Would You Eat This?

My father served in the U.S. Army and fought in the Korean War.  He had many exciting stories of serving in the military and as kids, we would love to gather in my parent’s bedroom, wrestle and play king of the hill on the bed, have my dad read to us and tell us stories of serving his country.  My father was a very patriotic man, loved parades and found it easy to shed a tear singing the national anthem.

I’ll never forget a story he related regarding his time in basic training.  He talked about how everything was very regimented and if you didn’t follow every rule to a T, there were severe penalties that would be immediately prescribed.  This even included how and when you ate, what you ate, and how you cleaned up afterwards.

In their mess hall, there was a rule that you could take whatever you wanted to eat, but you must eat it all – there was no wasting of food allowed.  The food that was typically offered wasn’t anything to write home about and the cooks were less then chef quality.  One particular day, my father was very surprised to discover that the mess hall was serving steak.  This was very unusual and such a rare treat that my father decided to load up on the steaks knowing there would be no problem devouring them all.

After the first bite, my father knew he was in big trouble.  You see, those delicious looking steaks were in fact liver and my dad couldn’t stand liver!  It was all he could do to just swallow that first bite.  He glanced up at the mess Sargent who was standing near the tray return making sure all the food taken was indeed eaten and nothing thrown away.  Dad began to sweat knowing he was in big trouble – there was no way on earth he was going to be able to choke down those liver steaks, regardless of the impending wrath of the mess Sargent.

What to do, what to do – there didn’t seem to be a solution.  None of his buddies were about to save him – they just laughed and knew he was in big trouble.  When a soldier finished his meal, he wasn’t allowed to sit around and chit-chat.  He was to leave the mess hall passing the inspection of the mess Sargent.  Dad was stalling - eating his side dishes as slowly as he could till his buddies had left. With the clock ticking, he knew his time was up and he was about to give up and face the consequences the Sargent would be more than happy to deal out.

Then, out of the blue, Dad felt something brush up against his leg.  When he glanced down, he saw something that a soldier never would have expected to see in a military mess hall - it was a dog!  Had the Sargent known there was a dog inside, he would have blown his lid and found the responsible party to take out his anger.

Dad reached down and grabbed the dog so he wouldn't leave and as nonchalantly as possible, Dad began feeding this miracle dog the stack of liver steaks he had on his tray.  Within a few minutes, Dad's tray was as clean as any hungry soldier would have left it.  Without hesitating a second, Dad jumped up passing the Sargent, stacked his empty tray and made tracks out of there never looking back.  For as long as my dad was stationed at that base, he never saw the dog again.

Now most of us would have thought - just hold your nose and shovel the liver down.  Easy to say when you're not the one on the receiving end.  Just last night, I tried to get my granddaughter to try some clam dip and you would have thought I was trying to get her to eat a spoonful of slimy worms.  She'd have none of it!

Over the years, I've heard people say, if my kids get hungry enough, they'll eat anything.  There is some truth to this statement but time is the real factor.  "Hungry enough" is an interesting phrase.  Indeed, if an individual is approaching starvation, there are many examples through history where individuals will eat anything, even other humans.  This is of course the extreme and the last thing we would want is to have family members reach that level of starvation before they are willing to eat unfamiliar or less than appetizing food.  The emotional stress and trauma such a situation would case could scar someone for life.  Why would we ever want any loved one to go through that?

I'm not talking about catering to the finicky kid who won't eat his vegetables or oatmeal.  Regular, every-day foods are not the issue.  But when we're talking about serving up venison and lentils, don't be surprised if you experience some resistance, especially from the younger ones.

There are two basic solutions to this dilemma:

1.  Store the type of foods your family is accustomed to eating. With freeze-dried foods, you can store just about any type of food you currently consume, including real meat.  No longer is it necessary to rely on bulk grains and powdered milk as your food storage plan.  In addition, a 25 year shelf life along with not having to cook you food (just add water), makes freeze-dried food the easiest, best tasting and most cost effective way to provide customary food for your family.

2.  Take the time to introduce all the perceived distasteful foods to your family now. Help them become familiar with the unusual and basic foods that are not typically available at the local grocery store.  Be prepared for a significant amount of push back from the kids and others even though your intent is to prepare them to feel comfortable with living off the land.  It's not that this approach is wrong; it simply requires a lot of heavy lifting - a total commitment to learning a new lifestyle.  There are many folks who struggle with even the very basic concepts of storing simple foods.  Asking this group to fully embrace the survivalist approach of eating what you kill would be over the top for most.

Remember, when the need arises for you to use your food storage, chances are you will be experiencing a significant uptick in your stress levels.  If you ever needed easy to prepare, nutritious comfort food, it's during these times of stress.  Make sure your plans address the need to reduce this stress and don't insist that your family changes the way they eat - it's not necessary and with help of freeze-dried food, you can keep your family focused on other important issues.