What's the most efficient food for survival?

Since tonight is the final Surivor, how about a Survivor-themed question? They seem to be living on rice and water. Given the choice of one food to survive on, is there something else that would be better than rice?

Long-term or short-term? In the short term, all you need is carbohydrates, and rice has about as many carbs as anything else you might care to name. In the long term, though, you’ll have to be more careful about balancing your other nutrients, and (white) rice is rather poor in most other nutrients. Brown rice, on the other hand, is a fairly good source of most of what you need.

If you were on foot in a barren area and had to live for a couple of months solely on what you could carry, you’d want foods with the most calories in the least weight. Things like hi-energy protein bars, chocolate, etc. I wonder what sort of rations those people who sled across Antarctica carry?

Well, according to the professor I had for nutrition, every nutrient necessary for human survival, except vitamin. C, is in chicken eggs. So I guess if you ate eggs and oranges, you would be ok, at least for a while.

Wow. This sounds very similar to the people kibble thread a couple of months ago. There were lots of links posted there for foods which probably fit the answer to the OP.

Humans can survive quite nicely on a diet of nothing but animal flesh. Of course, the thing that comes to mind when most of us think meat is on the order of a nice t-bone or New York strip, but plain old muscle tissue is almost the LEAST nutrient-rich part of any animal. To really thrive, one also needs to consume the organs, and eat them as close to raw as you can handle. Too much cooking tends to destroy some of the more fragile vitamins.

If a single kind of meat had to be chosen, I would have to guess that the liver would be your best bet, consumed lightly boiled (drink the broth, too) or raw. Like your (or at least my) mother said, eat it, it’s good for you!



" Food of the Voyageur

The Montreal voyageurs of the east ate a diet of corn mush, pea soup, and pork fat. But buffalo was a staple diet for the voyageurs of the interior. Fur posts on the northern plains harvested huge quantities of buffalo with the help of the Indians. Tons of pemmican were made from the buffalo meat.
Pemmican is a high energy food developed by the Indians. It can be transported easily and lasts for many months. Although most pemmican was made from buffalo occasionally moose and caribou were used. After the meat was dried, it was pounded into a fine texture. Then it was mixed with animal fat and at times berries. This created a high calorie, high nutrition food for the travelers.

The pemmican was packed into buffalo-hide sacks weighing about 90 pounds each. The bags were sent to posts along the central waterways were they could be picked up by the voyageurs. Four such sacks of pemmican could carry the voyageurs about 500 miles to the next post where they could pick up their next ration.

Pemmican could be broken from a large chunk and eaten. Sometimes it was made into a stew called rubbaboo. A mixture of flour, water, and maple sugar was boiled in a large kettle. To this were added chunks of pemmican. After this cooked for a while it formed a porridge-type stew which was a welcome break from the plain pemmican.
Pemmican Recipe

Other recipes and information about food in Early America can be found in the Buckskinner Cookbook at Coon & Crockett.
Pemmican is still considered a “survival” food for those who travel into wilderness areas. However, modern tastes would probably consider it less than great and of questionable value in a “healthy diet”. It helps to keep in mind that the fur trade era didn’t have the benefit of modern technology like freeze drying or refrigeration. Voyageurs needed high energy food that would keep and save them from starvation. Taste was a side issue.

If you would like to try making your own pemmican, here are some recipes. Let us know how you liked it.

Basic Pemmican
2 oz. cooked, ground, and dried beef
2 and 1/2 oz. lard or vegetable fat (shortening)
Put the meat in a container lined with plastic film. Melt the fat and let it cool slightly to a gluey consistency. Pour the fat over the meat and let it harden. Wrap airtight and store, preferably in a freezer if you won’t need the pemmican for a while."

It depends upon the scenario:

Out in the wilderness:

As Hand said, meat. In the backwoods, no matter how plentiful the game, don’t count on catching any. Bring with you the most concentrated and readily digestible form of energy, beef jerky. In its dried state, it is impervious to the elements. Next, in the wilds, there will plenty of starches and vegetables recoverable from your environs. If you arrive carrying just about nothing else but dried meat for food rations (if one type was all that was allowed). You would come equipped with a solid buffer of foodstock. This would allow you to survive long enough to finally have half a chance to blend in and hunt successfully at close quarters.
Sole nutritional supplement scenario:

If you’re talking about being restricted to eating only one sort of substance for your sustenance; As a chef I’ll have to quote Crusty The Clown

“The survivors would envy the dead!”

Either that or I’d have to give some silly answer like chocolate or sushi. Seriously? Yeah, maybe rice, but at that point I’d actually rather eat Pemmican as it contains way more calories per ounce and, therefore, can be transported more easily. No need to cache large weights of food and risk predation by vermin or other competition. Your overall edibles weight toted is reduced dramatically. This allows for carrying of water and other burdens like hunting weapons (if we’re talking about true survival here). Plus, in the wilds, gathering wood, lighting a fire and carrying a pot of some sort to cook the rice, in addition to the cooking time delay, is so counter to survival.

By its definition, Pemmican is a processed food mixture and therefore might not even qualify in the strictest definition of the OP. Therefore, I will reiterate my own selection and that would be really good jerked beef sirloin. Made with more salt than sugar to help make up for perspiration body salts loss. Besides, I can always eat my own hair if I need some fiber…

Article 232 (41 more) in rec.food.historic:
From: pat@mtl.mit.edu (Patricia E. Varley)

Pemmican Recipe (from Cree Indians)

Slice meat EXTREMELY thin, dry slowly over fire or in smoke house. Pound meat into shreds or use a meat grinder. Mix in an equal amount of animal fat (Crisco will do if you have no lard, but it will not taste as good), some marrow from the bones (The marrow is extracted by heating it–it will then come out easily). Add wild cherries or currants (these are the favored berries) or in a pinch some sugar to taste. And that’s the recipe! Some of the Native Americans here in MA (Wamponoags) add other things such as cayenne or worchestshire–whatever!

I would say, as a complete lover of meats it would be a toss up.

Meat on one hand (many people eat meat and fat and survive well) would be good.

On the other hand legumes, beans, the musical fruit.

One or the other depending on where you live.

Meat in northern climates has more fat which help a lot (from my reading) but lean meat is not all that good for you unless you add in other fats. “Eskimos” “Northern Native Americans” and other northern people survived solely on the meat and fat of seals, whales and the like. They are thin and healthy.

Now, I would assume (this is a WAG) that people from southern climates, if only one substance to survive on, that beans would be the best. They have carbs, good for energy but enough protein content to keep up healthy that other plants don’t seem to offer.

This of course is just my opinion, but from my weak studies on the human digestive system, those two are the best ideals. I would also gather that it would depend on the previous diet of the human involved. He or she may go through a very difficult time in the beginning if the diet is changed that dramatically. But beans of some kind would be the ideal situation, better than rice.

This, from somebody who obviously hasn’t dated Esikimo women.

They are FAT. They make obese Americans look svelte.

(Personally, I prefer a woman who’s hips don’t lacerate my thighs, but that’s just me.)

Up until wedding age, 14-22, they are lean, mean kissin machines. Then, once they’ve landed a man, they start to resemble what they live off of - whales.

Look at her mother.

The best pound for punch mix is peanut butter with some cranberries. You can live on that for 2 years.

Shackleton lived on NOTHING for 28 weeks

(bedlam boys, they live on the air)


I’m shocked no one has mentioned potatoes. Both the old, native Peruvians, the Irish, and several other folks have lived generations consuming almost nothing but potatoes. The Peruvians even developed a dried version that could be stored longer and transported easier than raw spuds.

I agree, with some reservations.

Milk was an important part of the Irish diet, along with the occasional fish or piece of meat. Fruit would be added on small quantities, although I don’t know if that was a trewat or neccessity.

In the Famine, they had none of the above.

Potatoes are short of a lot of nutrients you need, although they’re great for calories. This is especially true if you’ve only got a small plot of land to grow them, and are accostomed to backbreaking labor. As I recall, potatoes produce something like 30 times as many calories per acre as wheat.

In the traditional Irish diet, most nutrients other than the calories came from cabbage, which is almost as cheap as potatoes. You still need the potatoes for calories, though, which is why the Famine hit so hard.

No, Bosda got it right. Potatoes and milk (or buttermilk) were the staple of the Irish diet and the source of most of their nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, Vitamin C and niacin. It wasn’t simply a lack of calories that did so much of the population in.

What about raw hemp? I’ve heard that the oils present in the vegetable matter contain proteins in amounts very, very similar to what is needed in the human diet. The veritable “tree of life” it was called.


Go chew on a rope.

Hemp, in-deed.