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Friday, November 22, 2013

How long can you go without food and water?

How long can you go without food and water?
How long can you go without food and water?
The body stores energy needed to live in the form of fat, carbohydrates and proteins. The carbs are the first thing to be used up without more food coming in. The fat goes next, which explains why people with more of it can survive longer.
Charles W. Bryant
Living Without Food

The question of how long you can go without food depends on a lot of factors. Will and determination definitely play a part. Political prisoners on hunger strikes and fasting religious leaders have been known to go for weeks at a time without any food. Gandhi fasted for 21 days while in his 70s. People lost in the wild have also survived for long periods of time without eating.

Medically speaking, most doctors agree that healthy humans can go up to eight weeks without food as long as they have water. People have gone longer and been fine, and people have starved to death in less time. Being strong and in good physical shape can help you survive longer, but so does having extra body fat. The body stores energy needed to live in the form of fat, carbohydrates and proteins. The carbs are the first thing to be used up without more food coming in. The fat goes next, which explains why people with more of it can survive longer. Then the proteins go. If you get to the point that your body is using up proteins, basically the body itself, then you're in bad shape.

Your metabolism also plays a role. Metabolism is what converts food into energy. If you have a slow metabolism, you'll burn your food intake slower and be able to go longer without replacing the food energy. If you go without food, your metabolism will adjust accordingly and slow down on its own -- basically doing what it can to pitch in for survival's sake.

Climate is a major factor too. The bad news is that both cold and hot weather are no good if you have no food. The good news is that extreme heat and cold will kill you in other ways before you have a chance at starvation. But in terms of living without food, heat means faster dehydration -- cold means more energy is burned to keep the body's temperature at a cozy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). If you're lucky enough to be in mild temperatures, you'll be able to live a little longer without food.
Green Deane
If kudzu grows near you, you won’t starve.
If kudzu grows near you, you won’t starve.

That said, kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata, (pew-er-RAY-ree-u MON-tah-nuh var. low-BAH-tuh) is an extremely versatile plant. We just don’t use it enough. But know this, if kudzu grows near you, you won’t starve. Indeed, economic times may make kudzu valuable again. It’s not on menu’s yet but you may wish it were. There’s even a kudzu methanol car-fuel plant opening. The only thing about kudzu I don’t like is the smell of the flowers in bloom: It smells exactly like the very cheap, very intense grape-flavored chemical gum kids chew. You can detect it from hundreds of feet away. Very strong, but good for identifying. If you like that aroma let your nose guide you. (I like the smell of grape, it’s that cheap artificial grape smell I can’t stand. That’s what kudzu smells like. Kudzu has no choice, so I don’t blame it. But the gum makers do have a choice and they make the wrong one. )

Kudzu was introduced into the United State in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The exposition was to celebrate 100 years of the United States being an independent country. Japan built a garden using Kudzu. Then it was at an exposition in New Orleans in 1883. American gardeners fell in love. By 1908 Kudzu was being promoted as a forage crop in Florida then it was widely distributed in the 1920s by a Florida nursery. (At one time they proudly displayed a ground zero kudzu plaque.)

It was planted by the conservation core during the Great Depression of the 1930s and in the 1940s the government was paying farmers $8 an acre to let it grow for soil conservation. (In 2008 dollars that is $256 and acre.) It was called “the miracle vine” and cotton was no longer king of the south.

But, by 1953 even federal employees suspected something was wrong. The government stopped paying to plant it. Kudzu can grow a foot a day and when escaped from cultivation, it can smother and kill an entire forest. By 1970 the government called it a weed and it’s been a “pest” ever since finally getting on the Federal Noxious Weed List in 1997, some 44 years after the alarm was raise.

A half a billion dollars is spent annually trying to contain it. Granted Kudzu is a problem, but “pest” or “resource” is a matter of attitude and policy. It covers more than 7 million acres and claims 120,000 more acres a year. That a huge amount of food not being consumed, a resource not being used. What would a country in famine do with those 7 million acres of food? I doubt they would call it a noxious weed. Perhaps instead of sending dollars to the starving we should send them nutritious kudzu.

Kudzu can be eaten many ways.

The young leaves can be consumed as a green, or juiced. They can be dried and made into a tea. Shoots can be eaten like asparagus. The blossom can be used to make pickles or a jelly — a taste between apple and peach — and the root is full of edible starch. Older leaves can be fried like potato chips, or used to wrap food for storage or cooking.

With kudzu you can make a salad, stew the roots, batter-fry the flowers or pickled them or make a make syrup. Raw roots can be cooked in a fire, roots stripped of their outer bark can be roasted in an oven like any root vegetable; or grated and ground into a flour to make a thickener, a cream or tofu. Kudzu is used to make soaps, lotions, rope, twine, baskets, wall paper, paper, fuel and compost. It can also be baled like hay with most grazing animals liking it, especially goats. Only the seeds are not edible.

Kudzu, to someone not familiar with it, does have a couple of look-alikes, such as the Desmodium rotundifolium, or the Ticktrefoil. Kudzu has very hairy young stems, the D. rotundifolium does not… that and that kudzu goes wild and outgrows it. The hog peanut, Amphicarpaea bracteata, may be mistaken for young kudzu vines, but it does not have hairy stems or climbs into trees. The key is to look for hairy stems on the young kudzu, and when it blossoms follow the grape aroma.

Kudzu is not a famine food but prime fare. We call it a weed because we are not hungry enough… yet.
Kudzu Blossom Jelly

Spoon over cream cheese, or melt and serve over waffles and ice cream. The blossom liquid is gray until lemon juice is added.

4 cups Kudzu blossoms

4 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 (1 3/4-ounce) package powered pectin

5 cups sugar

Wash Kudzu blossoms with cold water, and place them in a large bowl. Pour 4 cups boiling water over blossoms, and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Pour blossoms and liquid through a colander into a Dutch oven, discarding blossoms. Add lemon juice and pectin; bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Stir in sugar; return to a full rolling boil, and boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat; skim off foam with a spoon. Quickly pour jelly into hot, sterilized jars, filling to 1/4 inch from top. Wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands.

Process in boiling water bath 5 minutes. Cool on wire racks. YIELD: 6 half pints.

Rolled Kudzu Leaves

Kudzu Leaves

1 can diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

3 cloves garlic, cut in half

Juice of 3 lemons

Bacon Grease (optional)

Stuffing ingredients: 1 cup rice, rinsed in water

1 pound ground lamb or lean beef

1 cup canned diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon of allspice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Gather about 30 medium-sized young kudzu leaves. Make sure area has not been sprayed with chemicals.

Wash leaves. Drop into salted boiling water. Boil a 2-3 minutes, separating leaves. Remove to a plate to cool. Remove heavy center stems from the leaves by using a knife and cutting down each side of the stem to about the middle of the leaf. Combine all stuffing ingredients and mix well.

Push cut sides together and fill with 1 teaspoon stuffing and roll in the shape of a cigar. Place something in bottom of a large pan so that rolled leaves will not sit directly on the bottom of the pan. Bacon grease is great for seasoning.

Arrange Kudzu rolls alternately in opposite directions. When all are in the pot, pour in a can diced tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 3 cloves of garlic, cut in half. Press down with an inverted dish and add water to reach dish. Cover pot and cook on medium for 30 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook 10 minutes more.

Kudzu Quiche

Makes 4-6 servings.

1 cup heavy cream

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup chopped, young, tender Kudzu leaves and stems

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ground pepper to taste

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1 nine-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream, eggs, kudzu, salt, pepper, and cheese. Place in pie shell. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until center is set.

Kudzu Tea

Kudzu leaves



Simmer 1 cup of finely chopped Kudzu leaves in a quart of water for 30 minutes. Drain and serve with honey and a sprig of mint. If you prefer a sweeter taste use honey to sweeten the tea.

Deep Fried Kudzu Leaves

Pick light green leaves, 2-inch size.

Thin batter made with iced water and flour


Heat oil. Rinse and dry kudzu leaves, then dip in batter (chilled). Fry oil quickly on both sides until brown. Drain on paper toweling. Eat while warm.

kudzu powder

Kudzu powder can be prepared on a small scale from wild kudzu with little equipment. Roots no smaller than 1 1/2” in diameter should be harvested during the winter months, December through March. Kudzu root should be washed, cut into approximate one-inch thick slices and pureed in a blender with enough cold water to blend the root well. The puree should be strained and the solid fibers squeezed to extract all the liquid to be used for further processing. The remaining fibers should then be saturated with water, stirred, and strained again, collecting the liquid into the container with the other extract.

The brown kudzu liquid should be filtered through muslin or lower grade cotton fabric and left undisturbed in a cool or cold location for 24 hours. The fibers can be composted and the brown liquid should then be discarded as grey water. The clay like substance remaining in the container should be broken up and mixed well, until thoroughly dissolved with clean water once again, and allowed to rest for 24 hours in a cool environment. The liquid should again be discarded and the starch redissolved into a second batch of clean water, this time leaving the mixture for 48 hours in a cool place.

The liquid should then be discarded and the layer of gray impurities removed from the starch. The starch is then ready to be used immediately or can be dried to preserve it indefinitely. To dry the kudzu starch, place kudzu chunks on a tray or on layers of paper and set it in a cool, well ventilated place for 10 to 40 days until thoroughly dry. Store dry chunks of kudzu in a sealed container. The dry chunks of kudzu, when pulverized, become kudzu powder.

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