Saturday, December 29, 2012

Above is a picture of our garlic this year, 2012, and yes, we all, or most of us are still here. If you would like to know what we have been up to, go to our website or, our shopping cart, or, if you would like to join our CSA Customer Shares Program; and as always our e-mail address is a quick way to say hi. 2013 seems to be shaping up as another hot dry year. We use drip lines and plastic sheeting and well water to grow some of the best tasting produce in Missouri. This year once again we will have greens, root crops, cole crops, tomatoes, peppers and we will be trying some new things as always. Also, we have up loaded a video on our website to let everyone see what we did in 2012. We will begin delivering produce again in March and hope to see you then. Thank you for keeping us in your sure does help.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taking orders for 2012

Here is my updated link.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cutoff Date for 2012 CSA

"A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production." This a quote from Wikipedia. The Little Muddy Farm is one of the first farms to offer this opportunity for supporters of locally grown food for The Greater Kansas City area. As we have grown so has our customer base. There is a reason it is called growing 'pains'. As there is more interest, there is more demand. A farming operation is different than a produce delivery business. When you go to a grocery store, the produce there, is there, because of an established network of nation wide farms and now global farms, that stock the shelves of those store based on weekly deliveries. What isn't sold is thrown out or donated to the local food bank that then distributes it to food kitchens and food pantries. The local farm very seldom enters this food change because most don't have year round production and all are unable to enter the corporate level needed to fulfill the demands of mega stores. That is why we depend on local consumers to support us, without you the small family farm cannot survive; it becomes a hobby farm with most of the family members holding down weekly jobs off the farm with farm chores being done in the evenings or on weekends. As you know a full time farmer earns the majority of his income during the growing season and spends it in the winter, his off season. This is why prepaying for your produce now ensures that there will be a sufficient supply in the warmer months when growing produce is practical. Having said all of this, we have decided to cutoff membership in our CSA on March 15, 2012: when farmers like me, have to pay their taxes, insurance, seed and misc. expenses. If you are interested in being a share holder with The Little Muddy Farm in 2012, we will need a commitment from you. $75.00 now will hold your share for the upcoming season. You may then make monthly installments, you decide how much. For those who will be making pickups at The Lee's Summit Farmers' Market, payments will need to be made in full by May 1, 2012. Return to and open an account and select down payment for 2012. After I receive your transfer of funds I will mail you a contract for your copy and you may make payments by mail or simply add your installments to my paypal account.

I want to thank all of you for making 2011 our best year yet. Thank you and be sure to our check out our new line of cultured cheeses and kefir drinks. More on that with our next update. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Post Harvest Vegetable Care on the Farm

When we finally started our own mixed vegetable operation in a 69 acre farm field, there were no trees, much less a walk-in cooler. We didn’t think it would matter much. After all, our goal was to provide the freshest possible produce to our CSA members. We’d wake up early enough to harvest everything we planned on distributing that same day. What could be better than “just picked” greens, lettuce, tomatoes and squash?

It wasn’t until some members started complaining that our mesclun seemed to go bad in their refrigerators faster than the week-old stuff from California that we began to look more closely at what we were doing. We realized that our responsibility to high quality vegetables didn’t end once the product left out farm gate. Many of our customers were keeping our vegetables around for days (and even weeks) after we thought they would be consumed.

We learned that how we handle produce before, during and even minutes after harvesting makes a huge difference to the long term quality. Deterioration happens for a number of reasons including temperature, loss of water, physical damage, disease micro-organisms and even natural ripening processes. Now we try to take those factors into account even from the very start. Ironically it has, in most cases actually increased our harvest efficiency time-wise - and the increase in flavor and shelf-life for our customers definitely makes it more worth it.

In addition to giving out higher quality produce that will last longer in our customers’ fridges, we can also now comfortably spread our harvest out over more days (meaning we can handle larger CSA distributions with less labor!)

Before the Harvest
Our post-harvest care actually starts a few days before our harvest with one thing we have (some) control over: water! We make sure that there is enough soil moisture before we harvest leafy greens and lettuce. Often this means irrigating before we harvest – but not right before we harvest, because we don’t want to be picking wet leaves. We do the same thing with carrots – irrigating enough that we don’t have to fork the carrots too much before they’ll slide easily out of the soil, reducing physical stress on the carrots, and our backs.

For other crops like tomatoes and melons we take the opposite approach and reduce or stop watering altogether as we near harvest time to concentrate flavors. There’s only so much we can reduce water on some heirloom melon varieties because harvests can be quite spread out, but that’s definitely not the case with tomatoes! We grow our tomatoes in open sided high tunnels so we have perfect control over how much water they get which allows us to coordinate our pickings for peak flavor.

It’s a surprisingly persistent myth that tomatoes ripen better on the vine than off. In fact, on hot days, tomatoes won’t ripen as well or evenly on the vine as they do off. If you don’t believe me, try a blind taste test with your customers! What does matter with flavor is how much water you’ve given your tomatoes the day or two before harvesting. We cut down our drip irrigation times 50 hours before picking and stop watering altogether 36 hours before harvesting – starting up again immediately after picking. If you’ve tasted the difference between tomatoes harvested just after a rain storm, versus after a few days of dry hot weather, you already know what a difference this can make. Although we grow several heirloom varieties each year, we’ve found we can impressively concentrate the flavor of our hybrids to the point that customers don’t necessarily prefer heirlooms to hybrid varieties when given the choice.

In a complete turn-around from our earlier “just-picked” snobbery, we find that timing harvests based on weather and water actually leads to better long-term quality of our produce. For example, I’d rather harvest lettuce even three days early than during a rain that’s predicted for our distribution day! Same with cilantro and other more delicate crops. Some varieties of Broccoli are especially susceptible to fungal disease from rain water sitting in the heads… but we really LIKE those varieties, so may harvest them days earlier than a distribution, too.

The most important thing to remember is that the quality of your produce is not going to improve once it’s off the plant! Small indentations on tomatoes – or diseased spots on our Swiss Chard get worse looking every day. We cull poor quality produce in the field rather than having to sort through it up in the barn where it can make a whole tub look bad.

We fill tubs only loosely, rather than “packing them in” even if it means more trips in and out of the field, and we minimize stacking of crates in transport if we’re worried that one might fall into another, bruising leaves. When we do find bruised leaves up at the barn, we pull them out immediately, BEFORE they go into the cooler.

I pick squash with jersey-cotton gloves, but my wife Kate has beautiful, soft womanly hands so she can pick ‘em bare handed. We’ve seen what punctures and scratches can do to summer and winter squash over time – and we remind ourselves we aren’t just picking for the quality over the 2 days before distribution, but for the next 10 days our customers might be keeping them in their refrigerator. Vegetables are never tossed into crates, and crates are never tossed down. If we have helpers, they are taught the importance of the “gentle touch” when they’re grabbing produce.

Because we pick our tomatoes at “first blush” they get less bruised even if they get stacked a little high in the harvest containers. Still, we prefer not to let our hybrid tomatoes get stacked in the crates more than 2½ layers deep, and heirloom varieties are layered flat with nothing on top of them. We pick them into the same crates they’ll be stored in to minimize handling damage.

For lettuce and leafy green crops we try to time harvests when it’s cooler out. That used to mean harvesting early in the morning, but now we balance that with our concern over nitrate toxicity. Nitrates build up overnight in leafy vegetables - especially in the spring and fall here in the Northeast and it’s advisable to pick after at least 4 hours of sunlight especially if it was cloudy the day before. That means we pick our greens and lettuce in the evening before a distribution if we can. Often we have too many hours of harvesting to do, so we have to pick in the day, but we bring down tubs of wet sheets that we drape over the crates while harvesting and stack the tubs in the shade of our harvest trailer. As the sun climbs higher, we take turns driving up to the cooler every 30 minutes to minimize the time the crops sit in the sun.

For crops that we will be water cooling with a hose, we make sure our harvest tubs have holes in the bottom to drain out the water.

Post-Harvest Temperature Control
The chart at the end of this article shows optimum storage temperatures for a selection of crops. Even if you can’t reach the perfect temperatures, if you get nothing else out of reading this article, I hope it’s how critically important it is to get crops down towards their optimal temperatures as soon as possible once they are off plant.

To use strawberries as an example, the ideal temperature to store them at is 32 F. Store them at 65 and you reduce their storage life by over 70%. That’s depressing enough, but what’s far worse is letting them sit at 77 deg F for just the few hours you might spend harvesting! Delay your cooling by only 4 hours from harvest and you reduce your storage time by almost half! Let them sit for 6-8 hours you’re back down to 70% reduction in storage life even if you cool them down to 32 after that!

Also remember that the effects of temperature are additive. The most damage occurs immediately after harvest, because the crop is often even hotter than 77 degrees because it was sitting out in the sun. But even after you’ve cooled them down, they are going to heat up again at your farm stand… and then in your customers’ cars on the way home. All those sub-optimal times add up together to destroy the quality of your produce, so it’s essential that you control what you can control – especially in that first 30-60 minutes immediately after harvest!

In the case of especially sensitive crops like strawberries, it’s also a question of marketability. We used to desperately rush around trying to line up customers for our flats of strawberries each spring before they went “gross”. It was frustrating enough that we considered dropping the whole crop. Now we regularly sell 3-4 day old strawberries that look much better than the one day old strawberries we used to sell.

Some crops are “hydro-cooled” which for us means they are gently sprayed off with cold well-water. If you have helpers, it’s really important to alert them to how much damage they can do directing a high pressure stream of water at your crops! Stronger crops like heartier Kale and collards… turnips, carrots, and beets might get sprayed down, but we don’t do that for lighter greens, lettuce, basil, cilantro, or other crops that might hold the water, causing other types of decay problems.

Instead, we make sure they are packed lightly into harvest crates, and we spread the crates out only one layer deep on the cooler floor to maximize their access to the cold air. They stay like that for the 30 minutes it takes us to come up with the next trailer load of veggies – then they are stacked up or placed on wire mesh shelves and the new load of veggies are spread out on the cooler floor.

Whether you are hydro-cooling or air cooling, it’s critical to get the core temperature of your produce down as quickly as possible to maintain quality and nutrition. As small growers we can learn a lot by looking at large agribusiness processing companies that process their crops right in the field with huge cooling, cleaning and processing rigs that move along with the pickers!

Walk-In Coolers Getting crops cooled down fast is something we can control, but for many small, diversified growers, we have to maintain our coolers at a compromise of temperatures. Trying to keep eggplants, peppers, lettuce and chard in the same cooler means you sort of have to pick a middling temperature or you’ll end up with chilling injuries to sensitive crops (like cucumbers, peppers and eggplants) which can do lots of damage to your crop quality in a very short amount of time!

We started out with a home-built walk-in cooler and an Air Conditioner (and of course the CoolBot – but in one it's earlier incarnations!) set to a “compromise” temperature of 42-45 degrees. The CoolBot kept changing, but but the a/c unit and the Cooler never did. As the CoolBot improved over the years, we were able to more definitively set the temperature to what we wanted. We woul lower the temperature more in the fall or early spring when we were picking cold-loving crops like strawberries, broccoli and cabbage, and raise it in the summer. We never put tomatoes in it. That system actually worked very well for us.

Now that we're larger, we’ve graduated to running two home-built coolers maintained at different temperatures.

We store our tomatoes in the same tulip crates they were harvested in. They are kept between 58 and 70 degrees depending on how long we need them to last. Tomatoes stored below 55 degrees get mealy..

However you cool your product, it’s important that the temperature they are stored at be consistent, to minimize the likelihood of condensation forming on the surface -reducing quality and providing another vector for disease organisms.

Post-Harvest Moisture/Humidity Control
As mentioned earlier, moisture control starts even before harvest with irrigation, but it doesn’t end there. In our cooler right now, we have a ten pound bag of young summer squash loosely tied at the top. We packed them up for a local restaurant over two weeks ago and… they never came to pick them up. We intended to throw them out, but we didn’t get around to it. That bag of squash is sitting just across the aisle from several shallow, ventilated crates of squash we picked just 4 days back. We intended to cover that squash with wet sheets because the crates allow air to come in on all four sides drying out the squash quite rapidly. What’s interesting about this is that the 14 day old squash looks and feels much more fresh and “just picked” than the 2 day old squash!

Just a small percentage of water loss will reduce the quality and crunch of your produce. Even if you use a humidifier, the cold air in a cooler just can’t hold as much water as warm air, and things are going to dry out. So (normally) when we pick into black tulip crates, we throw a wet sheet over the crates to keep things moist and spritz it regularly OR line the crates with plastic garbage bags that are open enough to allow air flow, but closed enough to keep more moisture in.

Many farmers use low-cost Rubbermaid crates that seal up tightly and do a great job keeping moisture in, but the complete lack of air and standing water that builds up at the bottom of the tubs creates dangerous conditions for bacteria and fungal growth. The tubs also break down in just a few seasons of sun exposure. It’s more cost effective and safer to spend a bit more money on “real” harvest crates that will last for many years and are designed to maintain a good balance of moisture control and air-flow. That being said, I have to admit we still have an easy dozen Rubbermaid tubs still in regular use BUT I poked holes in the bottom and keep the tops off.

Products especially sensitive to water loss include: Apricots, Cantaloupe, Blackberries, Cherries, Broccolli, Chinese Vegetables, Bunched Greens, Grapes, Beets, Kohlrabi, Turnip, Mushrooms, Green Onions, Peaches, Mustard, Plums, Parsley, Raspberries, Radish, Strawberries, Spinach, Chard and Young Summer Squash. These are crops that it’s especially important to keep in appropriate tubs, or covered in a wet sheet or you will quickly see a reduction in quality.

Communicating with your customers
Even if you are doing everything right, you also need to take the time to tell your customers what THEY should be doing to keep your produce fresh once they get it home. What’s the point in taking all the care you do and then seeing someone pack their bags into a 100 degree car while they go off for an hour of U-Picking and then errands around town. We threaten our members with immediate expulsion from the CSA if they don’t take veggies home and promptly place them in the fridge. We also explain the value of the “crisper” drawers in the fridges (higher humidity!) or tell them to keep things wrapped in (frequently washed) wet rags or partially closed plastic bags. Some of our CSA members swear by re-useable semi-breathable plastic produce bags, but we’ve never had a chance to try them.

When we started farming, the quality of produce available from our local big-box grocery store was pretty miserable. It wasn’t that hard for us to compete. Just the fact that we offered local produce seemed to make people think we were heroes! But the same increased customer awareness and appreciation of “real food” that continues to drive more people to farmers’ markets and CSA’s around the country is impacting what we see selling in the grocery stores. Our local “Stop & Shop” now sells non-mealy and tasty heirloom tomatoes and disturbingly sweet organic carrots next to an impressive selection of gourmet and fingerling potatoes.

Linda Hildebrand, who started Food Bank Farm, was our “farm mentor” and among the many words of wisdom she imparted to us was that any individual customer will buy from us for a year or two because they appreciate our philosophy, personality – and often just because we're local! After that, we really need to be showing a solid difference in value from what they can get elsewhere or they'll drift away. A big part of that is remembering that it’s not just how good the crop looks when they pick it up from the farm, but how it well it keeps until the days later that our customers actually consume it.

Product Temperature Storage Life in days
Apples 30–40 90–240
Asparagus 32–35 14–21
Beans, fresh 40–45 10–14
Beets 32 90–150
Blueberries 31–32 10–18
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage 32 10–14
Cantaloupe 36–41 10–14
Carrots, topped 32 28–180
Cherries, sweet 30–31 14–21
Corn, sweet 32 4–6
Cucumbers 50–55 10–14
Eggplant 46–54 10–14
Grapes 32 56–180
Lettuce 32 14–21
Okra 45–50 7–14
Onions, bulb 32 30–180
Onions, green 32 7–10
Peaches 31–32 14–28
Peas, fresh snap 32 7–10
Peppers 40–55 12–18
Potatoes 40–50 56–140
Pumpkins 50–60 84–160
Raspberries 32 2–3
Spinach 32 10–14
Squash, summer 41–50 7–14
Squash, winter 50–55 84–150
Strawberries 32 5–10
Sweet potatoes 55–60 120–210
Tomatoes 62–68 7–28
Turnips, Rutabagas 32 120–150
Watermelon 50–60 14–21

Storage Conditions for Select Vegetables and Fruits from ATTRA

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bartering, Inflation, and Growing a Garden

Kevin Hayden, Truth Is Treason, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

Thanks to “just in time” inventory practices; America has an average of just three days of food on its grocery shelves. Inventories are kept extremely well managed and tight thanks to the amazing efficiency of modern-day transportation and manufacturing systems. Depending on your age, you might remember when grocery stores had excess stock and inventory in the “back room.” Those days are long gone. If the “just in time” trucks stop rolling for any reason, your local grocery store will be empty within days, and that’s even in good times!

If a disaster were to strike – natural or manmade – you could expect those shelves to be bare within hours. The recent blizzards and snowstorms blanketing the United States are a perfect example of why it pays to be prepared. When you watch the news and the weatherman says a life-threatening cold front is coming your direction with 15" of snow, or a hurricane is forming, do you:

a) rush to the grocery store to make sure you have enough beer, hotdogs and Doritos?

b) make a last minute stop on your way home from work to top off your supply of water, a few essentials and maybe some extra toilet paper?

c) rest easy knowing that you have several weeks worth of quality food, essential items, water and instead, spend that time getting fuel, securing cold rooms and windows and relaxing while everyone else is in a brawl at the grocery store, fighting over the last package of Oreos and Spam?


d) You’ve never given it much thought and just figure that if it gets bad enough, someone else – such as the Government or Red Cross – will take care of you.

These are very real things to think about. It doesn’t take much to break that “supply chain” that we all take for granted. High diesel costs will bring those truckers to a grinding halt across the United States. In 2009, several national trucking companies went into bankruptcy and many more could barely afford the high fuel costs. What did they do? They told their drivers to park the truck, walk away and to find their own ride back home. Luckily, that was short lived and the larger companies pulled through, along with a lot of the independent owner/operators. But their profits took a beating and I wouldn’t count on them spending their own money just to get supplies to your local store everytime.

I’m sure most of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle of those choices outlined above, but why risk it? And furthermore, having supplies, food and the essentials ahead of time means that you’ll likely be spending less of your hard-earned paycheck.

If we were to experience a disaster on a national level, we would likely see sky-rocketing prices very quickly. Some of it will occur because of the actual cost but mostly because many humans are just greedy and fearful. They will exploit the free-market ideals and twist them in ways that make them feel better about their business practices. Sure, there is a valid argument for raising prices in times of limited supply, but many take advantage of this and the longer a disaster or supply problem exists, the higher the prices will go.

Enter Big Daddy Government, Stage Left
Most governments have price and wage control measures in place or waiting to go into effect at a moment’s notice. And whether you lean to the right or to the left, understand that with our current form of “division of labor” type economy, producers will stop producing if mandated price controls effect their bottom line hard enough. Let’s imagine you make a product – Widget X. This could be food items, clothing or even a service you provide. And suppose our economy starts to see some inflation, whether naturally or due to disaster. With the value of your dollar dropping by the day and items technically costing more and more to produce in dollar terms, what would you do if the Government informed you that the price was “locked in” on your Widget X and you couldn’t raise it? Period.

As the inflation or demand continues to rise, you find that your cost to produce the item at wholesale has risen above the retail price ”locked” on it. Would you continue producing your Widget X if it costs you more money to produce it than sell it? Of course not. This merely shows one example of the dangers of price and wage controls. The market – whether it’s the free market or the underground black market – will always dominate. It’s in our nature to seek out the best deal for our dollar. While some types of socialism or even communism might make us feel better about ourselves or paint a happy face on the global problem of poverty by sharing or redistributing wealth and resources, it can not succeed and maintain itself. The free market idea has its own problems, but it will inherently come out on top due to human nature.

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” – Margaret Thatcher

The Problem with Paper Money
An important issue that needs to be understood before disaster sets in is that you will not be able to buy your way out of it. A hurricane or similar short-term event? Sure. But after a few days, you’ll quickly realize that your dollar bills either don’t go nearly far enough or people will flat out refuse them. A fiat currency has no value in post-disaster realms. During Hurricane Katrina, I was a police officer in New Orleans and it showed me that particular side of the economy and humanity. It taught me a lot of lessons. Not many people in America can truly understand the mentality and atmosphere during a total societal collapse like that experienced in New Orleans.

Unless you had fuel, food, alcohol or ice, you couldn’t really engage in many business transactions. Several people were offering ammunition (due to their own ignorance, I suspect) but as often as we see the need for post-apocalyptic ammunition and hoards of firearms in movies and books, it just didn’t exist unless you were one of the people looking for trouble. Keep in mind, this was a short-term event with a light at the end of the tunnel. The same does not apply for national, long-term collapse.

During those few weeks, I saw an incredible demand for fuel (mainly for generators), alcohol and 12v pumps of various types; those that could pump fuel from gas station reserves or those that could pump water. Along those lines, five gallon gas cans were a hot commodity, as well. In the downtown area (near the bars), I discovered that several bags of ice could be traded for alcohol, which could then be traded for just about anything, especially food. I was amazed at how many National Guard soldiers would offer four or five cases of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) in exchange for one bottle of cheap booze. I could then trade that food to regular folk or contractors coming into town for any number of items that I needed, including more alcohol, toiletries or fuel.

In short-term events, your silver and gold will not go far and will be wasted. Most people do not understand the value of these metals, especially when they simply crave the basic essentials for another week or two. Obviously, you should hold both of these metals in your inventory, but their advantage comes into full effect when it’s a national or long-term incident, along with simply preserving your wealth as the fiat currency crumbles or is refused.

So what does all of this mean? Well, let’s get into some of the food-related items that I think would be valuable from a bartering standpoint in a long-term event, such as a full-blown economic meltdown, hyperinflation, domestic war, massive stock market crash, martial law, large scale natural disasters, and the like. An important note to remember when developing an “insurance plan” is that buying or acquiring most of these items when the event happens will be next to impossible. That’s why you need to start your insurance plan right now. If nothing else, look at it as an investment – I think we can all agree that food prices will continue to rise, at least another 10%-20% over the next 12 months. Leading economists and investment firms have told their clients to expect $5/gallon gasoline by the end of 2011 even if the world doesn’t erupt into conflict. The recent freeze in Mexico has destroyed the spring crop, pushing prices of simple items such as tomatoes to quadruple levels overnight. So, buying now will offer you at least a 10% return on your investment. See where I’m going with this?

Some of this information (and more!) can also be found in my article, ‘Get Out of the Dollar and Into Tangibles’ but that focuses on preserving your wealth and finances in a collapse as opposed to listing bartering items and what is needed in order to engage in an alternative economy, feed yourself and survive.
Food Storage (or Insurance Plan)
Having a good supply of food that you regularly eat is invaluable for short or long term events. This prevents you from having to barter or trade items of value for food. And with that food storage plan, comes knowledge about what will preserve and under what conditions, how to rotate foods, how to can meats and vegetables, along with growing a garden – including livestock and farm crops. A solid food plan is a large topic by itself, but there are some very simple things you can do right now to greatly increase your wealth, insurance against disaster and supply you with bartering items.

Canning, dehydrating and hunting food -

* Purchase canning and related supplies now, not the day before a disaster. There won’t be any left on the shelves “later.”
o This includes jars, lids, rings, quality pressure canner and the knowledge to operate it safely. A trustworthy and well-respected source for this knowledge and plenty of recipes is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
o Learn the art of dehydrating, including what types of meat and preparation is required, along with what fruits and vegetables make for good snacks.
* If you think you’ll simply go hunting when times get rough, you’re in for a surprise. Every other cubicle worker and blue collar citizen will have the same idea.
o If you own land and have game available, do you have the facilities or space to process it? And even if you are a weekend deer hunter, do you have the ability to preserve that meat without power or electricity?
o You can also preserve your meats by dehydrating them, turning them to jerky which will last a very long time.
o Do you have a way to defend or contain the game on your own lands when other hunters trespass? How far will you go to protect your hunting grounds?
o If you plan to hunt public lands or wherever you can find a target, in certain natural disasters, there might not be any animals. Just you and a dozen other people in a forest with the same idea and hungry. And armed.
* Dry goods and foods that store well are a key component in most “insurance plans.”
o Basic stocks such as rice, varieties of beans, sugar, pastas, spices, wheat and more can store very well for years with minimal effort.
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o Peanut butter is a great item to include in your storage. It is protein-rich, has fatty oils and can be paired with a variety of foods. Obviously, this is not the healthiest thing, but in a time of disaster, you will expend a lot of calories and peanuts or peanut butter can replenish those quickly. It is also good to have on hand for people that have insulin and blood sugar problems.
o Pastas are a comfort food for many. Easy to cook and offering an almost limitless menu, pastas go well with vegetables, meats and even basic spices. It also stores very, very well and is cheap.
o Canned cat and dog food can save you a lot of money and stress, as well. Many people forget about preparing for their animals. During Katrina, I saved more poor, ‘left for dead’ animals than humans and it was sickening.
o Powdered milk and vitamins are also great bartering items and can help provide essential nutrients.
o Buying in bulk can save you even more money right now. Many chain stores and food manufacturers have already stated their prices will rise 5% – 15% this year.
o You can spend less than $20 per week and within a very, very short time you’ll have a sizable, albeit basic stock that can get you through losing a job, natural disaster or economic problems. It will also put you light years ahead of the majority of people in this country by providing you with a 30, 60 or even 90 day supply of food.
* Water supply is another major issue when it comes to a food storage plan. Without, life becomes extremely miserable.
o Average human consumption and needs for clean water comes in at around one gallon per day, per person. This is the minimum amount for cooking and drinking.
o Factor in washing dishes, flushing a toilet, extra drinking supplies, hygiene, and you’ve reached anywhere between 3 gallons per day up to 10 gallons per day.
o Are you watering crops? Even small rows and plants need a lot of water. Rain water collection can supplement this greatly, but depends on your region and collection methods.
o Quality filters can also help if you have access to a pond, lake, river, stream, or even contaminated city water. During Hurricane Katrina, I developed a severe infection from simply brushing my teeth with water I was told was safe. It even looked clean. Turns out it wasn’t. I then had to search for antibiotics in a city where there were no doctors, no hospitals and no emergency rooms. I was also forced to simply take the word of people who said they knew what type of antibiotic would treat the infection or what I should be looking for. Only because I was a police officer did I locate some and I’ll leave it at that.
o Dirty water brings a lot of dangers with it. Basic medical knowledge, however, can negate a lot of the dangers when it comes to poor food, dirty water and their related illnesses - but a quality filter is a must!
o These can be backpacking filters, a Berkey Filter or others. Check their ratings and filtering level. Also, extra filters are a good idea!

If you didn’t have any food storage, imagine what you would be faced with and how you would have to live, even for a short while. You will have become a refugee – wholly dependent on others for your most basic need – food and water. If you become a refugee, nothing else will matter anymore because you will spend your time searching for the basics and in doing so, will encounter many more dangers from all angles than someone who can relax in their home with 6 months worth of food.

Bartering Food Items -
By having a supply of food or a food-related service, you can then barter these for other goods that you need, such as fuel, entertainment, energy, etc. The knowledge and ability to create food is highly valuable in post-disaster situations. Having even a small vegetable garden can make you wealthy in terms of survival. But with this ability comes several things to consider;

* Gardens, seeds and how to grow them -
o Now is the time to practice. Now is the time to learn what grows well and how to care for it. Now is the time to supplement your kitchen with fresh vegetables and fruits. Waiting until the disaster is knocking on your front door will lead you to doom.
o Quality garden seeds, especially GMO-free seeds (non-genetically modified) are needed for nutrient dense crops. These are key to long-term post-disaster situations. Many genetically modified crops will not produce seed for the next season. This is very important to know and realize before planting and contaminating your soil. There are also many dangers associated with GMO crops, such as liver damage, cancer in lab mice, reproductive problems – especially in men, and much less nutritional value. Couple that with a gene modified to intentionally not reproduce and it can lead you to starvation or having nothing to barter. I recommend you check out the Patriot Seed Store – they offer heirloom, non-GMO seeds in a wide variety of crops. They even have a Seed Vault that contains 5,000 seeds in order to get you started with a very large garden. But learning this now is vital. Don’t buy a bucket of seeds and think you can plant them if the economy fails. You’re setting yourself up for disaster by doing that.
o Learning how to plant, nurture and grow basic crops now can also save you tremendous amounts of money. I don’t think I have to explain the benefit in that one.
o Region, soil types and rain levels will greatly effect your plants. Figuring this out now will return massive dividends later.
o Gardening is not rocket science. Some basic knowledge about different soil types, companion planting and how to naturally fertilize your plants will give you a garden, even in a small apartment or urban area.
o Gardening can also turn into a profitable venture when it comes to bartering. I know many gardeners and farmers who make an additional $5,000 or even $10,000 a year maintaining some very basic crops or animals.
o Sustainable (or permaculture) gardening practices can also increase benefits by nurturing other plants, trees, animals and more. Remember, at it’s very core, life is a cycle. The same goes for your backyard and garden!

Even as this article is being written, food crops in Mexico have been laid to waste due to freezing temperatures, your dollar has lost a little bit more of its value, the Federal Reserve has continued an unsustainable program of buying America’s debt, and another American just suffered a personal disaster by losing her job.

Are you going to wait until the storm is on the horizon to act?

Kevin Hayden is a former New Orleans police officer-turned-political activist. He endured Hurricane Katrina’s chaos and societal collapse in the days following and after 5 years in New Orleans, he moved to Oklahoma. Kevin currently runs and works on local politics and education about our monetary, food and foreign policies while building an off-grid homestead and helping people become prepared. He can be contacted directly at or by visiting his website,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Refuse to purchase produce (Vegetables, Fruit, Tomatoes and Greens) not grown in the USA

Or in the country that you live in.

An acquaintance of mine wrote this for our forum. I have permission to post it in full. He's known as 'Backwater Jon,' and has taught us all so much about gardening, herbs, preserving and how to homestead.

My Hats off to you Jon. You'll never know how much I appreciate the things I've learned from you and others on your group.



Today's Editorial
by Jon
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Refuse to purchase produce (Vegetables, Fruit, Tomatoes and Greens) not grown in the USA. Check labels.

No one knows for sure which chemical/pesticides are used on imported produce. Nor ones grown in this country that are not certified naturally grown, or USDA Certified Organic.

Those same chemicals may be banned in USA., or used on things not GROWN ORGANICALLY NATURALLY AND LOCALLY as close to YOUR home as possible.

Check labels on canned goods. If the label shows only "Distribution in USA" or other centers, does not mean product of USA. Nor does it give us a clue HOW it was grown, nor the poisons nor chemicals used to make it appear edible.

Do not pick up cookies or other packaged items until you know where they were made, and what out of. You may be surprised to see where some are made. Nor will you know the age of the product/s used in creating them. Nor the poisons added to keep weevil eggs dormant. Nor if the date the product is good to was stamped on only when it left the factory, or if it was stamped on the day it rolled off the assembly line.

Check labels on diary products. Real milk today is found on Organic and/or naturally grown farms. As near to your homestone as possible, or from your county, or your district, or your state, or at least your country.

Check labels on Seafood especially as to product of what country. Where were they harvested? From which body of water? When? And which processes were used in their harvest; their preservation; their plant processing methods, chemical used in their washing prior to processing; methods used to process; added items used in processing? What is its country of origin?

Other countries do NOT abide by the same rules as must American Grown products-especially Organically speaking. Some do, but not all. And we need to hold all the world to American standards IF they intend to sell their product within our borders.

Look for contact information on products. Call and file a complaint if not grown, produced or manufactured in USA. With the farmer listed who grew them, or the fisherman who pulled it out of the sea or rivers or ponds.

The only way to get 'them' to give us food fit to eat is to hit 'them' in the purse. STOP BUYING THE MESS.

Do more from scratch home cooking from co-op grains certified to be NON/GMO, or Certified USDA Organic, or certified naturally grown, or grown by a farmer you know and trust.

Or grown by you yourself the organic way. Avoiding poisons. Avoiding chemicals. Avoiding gene enhanced products and seed fixed that way.


will give you clues as to why. It clues YOU in on just why cancers, ms, ulcers, diabetes, and other sicknesses we hear now were not as rampant in our growing up days in the 30's, 40's, 50's while folks still grew organically; when the soil-the air-the water-the food-even medicines were GROWN ORGANICALLY close to your own backdoor.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it today just like I did November 1st 1943 when I turned soil for my very first own garden I created and cared for by myself. And every farm or garden since.

Jon-OHG Founder