22 August 2012

From the Bookshelf: "Passport to Survival"

From the Bookshelf posts discuss books I've found helpful over the years. I'm not advertising for them and haven't received any compensation from the publishers. However, book titles link to Amazon through the affiliate program that helps support the blog.

I had planned to write the first "From the Bookshelf" article about something well-known and easy, like Joy of Cooking. But instead I've decided to jump right into the deep end and discuss one of my favorite fringe survivalist books: The NEW Passport to Survival: 12 Steps to Self-Sufficient Living by Rita Bingham (Natural Meals Publishing 1999):

From left: navy beans, white rice, brown rice, black turtle beans,
old-fashioned oatmeal, mung bean (Chinese stir-fry bean sprout) seeds

Now, let's be clear. Bingham, writing this book pre-9/11 but more importantly pre-Y2K, emphasizes that the end times approach. The evidence, you see, is clear: the number of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts, and other natural disasters has increased exponentially since the 1950s! Bingham does not take into account that we have more people in the land witnessing events, more weather stations, more satellites, and more sensitive detection instruments, all of which would lead to an exponentially higher number of reported hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts, and other natural disasters than were known to have occurred before today. Now, Rowhouse Livin' is a household that uses evidence-based methods to determine how we'll stock our pantry. So how do we square our perspective with Bingham's eschatological point of view?

First, we take the first two chapters ("NIGHTMARE 2000" and "WHAT IF?") with a grain of salt. We'll buy that natural disasters and catastrophic, uninsured losses happen; we'll leave on the shelf the suggestion that supermarket-clearing civil unrest is nigh or that any of a number of disasters would be caused by a higher power. We'll leave the line items for genealogical documents and scriptures off our checklist of things we should have in our emergency 72-hour kits, but we'll leave in the very sound reasoning for maintaining a bug-out bag in the first place. In short, Passport to Survival is a tool in the Rowhouse Livin' toolbox, one of many, for working on our urban home economics goals.

And what a tool! Bingham discusses how to build up a household's supply of food in accordance with her faith. While the church appears to have eased off the full year's supply requirement and now -- to my understanding -- focuses on helping members save up for just three months, Bingham gives you tips, strategies, recipes, and a gameplan for stocking up enough food and household necessities that you can skip going to the grocery store for a whole 12 months. Topics include growing your own sprouts for vitamins; grinding flour from your store of wheat; building and using a no-fuel solar oven; and rotating through your stored food by using it in your daily meals. While noting that her information on "complementary" proteins for vegetarians and the cure-all properties of grapefruit seed extract is dated, I think the book is still a valuable source of information and encouragement for households looking into self-reliance and emergency preparedness. It's a useful reference for me, and a book I re-read in its entirety about once a year . . . by candlelight, during a snowstorm.

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