Wednesday, 3 December 2014

List Of A Years Worth Of Food?

I've just finished reading a book called "Our Year In The Wilderness" by Michael & Susan Cusack. I brought it from a second hand bookshop in the summer, and although it looked dated (from the 80's) I thought it looked up my street and for £1 it was worth a shot.
The book was brilliant, it's about a couple being sponsored by Australian Geographic to spend a year in the wilderness in the Australian outback, in the North west of the Kimberley. They were chosen out of 500 other couples, but they kept a secret from National Geographic - they'd been separated for the last 4 years out of their 14 year marriage and saw the experience as a chance to reconcile their marriage! 
The area they stayed is well known for for being an inhospitable and difficult to live place, with long dry spells and temperatures reaching up to 45 degrees C and high humidity.
I was captivated by this book and found their constant struggle for water and relief from the flies and mosquitoes really interesting. It's written by both of them and luckily they both write really well and their are hundreds of beautiful pictures with captions so you really get a feel for what's going on. On Google maps I think their location and it was roughly here, you can see it's pretty remote! But although they know it was hard to survive where they did for a year, they had the up most respect for aborigines who had lived here for centuries before the settlers relocated them and took them from their own land, supposedly for their own good!
Below is a few pages I've pulled from the appendix of the book detailing what food supplies they took with them for their year in the wild. They supplemented their food with some meat they shot (although not much) and fish they caught, plus they grew some vegetables, although they understandably struggled growing them with the lack of water and the high heat!
These pictures should enlarge if you click on them.




There's a few things in the list I was shocked at. One was the amount of sugar they took with them, just one 1kg bag of sugar. Although they had honey and drink powder that wouldn't be enough sugar to keep me going for a month let alone a year! Also you'd think they'd be better off taking grain and a small mill rather than all the flour which could (and did) go bad in the heat. I also understand the need to keep the weight down but dried food without much water can be difficult, I do like all the herbs and spices they took with them though, a great way to change boring meals.

What do you think to their years worth of food for living in a hot and inhospitable place? 
What major changes would you make to the list?

21 comments:

  1. I would have to have tea as long as I have my cuppa I am happy, I agree with you grain would have been better, sounds like a book to add to my list :-)

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    1. It's a good book, but one thing to remember is that this was in the 80's. There's so much more information available now and it's so much easier to access with the internet.

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  2. Wheat berries under the right conditions can be kept indefinitely. although they say 25 years. Like you said a hand crank mill would have been worth the weight. they could have used chickpeas more. They can also be milled to get more protein into food and made into to flat breads. I defo would have had double the weight in chickpeas, for this reason.

    The soy and mung beans could have been sprouted for the nutrients. Although this is completely dependent on on water else they could give them selves salmonella.

    Dried chocolate powder and peanuts would be my luxuries, I dont see any flax seeds? I would have had those and some more apricots. For obvious reasons but you can also add apricots to curries.

    I also dont see dried carrot or courgette?

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    1. they did spout seeds but when the temperature increased they went off before they could germinate so they gave up on them. As for dried carrot I think they missed it off the list and only realised when they got out there, things were rushed at one point leaving so they got flustered as deliveries got messed up.

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  3. I guess it depends on the climate, I wouldn't want to have flour in our often damp location, it just depends on what shelter you have. Our location had native people who lived on corn and winter squash with hunting wild game. Our harsh winter would be the challenge.

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    1. The calories intake in the hot conditions they were in would be so much lower that somewhere in the cold. In the winter I eat loads where as in the summer I get to a stage when it's hot where a salad will do me! They had high humidity and high temperatures that made keeping some things difficult.

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  4. As long as there are ingredients for curry,I'm happy. You can disguise most things with curry.
    Jane x

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    1. I'm the same. Although I think Worcester Sauce would be on my list - I love the stuff!

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  5. Wind up radio for the football and cricket for him? She would want a Catherine Cookson or saga book and her knitting. Then there is the: "Do want something for the weekend sir?" Shall I go on?

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    1. They were too far away for a wind up radio to work! they could radio in for help if they wanted and had to contact the outside world to let people know they were okay a couple of times a week. They did take 143 books in with them and read every one and I'm not sure if knitting would be very worth while out there. Most of the time they didn't wear clothes!

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  6. I'm with Jane, lots of curry powder and I would have been happy. That amount of sugar would have been fine for me, I think I only buy one or two bags a year, and that mostly goes on workmens teas and a sprinkle on top of sweet pies.

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    1. I think I'd be needing sweet drinks to keep me going! What about cakes! That's where I'd need my sugar, there would be no point if I couldn't have cake!

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    2. I don't really eat cake, maybe the most I use sugar is for shortbread biscuits, but I've not made any for ages.

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  7. I use the Mormon computer program for the vast majority of my food storage data, but I always read lists when I can find them. No one can create a 100% list and every new one I read results in my adding something to my own. This is a good post you did, and much appreciated.

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    1. I thought that there would a couple of readers who would appreciate this list! Things have moved on a lot since the late 80's but it's still interesting to see what they took.
      I'll have to look into the Mormon food storage a little more as it sounds quite interesting.

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  8. Like you I would have went more for the whole unprocessed grains. Nothing keeps them better protected from spoilage and pests quite like their natural defenses. With an added mylar bag and a plastic bucket of course :)

    Weight be damned I would have stocked up more on canned meat too for the added proteins and calories. Not to mention the easier digestion. I could prolly live six months off rice, beans and assorted canned meats alone before I got too sick of it. Then again I am not a big food enthusiast half the time I think needing to stop and eat is just a hassle.

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    1. As I've said above I think that we have so much more knowledge available now that it would be easier to make informed decisions about things like the grains.
      I would have shot and eaten far more than they did. There were lots of feral donkeys around them that were going to get culled anyway and yet they only had three over the whole year. I would have been having donkey curry at least once a week!
      I'm the opposite when it comes to food. I pretty much live for it and can spend a whole day thinking about what I'm having for dinner!

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  9. hmmmm....is it just me or did they not list all of their tools/supplies? they mention assorted shampoo and conditioner but where is the berkey/other filtration system??? i swear by our berkey filters!!! also, there are collapsible rainwater collection systems available as well. being that they were going to a very arid location, the very first 2 things i would have on my list is a berkey and a rainwater collector.

    here's a bit of fun for you - when we ordered our berkeys a million years ago we had read that you can put mud through them and get clean drinking water out of them. of course i had to try it! and guess what? it worked!

    anyway, maybe a filtration system is mentioned somewhere in the book but that was my first thought reading the list. with a berkey, they could have had enough water for drinking and cooking as well as been able to sprout seeds throughout their stay.

    great post Kev! your friend,
    kymber

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    1. This was just their food list. The kit list was much, much longer, they took a lot of stuff with them.
      The problem with the water wasn't filtering it, it was getting it to filter. The dry spell was so bad they had to keep digging wells to find water and then they'd dry up and they'd have to dig another one a week later. For months their life revolved around finding water or making the most of what they had.
      I've heard good things about the berkey filters, many people have said how good they are. I have a friend in the village who has a spring so I'd be getting water from him if things got bad here!

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  10. Sounds like you got a great bargain with the book been looking online for it and its quite expensive , looks like a good read will keep an eye out in shops , i think the lists themselves look good just seem very small quantities I think coffee and chocolate would be high on my list

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    1. Yeah Chocolate! Man I'd struggle without that, although I'm trying to cut down! I only bought it on a whim (and I think my mum paid as she was treating me to a day out!)

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