Long-Term Supplies of Food and Water

When bad things happen your focus turns to survival. Providing food and water for yourself and your loved ones is the primary concern. Food and water for a short-term disaster is in some ways an easier problem than addressing the need to develop the ability to keep a sustainable supply for an indefinite period. This article discusses issues and techniques for creating a lasting food and water supply.

Long Term Water Supplies

The concern with a long-term water supply is sometimes finding the water, but it is always making sure the water is safe to drink. Since you need to have at least a gallon of water a day for each person for whom you are responsible, establishing your water source quickly is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for long-term survival.

You'll need to obtain a source of water from a spring, river or some other source but most importantly you'll need to determine whether the source is safe to drink.

There is a famous quote from the poem “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

"Water, Water everywhere and not a drop to drink."

I've paraphrased this a bit but the concept is the same.

Water sources are easily contaminated. Contamination can come from any of the following sources:

  • bacterial contaminants including parasitic microorganisms.
  • inorganic contaminants including minerals and toxic metals.
  • organic contaminants are usually petroleum-based and can be more toxic in lower quantities than inorganic contaminants.
  • radioactive contaminants are a special case and extremely dangerous but fortunately, you'll usually have a pretty good idea of whether you should be worried about this type of contaminant.

Running water is usually safer than stagnant water and clear water is safer than cloudy water but if you don't know the quality of water in advance you should test it first.

In future articles, we'll talk about testing and purifying water as well as creative ways to obtain water including wells, cisterns and other water harvesting techniques.

Long Term Food Supplies

You can usually store a longer-lasting food supply taking up less room for more people than you can with water. At some point you will need to have a replenishable food supply. This means growing, raising, hunting and fishing for your food.

When planning your food supply, efficiency is one of the most important considerations. The idea is to obtain the most food with the least effort and consumed resources.

For growing vegetables, you will want to consider yield-per-square foot. The following vegetables have some of the highest yields per square foot.

  • Tomatoes (grown on supports)
  • Onions, green bunching
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Turnips greens and roots
  • Summer squash
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers (grown on supports)
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Broccoli

If you don't already grow your own, i'd suggest you obtain some seeds for some of the vegetables listed above and practice finding the optimal environment to get the most yield.

Protein sources are as important to survival as the carbohydrates you'll obtain from vegetables. For this article, i'll assume that the issues of survival as a vegetarian are not an issue but we will pursue that in future articles.

After some research, the consensus is that chickens and guinea hens are by far the most efficient protein sources followed closely by rabbits and then by bug and worm farming. I have no experience with the latter two and personally would have to overcome some personal issues before I could make the leap but I'm open to doing so if its a matter of survival.

The most popular small animals to raise for food include the following:

  • Chickens
  • Rabbits
  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Turkeys
  • Fish

With the exception of the fish, raising most of these animals is very straightforward and with a little planning you can establish a replenishable source of protein that can be used to benefit your vegetable gardens as well by using the scraps for your compost heap.


In future articles, we'll explore obtaining, testing and purifying water, growing vegetables, raising small animals for food, hunting and fishing for survival and preparing food for long-term storage.

And we'll even explore bug and worm farms since they show very practical benefits for survivalists.