches (There is no "US Government Property" notice and the soldier logo is circular instead of oval) and there are extra snack items. These were produced by one of the major MRE manufacturers for a US military contractor working in Iraq and contain either real military or civilian MRE components. Since they were never made for the US Government, they're the closest to an actual government issue MRE as a civilian can legally buy.
The US also produces a other types of rations:
- Humanitarian Daily Rations (HDR), which are vegetarian, but may have a small amount of dairy ingredients. The packages are bright yellow or salmon pink. Each one is supposed to be a day's ration and will have two entrees.
- Tailored Operational Training Meal (TOTM), which is more of a "box lunch" version and doesn't have as much items as a regular MRE.
- Long Range Patrol Food Packet (LRP) and Meal, Cold Weather (MCW), which have dehydrated items that need water added. LRP's are in tan plastic, MCW's are in white.
- First Strike Ration (FSR), which is a stripped down version of an MRE with three meals in a single pouch (Mostly shelf-stable pocket sandwiches and energy bars).
- There are special Kosher and Halal rations which are marked as such. They're known as "Meal, Religious, Kosher (or Halal)" and are in cardboard boxes instead of a mylar bag.
A bit a warning about the toilet paper you'll find in US Government MRE's: The paper is known for having a very coarse texture and isn't very "user friendly". Military folk have often called MRE toilet paper "John Wayne paper" because it's "rough, tough, and doesn't take any shit from anyone".
A firearm must be prepared before caching it in the ground, a grease gun can be used to fill the cleaned dry barrel and goop up the internal mechanical parts. Vaseline petroleum jelly also works well. The outside is also coated and then the whole gun is wrapped in paper then plastic sacked so the grease is sealed in. The protected firearm is placed into a heavy-duty PVC pipe with one pipe cap already cemented on and sealed, a large silica gel moisture absorber which has been baked at 200 Degrees for two hours is a good idea to add. Place a plastic bag wad into the tube to keep the gun from sliding up the the end that the second pipe cap is at. Glue the second cap on with plenty of PVC cement, after everything is sealed, paint the end cap that is safe to saw off.
Ammunition can be cached like your greased up weapon. It is a good idea to bury ammo, a gear vest, some good boots, and a little food next to your rifle so you will be ready for action if it gets so bad.
Bury the cache away from buildings, roads, running water, buried utility lines, etc. Roads move, gas lines are dug up, houses are added on to, all possibly uncovering your cache or making it unreachable. A good place might be 20 feet due north of a lone tree. If you bury it right at the base of the tree, the tree may blow over, be struck by lightning, or burn down, possibly exposing the roots and bringing your cache to the surface. Even if the tree eventually dies, the stump or resulting depression can still be located many, many years later. I cut down a giant elm tree nine years ago, had the stump ground out, and can still locate the exact spot.
Don't mark your cache with a stake or rock. Even empty fields are occasionally brush-hogged, or burned off with wild-fire. Any marker at all will be a dead give-away to the cache location. If you must mark it, put the marker a set number of paces away in a certain direction, e.g. 4 paces due south of the cache. In case the marker is removed, try to measure a second way to get to it, e.g. 12 feet east of this stone, or 40 feet south of that boulder.
Lastly, don't write down the GPS coordinates of your cache. If you do write it down, mark it in code, or only record the last few digits or each coordinate. Anyone with a GPS-equipped cell-phone or hand-held GPS unit and a little time to kill may go dig up random coordinates they come across.
Bury the cache deep enough to avoid casual discovery, but not so deep that it takes all night to dig up - three feet is a good compromise. Farmers do not plow more than one foot deep, and commercial metal detectors cut out at about two feet. Remember to disguise any signs of recent digging, and visit the cache after a few months to check for a depression due to settling of the dirt. Bury the cache 'standing up' in the hole if at all possible - it will require a smaller hole that way, and leave fewer signs on the surface. It will also provide a smaller footprint to metal detectors.
Our favorite mode of transportation is the bicycle. When times get tougher, these will be in great demand. Plan to have several reserve bikes bought at thrift store prices for when everyone wants one.
For caching purposes the hardware can be removed and stored in grease or oil or spares can be purchased. The following are especially sensitive to the elements:
- cables and cable tubes
- inner tubes
If possible store the bicycles in a heated dry room, garages in anywhere but the driest areas will rust a bicycle in a few years. Bicycles kept outdoors should have all hardware, tires, and inner tubes removed and placed into a waterproof bucket with silica gel packets, plan several hours to reassemble such a prepared bicycle. Clean well and spray all exposed steel parts remaining like the sprockets with a heavy marine spray grease.
Marking a cache
If you are caching your things outside you will need a way to find the treasure, be careful to bury in a place that they are unlikely to excavate, plough, or build on or you will loose your cache. A piece of aluminum can with hints impressed onto it and nailed to the upper side of a branch on a prominent tree or landmark is hard to see from the ground and will last for years, painting the badge black or green makes it harder for a hiker to find it by chance but also for you to find. To help you find your cache lay a medium sized rock over the final burial site in case the area gets overgrown. Don't place all of your trust that GPS will help you find a cache, in the future it may be switched to another system. Be cautious that you are not observed while placing your cache or you may find it missing when you need it.