simpleunhookedliving

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Beans and Survival

Cooking bean soup off gridImagine for a moment, that your food and fuel supplies are finite. It’s a foreign thought, I know, to the modern masses, where supply is always expanding and we are morally and spiritually entitled to drink deeply of the constant growth. But pretend that, due to some scenario, whether TEOTWAWKI or maybe you just lost your house and job, the resources you have at hand are all that will be keeping you alive for a while. Therefore, you’d like them to last as long as possible.

Consider Strategic Efficiency

Cooking bean soup from scratch at an off grid camp in late spring brought to mind the practicality of strategic efficiency. A simple thing like making soup can sustain you or set you back in a survival situation. It boils down to a level of conservation minutia most modern folks have not been trained for. There has always been plenty of everything at the store and more where that came from. But here we are concerned with the lowly bean and the best time and manner of preparing it.

Beans – Culinary Symbol of Self-Reliance

Beans are good for self-reliance mode because they are affordable, nutritious, and can be stored without power. As a result, both the radical Left and Right have appropriated beans as a culinary symbol of self-reliance. For the Left, the bean rose to significance in the 70s, as a way to throw off the shackles of the resource wasting mono-cultural meat industry. Francis Moore Lappe wrote Diet for a Small Planet, which discussed making complete proteins by combining various vegetable proteins. The bean gained stature. People started making burgers and milk out of beans, sprouting them, and eating tofu. A few years later, the radical Right adopted the humble bean as one-third of its legendary survival trinity: Beans, Bullets, and Bibles. Either way, if you have some beans in your cache, consider yourself fortunate.

 Back at the Off-Grid Camp

The off grid-camp is a place to retreat and relax. It’s also a good place for dry runs where people can check the sustainability of their survival plans, discover new resources, and experiment.

A visitor arrived on a beautiful late spring day and announced her hankering for bean soup. She’d packed in a sack of dried beans and fixings, which she intended to cook up and share with the group. She’d also brought a few canisters of propane and a stove. At the off-grid camp, the goal is to stay as long as possible without having to go out into civilization to re-supply; hence, the correlation of managing with a finite supply of food and fuel.

 Saving Propane

Cooking beans from the dry state required an overnight soak and about three hours of cooking. The soup cooker’s propane supply was limited and she didn’t want to use three hours worth on her second day in camp. She had plenty of time, though, which she invested in gathering sticks from the forest for a cooking fire. After gathering wood and stoking the stove for several hours, there was enough hearty and delicious soup to feed everybody and it was most appreciated.

Survival Mode Requires A Different Way of Thinking

The soup provided a number of meals with one fire. That’s good because more time and fuel were conserved than if everyone had made their own meals. Camaraderie and sharing food are good. But in survival mode, where food and fuel are finite, every action should be done to maximize resources. That includes the human resource of energy spent carrying out various tasks required to survive. Here are some things that might be done differently when it’s impossible to visit the system to resupply.

1. Wait to cook beans until the temperature requires a heat fire that can do double duty. That way, there is no extra fuel spent on those long cooking projects.

2. When it’s sunny, use a solar cooker.

3. Use a different form of bean, such as canned or freeze dried, that takes less time to cook.

4. In springtime, use food that is growing and save items well suited for the winter storage cache.

5. In late spring, three hours of human energy dedicated to growing or gathering food rather than cooking it, would be time better spent.

As it turned out, there were leftovers that needed to be dealt with. This is a problem in a camp devoid of refrigerators. During cold weather, leftovers can be left outside. But this situation called for ice.

Is This Unnecessary Nit Picking?

This level of nit-picking is irritating to those who are accustomed to being able to satisfy their food desires, whims, and hankerings. It becomes relevant when your survival depends on it.

In a prosperous camp, everyone realizes the relevance of their actions. They are trained and willing to harness finite resources for maximum results. Back in the day before so many stores, our ancestors understood the precept of cooperatively managing activities according to times and seasons. Those who most efficiently managed limited resources would be more likely to enjoy some comforts and well-being down the road.

This example of analyzing the bean soup scenario can be applied to all of our actions. Efficiency is a frame of mind that will serve you well if you intend to sustain and survive.

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