Sunday, November 25, 2012

Survival Hunger

After a major societal collapse, transportation will grind to a halt.  Population superclusters that rely heavily on imported food to survive will be the first to feel the effects as people transition from thriving to surviving.  People will struggle with self-imposed food rationing as they experience the first hunger pains.  Even people who have stocked their survival larders ahead of time will burn through their supplies faster than they need to.  In a survival situation, you are going to be hungry.  Accept that reality now, and it will save you a lot of aggravation, heartache, and sorrow later on.

Understand that a lack of food is a serious concern.  Group dynamics, strategic alliances, and personal friendships are placed under enormous strain when people are hungry.  Early in the post-collapse world will be an especially traumatic time, as people are transitioning from thriving to surviving.  When they feel the first hunger pangs, they will panic, and a panicked group is a group you want to avoid.  About ten days into Ranger School, long before any of us really started to feel the physical effects of hunger, I saw a group of Army officers and senior enlisted personnel, men who had a lot of experience and training, nearly come to blows over a few pancakes and a couple of pieces of bacon.  Imagine what will happen when people without prior training, who have not planned for an emergency of this scope, and who have lead soft, comfortable lives where they have never known real hunger, begin to compete over the remaining resources.

During World War II, a group of 36 conscientious objectors volunteered for a nearly year-long study into the effects of long-term semi-starvation.  The experiment took place at the University of Minnesota, and so became known as The Minnesota Starvation Experiment.  During the six-month long semi-starvation period, the volunteers’ calorie intake was restricted to approximately 1,500 per day.  In addition, each volunteer was given work tasks to accomplish and was required to walk 22 miles per week.  Each volunteer lost approximately 25 percent of their pre-experiment weight.  Among other lessons learned, the study showed the behavioral changes that a survivor would undergo.  Those changes include:
  1. The dominance of the hunger drive over other drives.
  2. Chronic feelings of tiredness and weakness.
  3. A lack of spontaneous activity.
  4. An increasing inability to perform physical tasks.
  5. Increased vulnerability to cold temperatures.
  6. A dulling of all emotional responses (love, hate, anger, fear, shame, etc.)
  7. Apathy.
  8. Limited patience and self-control.
  9. Loss of a sense of humor.
  10. Moodiness, depression, and an attitude of resignation.
Insects are an excellent source of protein.
Obviously, the best way to avoid to effects of hunger is to have food stockpiled ahead of time and have the skills and equipment necessary to supplement that food through barter and trade, hunting and trapping, fishing, gathering, and gardening.   Understand that a problem survivors must overcome is food aversion, a reluctance to eat strange or unfamiliar foods.  Food aversion may also occur when the survivor’s diet is severely limited.  American POW’s in Vietnam reported that some of their fellow POWs eventually died after they could no longer eat the rice and scraps of fish they were fed on a daily basis for years at a time.

The survivor’s will to survive includes putting aside social and individual prejudices and eating food that many people would find repulsive.  Insects, worms, grubs, and roadkill are are viable sources of food available to the survivor. The survivor must recognize food for what it is, the body’s fuel source, and top off the tank whenever possible.  Survivors are more likely to try strange food when they are alone.  Survivors in a group tend to be more reluctant, as group pressure and conformity behavior (adjusting individual behavior to fit into a group) discourages people from trying new things.

No comments:

Post a Comment