Category: Food Shortage

How To Survive Nuclear Winter

How To Survive Nuclear Winter

First of all, let’s find out what nuclear winter is and how it can happen. A state of nuclear winter is determined when the sun’s UV rays are blocked from entering the Earth’s stratosphere and reaching the lithosphere. If the stratosphere gets clouded by who-knows-what, the weather conditions reset and because of the lack of the sun’s heating rays, temperatures will plummet uncontrollably. The consequences will be dire, as nuclear winter conditions can potentially outlast generations. This will be a threat to everything living on the face of the planet.

By this point, you probably think we’re safe as there is no such force that could determine this grim outcome. But you’d be dead wrong because this will be the second consequence of nuclear war (apart from almost complete annihilation) for whatever’s left of humankind to face in this post-nuclear aftermath. As a result of a sustained nuclear assault, more than enough debris and dust will cloud the Earth’s stratosphere in a matter of days and the temperatures will drop at an alarming rate. But don’t panic, if the nuclear bombs haven’t gotten you yet, with the right preparations, you might survive the ever-growing cold too.

How To Deal With The Extreme Cold

It’s a scientific consensus that throughout a sustained state of nuclear winter (stratospheric blockade and all), the temperatures will drop to below freezing point everywhere on the Earth’s surface. This decline will affect the poles (which are already cold climate zones) and it will rapidly make its way towards the Equator. So escaping the cold indefinitely will not be a suitable option, as the freezing temperatures are bound to catch up to you, no matter where you go. You can’t outrun the cold, so you’ll need to face the cold. Warm clothes are your best assets in the given situation. Not only will the clothes you prepared for such occasions have to be warm and do a great job in insulating you from the cold, but they also must be comfortable enough to move and travel in.

How To Survive A Permanent Power Outage

You’re facing a post-apocalyptic scenario, so take into consideration that your survivability will not only depend on keeping warm, but also on traveling and moving around when you have to go. I personally recommend dressing in multiple layers of thinner clothes rather than in a few, thicker layers. More layers will make for more mobility and will also allow a better perspiration. Extremities should be covered (gloves and insulated boots) and also sun glasses, to protect your vision from snow blindness or from the build-up of UV rays (a consequence of the depletion of the ozone).

Heating your home is imminent, especially if you plan on remaining for as long as humanly possible. Under no circumstances will you be able to heat your home indefinitely, because as the markets and the fundamental economic structures fall, so will the fuels (and other commodities). But making preparations in this matter won’t be bad at all, at least for a while. The first thing you’ll need is a heating system and enough supplies to last for as long as possible. In this case, a fancy heating system is less efficient than an older, but more economical one. So an old-fashioned wood stove is by far the better option. If you can, deposit the wood in a secret spot, so you won’t become a target for thieves, desperate to get their hands on anything.

Your house will require special attention as well. Best insulate it as good as you possibly can, so it can withstand temperatures as low as possible. Always have extra tools and repair materials set aside for darker days, when they won’t just be available for purchase anymore. If you’re really interested in cold-proofing your house like a pro, you should do a little research on Canadian houses and start building from there.

How To Get Food And Water

The first thing you’ll need to do is stack up on all sort canned and long-lasting food products you can get your hands on. Upon purchasing survival foods of any sort, take into consideration the products that also have tolerance to cold weather. Try and cover all the major food groups, as a balanced diet is necessary for your well being and survival, especially in extreme conditions. But when you’re food resources are done, this is when the real struggle begins. Desperate times require desperate measures, so prepare yourself mentally, in advance, that you’ll have to resort to extremes you’d never consider under normal circumstances. Eating insects might seem like a huge turnoff, but once you try them out, you’ll realize they’re not that bad, to begin with. Not only is the taste bearable, but insects make for an extremely rich source of protein; a single grasshopper that weighs 100g has about 20g of pure protein, but also other important nutrients like iron, zinc, and others.

As an alternative to eating insects, you could go scavenging, for as long as you possibly can. There are 2 ways of going at it: simply go from store to store and try and salvage everything you can from the food and beverages, or pretty much everything else that can improve your existence (clothes, fuel etc).

Eating Bugs To Survive

There’s an even darker approach to scavenging, meaning eating everything that’s died. Food is food, and if the situation gets desperate enough, know that you can eat pretty much everything that use to have a pulse (unless it’s a poisonous or venomous animal). Many will drop their last shred of humanity in order to survive and turn cannibal, so watch out for possible fresh-meat hunters. So in this case, you’ll need some guns and ammo too.

Water won’t be as hard to procure as food, although running water will rapidly become a thing of the past. There still be precipitations, but be cautious in drinking rainwater and snow, as the atmosphere and stratosphere will undoubtedly be affected by radiation. If you plan on drinking from puddles, streams or other water sources, it’s best to use water filters of purification tablets.

The Ultimate Survival Medical Kit

Looking out the window, you might find all this hard to accept, or even imagine. Such a scenario is something out of a science-fiction movie rather than anything. But if you consider how many countries have nuclear weapons and the greedy nature of mankind, how far really are we from a nuclear holocaust? This is a grim possibility, which we have to consider and prepare for without blinking if we want the privilege of being survivors among the remains.

Identifying Wild Mushrooms

Identifying Wild Mushrooms

How To Identify Wild Mushrooms

Initiating Mushroom Hunters

Identifying Wild Mushrooms might not seem very exciting – until you know that mushrooms are extraordinary beings that provide us with many uses that adorn our favorite dishes, color our clothing, restore devastated lands and provide bountiful health benefits. Still, these mycological creatures cause many to pause when harvesting them from the wild. With the proper tools and support for mushroom identification, you can open your horizons (and fridges) to the many wonders of our genetically closely related friend-the mushroom.

Firstly, I would like to paint you a picture of the Pacific Northwest in fall, during the first whispers of the Chanterelle harvest. You may overhear secretive conversations of local Mushroom Hunters, vaguely alluding to the location of personal harvesting grounds. If you dare to approach one of these individuals, you may receive a welcome invitation (especially if you’re from out of town) or a noncommittal reply about the whereabouts of these golden beauties. If you are dedicated you may find a willing local teacher to guide you. Yet, you, a rebel, are inspired to the point of Mushroom Identification Liberation (M.I.L) and aspire to become one of those secretive, wise and loving individuals I call-The Mushroom Hunters. If you smell the mycelium in your nostrils and envision your skillet full, your dye pot radiant or your vitality increased-you must start with a few simple guidelines.

What Is A Mushroom?

A mushroom is essentially the fruiting body or the reproductive structure part of a fungus. In fact, it can be a very small part of the entire ‘body’ of that fungus. The body or vegetative (non reproductive) part of a fungus is called the mycelium. The mycelium is responsible for decomposing material into food and gaining mass to create the reproductive structure. Essentially, what we usually see, harvest, eat, use for dyes or medicine is only this reproductive structure-the mushroom.

There are other fungi (that we despise) called molds that do not produce fruiting bodies and are not worthy of our mushroom identification skills. Examples of these are our deeply adored foot fungus, bread molds, water molds, and mildews (Mushrooms Demystified, Aurora, 1986, pg.4).

Mushrooms emit spores that are the means for their reproduction. This is very important to understand in terms of mushroom identification. Making spore prints are one of the key tools in confirming mysterious mushrooms. Spores are held on gills, cups, pores and other structure on mushrooms until they are released into the environment.

With this very brief introduction to fungal physiology, let’s look at a diagram below to help ground you in mycological anatomy. I want you to take time and study this lovely drawing from our local specialist and mushroom extraordinaire, David Aurora (yes, this is your first assignment).

I equate David’s book, Mushrooms Demystified as the essential key to identifying wild mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest! (In other words if you live in the Pacific Northwest, get this book!). Between my college courses, the backwoodsmen of the Upper Skagit and Mr. Aurora’s book, my education, and adoration of the Kingdom Fungi has been thoroughly satisfying.

Find A Mushroom Mentor…

Many years ago, when I was farming in Washington State’s Upper Skagit Valley, I had the pleasure of hanging out with some pretty hardcore mushroom folk. None of these fellas had degrees in mycology or even went to college, but, boy, did they know their mushroom identification! How did I know to trust these foragers and was I willing to bet my life on their knowledge?

Make no assumptions, my friends — eating poisonous mushrooms can kill you. If you are studying mycology for identification or awareness purposes, wonderful! If you are feeling the allure of becoming the type of Mushroom Hunter who seeks a bellyful, you must find a good teacher to support your virgin voyage into the exciting land of edible mushrooms. Books are great, websites are full of knowledge; but a good teacher is essential for your safety and continued success in mushroom foraging. Besides, if you are complementary and can carry a basket, your guide may take you to some amazing, secret harvest locations (which you will have to swear on your first born not to reveal!) and share with you the bounty of their expertise and knowledge in mushroom identification.

Many of my students engaged in identifying wild mushrooms are from out of state and wonder how to find a knowledgeable teacher in their area. There are numerous organizations, schools, and clubs that can direct you to a mentor. At the end of this article, find a Resource section, listing organizations, and websites to help you find a reliable source. Most mushroom people affiliated with a club or organizations are what I call diehard mushroom dorks who might even attend a yearly mushroom festival, and a good place to start. Or, you may be like me instead, and find a mentor in a small, backwoods mountain town. It is up to you to determine the fitness of your mentor for your needs. Some of my very best, most competent mushroom mentors have not come from academia or mycological societies. This doesn’t mean that they are any less able in helping you stay safe, have fun and avoid poisonous mushrooms. So, when you meet this mysterious (and oft times brilliant!) character, you might want to have a few questions in your back pocket to keep yourself safe. Here are some simple guidelines to assess a quality mushroom mentor for you:

How do they know what they know?

Question what resources they use (books, other humans, websites, organizations, and education). Who are their teachers? How long have they been identifying wild mushrooms?


How do they know the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms? Ask for specific examples of why they know what they know. For instance, what are identifying characteristics of a particular edible species in comparison to its poisonous or toxic look alike?

How do they handle a species of which they are unsure?

Are they cavalier and eat large portions of them anyway, suggesting you do the same (perhaps before they take a taste themselves)? Are they patient, curious and careful to take many steps (which we will cover later) to identify a questionable species?

Do they know the ecosystem from which they are harvesting?

Your mentor should know the place through which he or she is guiding you. The best mentors are true naturalists who understand the ecosystem (Pacific Northwest), habitat (south-facing, 50 year-old mixed conifer forest, understory salal and sword fern, at 600-foot elevation) and the substrate from which they are harvesting (these mushrooms are found commonly under Douglas Fir trees, in the fall — ten points if you guess the one species that fits the criteria!). This gives them (and you) a greater knowledge base from which to work, and will aid in your success at finding the right species, in the right place, at the right time of year, as well as limiting risks from poisonous mushrooms!

Trust your gut.

If something is obviously ‘off’ about your mentor, do not risk your life! There are many other knowledgeable people out there. Reputations of mentors can be variable, depending on your information source. You are ultimately responsible for your health and choices. Do your homework. Freeze specimens and obtain an expert ID; go to a local organization, university or mushroom festival to find a qualified mycology teacher who can credibly take on identifying wild mushrooms. Take responsibility for your journey. Who knows, you may be an esteemed mushroom identification dork yourself in not too long!

When eating, go slow!

If and when you try your first wild mushrooms, be aware that some people have gastric sensitivities to certain species. One of my mentors’ first taste of morel mushrooms (which I adore and eat with enthusiasm) lead him to spend his evening having an intimate conversation with his toilet. I have found this type of sensitivity to different species of edible mushrooms rare among my community, but it does exist. So eat a little at first and see how you feel — no upset, then dig in!

Prepare To Harvest Mushrooms

There are many ways to respect the life of a mushroom when it comes to harvesting. Here are some basic questions you should ask yourself before you grab your handy harvesting knife and lop off those succulent fruiting bodies. After you ask these questions, we will cover the basic technique of mushroom harvesting.

1. First of all, ask yourself why are you harvesting this mushroom?

Is it for food, study, fascination, or all three? This will help you determine your intent and evaluate the quality of the specimen you are harvesting. You should also be realistic about quantity. Do you really need 20 mushrooms for identification purposes? What about food? Be respectful, and don’t end up with a rotting bunch of mushrooms in your harvesting basket.

2. How many of this species can I see, and at what stage are they in their development?

Some mushrooms may already have released the spores that help ensure the viability of their species before you harvest them. Since mushrooms themselves are only the fruiting body of an underground hyphal network, you are not taking the whole organism when harvesting. Still, I personally like to see a healthy colony or a large specimen before I gather! When you educate yourself about the lifecycle and growth habits of your intended species, you will feel more confident when harvesting. See Resources below for some good websites on fungal lifecycle.

3. Where am I?

This is a good question for multiple reasons. Most importantly, if you memorize the time of year, weather cycles, and locations, you can come back year after year for a bountiful harvest. Also is important if you see poisonous mushrooms and want to avoid the area for gathering. Consider if you may be on private property, in a National Park or in someone else’s harvesting grounds. This may have long-lasting effects on your wallet, reputation as a Mushroom Hunter and your physical health as well!

Harvest Mushrooms

The following list is adapted from David Arora’s book, Mushrooms Demystified, and my college professors’ and my own experience. If I haven’t already said this (which I know I have), get David Arora’s books. They are amazing technical resources and are a hoot to read as well.

For the Field


Journal, Pencil, Tape Measure:

Record date, weather, location (elevation and microhabitat, substrate out of which the species is growing, stage of decomposition of substrate, all tree species you can see around your site, drawings of specimen, measurements, good jokes, code to crack location coordinates (you can email these to me as your advisor).


This has been so helpful to me! Make sure you put a tape measure, a coin or a small troll in the picture to help evaluate scale.


David Arora recommends a basket and wax paper in which to wrap each mushroom, to keep them separate and free from getting mashed. I use little tupperwear containers with holes in them (otherwise, they cannot breathe and will rot quickly). This way I can carry them in my backpack and (as long as I don’t forget about them) they are still in good condition for ID by the time I get home. The key is to not mix specimens, as this will make sorting later quite difficult and potentially dangerous.

Knife and Trowel:

A knife is my main tool for harvesting mushrooms I recognize. Slice them off at the base of the stem or neck where they connect to the substrate (ground, stump or tree). David Arora also strongly recommends having a trowel to dig into the ground for proper identification of the vovlva (see diagram ), which can be essential in keying out poisonous species like Amanitas (Mushroom Demystified, pg 12).

Spore Prints

Let the stains begin! OK, technically spore prints are not stained onto paper, but they certainly look like something that was dropped from a lofty location and traveled at high velocity to land with a colorful splat! on your test paper. Actually, this is on a microscopic scale exactly what happens (minus the splat). Spore prints are used to help identify mushrooms by determining the color of the spore. You will need:

Air tight container:

Use one large enough to cover the whole cap (spore-producing part) of your mushroom. This keeps air out and helps reduce disturbance of the spores dropping from the gills or pores.

White and Black Paper:

I like to put the mushroom cap, face down on one half white paper and one half black paper. This helps me take my best guess of what color the spores are putting out. Some mycologists suggest you only need to look at spores on white paper (because darker background colors distort) to get an accurate reading. Experiment and see what works for you.

The next part is very easy. Harvest a mushroom, take off the cap, place it face down (gills or pores down) on the paper, cover with the container and wait a couple of hours. Warning! I have had to take spore prints on the dashboard of my truck numerous times because I was out in the field and did not realize how fast some of the mushrooms will release spores. Consider bringing paper with you into the field. If you try to get a spore print and nothing happens, the specimen has already released its spores. Try again: Go to a different elevation/location, or wait until next season. The excitement and glee you will receive out of doing your first spore print are worth it! I still remember my first spore print on a gray September morning in college; seeing its unmistakable splat-like form made me squeal with joy. Spore prints are cool. Try it and you’ll be hooked!

Spore color differentiates by species. Combining this information with other characteristics you learn from your field guides, mentors, local organizations, and clubs will help you become more confident in your mycological explorations. Additional ways to assist your mushroom identification are by looking at spores under the microscope and through chemical testing. These are advanced methods that are available to you via your research and local resources, based on your personal energy and level of mycological dorkiness (which I wholeheartedly encourage!).

This is what you should do now:

1. Study the drawing above
2. Purchase/or rent (library) a dichotomous key to mushrooms:

• Pacific Northwest: Mushroom Demystified by David Aurora

• Mushrooms of Northeastern North America by Alan Bessette, Arlene Bessette, and David Fischer; Mushrooms of the Southeastern United States by Alan Bessette, William Roody, Arlene Bessette, and Dail L. Dunaway; Mushrooms and other Fungi of the Midcontinental United States by D.M. Huffman, L.H. Tiffany, G. Knapus, and R.A. Healy

3. Observe mushrooms in the wild and identify parts!

Tools: Camera, tape measure

This is an opportunity to simply inspire you to employ your innate observation skills, and ultimately serve your goal of identifying wild mushrooms. Go out and see what you can find-no pressure! Let your time in the woodlands, side streets and old growth forests be a treat for you. In the midst of your enjoyment, turn on your awareness and see how many new mushrooms appear before you. You can also take pictures and record measurements of stalks and caps in your journal…your what?? See below!

4. Journal what you see.

Tools: Drawing Type, Write in the Rain Journal (or any type), pencil AND eraser

Essential tools for Mushroom Hunters! Here are some things to write down to help you in the days and years to come:

Date & Weather: Both date and weather will be key in your finding mushrooms in the future!

Location: (You can do this in hieroglyphics to be mysterious if necessary!)

Growth Habitat

• What is the mushroom growing out of? The ground A log-what species? Your foot?

• What is the habitat? What tree and shrub species are growing within a 50-foot radius of your mushroom?

Good Luck and Safe Hunting!

It is time for you, the novice Mushroom Hunter, to leave the nest (look up Cyathus olla), and find the resources you need to join the curious millions who have discovered our fungal friends!

20 Awesome Resources To Find Local Food And Family Farms Near You

Beet The Systemimage –

As demand for local and raw goods continue to rise, more people are asking – where do I find local organic? Where do I find raw milk and join a herd share? Where are the farmer’s markets, co-ops, and stands?

Search engines are actually terrible at locating these underground hubs, which makes it so frustrating to try and opt out of corporate chains, save money, and build your family’s health. If you’ve ever gotten a bunch of ‘Yelp’ listings for weight loss pills while searching, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve helped a few people find a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) but I found it by accident.

So where are they all hiding?

As it turns out, many of the farmers and markets you’re looking for have teamed up with certain websites to be mapped. Use this easy list to find yours today. They won’t all be on the same map, but you will be sure to find markets and family farms in your area that were previously invisible.

Why you should bookmark and try them all – not all the hubs will be organic, some are just local. Some don’t provide raw milk but could lead you there. Some have other resources like healthy body care, organic delivery or restaurants serving your favorite farm finds worth looking into. Some of the websites don’t share your political perspective or stance on health and were possibly supported by agencies and organizations you don’t care for. But that’s okay, take only what you need and leave the rest.

20 Resources to Find Local Food, Farms, Markets, Stands, Co-ops and more!

Farmerspal – Click the map or your state to find organic, markets, grocers, online shopping and more. Make sure you like their Facebook page for other great resources.

FarmMatch – Unique because whoever you are, you can put yourself on the map to be matched with producers in your area. Create your food profile today.

LocalDirt – Helps you buy right from the farm. It’s also a marketplace that allows you to sell and trade. Got eggs? Sell them to your neighbors here. It also allows groups and co-ops to set up bulk orders right there. This one is worth revisiting time and again to check out all its features.

Weston A Price Chapter Leaders – This is my favorite, because it puts you in touch with passionate people who give their time to connect you to your CSA and quite possibly raw milk and dairy. They will have the latest sources.

Weston A. Price Foundation is a wealth of knowledge for traditional foods and health.

Real Milk Finder – Also from Weston A. Price, this locator could help you to your raw milk and dairy herd share source. Please keep in mind, raw milk availability really depends on your state laws. And not all of the herd share programs are listed there so be sure to read the next important list item.

Meetup – This seems like a weird place to get the connections but it makes sense. Meetup allows groups to safely connect online and publicly meet to enjoy hobbies, clubs, politics, education – anything. It’s just people meeting up, doing what they love, learning or just having fun – I attribute so many happy, life-changing times to this website. This is how I found my CSA! I went to a nutrition wholefoods meetup to take free natural food classes. The woman running it was a Weston A. Price chapter leader who graciously led me through the entire process and got me connected to raw milk and pasture-fed foods. Wherever people who are passionate about their lifestyle meet, you are sure to pick up a wealth of resources and support. You should check it out to find like-minded people and get out there. I’ve made great friends this way. Some people find their soul mate!

Pick-A-Pepper – Real local food right at your fingertips. Use your zip to find your farmer or food artisan AND become a vendor.

Eat Wild – #1 website for all things grass fed. Their map includes Canada and connects you with grassfed wild foods, even companies who ship directly to you.

LocalHarvest – Another mapping site that allows you to find CSAs, Co-ops, open farms, markets, delis, stores and more. Thankfully, it’s been around for awhile. Unfortunately, that could mean some of the info is outdated. Always good to call ahead – don’t be afraid to talk to farmers and ask questions. – Created by FarmAid (another educational farm source), offers lots of education and provided some of the links in this article. It also has its own map to find local fare. FarmAid also has a list of open Winter Markets worth checking. They also list two maps to find wild catch and pastured cattle and dairy farms. Local Catch and HomeGrownCow.

Organic Consumers Association – Plug your zip code in and you’ll be in touch with not just healthy GMO-free food sources but all kinds of natural health businesses – even skin care, acupuncture and more.


RealTimeFarms – Nicely designed, simple to use map shows farmers, artisans, restaurants, markets and more right in your town. Also search by ingredient or certified organic. Very eye-opening!

FarmPlate – Holy cow! Find everything in your area including apiaries, bakeries, stands, herbalists, confectioners and more. They’ve got it all.

Market Maker – Is another cool marketplace to buy and sell healthy homegrown.

EatWellGuide – Find local sustainable food. Is supported by lots of big partners so you know the locator will work great.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food – This comes from the USDA in an effort to be more “sustainable” and local. Maybe it’s to deflect from the tens of billions of dollars going into Big Agri subsidies, the small farm crushing fines of the Food Safety Act, or the GMO deregulation that will run roughshod over local and organic fare. It makes me nervous that the federal government wants to get super cozy with local and have it compassed on a map. But, it does offer a stunning visual of a variety of farms and markets, not just USDA supported ones. You can also find markets near you here. Enjoy it – you paid for it.

EatLocalGrown – Wouldn’t it be great to know if your food has GMOs or not? Eat Local Grown agrees and locates sources near you. They also have informative beginner’s articles, new food provider listings, and over 1M Likes on Facebook.

Stronger Together Co-op – Find just food co-ops all over the US.

Food Routes – Has an outreach called Buy Fresh, Buy Local with chapter leaders who will help you do just that.

WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a buddy to (awesome permaculture resource) and a volunteer exchange. People volunteer to learn and work an organic farm and they can get room and board in exchange. Some would call it a free vacation. It’s an opportunity to travel, see what it takes to cultivate, and…find a farm!

Farmshed CNY – This focuses on the New York area but it is so comprehensive, if it grows beyond it could be the most thorough finder known. Type your city and search up to a 50-mile radius.

So there you have it – over 20 places to locate local food and the farmer right in your area. Did I leave out an important resource? Do you have any questions? Please share your resources and questions below and please let us know if any of the links above helped you with your search.

Many of you have reached out to me since this was originally published last year, telling me this guide helped you find your food source – Thank you!

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at and Like at Facebook.

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20 Resources To Find Local Food And Family Farms
Graphic – Image – Pixabay (PD)