I’ve been reading up on diet and health lately — as you might have surmised from some of my recent posts. One interesting question is how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates is best for a healthy diet. And this affects prepping because, when the SHTF, you may need to eat from your survival garden and/or your stored food supply. Having a large quantity of food or calories available is not sufficient. You’ll need enough of each macronutrient: protein, fat, carbs.
Good sources of dietary protein are relatively easy to grow in the garden. Legumes (beans, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, peas) are available in a myriad of different varieties, suitable for almost any climate. Dried legumes also store well. You can grow your own and dry what you don’t use. Or you can buy dried legumes for storage; they are inexpensive.
Grains are a little tricky to grow. Any grain with a hull, like wheat, rice, or barley, will need to be hulled after it is threshed (grains separated from plant). But hulling is best done by machinery. This represent labor and money that a small gardener might not find to be worthwhile. So for the backyard survival garden, you are better off with grains that don’t need hulling. Corn (maize), quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth are all free from hulls and good sources of protein.
Peanuts can be grown from raw in-the-shell peanuts that you buy in a grocery store. Peanuts are high in protein and store well when dried. Just be careful to dry the crop quickly and thoroughly, so that fungus does not contaminate the crop with aflatoxin.
Hulless pumpkin seeds (Lady Godiva, Kakai, Styrian) save you the work of hulling the seeds. Pumpkin flesh is high in 3 important carotenoids: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein. And the seeds are high in protein.
Good sources of stored protein include: rice, wheat flour, barley, pasta, legumes, nuts and seeds, soynuts. White grains store better long-term than whole grains, because the oils in the bran can go rancid in less than a year. Soynuts are a complete protein and are higher in protein than grains and some other legumes.
How much protein do you need in your diet? about 15 to 25% of your total daily calories should be protein. Let’s call it about 20%. If you have a 2000 kcal/day diet, that 20% is 400 kcal of protein or about 100 grams/day. For one month (31 days), the total is 3.1 kg or about 7 lbs of protein. If your protein source is 25% protein (e.g. most legumes), that’s 28 lbs of the protein source. For grains, the protein content is less. Rice is about 7% protein; wheat flour is 10 to 12% protein; dry spaghetti (pasta) is about 13% protein. At an average protein content of about 10%, the 7 lbs of protein that you need per month is 70 lbs of grains.
So if you want, say 100 g/day of protein — 3/4 from grains and 1/4 from legumes — you will need about 7 lbs of dried legumes and about 53 lbs of gains. If you need more than 2000 kcal/day, say 25% more (2500 kcal), then increase the above numbers by 25% — 8.75 lbs legumes and 66 lbs of grains, per person.
Of course, as you add more variety to your stored foods, the calculation of stored protein becomes more complex. But you get the idea. You should figure out if your stored foods provide sufficient protein. Supplement that with protein that you grow in a garden, and you should be good to go.