book review: Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook

This article is a concise review of the book: Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis by Peggy Layton

The author has provided a concise overview of basic survival preparations, with a strong emphasis on lists of things to buy. If you are looking for some guidance as to the contents of different kinds of emergency preparedness kits, this book is very helpful. Included are lists for: Communication, Sanitation, First Aid, 72-hour Kits, Emergency Shelter Kits, and other lists.

The section of the book on emergency cooking methods is particularly useful. Different types of home-made or purchased ovens/stoves are covered, including Dutch ovens (a closed-lid pot suspended over a fire), solar ovens, and different types of DIY stoves. Her suggestion to use an old washing machine tub to contain and aerate a fire is innovative. I’ve not seen that one before.

The chapter on water is all too brief. It covers the basics, but nothing more.

Where this book really shines is its extensive treatment of long-term food storage. “Use what you store, and store what you use.” Store foods that you and your family eat, and emphasize palatability as well as nutrition. The author also gives much attention to where and how to store food long-term, including ways to prevent food spoilage.

Some of Layton’s food storage lists are organized around recipes, e.g. a bread recipe coupled with a list of stored items needed to make that bread. Her emphasis on storing what you and your family eat is well-integrated with her recommendations for what to store. However, I think that the section on which foods to store is all-too-brief. More consideration could have been given to a wider range of foods, especially foods high in dietary fat and protein.

Layton’s approach to which foods you should store revolves around meals and particular recipes. The chapter titled ‘Implementing Your Food Storage Program’ consists mainly of lists of foods and other items, along with blank lines for you to write in your particulars. She suggests also writing out a list of 7 days’ worth of meals, with all the ingredients needed, so that you can store the appropriate foods.

The result of this approach is that a family eating from stored foods will be able to eat relatively ordinary meals, close to their usual diet. Perhaps some foods that do not store well will become unavailable. But this is a far cry from trying to live off of freeze-dried ‘complete’ meals that are purchased in bulk. I favor this idea of storing the foods that you and your family are already accustomed to eating. You do not want to combine dealing with a severe disaster, with having to eat a whole new set of unusual foods, meal after meal, day after day.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It is not perfect, nor is it a complete treatment of prepping. But it cost me less than $10, and it has much useful material. Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis by Peggy Layton

– Thoreau

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