Hard Tack to Pack a Punch in the Apocalypse

Sea Biscuits, Sheet Iron, Molar Breakers, or just Tack; Hard Tack goes by many different names and has quite the history.  Used as sustenance by sailors at sea and food rations for soldiers in the revolutionary and civil wars, it is a versatile food with a long shelf life making it ideal for prepping and survival.

The basic recipe is as follows:

3 cups of white flour
1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of salt

And that’s it!  Mix it up into a dough, roll it out, cut into squares or circles. Poke some holes. Preheat the oven at 375 degees, bake each side for 30 minutes. And boom! there you have it.

However, this recipe isn’t the most nutrient dense. I decided to tweak it a bit to make a hard tack that packs a punch.

Ravn’s Hard Tack for the End of Days

(Or for camping…)

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2 Cups whole wheat flour
1 cup of ground quinoa flour (Quinoa is full of protein, and has a complete amino acid profile, making it a complete protein)
1 cup of rolled oats (Also full of protein and other essential nutrients)
1/2 cup chia
1/2 cup flax
(Flax and chia both are full of protein, omega 3s, and other vitamins and minerals)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 and 1/2 cups of water

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Before baking

When they come out they definitely live up to their name of being hard.  If you’re not careful you will chip a tooth.  Breaking off a piece and holding it in your mouth for a minute or two allows the enzymes in your saliva break it down to make it chew-able.  It’s also pretty good soaked in soup for a few minutes.  You can dunk it in coffee or just hot water.  It tastes kind of like Wheaties.  It’s very flexible in that it can be eaten with a hearty flavor (like with a bone broth) or something sweet (drizzle on some honey or jam).

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While Hard Tack is known for it’s long term shelf life, I wanted to ensure it lasts for years.  I ordered some Mylar bags to store them in. I will also be using these bags to store more food in the future.

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If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, one way to go about it is by submerging it in water until all the air is out.  Then use an iron (I used a flat iron) to seal it up.

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And there you have it!
Until Next Time,
Ravn Thor

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Checking in, herbs, potions, surplus, and more

Hello,

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks. I just returned from the Twin Cities a couple days ago.  Here’s a little update of what I’ve been up to:

Herbs are sprouting!

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Things are starting to really spring up and my goji berry plant has rooted and is standing tall and strong. I’m really relieved that it worked out. For the first couple days the poor plant had transplant trauma and was very wilty.  I gave it a few drinks of sugar water and it perked right up. Now it’s almost as tall as the bamboo stick!

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I stopped at a Herb shop and picked up a few ounces of adaptogen herbs for focus, energy, and virility.  Really decent prices. I spent under 10bucks.  Buying loose-leaf herbs is so cheap.
Ravn’s Virility Tonic
2 tsp Schizandra berry
2 tsp Horny Goat Weed
2 tsp Ginseng
Ravn’s Focus Potion
2 tsp Ginko
2 tsp Ginseng
2 tsp Schizandra berry
(For more of a focus kick use some green tea also)

Add more of each for a stronger potion. Pour the herbs into boiling water and turn off the heat. Let set for 5-10 minutes.

Or you can make this into a decoction. Put herbs into a boiling pot, turn heat down to a simmer, and let simmer for 30-45minutes.

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I made a stop in Fargo at Mills Fleet Farm because they have a really huge selection of military surplus gear.  Military Surplus is a great resource for prepper gear because it’s high quality and affordable.  I have been wanting a good durable bug-out bag that I can double use for camping and backpacking.  I got an “Italian San Marco Backpack” for around 20$.  I plan on saving up for an A.L.I.C.E Pack Frame to use as well.

Fitness Update

So a month or so ago I weighed in at 129lbs. Yesterday I weighed myself and landed at 141lbs! I am 3lbs away from my bulking goal.  Once I reach that goal I start on cutting.
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I’m looking forward to spring rolling around so I can put myself to the test on a long hike.

In the next couple months I will be moving back to my college town.  When I move I will start planning my garden.

That’s all for now,

Ravn

 

 

Herb Planting!

Good evening,

I decided to start my herb garden indoors.  There was a sale at a home improvement store and so I figured I’d take advantage.  I planted some culinary herbs as well as medicinal.  I hope to plant more in the future.

I planted what I like to call  Scarborough herbs:

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme 

and the rest:

Basil, Oregeno, Chives

Cayenne, Chamomile, Lavender, and Lemon balm

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I was really surpised and happy to find a goji berry plant! I’ve always wanted one to nurture indoors.

I even got a grow lamp so it can receive more rays when the sun isn’t shining through the window at certain parts of the day.

Here is my complete set up thus far:

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It’s pretty modest but it’s a start.  I hope what I have sown will reap successfully.

The links throughout this post are to various covers of Scarborough Fair. It’s one of my favorite songs. It’s so timeless.  I used to play Irish Tin whistle(and mandolin) and this was one of my favorite songs to play (besides Greensleeves).

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.”

 

Learning Folk Medicine

*Disclaimer: This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness. I am not a health care practitioner. Please discuss your personal health with a qualified doctor before making changes to your diet or health regimen.

In a previous post I noted that in the first couple days of office, Dictator Cheeto signed an executive order to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Through my 20s I’ve been very interested in mind/body holistic health. I’ve studied up on nutrition and looked through what’s fact and what’s fad, and the same with alternative remedies.  In my arsenal of prepping I believe learning basic first aid and preventative medicine are vital tools. Keeping my immune system strong so it’s not susceptible to diseases is very important, because if I get sick I won’t be able to afford to see the doctor. And if I do go see the doctor, there is a good chance that doctor could cite “deeply held religious beliefs” and refuse to treat me. So it’s in my best interest to protect and empower myself to understand my body and keep it healthy.

Honey for a cough. The tried and true chicken noodle soup. Tea tree oil for a skin blemish. For a brighter smile brush with baking soda. What these things all have in common is that they can be considered folk medicine!

According to the World Health Organization, Folk Medicine is:

“the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.”

It’s very important to learn how to weed through all the snake oil. Just because blood-letting was once a practiced ‘traditional’remedy doesn’t mean it was ever a good idea.

“A man may esteem himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine.” -Henry David Thoreau

My kitchen in a lot of ways is a mini apothecary.

A few staples that I keep in my kitchen are:

  • Garlic
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Green Tea
  • Ginger Root
  • Lemons
  • Raw Honey

Garlic

Garlic is one of the worlds most researched and important medicinal plants (and it adds amazing flavor to most anything!).

Best taken raw, the key actions of this plant is that it’s an antibiotic, anti fungal, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, supports beneficial intestinal flora, and is an amazing antioxidant keeping free radicals at bay. It’s excellent at preventing the common cold or shortening the length of time if you catch one.   It’s a real immune system booster!

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It also gives you an edge when dealing with not so nice vampires.

I eat about 3-4 cloves a day. I put it on most everything. Potatoes, rice, noodles, pasta, pizza, bread, salad, nachos, tacos, steak, soups, etc.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is an amazing spice to add to any meal if you need a kick but it also has some pretty nifty health benefits too.

Cayenne pepper helps fight inflammation and can give your metabolism a much needed boost as well as stimulate the circulatory system. It’s key component, capsaicin, is what makes this pepper spicy. High in vitamins A and C this pepper helps support the immune system.  The heat of this pepper also gives you a nice endorphin rush.
Since cayenne stimulates blood flow, it can be a useful spice to add more spice to your sex drive.

I love to use cayenne in many different dishes and I even like to put cayenne in my ginger lemon honey tea or even make a spicy hot chocolate.

Green Tea

Legend has it that in 3rd century China, Emperor Shen Nung was sitting under a tree boiling water and leaves fell from the tree into his kettle.  He took a sip and found it to be quite delightful, so resulting in the timeless tradition of drinking tea!

Tea is a stimulant with a moderate amount of caffeine which offers a nice pick-me-up(not as much as a cup of coffee though).  It contains high levels of polyphenols, which is an antioxidant that has been found to help weight loss,  and hinder inflammation.

Green tea is also good for focus and helping alleviate depression.  This is because green tea contains the amino acid L-Theanine:

“L-theanine is an amino acid responsible for increasing alpha brain wave activity, which promotes relaxation. In concert with the stimulant caffeine, this allows tea to induce a feeling of increased concentration over a longer period of time, compared to caffeine alone. Some tea merchants will tell you that tea “releases” its caffeine into the body more slowly than coffee, but in actuality, the effects of caffeine are being moderated by L-theanine.”

So besides getting really good focus and antioxidants out of green tea, there are even more benefits to your health:

“Studies have also shown that there are added benefits to tea, besides alertness. In a paper by Eschenauer and Sweet, it was concluded that “increased alpha activity in the brain induced by L-theanine has been associated with increased creativity, increased performance under stress, and improved learning and concentration as well as decreased anxiety.” [2] A 2001 study suggests that the combination of L-theanine and caffeine “improves the ability to multi-task and reduces task-induced fatigue,” [3]

I have around 2 to 3 cups of green tea a day. Matcha green tea contains even higher amounts of L-Theanine. I like to add matcha to my smoothies.

Ginger Root

There’s nothing quite like the zing of fresh raw ginger root! Ginger is anti-inflammatory and may even be used in place of aspirin to treat arthritic pain for those that can’t have aspririn. Personally, I can’t have OTC pain relievers because it flares up severe stomach acid distress.  Ginger has been a life savor for nausea and my aches and pains.

Ginger is also an antioxidant and can improve resistance during a flu or cold.

I like to add raw garlic and raw ginger root to my chicken soup when I feel a hint of a cold coming on.

Lemon

Lemons! An excellent source of vitamin C!  I use lemon almost as much as I use garlic! I like to use it in cooking or have tea with a squeeze of lemon, pinch of cayenne, chunks of ginger, and a spoonful of raw honey.  It’s my nightly ritual.

Raw Honey

Honey. Sweet ambrosia and nectar of the goddess!  Honey is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and chock full of amino acids and vitamins and minerals.  It’s by far my favorite sweetener. Raw honey in particular is minimally processed thereby keeping all of the enzymes and amino acids.

Honey gives the libido a boost and increases stamina. There are also studies that have found honey to be a great anticancer food.

I prefer to buy local raw honey.  Please note that while there are many benefits to raw honey, there are also potential dangers or drawbacks.  For example, honey is full of fructose (hence it being a sweetener) and so adding spoonful after spoonful is extra added calories. Raw honey should never be given to infants because of it’s potential although rare cases of endospores of Clostridium botulinum (the bacteria that can cause botulism) have been found.  The adult digestive system can filter that out but infants systems are not strong enough.

I daydream of having my own self sufficient farm and being a keeper of bees.

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For about a month I’ve been dealing with an infection that has made the  lymph nodes in my neck go into overdrive.  I went to the doctor and got everything all checked out. It’s nothing to be worried about thankfully, however, feeling really worn out all the time while my body is battling this infection has really gotten me down. I decided to ‘level up’ my beginner herbalism skills and make my very first decoction.

In Rosemary Gladstar’s book on medicinal herbs, a decoction is made of woody plant parts, roots and bark, twiggy bits, and other hard parts. It takes a slow simmer for about 45minutes to extract the medicinal properties of these herbs.

In my handy-dandy Herbal Remedies Visual Reference Guide by Andrew Chevallier, I looked up some herbs that would help with lymph draining and fighting infections.

So my first medicinal potion I made:

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Astragalus, Cleavers, Echinacea, Dandelion RootJuniper berries, Raw Ginger, Garlic, Raw honey, dash of cayenne.

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I let it simmer for around 45 minutes.  I put a quart of water in and after simmering it made about 2 cups totals.  I added the honey and cayenne pepper after the finished product.  It didn’t taste bad, but it did taste strange. Like a weird mix of coffee and rootbeer.

I’ve also been taking a hot bath with epsom salts and drops of eucalyptus, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils. I sometimes take an epsom salt soak after a particularly hard day of weight training or long hike.  The science behind whether or not epsom salts work the way other natural holistic health websites say they do is pretty iffy.  I take it with a grain of salt (no pun intended) when it comes to what it may or may not do. I just know that it feels really good and dissipates my stress.  Prolonged stress can lead to susceptibility to disease and the body being unable to regulate inflammation.  So for the most part I use Epsom Salt baths as a way to manage stress.

relax

 

So these are just a few things that I do to take care of myself to prevent getting sick or to take care of myself if I do ever get sick. When I lose access to my health care, I like to believe I stand a good chance of surviving.  However, if the access to my Testosterone is cut that will be another story.  It’s a medicine that can’t be stocked becuase it’s a controlled substance. Things are very uncertain at this period of time.

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

Please comment!

What are some of your favorite Folk Medicines or Remedies?

“Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.”  -William Shakespeare

 

A Garden of Resistance

 

A LOT has happened this week.  My Women’s and Gender Studies professor sent me tweet this morning encouraging me to write about a Transgender Prepper Resistance Garden due to the recent news that there will be a 20% import tax from Mexico.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been tweeting her updates on The Transgender Prepper blog.

Trump is going through with building the East Berlin Wall….er….I’m sorry, this is the United States in 2017. Trump is going through with his promise (more like half promise, Mexico is not paying for that fucking wall) to build the hate wall on the boarder of Mexico and the U.S.  Guess who is footing the bill? That’s right. Us United States Tax payers.

Here’s why a wall is a ludicrous idea and why it won’t work and is a huge waste of money:
Why a Wall won’t work

Also, a 20% tax hike on all imports from Mexico?  Do you know what we import from Mexico?

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that Mexico by far is the most important supplier of fresh produce to the U.S., accounting for 69% of U.S. fresh vegetable import value and 37% of U.S. fresh fruit import value in 2012.

PRODUCT OF MEXICO | Day 1 | Labor camps

Almost 70% of our fresh produce comes from Mexico.

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This is a tax we are all going to be paying for because we need food to live.

If you’re thinking it’s not a big deal because we have plenty of huge farms here to compensate, think again.  Back in 2011-2012, Georgia enacted a bill to crack down on undocumented workers. They didn’t realize how many millions of dollars they would lose and food gone to waste.

After enacting House Bill 87, a law designed to drive illegal immigrants out of Georgia, state officials appear shocked to discover that HB 87 is, well, driving a lot of illegal immigrants out of Georgia…
Thanks to the resulting labor shortage, Georgia farmers have been forced to leave millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions, melons and other crops unharvested and rotting in the fields.
Before that the same thing happened in Alabama after enacting harsh crackdowns on undocumented workers.
It’s not only Southern states; farmers all across America are dependent on migrant labor. For example, immigrants make up 40% of Wisconsin’s dairy industry workers and almost one in three U.S. farming and fishing workers is from Mexico.
Many farmers want to hire local workers, but it is increasingly difficult to find U.S. natives with the proper skills. Few are willing or able to perform the physically taxing and low paying labor which requires them to move with the crops, even with wages of $15-$20 an hour.
Immigration is so much more complicated than just crossing an invisible line. Many migrant workers are brought to the United States legally by U.S corporations through guest worker visas or they are exploited through undetected labor recruitment techniques.
Migrant workers are especially targets of human trafficking and forced labor, which have at their core, worker rights violations and a lack of labor standards and worker protections. One of the biggest factors underlying the vulnerability of migrant workers are the actions of unscrupulous labor brokers. Many labor brokers charge such exorbitant fees for securing work that migrant workers cannot repay them even after years on the job, essentially rendering them indentured workers. Some labor brokers also lie about the wages and working conditions workers should expect in a destination country. Migrant workers often are forced to remain in dangerous working conditions because their debt is too great. – See more at: http://www.solidaritycenter.org/what-we-do/migration-and-human-trafficking/#sthash.otRFUTbr.dpuf
Trafficked people are men and women from all over the world whose plans to migrate for work go terribly wrong. Promised a livelihood abroad, many instead find themselves earning less than minimum wage (Sangeeta reportedly worked over 100 hours a week for some $1.42 an hour), living in cramped conditions, and facing physical threats from their employers. Working under conditions of “force, fraud or coercion” technically qualifies them for trafficking visas (T visas) to stay in the United States.
By creating a punitive deportation regime, the Obama administration has made it harder to locate trafficked persons and to assist them. The U.S. government undoes one set of policies as it enforces another; it holds out assistance to an exceptional few and handcuffs to the many.
 “Trafficking into forced labor exists on a continuum of exploitative labor practices. For many undocumented workers—and some workers with temporary work visas—low pay, no pay, unsafe work conditions, job insecurity, and the absence of clear channels for redress are routine. “
“…regardless of their particular circumstances of exploitation, they share a compromised ability to walk away. Having no passport, money, contacts in the United States, or even seasonally appropriate clothes make it hard for them to envision leaving safely, if at all.”
During the Obama administration, a congressional mandate requires a quota for detainees:
” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to fill a daily average of 34,000 beds in detention facilities. Through policies such as the ironically titled “Secure Communities Programs,” local police function as immigration enforcement agents.”
“The Obama administration ramped up a longstanding practice of ICE raids at worksites where undocumented workers were presumed to labor. These raids sent clear messages to exploited workers to not report abuse. They also have torn apart families and communities.”
So as you can see, the narrative of Mexicans crossing the boarder ‘take’ American jobs is blatantly false.
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Nope.  They did not.
All of this is going to get worse under the Trump administration.  Not just for our food systems but for human beings.
It’s extremely overwhelming what’s been happening this week. What is it that one can do?
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During World War II, it was encouraged that Americans grow what they call Victory Gardens.  These gardens were grown to prevent a food shortage.
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During that time there were so many propaganda posters pushing the notion of growing a garden so that Soldiers over seas fighting would have enough to eat.
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  • At their peak there were more than 20,000,000 Victory Gardens planted across the United States.
  • By 1944 Victory Gardens were responsible for producing 40% of all vegetables grown in the United States. More than one million tons of vegetables were grown in Victory Gardens during the war.

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  • People with no yards planted small Victory Gardens in window boxes and watered them through their windows. Some city dwellers who lived in tall apartment buildings planted rooftop gardens and the whole building pitched in and helped.

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Back in 2013 I planted my first garden. I called myself a Rogue gardener.

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I planted tomatoes and peppers (which I started from seed in the spring and nurtured them for a few months) among many other vegetables.

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I’m not a professional farmer but I do have some skills.

This week I picked up a couple of books to learn more about medicinal herbs and making my own remedies. On top of planning my own garden this year I will be starting my own mini FARMacy inside.

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I’m not really a fan of the notion of “going back” to something. You know how some people will say that we should “go back to” such and such. While it’s very tempting for me to say that we should “Go back to making Victory gardens,”  it just wouldn’t fit for the context of 2017.  I don’t want to grow a garden so the Imperialist Military Industrial Complex can go kill people in other countries.  It’s not Victory that I’m after. It’s resistance. I want to make a Resistance garden. A garden to grow and learn how to preserve and share with our neighbors.  Not a garden to hoard.  We are so much stronger together as a community.  Not just as Citizens of the United States.  But as humans on a planet as a whole. It’s important to educate yourself and listen to the voices of those who are most devastatingly effected by all of these new executive orders.

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“Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root'”

-Angela Davis

 

Why I feel so strongly about prepping: Part 2, Food and Water

Greetings,

In this part of my reflection series I am going to discuss my concerns surrounding our food and water systems.

Under the Trump Regime, he promised to cut FDA regulations:

“The FDA Food Police, which dictate how the federal government expects farmers to produce fruits and vegetables and even dictates the nutritional content of dog food. The rules govern the soil farmers use, farm and food production hygiene, food packaging, food temperatures, and even what animals may roam which fields and when. It also greatly increased inspections of food “facilities,” and levies new taxes to pay for this inspection overkill.”

Supposedly he has flip-flopped on this issue, as it disappeared from his campaigning website, according to Mother Jones.

Many conservative or libertarian types applaud this kind of bravado mainly because they do not want the Government telling us what to do and that the government should have as little influence as possible. While I can see and understand such sentiments, applying it to this situation is completely invalid.  This is all twisted up with loaded language and manipulation using plenty of missing key information in his statements.

This is why we need Food Regulations:

Foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.

If any of our regulations became lax or lifted, that number will go up.

According to Warrie J. Means, Ph.D,Associate Professor and Extension Meat Science Specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming:

Food regulations were developed based on sound scientific principles to decrease the incidence of foodborne illness and death.

This has NOTHING to do with a supposed “nanny state” narrative that conservative talking heads and pundits want to push.  They push that to instill a knee-jerk reaction in order to hijack critical thinking skills. Don’t let anyone think FOR you.

It’s important to know what the hell you are putting into your body.  It’s completely valid to demand standards for the kinds of foods you buy at the grocery store. As far as Trump’s example of the FDA dictating the nutritional content of dog food(as a means to minimize or try to somehow make the FDA seem ridiculous): What the hell is wrong with that? I don’t want my dogs eating ground up leather bits and literal garbage that will make them sick!  

Tying this back to my main point of why I feel so strongly about prepping: We need to be food secure and know what is in our food and where it comes from.

I highly support the local foods movement, organic farming, and so on.  Shop at farmers markets, learn how to grow your own food and preserve it, learn how to forage for edible plants, perhaps hunt for your own meat or get your meat from someone you know (local farmer/rancher).

If we have a healthy body, we have a healthy mind.

water

Water. Our bodies are about 75% water. Like every living entity on this planet, we need water to exist.

What happened in Flint, Michigan is an example of a SHTF (shit hits the fan) scenario.

Fracking and unregulated oil and gas corporations putting pipelines under rivers and fracking near water deposits and spilling oil on farm land(which can’t be farmed ever again) has been contaminating various peoples water supplies.

Pipeline spills are contaminating water supplies.

There is an ongoing battle between the people and oil corporations putting profits over health, safety and our basic human rights, not to mention breaking treaties.

I swear, the whole #NODAPL situation is like an episode of Captain Planet.

We are in a very real water crisis right now. Whether it’s drought like in California or risk of contamination or corporation monopolizing our life source, it’s a very real crisis with implications beyond just water. It impacts our food system as well.

All of this sums up to the conclusion that our WATER SUPPLY IS IN DANGER.  It’s URGENT we start stockpiling filters, water, capture/filter rainwater, and so on.

I do not want to be completely unaware while my mind and body get poisoned by lead or carcinogens.

This also concludes that the government is not for the people anymore (maybe for certain people). It’s for corporate interests. Unregulating corporations and recognizing them as ‘persons’ comes at the cost of ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS and DEMOCRACY.  I do not believe businesses should be able to exploit workers and steal our life-sustaining resources. We are more than our labor. We are more than cogs in this capitalistic machine.

This is not going to change anytime soon. Big Oil has it’s crude, slimy, insidious tentacles tangled up in the economy, military industrial complex, foreign policies, and more.

“Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”
-Henry Kissinger

(Water can definitely be applied to this quote too).

In closing, I firmly believe that our food and water systems are compromised and that it’s only a matter of time before a drought or a Flint Michigan happens in your neck of the woods. I will leave you with this article that came out today that the Bumblebee is on the endangered species list. Without bees to pollinate we will have no food.

Until next time, prep on!

“You don’t choose the times you live in, but you do choose who you want to be, and you do choose how you want to think.” – Grace Lee Boggs