Thursday, February 25, 2010


Subtitle: Turning Nothing into Something

Every year, I try to transform more of my property from unproductive Bermuda grass to productive fruits and veggies. This year, I want to transform the desolate, wind-swept, 7 x 40 grass strip between our driveways (mine and my neighbors) into a luscious food forest. I am working with Randy Marks, a renowned local Permaculture and LEED certified landscaping expert, to complete the design. How I wish he had lived here four years ago so that I could have consulted with him then!

Currently, the design includes an existing one-year old persimmon tree, adding two pear trees (probably European but possibly Asian), cooking and medicinal herbs like thyme and lavender, edible daylilies, and three of what I'm calling "crop circles." As there is no faucet near the area, we plan to direct an existing downspout from my gutters into a swale-like streambed in order to water the plants (in addition to hand-watering). The pear trees will cast shade onto my driveway in the afternoon, reducing the glare and heat island effect of the concrete.

My "crop circles" are simply small circular raised beds - around 2-3 feet in diameter - that are designed to hold melons, zuchinni, pumpkins, or winter squash. Because these plants tend to ramble, I will only have to maintain a small, intensely managed planting area (the crop circle) and just let the vines wander on top of the wood mulch in between the pear trees. Since pear trees don't bear until late, I think I will have harvested most of the melons by the time the pears are ready to pick.

By planting these crops in this area, I won't have to take up valuable bed space in my back garden or build vertical structures to train them on. If you want to integrate some sort of raised bed for annual vegetables in with the perennials, evergreens, shrubs, and trees in your front yard, these crop circles might do the trick. I'll let you know how they work out.

An edible landscape may also serve as a demonstration for my neighbors - showing them that growing food and herbs can be attractive as well as functional. Lavender and day lilies are pretty plants, and personally, I like big melon flowers. Since the crop circles are small, there won't be a lot of bare dirt in the winter when the annuals are gone. And because thyme is evergreen, there will always be a nice green accent to the area, even in the winter (preferable to yellowish brown Bermuda!).

I hope to implement this plan via a Permablitz. A Permablitz is a kind of garden barn-raising. In our case, I want to offer a day-long, hands-on workshop that allows participants to simultaneously learn the concepts of permaculture, such as water use (ex: swales, storage), forest gardening, attracting beneficial insects, and so on; while also actually creating the design (seeing how the concepts are executed in practice). I'm intensely curious to see a swale created. Luckily Randy has volunteered to guide the permablitz - I am excited to learn from his expertise!

Ideally, this project would expand virally into some sort of network where people work on several blitzes, and then are able to submit their own permaculture plan to the group and have the group work on their project. Many hands make light work - and a lot more fun. Plus, participants would then be able to draw on the knowledge, creativity, and resources of the whole group. Or, perhaps someone will take up the idea of permablitz workshops and offer them regularly.

I've asked Sustainable OKC and Transition Town OKC to sponsor the project. I'll be purchasing the plants and materials; Randy will be providing the education, and I hope that Sustainable OKC / TTOKC will help with promotion, taking registrations, and providing a videographer. Since the Permablitz will be pretty limited in space, we'll probably limit the class size to 8 or 10 people. So far, interest seems high - the blitz may fill up fast. I also hope that we can make a short documentary out of the project and post it online.

I'm terribly excited! I've wanted to transform that area for years, and this seems an opportune time. I purchased way more watermelon/squash varieties than my back garden can hold - Desert King and Orangeglo watermelons, a Chanterais melon, and Butternut and Black Futsu squashes. I need somewhere to put them all. Can't wait till April!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Opportunity Knocks

The coming energy descent, and the associated impact on our financial and economic systems, is probably a change that you didn't request. Knowing that our society will, at the very best, have to completely transform the way that we live, work, and eat can make anyone nervous and anxious. At the very worst... well, you've probably already encountered the die-off websites. Possessing the knowledge that an incredibly disruptive change is on the way can be both a heavy psychological burden - AND a lucky opportunity as well.

There's always a silver lining. Those of us with this advance knowledge, who accept the idea and implications of peak oil and peak energy, have the opportunity to prepare and to reinvent ourselves in a way that will get us through what may turn out to be a very rough transition. We have opportunities that billions of other people don't, and won't, get.

Consider these three questions* to find the silver lining in our current situation:

1. If anything could be GOOD about peak oil/energy/economy, what would it be?

2. How can I take this situation and turn it to an advantage for myself, my family, my loved ones, my community?
3. What opportunities will peak oil create (or has already created) that I could take advantage of in a positive way?

*These questions are borrowed from the book AdaptAbility by M.J. Ryan.

Although I sometimes wish I hadn't taken the peak oil pill of knowledge, I never doubt that I am better off because of it. The key is finding a way to accentuate the positive, decrease the negative, and take responsibility for your actions in responding to this huge change in our world.
In truth, despite my occasional yearning to spend my time, money, and attention on something BESIDES preparing for peak energy/finances/economy, this situation has opened a creative outlet for me (my blog), offered an opportunity to connect with sustainability folks in my area (meet new friends), and introduced me to the joys of tomato varieties and hauling compost (reconnect with nature, learn new skills, and get healthy exercise). I thank my lucky stars that I became acquainted with peak oil. It has given me the possibility to change before the floodgates open - and the chance to help others, if I can. How many people get that kind of karmic opportunity?

What positives and opportunities have you discovered - if any?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Infrastructure: Priorities and painful decisions

When cheap energy reigned, we built acres of infrastructure throughout the United States, without giving too much thought to the energy, materials, and money that we would need to maintain and operate these constructions. Now, we have come to completely depend on these systems, most of which did not exist in their current form one hundred years ago:

- Roads, highways and bridges,
- Water and sewage systems,
- Housing and buildings (schools, hospitals),
- Electric grid and power plants,
- Landfills and hazardous waste disposal systems,
- Dams and canals,
- Public transit (including subways, buses and railways),
- Internet and communications, and
- Energy extraction, processing, and delivery systems.

The crumbling of this legacy of infrastructure is one of the many day-to-day living problems that we face over the next fifty to a hundred years. Unlike our natural systems, which can regenerate themselves (if not destroyed completely), and which are self-perpetuating and self-healing, our built infrastructure requires regular maintenance and investment. Maintenance depends on a base of knowledgeable personnel with access to information about the systems, affordable materials and energy, factories that produce needed parts, and regular investment to fix what's broken or decaying.

Some systems are more critical than others. The failure of some key systems might almost immediately cause chaos, death or disease. Other systems are less critical, but provide important support to the overall structure. Some could probably be replaced by more local, low-energy, distributed systems. And some, while causing severe inconvenience and a need for work-arounds, can be done without.

Most of our systems have interlocking dependencies; that is, that the electrical grid needs a well-maintained set of roads to get to the substations and transformers, the water & sewage systems need electricity, and all systems need the energy infrastructure to continue to find, extract, process and deliver oil and coal. Therefore failure in one infrastructural system could potentially result in cascading failures throughout the other systems.

Things break. Water lines crack, electric lines snap, and potholes appear magically overnight. Infrastructure is especially vulnerable in severe weather and during natural disasters, but also from lack of regular maintenance and from accidents, and of course from willful malfeasance. We currently have the capacity to come in after a disaster, clean up, and repair the damage. Will we be able to do so when everything costs twice as much and when state, municipal and corporate revenues have been cut in half? Will we be able to when we discover that the factories that manufacture the key gadget that connects point A to point B are bankrupt?

World geography is filled with artifacts of civilizations and empires that collapsed or could no longer maintain their structures. Some, like the Roman aquaducts, still exist today. Others are occasionally unearthed by enthusiastic archeologists beneath layers of dirt and history.

Unfortunately, we may already be close to a crisis, at least according to the American Society for Civil Engineers, which in 2009 gave our national infrastructure (composed of 15 systems) a grade of "D." According to them, we have a maintenance deficit of $2.2 trillion dollars over the next five years. Even in the best of times, we failed to maintain our infrastructure, instead choosing to pursue expansion and growth. Where will we come up with this money as governments go into a tailspin and they can no longer issue bonds for infrastructure projects?

At first, problems with our infrastructure might appear as delays or isolated problems. Broken water mains will stay broken, sewage backups will stay backed up. Power outages after ice storms will stretch from days to weeks to...months? Roads in certain areas will decay as potholes grow larger and deeper. Bridges in rural areas may be closed indefinitely, and traffic rerouted via another bridge, two hours away. Some schools may be abandoned as they become increasingly unsafe for habitation or when gas is too expensive to fuel their buses. These types of issues may not be recognized by the general public as the beginning of infrastructural collapse.

Later, as budgets contract further, poorer, rural and outlying areas may no longer get services. Certain areas, even entire towns, may never recover power after a major disaster like a hurricane or earthquake. As the price of asphalt and concrete escalates, roads may not get repaired after floods wash away roads, and overpasses crash to the ground. Some smaller, isolated cities may be virtually cut off from the rest of the world.

Certain areas will be better off than others:

- Systems that have been built with resilience in mind, with fewer critical points-of-failure, that have been well-maintained, and built with high-quality, long-lasting materials, should last longer.

- Systems with lower maintenance costs and that use parts and/or fuel that can be sourced locally or cheaply should be easier to perpetuate.

- Systems that are able to operate manually, with distributed skills and knowledge, in the face of power blackouts or communication problems, should provide more continuous service.

- Systems that are flexible, which can be altered or reconfigured to adapt to changing conditions, should be able to function longer.

-And systems in areas that are able to bear the costs of rising prices (toll roads, taxes, fees, utility bills), may be able to stay in operation longer as well.

But delayed maintenance and lack of repairs may finally bring infrastructure in many areas to it's knees. This might be only an inconvenience for some people, and for others it may require an exodus to the bigger, well-funded cities or smaller, yet resilient, towns. But eventually, unless we take corrective action, we will start seeing larger scale disasters as infrastructural systems reach their tipping (or cracking) points.

What large-scale disasters might we see and what would their consequences be? The collapse of key bridges or canals could effectively cut off traffic to certain areas. Dam failures could affect a whole range of systems from the elimination of hydroelectric power, flooding of large areas, or even problems with nuclear power plants that rely on constant water supplies. And if maintenance on nuclear power plants or energy refineries is delayed beyond repair, we could see horrible repercussions. We need to avoid these negative consequences as much as possible, even if making the necessary adjustments in our investments and economic psychology are uncomfortable (to say the least).

Some of these predictions may not happen until far off in the future, after budgets have become so constrained that cities cannot recover after disasters, and federal aid is no longer so readily available. Some well-built systems will take forever to crumble. Others are only a tipping point away.

This is reality. With a future of decreasing energy supplies, we will have less and less available to maintain the systems that support our globalized, high-energy, consumer lifestyle, on top of the resources we need to meet our daily needs. We will need to decide where to spend our money, our materials, our energy, and our manpower. How will we prioritize? Will it be haphazardly, fixing whatever is broken, patching things together until the point that resources are no longer available? Will we only maintain systems in the places of the rich and powerful?

I would suggest that as part of our powering-down and transition projects, we include the following activities:

- Acknowledge and quantify the amounts of energy, materials, and knowledge that we need to maintain our current infrastructural systems,

- Identify key points of weakness, and system dependencies,

- Create realistic projections for maintenance costs and available budget, taking into account reductions of key inputs such as energy, oil, water, etc;

- Prioritize systems in order of necessity (health and safety) as well as potential for disaster,

- Re-design maintenance of key systems to reduce expense and ecological impact, while increasing longevity and flexibility,

- Find ways to re-organize as many systems as possible in cheaper, and more sustainable, resilient, and localized ways, and

- Find ways to mothball or power down systems that will no longer be cost and material-efficient to maintain and/or which could create harm if left to disintegrate on their own - if left to reach the point(s) of no return while still in operation.

Accomplishing this list of activities is a tall order, to say the least, especially as it first requires a recognition that we may not have a future of infinite progress and growth, and secondly requires a proactive approach. Proactive approaches aren't the hallmark of cities, states and nations that are already in a state of emergency and reaching fiscal breaking points. Regardless of how likely it is that we will implement this program, we need our officials to recognize that what are currently considered drastic measures may eventually become the only safe and sane options left. Otherwise, we will wait too late to salvage our most critical pieces of civilization while wasting our money and resources on maintaining the un-maintainable.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Forgotten Money

Last weekend, I redeemed a savings bond left to me by my grandmother. My grandmother died last summer, and I never expected to receive anything, especially considering I was one of about eighteen grandkids. I was touched to find that she had put an EE savings bond in my name when I was only three years old. It kind of made me feel like she was still looking out for me.

I went to the U.S. federal government's Treasury website and downloaded a Savings Bond Wizard calculator, then entered in the bond number and amount to determine what the EE bond was worth. Goodness gracious! The bond's "face value" was $500, but it was actually valued at over $1600 after 30 years of 6.41% return.

Finding out that the bond was worth that much was like getting a message from my Grandma, or a sign from above (if one believes in such things). What did the sign say? It said, "Go ahead and buy that 75% efficient fireplace insert that you've been eyeing to heat and cook during ice storm and blizzard blackouts - especially since weather may be getting more severe and the electrical grid may be increasingly degraded in the next ten years." Thanks, Grandma.

It was simple to redeem the bond - I went to the bank with my ID and my marriage license (since the bond was in my maiden name), and walked up to the teller. Easy as that.

Do you have any savings bonds laying around in a file cabinet, drawer, or safety deposit box? People tend to lose track of these things over the years, especially as we move around the country, change banks, and never unpack that old paperwork from the boxes in the attic.

Maybe now is a good time to look in all the spots you've got paperwork stashed. If you find any bonds, check them out to see what they are worth. It might be much more than you think. And if the bonds are mature, you are no longer getting interest on it - so you might as well redeem it - perhaps to fund some crucial project you've been considering. Or to pay down debt, or maybe just to give you peace of mind that you have a financial cushion.

Happy hunting!

Disclaimer: I'm not a financial adviser and this should not be construed as financial advice.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Warning Bells

The usually sober and historically-minded John Michael Greer has uttered his pronouncement: Endgame is near. Not just historically near, as in the scale of the centuries-long Roman Empire collapse, but immediately near, as in, batten down the hatches - now. Of course, some people have been predicting this for many moons now - but Mr. Greer has now cast his vote. Coming from him, it's rather shocking.

His advice to us:

Those of my readers who haven’t already been beggared by the unraveling of
what’s left of the economy, and have some hope of keeping a roof over their
heads for the foreseeable future, might be well advised to stock their pantries,
clear their debts, and get to know their neighbors, if they haven’t taken these
sensible steps already. Those of my readers who haven’t taken the time already
to learn a practical skill or two, well enough that others might be willing to
pay or barter for the results, had better get a move on. Those of my readers who
want to see some part of the heritage of the present saved for the future,
finally, may want to do something practical about that, and soon.

Currently, the extent of the collapse depends on where you live, your employment and financial situation, and luck. But as municipal and state governments succumb to the fiscal malaise, and unemployment continues to spread, the middle class dream will go into a coma and people will begin to hang on just for dear life (those who aren't already).

So my question to you is: what can you do now that you've been putting off? Maybe we should all "pretend" that the quality of our lives depend on the decisions we are making now, and figure out our top three priorities for the next seven - thirty days. Maybe we could "pretend" that we might face situations that, at one time, seemed wildly impossible (like a 40% decline in the stock market, or 15% unemployment, or California/Michigan/Nevada going bankrupt and stopping critical social services), and prepare accordingly.

My thoughts:

1. Make sure you have everything ready for your garden, including seeds, tools, and fertilizers. I've already read at least one article about potential seed shortages this year.

2. As so many peak oil bloggers have pointed out, stock your pantry, and don't forget to include water storage!

3. How can you protect your health and the health of your loved ones in a critical and stressful time period? Check Your Health is Your Wealth for ideas.

4. If you are pregnant, consider seriously preparing to do a natural childbirth. I'm not saying you should or shouldn't go natural (unmedicated) - but if you are prepared, it will go much easier on you if for some reason an epidural isn't available / affordable. Note: I know several women personally whose epidurals never "took" or that faded halfway through their labor.

5. If you are expecting a baby, consider stocking up on formula. I am a staunch advocate of breastfeeding, but for the same reasons you stock up on food - you should consider stocking up on formula. (This is actually a suggestion from Sharon Astyk).

6. Prepare to undergo a radical cash-ectomy, as so many people have already in the last two years. What costs/expenses could you cut to save more now? What would you do without a steady income? What would you do if you had to take in relatives who've lost their jobs / homes? Are there any steps you could take now to soften the blow? Are there ways you could live lighter now that might also save you money?

7. Are there any critical purchases you've been putting off - not because you can't afford them, but just because you haven't had the time to get around to them? Such as, perhaps, a way to cook off the grid, a cord of wood, a book with critical information, some sturdy shoes, CFL bulbs, or your spring seeds?

8. If market volatility, debt, and financial issues are a concern, what steps can you take now to protect yourself, your savings, and your investments?

9. Do you or someone you love depend on aid or income from a city/state/federal government agency that appears to be rapidly drowning? What will you, or they, do without it? Is there something you can do now to prepare?

10. What skill could you learn, or begin to learn, this month? Many people start with gardening, baking and cooking, or food preservation. Health - related (low-energy) skills are always valuable to a community. What else?

11. Have you been putting off that delicate talk - you know, the one where you break the unwelcome news about energy descent and financial decline to your family? Think about some ways you could let them know they might want to put off or reconsider that UAL stock investment /Hummer purchase /$200,000 of college debt / McMansion in the exurbs.

If you were "pretending" you NEEDED to get something done in the next 7-30 days, what would it be?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010



One small sheep for part-time work at lovely, quiet, semi-urban homestead. Hours are one day per week, April - September. Must be able to eat urban lawn (not treated with herbicides, pesticides, or pre-emergent). Lawn includes multiple varieties of plant including, but not limited to: clover, dandelion, purslane, wild strawberries, bermuda grass, crabgrass, and henbit.

Successful candidates will demonstrate enthusiasm and skill for lawn management. Must be able to avoid eating hanging laundry, tomato plants, roses, low-hanging apple tree limbs, and toddlers, no matter how tempting. Must demonstrate ability to stay out of (light) traffic. Potty training a plus, but not essential.

Pay: negotiable. Will provide lawn in return for lawn care and poop. Will consider barter arrangement and travel / relocation reimbursement upon request.

No resume required. Apply in person.

Note: Sorry, goats. I have been informed that sheep are superior forage animals.

Monday, February 1, 2010

7 super-easy, mostly healthy meals anyone can store (and eat)

Do you want to start storing food in the case of an oil shock, trucker strike, quarantine, widespread crop failure, hyperinflation, ice storm, blizzard or hurricane... or even a job loss or family sickness? Perhaps you live in an apartment where you don't have a garden, or maybe you don't have the money to spend on a specialty item like a grain mill or a big freezer full of meat. And if disaster, or just inconvenience and discomfort, strikes, you might not want to be spending hours over the (camp or wood) stove cooking.

To make an entire meal easily storeable for many months, storeable without electricity (no generator required), yet available from the grocery store (no specialty freeze-dried items required), I eliminated meat, dairy, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables. I also chose meals that could be prepared with little cooking experience (no need to bake bread, tortillas or scones) , in a short amount of time (and thus low fuel use) or which could be cooked in a Sun Oven. If you have a garden, root cellar, and chickens, or you have a spot to store garlic/onions/sweet potatoes/butternut squash in your house, you'll have many more options. If you know how to make yogurt and cheese from dry milk that can be stored, you'll have even more options.

Over the long term, I encourage everyone to buy food from the Farmer's Market, Co-ops and CSA's, local ranchers, and from their own garden, but not everyone is already used to that life - and you shouldn't wait to store food until you are! Many of you are already transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle, which to many people means growing and preserving your own food, which you can then store. But you can start food storage even before you get that far.

So here's a short starter list for people who want to lay in a month or two or three of food that can be eaten and rotated regularly without too much effort. Three caveats: first, since this is a mostly vegetarian list of meals, this diet may be lacking in vitamin B12 - so consider getting some vitamins to meet that need. Second, these meals are heavy on the canned foods, which means you may be getting some more sodium than you normally do. Three, because of the dependency on beans for your protein/calories, this diet may be higher on fiber than you are used to. If so, you probably need to drink extra water to help the fiber pass through.

Meal 1: Pasta and pasta sauce with green beans

What could be easier? Pasta and pasta sauce are easily available, reasonably cheap, and fairly healthy. The tomatoes in pasta sauce contain both vitamin C and A, and pasta sauce comes in many different types to provide a flavor variety. Pasta is quick-cooking, and this meal can also be cooked as a one-pot meal in the Sun Oven. Canned green beans provide a little green in the diet.

Meal 2: Beans, rice and salsa

Hmmm, this sounds a little like a naked burrito. Beans and rice combine to provide a complete protein, beans offer many nutrients, and almost no one is allergic to rice. Rice will also provide a break for your body from eating all the grains that contain gluten. Salsa adds flavor, color, and vegetables (onions, tomatoes, peppers). White rice has a very long shelf life (you can also use brown rice, but it has a shorter shelf life), and canned beans have a shelf life of several years. Dried beans can be bought in bulk, and take less space, but require much more cooking time.

Meal 3: Vegetarian chili with corn

Combine two cans of different beans, a can of corn, a can of tomatoes, some water, whatever herbs and spices are available, and voila! Crowd pleaser comfort food with little cooking time. The combination of beans and corn provides protein, and the tomatoes provide vitamin C and A. I like to add barbeque sauce for the smoky sweet rich flavor. This is a great meal to cook in the Sun Oven, and is another non-gluten meal.

Meal 4: Oatmeal with raisins/dried fruit, honey, and cinammon

More comfort food. Oatmeal (not the instant kind) has a shelf life of several years and comes in conveniently storeable packages; and is full of fiber and protein (for a grain). The dried fruit can add various vitamins depending on which ones you pick. People often yearn for sweets during stress, so this meal will provide some sweet taste. This combination can be eaten for breakfast for weeks with no complaints (in my case, anyway). It also cooks pretty quickly.

Meal 5: Peanut butter and honey or jam

OK, this might not be strictly a meal without bread. But peanut butter is a good source of fat that stores well - the storeably hydrogenated stuff anyway; and honey lasts forever (although it may need to be heated to de-crystallize it). This is a tasty snack that will comfort people who are bored, yearning for sweets, or getting cranky. PLUS, it requires no cooking, and is very portable.

Meal 6: Bean and pasta salads

Personally, I like the combination of pasta, garbanzo beans, sundried tomatoes, canned artichokes and olives, with a sauce of olive oil and vinegar and herbs. I also like garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and corn with olive oil, red vinegar and herbs. There are many combinations to experiment with, and you might store several to keep the variety up. This "meal" may not seem like a meal to a carnivore, but it does provide a lot of nutrients, fiber, and flavor.

Meal 7: Pasta and tuna salad with peas

Canned tuna will provide some "meat" for people who are used to eating it. The cans and packets aren't really cheap, so this could be a special treat of a meal. Frozen peas are superior to canned, but hey, cans will stay stored with no electricity - and the peas provide some green color and nutrition. Add some olive oil and cracked pepper, and it's pretty tasty.

So, to summarize, the above seven meals are a "starter" list that provides calories, protein, fiber, nutrition, some variety, and flavor. They aren't gourmet, but they do offer the basics that you can get from your local grocery store in an easily cookable format. And once you get these items stored, you can mix and match for more variety. Disclaimer: Keep in mind, these are just examples to get you started thinking - you should store what your family will eat and what will meet your family's dietary needs. Obviously, this won't meet the needs of a two month old infant (for example) or someone who is allergic to gluten.

To make these meals, you will need to store, date and rotate:

- Rice
- Pasta
- Canned beans (several varieties: kidney, black, pinto, garbanzo)
- Pasta sauce
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Canned corn
- Canned green beans and peas
- Salsa
- Peanut butter
- Tuna (canned or packets)
- Assorted variety extras: canned olives, sundried tomatoes, jarred red peppers, canned artichokes (as desired)
- Dried fruit (raisins, craisins, apricots, prunes, etc.)
- Olive oil
- Vinegar
- Honey
- Cinammon
- Salt /pepper
- Chili powder/cumin/oregano

And, of course, water, a NON-electric can-opener, and some combination of ways to cook without electricity: woodstove or fireplace insert, rocket stove, Sun Oven, Kelly Kettle, haybox cooker, etc. These meals can also easily be supplemented with snacks: Tang, dried fruit, canned fruit, sauerkraut, pickles, applesauce, lollipops, lemonade mix, hot chocolate mix, etc. Don't forget to store tea and coffee if you're a caf-aholic!

For more resources see: Apocalypse Chow, The Crisis Preparedness Handbook, and Sharon Astyk's online Food Storage series (LOTS more links there).