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Alas, Babylon - use as a guide for food storage

I recently read the book "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank, published in 1959 but republished in 2005. I'll review the book on tomorrow but for now... just note that it's a must-read for what people most want when they suddenly have to go from a "modern" life to bare-bones civilization pre-electricity and pre-running water.

What I hadn't given previous thought to is honey. Yes, I knew people, especially kids, would need sweets as comfort food, but now I realize that it's more than that. It's a necessary food-store item for calories, sweet-taste, cooking, comfort, and it's a great antibiotic "ointment".

Another thought is salt. I don't salt anything because I have high blood pressure, but I know salt is in a lot of processed foods, and naturally occurs in some vegetation. It's also used to cure meats. When the main characters ran out of salt, they became confused, lethargic, nauseated, tired, headaches, disoriented and more. Hyponatremia (low sodium) can also progress to muscle twitching, seizures, coma and death. Although I don't use salt, I have 5 25-pound bags stored. Might want to get more.

I liked how the central cast of characters thought a little ahead and create a still for when the corn and sugar cane would be ripe. Once they made the "white lightening", they traded it for other things, but also the one doctor used it as an antiseptic. Think ahead: are you growing potatoes (vodka)? Hops, barley and some yeast (beer)? Honey (meade)? Grapes (wine & vinegar)? Apples (soft and hard cider, vinegar)? Elderberries (wine, syrup)? Molasses and yeast (rum)? Fruit, brewer's yeast and sugar (all kinds!)? You better believe that I'll be making lots of these, but meanwhile, I have a few bottles put away of various liquors.

Coffee isn't locally grown, so it became extremely valuable in trading. When the main character found a tin of coffee he has put aside, months after his last taste, he practically screamed with joy. People were willing to barter almost anything for coffee. I found the following list of drinks that have at least some of the caffeine jolt:
•Green tea*. Full of antioxidants, comes in many varieties.
•Black tea*. Strong flavor, good with milk, large variety of options. Has half as much caffeine as coffee.
•Licorice tea. Has a sweet flavor and nourishes the adrenal glands.
•Siberian ginseng tea. Nourishing herbal tea. Has a tonifying effect on the body.
•Yerba maté. No caffeine, but has a stimulating effect.
•Chocolate powder*. Has a bitter, coffee-like taste with a mild stimulating effect when unsweetend.

If you've read this book, let us know what you've given thought to because of it. Thanks!


dee said...

I read the book, ironically, because my 14 yr old was given the choice to read it from her teacher. I have re-read it constantly. That was 13 yrs ago. What a great read! I don't smoke or drink ,or drink coffee, but those "ironstores" where a godsend for them. I stored more salt too, secondary to that read, along with honey I already store and use regularly.

ThrtnWmsFam said...

good for you, dee. i store coffee, mostly for barter but every once in a while (once every 6 months or so) i like a cuppa. i can't imagine not having honey as my 13 yr old eats a little every day.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading that book 30 years ago, and during a break from reading, I went to the refrigerator for a Coke.

I was so deeply involved in the story, that I was amazed when the fridge light came on! Cool! The electricity is working!

A good book! (How many other books from 1959 are still in print?)