ConsumerismCourses/WorkshopsDVDs/BooksFood ForestsFood Plants - AnnualFood Plants - PerennialFood ShortagesGlobal Warming/Climate ChangeHealth & DiseaseMedicinal PlantsPeak OilSociety

Self-Sufficiency and Survival Foods… Are You Prepared?

Planting a garden with food potential is one of the most valuable things we can do. Will we always have a free country with unlimited food supply? Could a major calamity or drought affect the supply and the price of food? Could rolling strikes disrupt electricity, water, telephone, transport and other amenities to shops and our homes… and how would no petrol affect every household? We need to encourage one another to be as self sufficient as possible… now… in our gardens, as this is the most nutritious fresh food… and is the cheapest way to live in these times of rising prices. Growing our own food is very satisfying as well as beneficial to our health and well-being.

Australia has truly been a ‘lucky country’ — plentiful food, running water in our homes, sewerage systems which take away our wastes, comfort and luxuries in our homes. We truly are blessed. However, it may not always be this way in the future. Would families be prepared if a catastrophic disaster struck?

The following email came in recently, which certainly warns us all to be more prepared and resilient for the future, as Dan and his family found out when the devastating floods hit Grantham, South East Queensland in January 2011.

Dan wrote: I was about 1/3 through your book "How can I be prepared with self-sufficiency and survival foods?" when the floods hit Grantham, with us in the house. Thanks for info in your book, as I was able to use some of the info to help my wife, daughter and I to get out with only a couple of scratches. Thank you for the foresight. I recommend this book to all I meet.

Poverty, starvation and death is ‘the way of life’ now in many third world countries. How much food and non-perishable food does your family have on hand if all shops shut tomorrow?

Plants that have survival food potential, should meet one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Plants that have proved hardy and adapt to a range of soils and low rainfall.
  2. Plants that can be harvested at any time of the year, or have a long cropping period.
  3. Produce that have a long shelf life when picked.
  4. Produce that has potential for storing for later use, or can be dried or used in some other form.
  5. Plants that are little known as a food source and are unusual. If times get tough, and jobs and food are scarce, then food will be a high price in the shops and our gardens may be raided and food stolen… so… grow some obscure food supply.

The following plants or seeds would be practical for you to consider growing and storing for the future as survival food.

Food plants not commonly known

  • salad mallow – 20.4% protein
  • sweet leaf bush – 34 to 39% protein
  • drumstick tree – 38% protein
  • Queensland greens – 29% protein
  • fenugreek – 32.6% protein
  • comfrey – 22-36% protein
  • kang kong – 31% protein
  • amaranth – 20% protein
  • alfalfa – 34% protein

When these plants are plentiful in the garden, the leaves can be dried, crushed finely and stored, to provide a protein source in the future, by adding to soups, stews, casseroles, etc.

Other plants that are useful to grow: watercress, sambu lettuce, mushroom plant, mukunu-wenna, warrigal greens, Ceylon salad leaves, chicory, pinto pea, Indian fig, Lebanese cress, mitsuba, rocket, leaf ginseng….

Become familiar with edible weeds for self sufficiency…

… for if times get tough, you will know you can eat weeds like purslane, mini sunflower, cobblers pegs, swine cress, dandelion, plantain, nettle, emilia, shepherds purse, flickweed, chickweed, wild carrot and wild mustard, native amaranth, scurvy weed, vetch, wood sorrel, clover, nodding top, milk thistle, mallows, and fat hen.

Hardy root crops

Sweet fruit root, arrowroot (both Queensland and South American), cassava, taro, coco yam, Jerusalem artichoke, Chinese artichokes, jicama, oca, sweet potato, American groundnut, sacred lotus, water-chestnuts, yams (Dioscorea species).

Hardy vegetables

All the root crops listed above, and pumpkins, squash, large Lagenaria gourds including long beans, flour gourds (also called wax gourds), chilacayote, loofah, asparagus, perennial beans like 7 year bean, choko, pie melon, African cucumber.

Herbs for stress, pain, immune boosting and sleeplessness:

Herb robert, gotu kola, king of bitters, lemon balm, St. Johns wort, mother of herbs, chamomile, feverfew, woundwort, brahmi, sensitive plant; aloe vera (living 1st aid plant) and speedwell for cuts; comfrey for bruises… ‘blue top’ for tick bite, etc.

Other items, that have a long shelf life as survival foods

Nuts in shell like almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pecan; carob and tamarind pods; rice, pasta, honey, molasses, dried vegetables and fruits, and herbs (e.g. nettle 20% protein and salad mallow 20.4% which can provide a protein source when added to other dishes); also candles, matches, water in containers, first aid kit, water-proof ground sheets, toilet paper (and grow an arla bush or blossom bouquet bush, to supply soft leaves for using in an outside make-shift toilet if the sewerage system does not work).

Save non-hybrid seeds…

…from the basic food plants that you grow, like carrots, corn, peas and beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins and the brassicas. We need to save our seeds, to preserve the biodiversity of seeds, to guarantee the survival of these plants, in this century — and save them from genetic engineering.

For many of the plants mentioned above, refer to Isabell Shipard’s books:

Course alert for Queensland!

Isabell Shipard will be running 1 day courses in 2011 (30 September and 1 October) on How to be more Self-sufficient. These will be held in Nambour, Queensland, Australia.

Topics the courses will include:

  • Is your family prepared for calamities?
  • Will we always have a ‘free country’ with abundance of food?
  • Global challenges and the importance of emergency supplies
  • Grow an edible garden of hardy practical foods
  • The importance of saving seeds and how to store
  • Edible weeds
  • Valuable herbs in your survival garden
  • Powerful antioxidants in plants and herbs to boost the immune system
  • The pro-active approach and preventative medicine with herbs
  • Bush tucker plants
  • The benefits of sprouts
  • Preservation and storage of foods
  • Simple savings, getting back to basics, and there is no better time than NOW to start preparing for the future…
  • and more topics.

Participants will see many practical plants, and there will be a variety to smell and taste.

In this course, Isabell will share valuable information, which every person will find practical for daily living. The course will share many ways of using plants and seeds for food, flavouring, disease prevention and healing.

For details of this course and how to enroll, please read this PDF.


  1. Hi, I would like to share this to my blog but you do not have the blogspot share link icon on your pages. Can you please add? thanks Caron

  2. I find this very interesting. But some names I wil have to look up… As permaculture is international I think it would be helpfull to add latin names.
    This is what I found at the Plants for a future database :

    Salad mallow Malva verticillata – L.

  3. Oops… did something wrong. Here’s more on this plant:

    When grown on nitrogen rich soils (and particularly when these are cultivated inorganically), the plant tends to concentrate high levels of nitrates in its leaves[76]. The leaves are perfectly wholesome at all other times.

  4. Just a note in reply to the first comment — warning against the use of comfrey. Firstly, I suggest you read Isabel on comfrey. In her book “How can I use Herbs in my Daily Life” she devotes over 7 pages thoroughly discussing its use and history — a scholarly and helpful contribution — unlike the “Times” article linked into Pontus’ comment.

    We have learned in the news recently that the “Times” and every other Murdoch publication is engaging in shadowy and criminal enterprises. That lightweight and not amusing article that furthers the myth that comfrey is bad for you is another example of journalism serving the interests of big business. It only gives aid to Big Pharma — who do not want us to enjoy this amazingly beneficial herb.

    The roots of comfrey are for external use only. The roots have high levels of pyrrolizidine and should not be taken internally.

    The leaves of comfrey are nutritious and can be eaten raw or cooked or dried for making teas and strong brews of herbal infusions. The young leaves may have some pyrrolizidine. One would have to consume enormous quantities to have a harmful effect, but mature leaves do not have the pyrrolizidine and so harvesting mature leaves for eating is better practise.

    There is abundant evidence that comfrey has been used for food and medicine for many thousands of years by many people and cultures around the globe. It is very good for people and animals and has only recently received bad press — perhaps because excessive use of comfrey leaves in our diets will put drug companies out of business!

    I have been drinking a herbal infusion made with 30 grams of dried comfrey leaf, brewed overnight in a litre of boiled water for about 6 years and eat the leaves regularly in salads and as cooked greens.

  5. Thanks! Have been living a lifestyle free of capitalism, and when shit goes down, it’s time to have this stuff ready and on point. We will be leaving the system on June 4th. Would you like to join in this effort, looking for skilled people to design and help all over the world, to design the new lifestyle basically :) to start, and my email is, now ohio soon southern california based, thanks! EC

  6. Yes, comfrey is fantastic. Really good reasons to have it around, it’s very hardy, probably matches all those qualities you’re looking for, is a nutrient accumulator makes its own compost, and helps for sprains and cuts, and bruises and swelling. Helps for blisters too, you make a poultice out of it. EC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button