In the land of opportunity, pioneers make their way across the country in order to carve a life. Before they made their arduous journey, they had to make sure that they had everything they could possibly need to survive months of being cut off from everything.
In The Prepper’s Cookbook, I describe how homesteading, self-reliance, and what many of us call “prepping” is really neo-pioneerism. When early Americans migrated westward, they had to adapt to a new environment, and their supplies had to be multi-functional.
If you look at your food preps you have stored away, you will realize that we are very similar to our pioneer ancestors who were getting ready for their arduous journey.
While helping my son with a history project on the great state of Oregon, I came across this list of various food items that pioneers needed from an article in the St. Joseph, Missouri Gazette dated March 19, 1847.
OUTFIT FOR OREGON
Subjoined you will find a list of the principle articles necessary for an outfit to Oregon or California, which may be useful to some of your readers. It has been carefully prepared from correct information derived from intelligent persons who have made the trip.
The wagons should be new, made of thoroughly seasoned timber, and well ironed and not too heavy; with good tight beds, strong bows, and large double sheets. There should be at least four yoke of good oxen to each wagon – one yoke to be considered as extra, and to be used only in cases of emergency. Every family should have at least two good milk cows, as milk is a great luxury on the road. The amount of provisions should be as follows; to each person except infants:
200 pounds of bread stuff (flour and crackers)
100 pounds of bacon [more like salt pork]
12 pounds of coffee
12 pounds of sugar
Each family should also take the following articles in proportions to the number as follows:
From 1 to 5 pounds tea
From 10 to 50 pounds rice
From 1/2 to 2 bushels beans
From 1/2 to 2 bushels dried fruit
From 1/2 to 5 pounds saleratus [yeast]
From 5 to 50 pounds soap
Cheese, dried pumpkins, onions and a small portion of corn meal may be taken by those who desire them. The latter article, however, does not keep well.
No furniture should be taken, and as few cooking utensils as are indispensably needed. Every family ought to have a sufficient supply of clothing for at least one year after their arrival, as everything of that kind is high in those countries. Some few cattle should be driven for beef, but much loose stock will be a great annoyance. Some medicines should also be found in every family, the kind and quantity may be determined by consulting the family physician.
I would suggest to each family the propriety of taking a small sheet-iron cooking stove with fixtures, as the wind and rain often times renders it almost impossible to cook without them, they are light and cost but little. All the foregoing articles may be purchased on good terms in this place.
Many of our ancestors had to be ready for what may be on the horizon. Their “make due or do without” philosophy transferred into their food sources, as well. In all honesty, I am surprised that rations of salt or vinegar were not listed as these were pioneer staples that also have multiple uses. That said, with the exception of bacon (I am going to assume was to be used more likely for lard and survival fat sources), this list resembles many of our prep inventories.
To conclude, our preps are our lifeline. The items we choose should be able to carry us, not only through difficult times, but perhaps through impossible times. Having a food supply that not only utilizes the basic kitchen/pantry essentials, but also one that encompasses proper dietary needs will help you thrive in a short or long-term disaster.
Keeping the true pioneer spirit in mind, I encourage you to do an inventory of your emergency food pantries to evaluate your food stores and see if you would be ready to brave the wild like our pioneer ancestors once did.