Monday, October 24, 2016

Guest Post: Proteins (and a little math) in the Apocalypse

by George Groot
George is a member of our Facebook Group and has written for us before.

Several decades ago, there was a book titled Recipes for a Small Planet which got all the science wrong regarding how we wouldn’t have enough meat to feed people and the meat industry would totally destroy the ecosystem if people didn’t willingly en masse adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

Another thing it got wrong was the ability of the human body to uptake incomplete proteins and then take up other complementary proteins later to keep the body healthy. 

But I do believe that the author was correct in the assertion that it is optimal to eat complete proteins or complementary proteins to make a complete protein. Another thing she got right is that you can meet your minimal protein requirements from vegetable sources (although you can’t get your B12 quota that way, so enjoy a rare steak every once in a while).

In a long-term disaster situation, I assume that all the domestic animals will be eaten first; then all of the feral pest animals like squirrels, pigeons, raccoons, rabbit, deer; and finally people will turn to rats and mice in desperation. So in a world where fresh meat is both scarce and a luxury, how do you get enough protein to stay healthy? As a prepper you’ve got stored foods, but if things go bad and stay bad long enough, you’ll want to stretch that protein supply for as long as you can. What I’m discussing here, then, is really only going to be a consideration for an “end of the world as we know it” situation.

In your preps, there is really only one vegetable crop that is a complete protein and also cheap enough to consider: the soybean. It is grown all over the U.S. heartland, and soy products are pretty much everywhere from textured vegetable protein (a mainstay of MREs) to cooking oil. If you don’t have a huge amount of storage, I recommend getting soy flour.

Let me first say that the following math has an inherent flaw: these numbers aren’t exact for the final product (baked or cooked) because I have not accounted for dry to wet weight in the conversion from flour to a baked good. As such, it isn’t precise enough for you to bake a loaf of bread, cut off a 100 gram slice, and expect the full calculated protein content. Since I don’t know what recipes you’ll use, and I’m not in charge of the baking in my family (seriously, I suck at it) I won’t even begin to try to estimate that conversion.

If you do want to measure out precise portions for protein control:
  1. Weigh your total dry products and compare that number to the weight of your final baked good.
  2. Figure out how many 100 gram portions were in the original dry weight.
  3. Then cut the same number of portions from the final product. 
The most likely soy flour you’ll find is the ever-hip Bob’s Red Mill soy flour , which generally sells for about $2.50 a pound. But if you can buy in bulk, a 50 lb bag of baker’s soy flour from Honeyville is $56.99 with a flat $4.99 shipping fee. If you buy two bags, that's the equivalent of 35 lbs of pure protein that you can transfer to airtight long-term storage.

But since this is Blue Collar Prepping, don’t use just pure soy flour for your prepping needs if you can help it. My family has one person with a wheat allergy, so mixing soy with wheat flour is a no-go, but if you can you should. 

If you assume 60 grams of protein per average man and 40 grams per average woman, this means that 172 grams (6 oz) of soy flour per man, or 115 grams (4 oz) per woman, will meet this requirement. By quick math, that means a 50 lb bag will keep two adult men and one adult woman fully stocked with their daily protein needs for 50 days (or 4 women for 50 days, or one woman for 200 days).

The 60 and 40 gram numbers are essentially meaningless to you as an individual; they are what an average American man and woman with an average American lifestyle (largely sedentary) would need to avoid a protein deficiency as per USDA dietary guidelines. You may need more, or less, depending on your body size and activity level.
Now, I’m not recommending solely living off of soy flour for any length of time. Variety is the spice of life, and a cornerstone of good nutrition. What I do recommend is using soy flour to increase the protein content of your baked goods.
  • All-purpose flour is 10% protein and it is incomplete, but it is dirt cheap and readily available. 
  • A 25 lb bag of Walmart “Great Value” brand all-purpose bleached enriched flour is $8.09. 
  • Mixing soy and all-purpose flour 50:50 makes a blend with 22.5% protein by weight, or one fifth of the product is useable protein.
  • If you stretch your soy flour this way every 5 ounces of baked good (pancake, waffle, muffin, biscuit, whatever) is protein.
  • Peanut butter is 25% protein (and also has some valuable fat content needed for vitamin absorption).
  • If you have two slices of bread (on average 50 grams a slice) with a single 37 gram serving of peanut butter as filling, you have 22 grams of wheat/soy protein and 8 grams of peanut protein.
  • This gives a whopping total of 30 grams from one sandwich, which is over half of the total protein intake needed for maintaining health. 
  • I don’t know about you, but I can generally demolish two peanut butter sandwiches in a day to get my daily protein intake of 60 grams.
  • A 4 lb tub of Jif peanut butter is currently $9.69 at Walmart. 4 lbs is 1,814 grams, so that’s 36 sandwiches. 
  • At 2 sandwiches a day, that’s one adult male for two weeks (four days if you plan on getting all protein from soy/wheat peanut butter sandwiches). 
  • But for every day this hypothetical adult eats two sandwiches, that frees up your other shelf stable protein (jerky, powdered eggs or milk, etc) or fresh protein (eggs, fish, meat). 
Once again, I don’t recommend getting all your protein from these hypothetical sandwiches; it's just an example of how adding soy flour to your preps stretches out your nutritional health for a longer period of time.

As another example of how soy flour stretches your protein intake:
  • Two 100 gram pancakes with 50:50 soy/wheat flour is 45 grams of protein at breakfast (enough for the average woman). Three pancakes is 67 grams protein, enough for a man’s daily intake.
  • As previously discussed, two peanut butter sandwiches as snack/lunch is 60 grams of protein, enough for man or woman for the day.
  • As a comparison, two servings of red beans and rice for dinner is 40 grams of protein, enough for the adult woman, and three servings would cover the man.
Some 50:50 soy/wheat biscuits would go a LONG way to helping stretch a jumbo can of Dinty Moore beef stew or Wolf Brand Chili across multiple people, while still getting each person adequate protein intake. Anything you can do on the cheap to stretch out your other resources is something you should consider. Perhaps you should add sandwiches to your long-term diet plan to add variety to your stash of beans and rice?

If You're Allergic
If you have a soy allergy, I'm sorry; I can’t think of a more affordable long-term storage protein solution. If you also have a wheat allergy, I'm really sorry because buckwheat flour is almost twice as expensive as soy flour when bought in a 50 lb bag and has only 3% more protein than normal cheap all-purpose wheat flour.

I hope this information is helpful and good food for thought. Once you have protein intake covered, you’ve still got the whole gamut of vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats, and carbohydrates to cover, which is best addressed with the wisdom of “Have a variety!” although that can be difficult to do on the cheap.

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