Real Food

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability |


With winter over, at least in Georgia, you might be tempted to stash that can of cocoa powder in the cupboard for your spring and summer outdoor adventures. Leaving this viral elixir home, my friend, would be a costly survival mistake!

I’m kidding… or am I?

You see, the ancient Mayan civilization prized the wild cacao tree (Botanical name: Theobroma cacao) which means “Food of the Gods”, also dubbed “Black Gold.” So valuable in fact, early visitors to the New World noted that the cocoa bean was used as currency. Back then, money did grow on trees!

Cacao or Cocoa?


They’re the same thing… only different. Raw cacao seeds are harvested for the beans which are then dried, fermented, roasted, and ground into a powder. This process produces cocoa and heavenly chocolate.

For maximum health benefits, raw, cold-pressed cacao beans retain the living enzymes that are lost in the traditional roasting process. Even with high temperature processing (Dutch), there’s still plenty of goodness remaining in the cocoa powder.

No matter what you call it, simply add water to make an ancient, frothy energy drink sipped by royals, warriors, and elites… without all the crappy additives in a can of Red Bull. Drinking hot cocoa made with dairy inhibits the absorption of all the great enzymes.

All who drink in this manner gain strength, endurance, energy, mood-enhancement, and nourishment from this frothy concoction. Cocoa is more than a kiddy drink on cold nights.

The 11th C of Survivability

As a student of Dave Canterbury, I practice his system of survivability. I’ve written about the importance of carrying the 10 C’s of Survivability here and here. However, I submit to you an additional kit item, the 11th C… cocoa!

Here’s why…

Each item in your 10 Piece Kit must have at least three uses other than its intended purpose. Otherwise it doesn’t meet the standard of Survivability and becomes a luxury item.

While it won’t make Dave’s official 10 C’s list, cocoa is more than a luxurious hot beverage sipped around the campfire. A tin of cocoa shouldn’t be overlooked as important in effecting your most critical survival priority…

Priority #1: Self-Aid

Staying alive in a wilderness survival scenario requires that you maintain common sense and avoid stupid stuff. Experts tell us to stay calm and formulate a plan for self-rescue or wait to be found. Easier said than done when your stress meter is pegged on red. This is the perfect time to STOP (Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan).

If your situation allows, make a cup of hot cocoa. By the time you see the bottom of your cup, hopefully, you’ll not only have figured out your plan, you’ll have the energy to carry out said plan.

Benefits of Cocoa

  • Energy – You’ll need the energy after the adrenaline and panic settles.

“This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else.” – Anonymous conquistador

  • Morale – Cocoa raises serotonin levels in our brains stimulating neurotransmitters to lift our mood, fight depression, and rejuvenate our spirit. Oh, and lowers your stress level and improves focus and alertness.
  • Endorphins – These natural chemicals are released in the human body to relieve stress and pain. Cocoa triggers the release of these feel-good chemicals.
  • Antioxidants – Your body undergoes “biological rusting” or oxidation. Antioxidants slow this process. Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate. [Read more cacao facts at] Granted, this won’t be your biggest concern for short-term survival but certainly boosts your overall health.
  • ♥ Cocoa – Cocoa reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, and even reduce the risk of cancer. Furthermore, cocoa consumption is associated with reduced cognitive decline in old age. –  Source

 Priority #2: Food 

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability |

Rations for each man on Robert Falcon Scott’s race to the South Pole: 450g biscuit, 340g pemmican, 85g sugar, 57g butter, 24g tea, 16g cocoa. ~ Photo courtesy of Scott Polar Research Institute

  • Raw Cacao – Rich in nutritional value and solidly beats other antioxidant-rich super foods like green tea, blueberries, and pomegranate. Cacao’s nutrition profile includes protein, fat, certain B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper.
  • Flavonoids – Cocoa’s high flavonoid content helps to prevent your body from secreting excessive fluids… the cause of diarrhea. No fun in the woods. Unchecked, dehydration is close behind.
  • Dark Chocolate – Cocoa butter, an extraction from the cacao bean, is found in high-cacao chocolate bars. Healthy monounsaturated and saturated fat helps maintain a feeling of being full. The dark chocolate I buy comes wrapped in foil… which can be used to make fire with the batteries from your flashlight.

Priority #3: Container

Of course, this one may be a stretch. But still, if you stow your cocoa powder in a metal tin, the container could be pressed into service for boiling water or charring material.

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability |

I enjoy an occasional cup of hot cocoa over an open fire with a pinch of cayenne pepper. However, after researching this article, I’m considering adding cocoa to my daily diet. The benefits of packing a 6 ounce metal tin of cocoa powder (not the sugary pre-mixed stuff) warrants the label… “The 11th C of Survivability“.

Additional Resources:


Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Categories: Bushcrafting, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Definitive Guide to Dehydrating Jerky

by Todd Walker

Before the invention of modern food preservation equipment and techniques, premodern man stumbled upon the art of preserving harvested food to preserve life. Mother Nature has always thrown the unexpected at us – drought, floods, swarming insects – which could wipe out next year’s food supply.

Survival was never guaranteed. But we are a creative, wily species. Thanks to our fat-fed brains and trial and error, humans learned how to preserve excess meat for lean times!


Jerk-able Meats

Depending on your location and availability, any lean meat can be jerked. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but the following meats have been used as a light-weight, portable, nutrient dense staple for thousands of years.

  •  Wooly Mammoth – Sorry, Wooly is no longer available. Suitable wild substitutes include: venison, elk, moose, bear, caribou, fish, bison, alligator, crocodile, wild boar, and other critters.
  • Llama – a favorite on-the-go snack of Incas. South Americans still find llama jerky tasty.
  • On the exotic side – Yak, ostrich – and it’s cousin – emu, whale, shark, kangaroo, camel, and even horse. Equine jerky is not culturally accepted in America expect for dog treats.
  • Mainstream jerky – Beef, sheep, pork, and turkey are popular for moderns in prepackage containers.
  • And wait for itZombie Jerky! I kid you not! Nothing else helps you survive the Zombie Apocalypse like green dead meat chunks.

Wow! More than you probably wanted to know.

Jerky’s #1 Enemy

Drying is the oldest technique of preserving meat. Removing moisture from meat prevents micro-nasties from growing and decreases the spoilage rate. It was so easy cavemen could did it! Grok, after learning to corralling fire, figured out that fire would heat mammoth meat just enough to evaporate excess moisture.

Super! Portable calories meant he could extend his hunting and gathering territory.

Yes, drying meat over an open fire is doable. Smoking/drying meat over an open fire method is one of my Doing the Stuff skills for 2014. But for now, before the industrial machine grinds to a halt, I’ll use our Excalibur dehydrator.

You can use your oven if you don’t have a dehydrator. Prop the door open with a pot holder or wooden spoon and use your oven racks to hang the meat strips. Test the empty oven temp with a cooking thermometer for an hour to see if the temp stays in the 145°-155°F range. Ovens use more energy than dehydrators and don’t employ a fan to circulate air during the process.

I’ve even survived eaten jerky from Daddy’s DiY box fan dehydrator. Now you see where I get my tinkering skills!

Keep in mind, the USDA does not approve of DiY box fan or solar dehydrators. Fed Gov doesn’t approve of my eating lifestyle made up of 50% healthy fats either. Oh well… as always, do your due diligence before listening to me or anyone else.

An important note about jerking wild animal meat. Feral hogs, cougars, and bears have a tendency to host Trichinelle parasites. Salmonella and E.coli 0157:H7 have to be taken into account when making jerky too.

3 Safe Methods

According to research from my alma mater, the University of Georgia, there are 3 ways to kill the bad stuff in homemade jerky.

1.) (Easy) Post-heat the dehydrated jerky slices in a 275°F oven for 10 minutes. This is the method I use. Place the slices on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven.

2.) (Complicated) Pre-heat raw meat strips (un-marinated) in a hot brine/marinade mixture for about 2 minutes or until the meat reaches 160°F (165°F for poultry).  You could also bake the meat until it reaches the safe temps. You’ll need a thin tipped thermometer to test the meat with this method.

3.) (Domesticated Meat Only) Pre-soak the sliced meat in vinegar for 10 minutes. The combination of heat and vinegar kills pathogens in non-game meat.

Method 1 and 2 are effective in killing Trichinelle in wild game. The vinegar method (#3) is not as effective for wild game.

Scared yet? Don’t be. Just take safety precautions when making tasty jerky snacks.

Meat Prep

Since I’ve never tried to make ground jerky, these directions are for whole strips.

The Art of Making Jerky Safe in a Dehydrator

Slice uniformly for best results

Trim any visible fat or connective tissue off the meat. Cut your selected meat into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices between 5 to 10 inches in length. Freeze the meat until it becomes firm (not frozen solid) to make slices more uniform. I’ve found it challenging to slice meat straight out of the refrigerator – almost like trying to nail jello to a tree – even with a razor sharp knife. Or have your local butcher run it through a meat slicing machine.

Slicing along the grain of the meat produces a more chewy jerky. Cut across the grain for a tender product. Even thickness ensures consistent drying for all the meat.

Meat Marinade

How you season your jerky is up to your personal preference. There are many recipes online or you can make your own – which I did.

The Art of Making Jerky Safe in a Dehydrator

My marinade ingredients

After cutting the meat into thin strips, add enough marinade to cover the meat in a food safe container . I use a gallon size zipper freezer bag. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. The longer you marinate, the stronger the flavor. You can make a simple jerky by using only salt and pepper. I like my jerky to bite back.

Drying Time

Pre-heat your dehydrator on the max heat setting (155°F). Check the true temp with a cooking thermometer in the empty unit if you like.

Lay the marinated meat flat on the trays with enough room between the pieces for air flow. Close but not touching.


The last tray!

This batch contained more marbled fat than I like. The oil in the fat won’t evaporate like other moisture. Too much fat in the meat can cause it to go rancid. Not a problem. It didn’t last long. There are only 4 strips left in the freezer.

Here’s a handy heating chart: Source

Drying Temperature Minimum drying time
125º F (52º C) 10 hours
135º F (57º C) 8 hours
145º F (63º C) 7 hours
155º F (68º C) 4 hours

Set a timer for 4 hours and go do some more stuff. Check the meat and temp of your dehydrator after the bell sounds. I ended up drying this batch for six hours. Again, drying times depend on your equipment and thickness of the slices.

Before removing the meat from the dehydrator, pre-heat the oven to 275°F. When the oven reaches temp, transfer the dried jerky to cookie sheets arranged without touching and post-heat in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely on drying racks.

There’s a scientific way to check for dryness (aka – water activity) of jerky. But you need complicated equipment. I’m guessing you don’t have said equipment. If you did, your jerky should measure a water activity of 0.85 or less.

For the non-scientists among us, check the bendiness

Use the green twig method to check for dryness. Your jerky should bend and slightly crack like a green twig. The bark of the twig may break open when bent, but won’t snap in half like a dry twig. Not very scientific but you’ll see what I mean on your batch.

Packaging Jerky

Knowing this batch had more fat than I like, I placed them in quart sized zipper baggies after they were cooled to room temp. They were dated and stored 4 strips/bag in the freezer. One bag lasts me about a week for in between meal snacks at school. Dried fruit, nuts, and jerky ride in my bushcraft kit.

Properly dried jerky will last a couple of months at room temperature – some say longer. Store it in a food safe container in a dark, dry, cool place. Mason jars are good containers.

Do not pack it tightly. And no vacuum sealing – no matter how much you love your Food Saver. Store bought jerky gets away with vacuum packing by adding chemical preservatives to their product. Leave room for any residue moisture to transfer to drier areas of the jerky. If moisture collects inside the container at room temperature, your jerky is not dry enough.

Refrigerated, it will last even longer. Frozen jerky lasts for a year or more.

Now take your jerky and make some pemmican, another long-lasting, portable, stick-to-your-ribs survival food. Click this link for my Bread of the Wilderness (pemmican) tutorial. (Check the comments from Anne O. for some great tips on pemmican)

To safely salvage and preserve excess harvested meat, dehydrating is the way to go. I’ll let you know how my experiment goes with jerking meat caveman style. How hard can it be, right?

Also, if you haven’t joined the Doing the Stuff Network yet, there’s still room for those of you willing to trade theory for action!

Keep Doing the Stuff,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. Trade theory for action and join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

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Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Real Food, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Best Prepper Practices: Add a 4th B to Your 3 B’s

by Todd Walker

Best practices exist in all endeavors –  sports, business, education, and… preparedness.


“Best” practice (BP) is used to describe a method that has consistently produced superior results over time compared to techniques yielding lessor outcomes. Methods of Doing the Stuff should change with new discoveries and better techniques.

Pleeeese, try to leave egos at the door to avoid holding on to less than best practices.

Ask ten preppers for their best food storage practice and you’ll likely get 11 different opinions. We’re an opinionated lot. No problem with opinions. But opinions are highly subjective. The aim here is to discuss stuff proven to work and can be applied by novice and experienced preppers.

Keep in mind that BP’s can and should be individualized to fit your situation. For instance, I don’t eat wheat and grain products. On rare occasions that I eat a slice of pizza, my body pays dearly. I store food that I eat now. Whatever your diet, some food storage is a best practice for preparedness.

Again, practicing the best method for Doing the Stuff of preparedness is our purpose here. We’re not covering all Best Practices in one post. We’ll discuss the first one today… the 4th B.

A good a place to start is at the beginning…

Discovering the online “prepper/survivalist” movement 7 years ago, I realized that I was one and had been for most of my life. I’d just never known what label to paste on the stuff I was doing. I’m still unsure. Maybe it’s my hatred for labels.

Labels aside, there are trillions of bytes of information floating through the preparedness community. At last count, I’ve devoured 2.39% of that mountain of data. I chew on the hay and spit out the sticks.

Searching for hay to chew on, I rarely find survival and prepper blogs mention health and fitness in their apocalyptic lists. This needs to change. I mostly find beans, bullets, and band aids – and lots of shiny objects to collect. DRG and I do a fair amount of stuff collecting too.


Two years ago Dirt Road Girl’s cancer destroyed our best practice paradigm. Today, our #1 concern is staying healthy… in a sustainable fashion. This post was partly inspired by Dr. Dan Stickler (PaleoDoc) and his SurvivalBlog post when he stated…

“I would like to see the 3 Bs change to the 4 Bs: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Body.”

Being able to use the other 3 B’s depends on how well we develop the 4th B… your Body. You’ll never regret focusing on the 4th B as a prep!

Best Practices to Build Your Body

1.) Destroy the Food Pyramid

Pyramids are built by slaves.

80% of your body composition is determined by what you eat. The obesity epidemic in America is directly linked to our government food pyramid. The problem is compounded by nutritional “experts” recommending food that the human body was never meant to consume.

Here’s a chart showing how the obesity epidemic is fueled by High Fructose Corn Syrup.


Is your pantry filled with HFCS? Read my post on how dropping the F-bomb could save your live.

Owning years of stored food, guns, water filters, first aid supplies, and bug out bags won’t be of much use if you’re body shuts down from chronic disease.

Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure may “run” in your family. That fact doesn’t have to sentence you the same “fate.” There’s a better way…

Leave SADisease Behind 

  • Develop a lifestyle of eating what your body needs. Conventional nutritional wisdom promotes the Standard American Diet (SAD – Processed foods, sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup  – chemically created sweetener with little to no whole foods). Our bodies aren’t designed to ingest SAD stuff. SADiet leads to SADisease.
  • Stop counting calories! A calorie restricting diet is one more stressor your body and brain can’t afford. Starve your body and your brain goes into survival mode… to store fat.
  • Eat real food. Processed stuff imitating food leaves you overfed and under nourished.
  • Perimeter shopping. The interior isles of your grocery store are filled with boxes, bags, and cans with labels. You can try to pronounce the chemicals resembling food on the package only if your food has labels. If you can’t pronounce it, avoid it. Adopting this simple strategy alone can transform your health.
  • Nourish your noggin. Eat these excellent brain foods: Eggs – the yellow yolk are high in protein, fat, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Fish – your brain is 60% fat. Feed it high quality, wild caught, oily fish for an Omega-3 feast. Nuts – excellent for your grey matter. Check out the Brain Pyramid here.
  • Get to know your local farmers. Find farmers who produce naturally raise grass-fed animals, free-range poultry, and non-GMO fruits and vegetables.

Here’s a few resources to help you locate local food producers:

  1. Eat Wild
  2. Local Harvest
  3. Locally Grown

If you’d like, you can read more my nourishing thoughts here.

2.) Functional Fitness

Functionally fit means having the ability to be physically useful in everyday life and emergencies. This simply means be strong to be useful… or Be ready to go when the SHTF. 

Doing a set of B.O.B. pushups.

Doing a set of B.O.B. push ups.

Being active and exercising are different. Both are important in becoming functionally fit.

But here’s the distinction…

Exercise should be performed in brief, intense sessions with a purpose in mind. Walking the dog, hiking, cycling, and chasing your 2 year-old is not exercise. These activities fail to meet the requirement of brief and intense. You may be thinking I haven’t met your toddler!

You’re right. I haven’t.

These are all activities that keep you moving and helps pump toxins out of your body – an important part of optimal health. Do activities you enjoy that keeps you moving regularly a minimum of 2 hours per week.

Workout Hacks

More exercise doesn’t mean better. Whether exercising at a gym or not, you should learn hacks that save time and pain while maximizing benefits. Don’t have time (or money) for a gym membership? Me either… but I manage to stay fit.

Here’s my top shortcuts to functional fitness:

a.) Use your body weight: An intense, short session of push ups, squats, and pull-ups works all muscle groups. Lifting heavy stuff adds lean muscle mass – very important for those of us on the backside of 40. Another plus is that you can lift your body weight most any place. No gym required. (1-3 times per week)

b.) Max Out (Sprint): Skip your long slow run and do a 10 minute sprint session. You’ll only need to do this once every week to ten days. Your done in 10 minutes or less. My advise is to take it slow and build up to max effort.

c.) Keep moving at a slow pace: This one goes back to being active; hiking, walking, dancing, swimming, and chasing your toddler. (2-5 hours per week)

d.) Be consistent: Practice doing the stuff for your body – Splitting firewood without hydraulic machinery, carrying heavy stuff (safely), taking the stairs (with leaps and bounds), walking a mile with your bug out bag, etc. 

e.) Be safe: Consult your physician before starting a new program. Learn proper technique. Monitor vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. 

If you made it to this point in the article, there’s hope no matter the condition of your body. Even if the term “push-up” automatically means the frozen push up treat in your mind, no worries, you can redesign your body and survivability with simple lifestyle changes. I said it’s simple, not always easy. But totally worth the effort!

Is adding the 4th B on your Best Practices radar? If so, we’d like to know how you’re doing the stuff for your body. 

Keep Doing the Stuff!


P.S. – You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. The Doing the Stuff Network community can be found here: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S ~ If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your  vote on the “Top Prepper Sites“! You can vote daily by clicking here. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper Sites while you’re there. 

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.


Categories: Doing the Stuff, Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

My Top 10 Foods I’d Hate to Survive Without

by Todd Walker

Here’s the scene.

The inevitable happened. The world as we know it has ended. Trucks, planes, and trains stop unloading their goodies. The fragile power grid gives up the ghost. You and yours are as prepared as one can be to ride out the initial stage of the apocalyptic storm that’s raining zombies.

You’re cut off from other people and can’t barter for food. You’ve got shelter, water, first aid, and security measures in place. Now for the food.

Indulge me in my obvious futuristic mind experiment for a moment.



Image Source

You’ve acquired a top-secret, new technology – the 3D Food Printer. This machine has the capacity to create a year’s worth of food for your family. Once you press ‘print,’ that’s your food choices for one year. Oh yea, you can press the button daily to ensure food freshness. There’s no limit on what you can program the machine to produce.

But – here’s the catch. You only get to choose 10 food items.

What 10 food items would you ‘print’ to help you thrive, not just survive for one year?

Here’s a few guidelines if you want to play along.

  • Have fun with your list. No justification needed :)
  • No food rules! Just ‘print’ your top 10 foods list in the comment section.

My Top 10 Foods I Would Hate to Survive Without

My dream list contains foods I eat in my Primal Lifestyle. Yours may differ (see #2 above). The choices are difficult. When choosing, I wanted to incorporate the pleasure of taste, nutrition profile, and comfort my food provides.

A.) Grass-fed beef filet mignon

We buy the whole filet and I cut it into steaks to freeze. When get the urge to eat steak, nothing beats a nutrient dense, naturally raised cow steak!

B.) Wild-Caught Salmon

Dirt Road Girl and I just enjoyed her rocking salmon recipe last night! I’d program the 3D machine to print the skin-on variety. Loads of good omega-3s with every flaky bite. Plus, I’d crisp up the skin in a cast iron skillet for salmon bacon!

C.) Kale

Kale, unlike its cousin Brussels sprouts, is actually edible and quite tasty. It also provides essential vitamins and minerals (Vitamins A, C, B6, E, manganese, potassium, calcium, and fiber).

D.) Free-range Eggs

With so many ways to prepare these nutrient-rich bombs, I’ve yet to find an egg I didn’t like! There full of essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins (more so than kale), iodine, and many other nutrients.

E.) Sweet Potatoes

I prefer these to regular potatoes. They offer some starch carbs, but not as much as plain old potatoes.

F.) Raw Heavy Cream

From grass-fed happy cows, of course. This goes on my kale recipe, in my coffee, and as an added bonus, gives me the ability to make butter, cream cheese, cheese, and yogurt. Redundancy!

G.) Coconut Oil

Here’s a 160 reasons why! ‘Nough said.

Coconut oil. A must have for a FAT Pantry!

Coconut oil. A must have for a FAT Pantry! Image courtesy of The Organic Prepper

H.) Cashews

How could I not ‘print’ a daily dose of these buttery nuts. I go through at least a handful a day. I also mix in almonds, walnuts, pumpkin, and sunflower nuts. But cashews are my go-to snack.

I.) High Cocoa Content Dark Chocolate with Almond Butter Spread

I know. I’m cheating with two items at once. But that’s how I eat my dark chocolate semi-regularly. My little dark indulgence has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and satisfy cravings world-wide. A great comfort food while you’re waiting for the apocalypse to pass.

J.) Wild Blueberries

Packed with anti-oxidant powers and vitamins, this is my favorite fruit! Being from the Peach State, I worked in peach packing sheds growing up and love peaches. But I’d ‘print’ blueberries for their nutrient profile.

I struggled over swapping the dark chocolate for a dusty bottle of Pinot Noir. I settled on the chocolate/almond butter. But given one more item, I’d add me some wine with my chocolate!

Your turn. What 10 foods would you program to ‘print’ to help you survive and thrive for one year? List them in the comment section below!

Keep Doing the Stuff!


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Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form for non-commercial purposes, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. All embedded links in our posts must stay intact if you wish to repost our material. If you are interested in a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Preparedness, Real Food, Survival | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The 4 Standards of SmartPrepper’s Nutrition Plan

by Todd Walker

Part 3a in our series – The Essential Pillars of Preparedness for SmartPreppers

Essential Pillars of Preparedness Series

[In Part 3a, I felt the need to supplement Part 3 with the 4 essential standards of any SmartPrepper’s healthy nutrition plan]

Six pack abs are built in the kitchen – not the gym.

The 4 Standards of SmartPrepper's Nutrition Plan

Training time in the kitchen pays off! Image Source

This is not a tutorial on how to build sculpted Spartan abs. However, if that’s your goal, spend more time prepping in the kitchen than over-training in the gym.

Here’s the thing.

80% of your body composition is determined by what you eat!

You won’t reach optimal health or survival without feeding your body good stuff. Could you survive eating processed junk? Yes – for a while. But eventually your SADiet (Standard American Diet) food choices will turn into SADisease (Standard American Disease).

Here are the main SADiseases linked to the SADiet: obesity, type 2 diabetes, 80% of cardiovascular disease, and over 30% of cancers. Consuming processed food (chemicals resembling food) is the best path to leaving the land of the living.

That’s the SAD news.

Here’s the GOOD news – SADisease is completely preventable – even reversible!

Making simple chances to your eating pattern can prevent you from being a SADisease statistic. Knowledge is empowering. But only if you take action and start Doing the Stuff for optimal health.

Part of Doing the Stuff is practicing skills before a crisis occurs. We call it Preventative Prepping. You can apply the same principle nutritionally to prevent SADisease and reach optimal health.

Healthy nutrition is not only an essential pillar of preparedness, it’s the foundation upon which all other pillars rest. Nutritional professionals, aided by Big Agra and corrupt corporations, have successfully demonized what your body needs to thrive before and after any crisis.

So, what does a ‘healthy’ nutrition plan look like?

A SmartPrepper’s nutrition plan should include these 4 standards 

1.) Nourishes your body

Avoid processed foods. You can only read food labels if your food is pre-package. Eat what your body needs to thrive. Most packaged, processed foods don’t meet this standard and leave you overfed and under nourished. Instead of eating chemicals resembling food, feed your body real, whole foods like these ….

  • Naturally raised animals
  • Plants
  • Nuts
  • Free-range eggs
  • Healthy fats – butter from grass-fed animals, coconut oil, nuts, to name a few (if you’re fat, you’re not eating enough fat)
  • Fermented foods gets your gut flora in shape

2.) Recharge your brain batteries

Here’s a study suggesting that eating foods rich in vitamin B12 will keep your brain from shrinking and stave off dementia. Meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk should be part of your balanced nutrition plan. Liver and shellfish are your best bet for boosting your B12 intake – especially for senior preppers. 

More smart foods that nourish your noggin:

  • Eggs – the yellow yolk are high in protein, fat, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Fish – your brain is 60% fat. Feed it high quality, wild caught, oily fish for an Omega-3 feast.
  • Nuts – excellent for your grey matter
  • Check out the Brain Pyramid here

3.) Feeling full

Does your food satisfy your body and kill hunger? If an hour passes and you’re hungry again after eating, it’s a good chance you’re not feeding your body what it needs to stay satiated. High carb, sugary meals may be the culprit.

Eat from the list on #1 above. Quality, saturated fat is the key to feeling full.

4.) Peak physical performance

Eat a diet of happy animals who ate a healthy, natural diet, plenty of green, leafy plants, and listen to what your body tells you. You body is a high-performance machine. Treat it that way.

Take action, analyze, and adjust to how your body reacts to the fuel you feed it. Action is the first step.

These are the four standards to keep in mind when making your grocery list and food storage plan. You may think this is not realistic for long-term storage. If you’d like, you can take a peek at my Primal Pantry here.

This is not a fad diet. It must become a lifestyle. Once you begin your journey to food freedom and healthy nutrition, you’ll begin to see positive results. Eating healthy stops being something you have to do and become something you love to do.

You’re plan doesn’t have to be perfect. The key is to start and make this a lifestyle change. It gets easier the more you do the stuff.

Keep Doing the Stuff!


P.S. ~ Please share our stuff! If anything from our site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and Facebook

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form for non-commercial purposes, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. All embedded links in our posts must stay intact if you wish to repost our material. If you are interested in a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Food Storage, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Not Your Typical Recipe Book: Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living

by Todd Walker

What I’m about to share is ‘Dirt Road Girl’ approved!

When Stacy Harris sent me her new book to review, Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living, before I could get my hands on it, DRG snagged it and wouldn’t put it down. She immediately performed her sniff test ritual. She opened the book, plants her face between the pages, and inhales deeply. Congrats Stacy! Your book passed DRG’s sniff test with flying colors!


Our first impressions of Stacy’s new book were high quality, glossy pages with excellent photos of food, recipes, family, and sustainable practices for self-sufficient living. It’s good that the pages are high gloss since I began drooling by just looking at the food photos and recipes.

Stacy’s passion for growing heirloom plants and animals that are natural, pesticide, hormone, genetically modified free is clear. And she’s able to cook for a family of 9 from her heirloom garden, pastured animals, and wild game. Very inspiring!

The tips for sustainable living are mixed in throughout the book. One of my favorites is on page 88 – The Perfect Boiled Egg.

“To determine the age of eggs, place eggs in about five inches of water. If the egg lays flat on the bottom it is very fresh and is good for baking and poaching; it the egg tilts on the bottom it is about 10 days old and is great for boiling; if it floats throw it out.”

There’s also tips on foraging wild foods, beekeeping, seed saving, and other self-reliant skills. The tips aren’t going to teach you everything you need to know about sustainable living, but they will motivate you on your journey.

Being an avid hunter and fisherman myself, I loved the ‘Woods and Water’ section of Stacy’s book! I’m always happy to try new recipes for venison, wild turkey, duck, quail, small game, and seafood and fish. Even if you don’t harvest wild fish and game, she provides a substitution page to incorporate domesticated animals for recipes to please everyone.

Not Your Typical Recipe Book: Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living

10 slices of bacon on Stuffed Venison Meatloaf – perfect!

A note to my Primal/Paleo readers – a few of the baking recipes call for sugar and flour. You can easily substitute for these if you wish and still enjoy the goodness of these traditional home cooked recipes.

Reading Stacy’s story and new cookbook will inspire you to take your next step towards personal freedom and sustainable living. All while eating the best prepared foods on the planet!

You can also connect with Stacy on her blog, Game and Garden, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Special Announcement: Congratulations to Stephanie G. on winning an autographed copy of Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living from our Reader Appreciation Fall Giveaway! We appreciate everyone’s continued support of our blog as we continue Doing the Stuff of self-sufficiency and preparedness together!

Keep doing the stuff!


P.S. ~ Thanks for sharing the stuff! You can connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook page

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.


Categories: Gardening, Homesteading, Preparedness, Real Food, Resilience, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Regular Folk Taking the Doing The Stuff Challenge

by Todd Walker

Inspiration comes from perspiration. Thought I’d share a few of our fellow Sherpa’s projects.

1.) Crunchy Mama shared with me that her son has begun making paracord survival bracelets. He’s a little entrepreneur. I’ve offered to send her a paracord jig that makes creating bracelets very easy. (Sorry, I don’t have permission to post pics yet)

2.) Here’s a look at Caroline Cooper’s homemade medical kit.

medical kit Healthy Household: Homemade Medical Kits

3.) MI Patriot made these tomato ladders. The ladders are painted primary colors and are very functional. DRG and I just took ours down last week, folded them up, and stored them for next season.

Todd's Tomato Ladders in primary colors

Primary colored tomato ladders

4.) One of my new friends on FB, Perky Prepping Gramma, is learning how to reload ammunition. Check her out. She’s a doing the stuff machine!


What new skills are you learning?

Let me know and we’ll add them to our growing Doing The Stuff List! You can submit photos to me via email (survivalsherpa at gmail dot com) or send me a link if you have it published on a blog with permission to reprint it here.

The projects should be relevant to general preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, wilderness survival, self-defense/security, wild food foraging, real food, functional fitness, and self-reliance. I’ve never done a contest with prizes on our site but I’m considering it for a Doing the Stuff Challenge.

What do you think? Interested? If there’s enough interest, I’ll get it organized and started. Let me know.

In the mean time,

Keep doing the stuff!


P.S. ~ DRG and I got our daughter and grandson moved into their new place this weekend. Feeling more secure. Met several of her new neighbors. One of her next door neighbors is an old friend of mine! In case you missed it, you can read about her recent break in here.

P.P.S. ~ As always, if anything from this site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook page.

Any information on this site may be shared freely, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Real Food, Resilience, Self Defense, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Rendering Tallow for Cooking and 12 Other Uses

by Todd Walker

Rendering the fat of animals (beef, sheep, bear, deer, and poultry) is a process that produces tallow. Lard is pig fat that has been rendered. Since I don’t have a source of pastured pig fat, I use grass-fed beef fat. My butcher at our local Earth Fare market freezes grass-fed beef fat just for me. Just picked up 8 more pounds yesterday. I’m now known as the ‘fat man’ every time I walk by their meat counter.

Finding Healthy Fat

Don’t expect to find grass-fed beef fat at big chain supermarkets. I’ve not had success dealing with the big boys. If you don’t have a store that sells grass-fed animals, local farmers may be an option. Of course, the animals need to be raised naturally – not factory farmed.

Here’s a couple of resources that will ship omega 3 and CLA-rich grass-fed tallow to your door!

Why grass-fed, free-range, and naturally raised? Factory farmed animals are pumped with hormones, fed chemicals, and are just not happy animals. Just ask them. If you use tallow for cooking or skin care, you want the best quality fat you can find.

If the thought of eating tallow is disgusting to your delicate sensitivities or eating style, consider the many other uses for animal fat.

12 Non-Cooking Uses for Tallow

1. Cooking is the most obvious use at our home. Tallow has a high smoke point (420 degrees) making it an excellent oil for frying foods. This means you can fry on higher heats without creating free radicals in the oil which is a concern with vegetable oils.

2. Skin care – Saturated animal fat (tallow) was used for beauty products back before the low-fat myth became ‘truth.’ Your grandma and grandpa likely used it to heal cracked, dry hands and as a moisturizer.

Tallow is biologically compatible with our bodies largest organ, our skin. Animal fat contains vitamins A, D, K, and E.

Tallow (especially tallow from grass-fed animals) also contains fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as palmitoleic acid, which has natural antimicrobial properties. – Source

3. Lubricate stuff, like the proverbial squeaky wheel. Tallow greases moving parts but is resistant to water. Steam engines and ships uses tallow for many years to keep things running smoothly.

4. Flux for soldering.

5. Leather conditioner.

6. Soap making. The best shaving bars are made from tallow.

7. Candle making. Can’t make a traditional candle? Improvise by placing tallow in a container with a piece of cotton clothe in emergencies.

8. Biodegradable motor oil.

9. Deer tallow is preferred by German athletes to make a salve to prevent sore skin and blisters.

10. Biodiesel. Tallow can be used like plant-based material to produce diesel.

11. Make your own pemmican.

12. Pastry baking.

13. Lubricate muskets and rifles.

If you’re wondering, here are some nutrition facts about this healthy fat:



The DiY Rendering Process

Step 1: Trim the grass-fed beef (or other animal fat). You want to get all the red meat off the fat.

Step 2: Cut into small squares. The smaller the cuts, the more surface area is exposed. I did this cutting twice. Then, in a stroke of SmartPrepper brilliance, I pulled out my meat grinder. Now I just stuff the trimmed fat into the meat grinder and collect it my cast iron pan.

Way faster and creates more surface area!

Way faster and creates more surface area!

Step 3: Load your cut or ground fat into a pan or cooking container. I use a large cast iron skillet. Be careful not to overload the pan with fat. It will cook down. But you don’t want to have to transfer hot tallow if it’s up to the lip of your container.

Step 4: Heat your pan of fat on low heat. I shoot for 200-250 degrees. I set up in my outdoor kitchen. My turkey fryer is my heat source. You can use your stove if you don’t mind smelling up your house a bit. It ain’t as bad as cooking chitlins. Still, a distinctive odor.

Almost ready.

Almost ready.

As I’m typing this, I’m thinking I could use my Big Green Egg on my next batch. It’s so easy to control the temp – set it, and forget it!

Step 5: Stir the fat occasionally just make sure it doesn’t sick to the bottom of your pan. You’ll notice liquid starting to collect in the pan. If it begins to smoke, you’re burning fat and not rendering it. Turn down the heat.

Step 6: Once you notice the fat turning a dark brown (think crispy bacon), you’re done. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for a while. If it cools to room temp, you’ll have to reheat to liquefy for pouring.

Step 7: Once it’s cooled down a bit, pour the contents through a fine mesh strainer. You can add cheese cloth to the strainer to catch even smaller pieces. I’ve stored tallow in wide mouth mason jars. We go through tallow pretty quickly around here. Mostly, we just pour it up in a few two-quart containers and place them in the fridge. Tallow can be stored in the freezer as well.

Oxidation can cause the tallow to go rancid. From what I’ve read and followed myself, rendering the water out of the tallow prevents the oxidation to occur. To be on the safe side, we store ours in the fridge.

I’ve read of other methods of rendering tallow by using a slow cookers. Never tried it.

Any of you rendered tallow or lard in a different way? I’m always interested in learning new ways. Drop your method in the comments if you’d like.

Keep doing the stuff,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

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Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.


Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Natural Health, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | 19 Comments

A Board Game That Could Save Your Life

As a teacher, the importance of play in learning cannot be overstated. Sadly, we’re not allowed to have fun in government schooling anymore. Interest-led learning is out – Procrustean bed style schooling is practiced.

The Crunchy Mama’s review of Wildcraft! reverses the notion that learning is boring. Whether you’re into survival and preparedness or not, this board game is a great way to introduce kids and adults to the world of wild food foraging. It might even save you one day!


Wildcraft! board game — an excellent and fun introduction to wild edibles and medicinal plants


Good day, friends!  I want to share with you today my review of a board game that introduces children and adults to wild edible and medicinal plants.  The board game is called Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game created by Kimberly Gallagher with herbalist John Gallagher and artist Beatriz Mendoza.  I purchased this game 2 months ago and I receive no monetary benefit by recommending this product to you.

I wanted to write this post because my family is wild about Wildcraft!  I don’t have to twist my children’s arms to play it — they ask us to play it and they have shared their enthusiasm for the game with others (such as Nana and cousins).  Actually, my two oldest realized that they can play without mommy or daddy and play it at least once a week on their own.

Of course, their enthusiasm is not the top reason that I take the time to write this post for you.  The subject of the game, wild edible and medicinal plants, and this terrific approach to learning them is the top reason.  I have written several posts on wild edibles (1234) because I am enthusiastic about fresh, local, nutritious and free food; I desire to share my first-hand knowledge of wild edibles with you because I believe that you might share or acquire my enthusiasm for wild edibles.  I use herbs for health and specific ailments and have done so for the past 6 years or so but I would not call myself an herbalist or herb expert.  Of course, I always want to learn more and I pick up herbal knowledge here and there, as needed.

As with other things of importance in life, I want to teach my children about wild edible and medicinal plants.  My oldest (who is 8 years old as of this writing) can identify quite a few wild edibles and he, like his mother, loves to share with others his wild edible knowledge :)  Wildcraft! board game is a great way to reinforce the things that we have already learned as well as to learn even more.

I’ve created a 3-minute video to introduce you to the game.  It’s here:

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My middle son (age 6) really enjoys the game for the “adventure” of the game, the matching aspect, the cooperation aspect, and, like the Gallagher’s children as explained here, the shortcuts and slides of the game.  I love the fact that they are learning the names and pictures of useful wild plants.  For families who have no or little previous experience with using wild plants, it gives an introduction to the concept that nature provides plants to help us stay healthy, to heal our wounds and ailments and to meet our nutritional needs.  Unfortunately, many children and adults in our “fast food and drug store” culture have never been exposed to those ideas.  For various reasons, many people from that culture decide to pursue a more natural path for their health and well-being.  This game is a terrific help for newbies to learn some of the wild edible and medicinal plants that nature provides.

While I do really love the game, there is one thing that I was disappointed in.  The game does not teach any specifics on how the plants can be used to cure ailments or to fulfill hunger.  One of the top things about eating wild edibles is learning which part of the plant you can eat, at what stage in development you can eat it, and how to properly prepare it (i.e. does it need to be boiled in 3 changes of water?).  Some plants have edible and toxic parts so it is vital that you know those things.  It’s the same with medicinal plants.  You must know which part is safe to use, how to prepare the part, how to use the part (i.e. is it safe to ingest or can it only be applied externally?), and how much to use.  The creators do acknowledge this and have provided a lot of freebies (e-books including a cookbook and a 10-video beginning herbal lesson series) to help you learn how to use the plants to meet your health needs.  I personally went through the 10-video herbal lesson, learned from it and enjoyed it.

The price is $37.00.  For some, that price might seem a bit high for “just a game”.  I certainly  understand.  For our one-income family, it was money well-spent.  We will continue to enjoy playing this game, learning better and better how wild edible and medicinal plants can help us.  And we will continue to learn the deeper learning material offered as freebies including a monthly herbal newsletter.

If you are on the fence about spending that much on a game, here is some great news — they guarantee that you will love Wildcraft! or they will refund your money AND you can keep the game!

Even if you do not have children in your life, as long as you have another person who is also interested in learning wild edible and medicinal plants, I highly recommend that you get and play the game together and, of course, learn and start using the plants in your cooking and for your minor ailments.  Of course, if you are on prescription drugs, you should consult with your physician to make sure that the herbs that you are interested in incorporating into your “medicine chest” will not cause you problems.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, they are sold out of the game.  Their website indicates that they will have more by the fall (2013) and that you can enter your email address to be notified when the game is again in stock and available for purchase.  The space to enter your email address is at the bottom of the webpage.

If you have purchased this game, I’d love to hear what you think of the game!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.  If you like what you’ve read, please consider subscribing via email or by following me on Twitter or YouTube (where I upload videos more often than I post on my blog).

Author bio: The Crunchy Mama is a libertarian unschooling mama to three sons, married to her husband since 1998.  They live on their Midwestern homestead of 2 ½ acres with chickens, ducks, dogs and an ever-growing organic vegetable garden.  She is an avid wild food eater.  In general, she’d rather be outside enjoying creation. If you’d like, you can connect with The Crunchy Mama on Twitter @thecrunchymama, YouTube, or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.


Categories: Herbal Remedies, Real Food, Survival Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Anti-Fragile Strategies for SmartPreppers

by Todd

Is the term antifragile new to you?

Our modern world is built on fragile systems. Systems that get worse, not better, with the smallest of stressors. Technology is a wonderful and scary tool. Systems get hacked. Bugs cause chaos. And it all depend on our power grid.

Think about our ‘just in time’ food delivery system, transportation, municipal water, medicine, banks, and even our governmental system. All are delicately fragile.

The lights are on, gas is in the car, food in the fridge, and your baby is healthy. A small glitch or hiccup in ‘normal’ can disrupt your comfort level. When a regional natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy hits, our modern systems become worthless. God help us if disaster ever struck country or world-wide.

Living life is messy even in ‘normal’ conditions. That’s why the preparedness minded work to simplify systems and build redundancy. How do we know if our plan will hold up to the stress of what’s coming? It would be wise to create controlled stressors in normal times to gauge your anti-fragility before all hell breaks loose.

The Problem with Linear-Life-Thinking

Life is not linear. Doing the stuff to prepare and respond to life’s ups and downs will determine whether you survive, thrive, or die. Self-sufficiency never arrives by accident. It’s built through choices. We haven’t left the rat race entirely. Like the rest of you regular guys/gals, DRG and I still have to pay the bills.

Over a year ago, we experienced our own personal SHTF situation. Dirt Road Girl was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. As you might imagine, we were devastated. Suddenly, one thing mattered. Survival!

Due to DRG’s attitude,  prayers from family and friends, and a second opinion from a wise doctor, she’s bouncing back and taking full advantage of her second chance at life. She’s more than resilient. She’s becoming antifragile.

She’s a shining example of what ‘doing the stuff’ is all about. Her fighting spirit motivates me – stops my complaining – causes me to be more honest with myself – teaches me to laugh at life… and death – makes me embrace both my mortality and immortality.

Building an Antifragile Life

No shame in failure – try again – and fail again. Caroline Cooper used the term ‘antifragile’ in an email to me recently. What a great word! It comes from Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, a book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.” [Emphasis mine]

This is not a book review since I’ve not read his book yet. Anti-fragility is what I’ve been promoting on this blog without being aware of the term. (I’m ordering his book today).

How can becoming antifragile make our preparations and life better?

Let’s see, we live in a fragile system/world.  A SHTF event, personal or otherwise, will happen. It shakes us to our core. Our foundation is compromised. Paradigms are destroyed. What you thought would work doesn’t. The ‘plan’ and the ‘backup plan’ fail. The map you were told to follow leads you to a bridge to nowhere.

What do you do next?

The SmartPrepper builds anti-fragility. Strategies that gain from disorder and disaster.

Here are some antifragile strategies to get you thinking.

1.) Economics: Decrease your exposure in the fragile banking system as much as possible. A hundred years ago our Federal Reserve (private central bank) started a stupid system that can’t withstand shock. Our fractional reserve banking is too big to fail. Their rules don’t apply to the individual – you and me. If individuals make stupid mistakes, we get immediate results. Failure is a great teacher.

Antifragile Strategy: Invest in tangibles. Productive land, skills, natural health, quality tools, precious metals, and stuff you can’t make on your own.  Having the ability to produce potable water may be more valuable gold. You can’t drink gold.

2.) Community: We live in a global community whether we like it or not. Stuff happens in China and we feel it in main street America. Globalization means the problems we face are too big to understand and fix. Government leaders, no matter what their party affiliation, can’t solve problems for you and your family.

Antifragile Strategy: You are the answer for your problems. But you can’t do it alone. You need local community no matter how self-sufficient you’ve become. A bunker mentality will not save you.

Start by building antifragile systems and skills locally – produce real food (even with limited space), make your home a producer instead of a consumer (rain collection systems, alternative and sustainable energy, etc.), buy locally grown real food, and support local producers.

3.) Education: Let me be clear. ‘Education’ is not referring to school. Schools do one thing very well – schooling. Schools are the last places on earth to learn anti-fragility. Students are not allowed to explore their interests. There’s simply not enough time and the overseers can’t allow individualism to take root. Schools are just another too-big-to-fail, propped up government institution that is wildly successful at failure.

“Children do not need to be made to learn about the world or shown how. They want to, and they know how.” – John Holt

[And it won’t happen through schooling – me]

Antifragile Strategy: Follow your interests! Homeschooling/unschooling allows your children to follow their passions. Just like any other investment, there are sacrifices that must be made to achieve the desired result.

John Taylor Gatto once said, “Genius is as common as the air we breath.” Schools are not structured to allow genius to be developed. If that’s true with kids in school, the same goes for you as a life learner. Keep learning. Avoid the cookie-cutter mentality of  factory schooling – for you and your children’s future. Build skills, then get educated.

4.) Take Risks and Keep Doing the Stuff: Anti-fragility places high value on doing over just thinking. Risk failure. Fail. Try it again. Get it right.

Is this stressful? Indeed! There are no shortcuts to becoming antifragile. There’s no ‘safe’ place. We want to insulate our children from danger. That’s noble to a certain point. But we’ve crossed over into dangerous territory when our protection is smothering. Helicopter parenting, if you will.

Taking risks is an American thing to do. That’s how we built this country. Maybe my view is tainted somewhat from teaching, but I see a growing number of kids that have had risk erased from their lives through government education and helicopter parenting. Free-range kids learn to deal with risks, survive stressors, and gain from their experience.

Antifragile Strategy: Now is the time to practice doing the stuff before an event forces you. I’m a huge proponent of testing gear, knowledge, attitude, and abilities. This alone will prepare you for those pesky unknown unknowns. Even doing the stuff now won’t guarantee success when it counts. But it will greatly increase the odds in your favor when disorder and volatility show up on your doorstep.

Self-imposed stressors help gauge your anti-fragility. Knowledge may weigh nothing, but until you start doing the stuff, your book knowledge won’t matter. There’s a big gap between reading a how-to on blacksmithing and actually hammering hot steel into a useful object.

Here’s some of the ways to start doing the antifragile stuff. Note: Doing this stuff is for healthy people who want to stress their system in a natural, healthy way.

Physical Stuff

  • Part of your plan may be to grab your Bug Out Bag and walk to a pre-determined location if need be. We do what we practice. At least once a week, sometimes more, DRG and I do our B.O.B. workout. That is, we strap on our fully loaded backpacks (72 hour go-bags) and hike around our town and neighborhood (about 3 or 4 miles). If you’ve got a B.O.B. laying in your closet that you’ve never carried, try it. You might find your hips and legs need more practice doing this stuff. We’re not sure if we’d ever need to bug out, but it’s comforting to know we could physically if we had to. [Tip: Don’t go all Rambo on your outings. Blend in as much as possible. You’re simply conditioning for your summer hiking trip.]
Bug Out Bag Monday workouts

B.O.B. Monday workout! Notice the SmartPrepper apparel :)

  • Stress your body. Anyone that’s hung out here knows that I’m not a fan of conventional workouts (repetitive, boring gym workouts). My plan involves lifting heavy things, moving slowly daily (walking), and sprinting (max effort) once a week. It’s not rocket science. Move in a way that builds functional fitness. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check the Brick House Workout here. Keep your body in a state of randomness.
  • Polar dip. That’s right. Taking a dip in a cold water stresses your system. I also take cold showers regularly in the hot months – and occasionally in the winter. There’s nothing like diving into the lake at the Dam Cabin in November, climbing out shivering, and warming up by the camp fire. Sound crazy? You may be surprised at the health benefits. I’m not suggesting you turn your hot water heater into a bar-b-que grill. Just test the cold water to see if it works for you.
  • Get grounded. Three years ago I removed the casts (running shoes) from my feet. Now I run in my birthday shoes. My students think I’m nuts. They wonder if I ever step in dog poop – their biggest concern. Barefoot running has taken the stress off my joints, improved my balance, and strengthened my feet and ankles. If you’re considering an unshod run, be smart and invest some time in research. Begin here. Even if you never run ‘naked’, loose the shoes and walk in your yard. Feel the grass/weeds between your toes. There are free health benefits to putting your sole on the ground (earthing).

Food Stuff

  • Intermittent Fasting:  IF has many benefits other than weight loss. Here’s a IF resource I’ve put together if you’re interested. Skipping meals may one not be optional one day.
  • Variety: Try new food. Shock you system with occasional wild foods and fermented food. Heck, just stop eating processed junk will send healthy shock waves through the Standard American’s Diet.
  • Eat the real stuff: Eating real food is now trendy and revolutionary. We call it organic. It’s really the nutrient dense foods that our grandparents cooked from scratch before our wonderful industrial food machine destroyed our eats. Buying (if you can’t grow your own) local naturally raised or organic plants and animals not only makes you healthy, it your community antifragile.

System Stuff

  • Water. Can’t do without this stuff. What’s your system for acquiring H2O? Depending on your city/county to deliver potable water after an event is fragile thinking. Build an antifragile system that improves your life.
  • Security. Dialing 911 is an option if your life is threatened. But know that you’re beholden to a response time that may be too late. Take your security into your own hands. ‘Nuff said.
  • Waste. Okay, this is a dirty subject, but… I don’t think many of us give it a second thought. When the Sh*t Hits The Fan, what do you do with the brown stuff? We take for granted that our toilet handle will always handle the job and paper work. If our fragile system fails, what’s your plan to eliminate your waste? Outhouse or 5 gallon bucket and a Sears and Roebuck catalog? You may want to look into some type of composting toilet. Just saying.
  • Networking. Building relationships with other antifragile people increases your chances of surviving stressors. You won’t need to just borrow a cup of milk from your nurse neighbor post-collapse, she’d be sewing up that gash in your foot from a glancing blow at the firewood shed. Neighboring and networking now is the antifragile thing to do to avoid the rush.

Alright, your turn. What systems and strategies do you recommend for anti-fragility? See you in the comments!


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Categories: Investing/Tangibles, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food, SHTF | Tags: , , , | 25 Comments

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