(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Food during a nuclear or volcanic winter)
A. Scientists Map Food Security, Self-Provision of Major Cities
12 Dec. 2013, ScienceDaily, by the University of Copenhagen.
Pasted from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212100055.htm
Wealthy capital cities vary greatly in their dependence on the global food market. The Australian capital Canberra produces the majority of its most common food in its regional hinterland, while Tokyo primarily ensures its food security through import. The Copenhagen hinterland produces less than half of the consumption of the most common foods. For the first time, researchers have mapped the food systems of capital cities, an essential insight for future food security if population growth, climate change and political instability will affect the open market. Several partners in the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) are behind the study.
“The three major cities in our study achieve food security by different degrees of self-provision and national and global market trade. It is important to understand such food flows in order to relate it to the energy challenge and the risk of national political unrest caused by food shortages and its effect on the open food trade,” says Professor Dr. John R. Porter from the University of Copenhagen, who is leading author on the study recently published online in the journal Global Food Security.
John R. Porter is also the main lead author of the forthcoming report from the IPCC Working Group 2 on food production systems and food security, which will be released following governments’ review, in March 2014.Higher farmland yields have influenced the cities self-provisioning over the past 40 years, but overall the ability of cities to feed themselves is unlikely to keep pace with increasing population, the research shows.
Self-provisioning does not increase in line with population growth
Particularly in the capitals of Australia and Japan, where the population has increased tremendously over the past 40 years, the self-provision has declined; in Canberra from 150 to 90 percent and in Tokyo from 41 to 27 percent.
This is despite the increase in yield of agricultural land per hectare. Copenhagen on the other hand, has increased its self-provision slightly from 34 to 45 percent because its population has remained fairly constant.
“When the local capacity to supply a city declines, it becomes more dependent on the global market. As an example, Japan imported wheat from 600,000 hectares of foreign farmland to meet the demand of their capital and surrounding region in 2005. This means that large cities should now start to invest in urban agriculture especially if climate change has large effects on food production and other parts of the food chain in the future,” says John R Porter.
The study has exclusively focused on the historical and current production and not considered whether changes in land management practices can increase productivity further or whether consumers are willing to limit their intake to local seasonally available goods. It did not include citizen-based production from allotments, urban gardens etc.
Scientific debate on food security and urbanization
More than half the human population lives in or near cities. That has increased global food transportation which makes up 15 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions.Both food security and urbanization is on the program for next year’s major international conference on sustainability hosted by the IARU partnership. John Porter is organizing the session on global challenges and sustainable solutions related to food security.
“The congress will be an important event to discuss new insight in global food security and the different challenges faced by rural and urban populations. Also, we get a unique chance to stimulate the discussion with input from expertise of other disciplines, such as economy, biodiversity and health.”
B. Feeding Yourself Through a Nuclear, Impact, or Volcanic Winter
18 January 2013, Schemabyte.com, by scemabyte author (see website)
Pasted from: http://schemabyte.com/feeding-yourself-through-a-nuclear-impact-or-volcanic-winter/
The primary orientation of prepper gardens is disaster scenarios. Disaster scenarios such as volcanic winters, however, involve a reduction of sunlight and heat that would reduce the efficiency of gardens, if not outright destroy them. We should keep winter crops in our stockpiles and have the skills to fall back to mushroom and insect farming, should it come to that.
1816 was the “Year Without a Summer” when volcanic and solar activity combined to create freezing temperatures that caused widespread crop failures. By Giorgiogp2 (Own work)
There’s a number of ways how enough particulate matter could be injected into the atmosphere to reduce the global temperature and block out sunlight, thus affecting plant life and our crops.These kinds of things don’t necessarily have to be regional. They could impact the entire planet. If the event’s small enough, you could just pack your seed stores and hit the trail. But if it’s a big one, there’s probably nowhere to go where you’ll be much more effective than where you are.
If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m not trying to cause you to react to these threats in a fear-based way. Instead, I’m suggesting that we ensure we have the proper supplies and skills to react to them – that we prep.
In no particular order:
1. A severe volcanic eruption could create a volcanic winter. Major volcanic eruptions frequently occur; check out the timetable on wikipedia.org. 1816 was the Year Without a Summer caused by a combination of volcanic and solar activity, resulting in a severe food shortage.
2. A series of nuclear explosions could theoretically create a nuclear winter. The ash and dust in this scenario would get lifted into the stratosphere, where rain couldn’t wash it down. One of the hypotheses over on Wikipedia holds that temperatures would become colder than the Little Ice Age and would last for more than a decade from a small exchange of nuclear weapons. Per that hypothesis, a large exchange would make agriculture completely impossible.
3. The impact of a sizable asteroid or comet on earth could create an impact winter. Per that Wikipedia article, one study showed there’s a 1 in 10,000 chance a sizable rock could hit us in the next century.
Three Possible Approaches to Nuclear, Impact, and Volcanic Winters
There’s three possible solutions I see for resolving this scenario.You could:
1. Wait it out. If your food stores are big enough, just bunker down and there you have it. This is ideal because it minimizes the variables, of course, if you have enough supplies.
2. Generate artificial light. If you have an alternative energy source and a hell of a lot of plant lights, you could play space station.
3. Adapt your farming.
I don’t like the first two options for the same reason, although you should certainly have some supplies to implement them as possible.
1. When your entire plan relies on stored food or technology, then your entire focus becomes protecting and rationing those resources.
2. Sufficient food or alternative energy for either proposition directly impacts your mobility and is situation dependent.
3. Significant investment is required up-front for both of those solutions, and investing in that way could mean you’re not preparing for other disaster circumstances.
After your supplies fail, only an alternative way of farming will keep you alive.
Winter Crops with Low Light Requirements
Hopefully, an artificial winter wouldn’t totally block out the light. Instead, the atmosphere would just filter out much of the sunlight. While still disastrous for most crops, there’s some that don’t need as much light and heat. The problem is that edible plants that grow well in really low light aren’t, generally speaking, the same plants that grow in cold temperatures. Even when there’s a bit of overlap, plants that grow in very low light have very low nutrition. Light is, after all, their food.Nevertheless, I’m with you on this. If there’s some light coming on down, let’s bust out our winter crops and go year-round with them.
Per organicgardening.about.com, your best bet for vegetables in the shade are:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Leafy Greens like collards, mustard greens, spinach, and kale
- Salad Greens like leaf lettuce, arugula, endive, and cress.
- Swiss Chard
Per forums.gardenweb.com, garden.lovetoknow.com, guardian.co.uk, and telegraph.co.uk, some good winter crops might be:
- Broad Beans
- Brussel Sprouts
- Cabbage – spring cabbage
- Lettuce – lambs & winter lettuce
- Onions, Spring Onions, Shallots
- Peas – english & sweet
But that’s way optimistic. For my money, I’m sticking with the southernstates.com zone 7 recommendations.
Combine that with the shady vegetable list above, you’re left with beets, broccoli, lettuce, peas, and spinach. Good thing those are all tasty. Feel free to correct me (on either recommended vegetables for low heat + low light or on the tastiness opinion) in the comments. Something else to keep in mind XS29L on survivalistboards.com‘s excellent advice of focusing on sprouting; sprouts don’t require light and, even though it’s not sustainable forever, it’s a lot better than just relying on your dried and canned stores if the skies darken.
In a “true” nuclear or volcanic winter, traditional agriculture would become completely impossible. Without greens to feed animals, farming for the most part would be annihilated until the stratosphere cleared enough to let some sunlight back in. But the trees could live on for decades because of their sugar stores and slow metabolisms. They wouldn’t produce much, if anything, but they’d still be there. That’s good, we can feed mushrooms with wood.
If you want to play Darwin, read the list of edible fungi on wikipedia.org. What we’re really talking about here, though, is mushrooms and truffles. Perhaps there’s a species of yeast that could grow on bark and the two together would be quite tasty, but if you go sucking on something like that I don’t want to know about it.
The easiest way to grow mushrooms (and the only way if you aren’t good at identifying them) is to buy a mushroom-growing kit from a company like mushbox. Making sure you pick an edible one, of course, you then take the fruited mushrooms off to a dark corner and continue to feed them substrate – and they continue to produce. Some mushrooms need light to propagate, so you need to verify that before proceeding, but the light requirements for those species that do need it is insignificant compared to plants. White, crimini, and portobello (which are just large crimini) mushrooms need complete darkness, so those are winners on that score.
Since stable mushroom colonies don’t keep producing in the winter outside and might even die if it gets too cold, the plan is to grow them indoors. Makes it easier, anyway, because they have to be kept humid as well as warm (misted once or twice a day). Since heat rises, logically the best place for your mushroom farm is going to be as high up in your house as you can go, keeping in mind that the attic might be out of the question unless you have good air circulation there. If there’s some sunlight, you could consider the greenhouse in a shady area too.
The substrate you feed the mushrooms depends on the type of the mushroom you’re growing. Check out the Mushroom Shack product page for a description of the various choices available to you like straw, logs, sawdust, compost, paper & cardboard, and other organic materials. Per ehow.com, the classic white button mushroom prefers compost. While I understand portobello is more sensitive and difficult than white mushrooms, be aware that most of the online descriptions are targeted toward professional growers. Once you get the colony going, you should be able to just feed them things like wood chips and other discards, mostly just focusing on not introducing competing fungi.
Don’t Forget the Crawlies
As long as you’re out scrounging in the wet and dark for wood to feed your mushrooms, pick up some of the other rotted stuff for your mealworms, termites, and other micro-livestock that can earn off a living off the other crap you’ll be able to find. You actually give them the worst of what you scrounge up and save the good stuff for the mushrooms.
This list of wood-attacking insects could actually be a menu for us someday. (http://www.entomology.wisc.edu/insectid/wood-attk.php)
I won’t go too deeply into this since I just put out a post titled “Micro-Livestock: Why More Preppers Should Consider Farming Insects”, but insects are a perfect candidate for the wintry world after nuclear blasts, a meteor impact, or a large volcanic eruption.
Certainly, you can look to feed those insects to chickens or fish if you want to move further up the animal chain. And certainly, hunt and fish while it lasts.
But if it’s a long winter, and it very well could be, you can thank me for that delicious termite and mushroom stew. Save some for me.
Byte: The Scenario
- A change falls upon the land from a volcanic eruption, the skies darken, and the crops fail.
- Live off stored food and sprouted grains, expanding insect and mushroom farming capacity.
- Turn on the space station in your basement as you near stockpile emptying, powering your grow lights with energy from a wind turbine, modified exercise bike, or whatever else your prepper ingenuity has prepared.
- Revert to insects, whatever you still have that can live off bugs, and mushrooms after the stockpiles empty and the technologies fail. Talk about your Atkins diet.
- Survive to the day when the sky lightens and winter crops will succeed.
Resources & More Reading
Nuclear Winter – wikipedia.org
Volcanic Winter – wikipedia.org
Impact Winter – wikipedia.org
Year Without a Summer – wikipedia.org
Timetable of major worldwide volcanic eruptions – wikipedia.org
Which edible plant requires the least amount of sunlight to grow? – survivalistboards.com
Top 10 vegetables to grow over winter – telegraph.co.uk
Ten Vegetables You Can Grow Without Full Sun – organicgardening.about.com
Fresh vegetables in winter – forums.gardenweb.com
How to grow winter veg – guardian.co.uk
Best Producing Winter Vegetable Garden – garden.lovetoknow.com
Planting Fall and Winter Vegetables, Good For Nutrition and Good For Your Pocket – southernstates.com
Top 10 Vegetables to Grow Over Winter – thompson-morgan.com
Winter Garden Crops – greenhousecatalog.com
Vegetables to grow in winter: a how-to guide – permaculture.co.uk
How to Grow Truffles Indoors – ehow.com
If The Sun Went Out, How Long Would Life On Earth Survive? – popsci.com
How to Grow Edible Mushrooms in Your Backyard – tobuildagarden.com
Grow mushrooms indoors with a kit – oregonlive.com
How to Grow Portobello Mushrooms – http://growyourownmushrooms.net/
How to Grow Mushrooms in Coffee Grounds – ehow.com
Types of mushroom Substrates – mushroomshack.com
What Is the Natural Habitat for Mealworms? – ehow.com
Darkling Beetle/Mealworm Information
.C. What’s it like during an ashfall?
Excerpts pasted from: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/ashfall.htmlWhen ash begins to fall during daylight hours, the sky will turn increasingly hazy and “dusty” and sometimes a pale yellow color. The falling ash may become so dense that daylight turns to murky gray or even an “intense blackness” such that “it is impossible to see your hand when held up close to the eye.” Loud thunder and lightning and the strong smell of sulfur often occurs during an ash fall. Furthermore, rain may accompany the ash and turn the tiny particles into a slurry of slippery mud. Most people also describe an intense quietness, except for thunder that may accompany the ash fall, giving a “deadness” to the normal sounds of life.During a heavy ash fall and for several days after, normal community and business services are typically severely limited or completely unavailable. Transportation systems are likely to be shut down or restricted—roads may be impassable or purposefully blocked, airports temporarily closed. People will be stranded away from home. Electrical power may be intermittently unavailable when conditions favor