One of the problems with stored food is the inevitable deterioration of the vitamin content. You don’t have to worry about the mineral content going anywhere but vitamins are notoriously fragile. While many have asked for the best kind of multi-vitamin supplement for long term storage, the answer for the survival community is simpler. Many of us have buckets of wheat stored. So make wheat sprouts and wheatgrass juice.
Vitamins increase substantially during the sprouting process. In regards to wheat, vitamin B-12 quadruples, other B vitamins increase from 3 to 12 times and the vitamin E content triples. Vitamins A, K and others also increase. Amino acid levels (the building blocks of proteins) similarly increase and fiber content increases three to four times that of whole wheat bread.
Dry seeds, grains, and legumes are rich in protein and complex carbohydrates but contain no vitamin C. Fortunately, the sprouting process creates 20 milligrams of Vitamin C per 3.5 ounces of wheat.
Sprouts can be eaten in as little as 48 hours after soaking (and rinsing). No light is required for the first few days and at this stage, they are more grain than vegetable. Over time (and with light) chlorophyll begins to form and they transition from grain to vegetable. Eating them takes a bit of getting used to. Young sprouts can be eaten whole and are very chewy, and sweet. No cooking needed. They are an excellent G.O.O.D. food for your survival pack. All you need is a glass mason jar and a mesh cap. Go to your local health food store and ask for the plastic ventilated tops that fit over mason jars for sprouting. If you want to decrease the weight, put them in a stocking or plastic paint strainer mesh (available at your hardware store) and then into a plastic wide mouth bottle. As you travel, the wheat will convert into chewy nutritious little snacks. In terms of travel, if you think that you will have access to water (hiking near a river or other other water source) but no cooking fuel (wintertime and it’s wet) then this is an excellent option. They sprout while you hike. If a member of the party has dental problems, make a mortar and pestle from two rocks and crush the sprouts before eating them. Remember, we don’t manufacture cellulose, the enzyme that other animals have to break down plant fiber. If you don’t cook or juice your vegetable, you must chew (or crush) them to get anything out of them.
Here is a list of other seeds/grains/beans you can sprout as well as how to sprout in a jar.
If you have the time and inclination, you can go from the sprout stage to the grass stage. Again, this shifts the wheat from grain to vegetable. This will change the relative protein, carbohydrate and vitamin composition so I suggest you use your powers of observation. If you crave the sprouts at one growing stage versus another, honor it. It’s your body telling you that given your current state of malnutrition, that stage of the sprout you are craving contains the maximum amount of what you need. Wheatgrass juice is a little sweet and many will get nauseous even if they drink only an ounce at a time. It is very potent stuff, but not dangerous.
Here is a link for sprouting to the grass stage including techniques to sprout without soil or trays (you can even use a baby blanket):
Be mindful that when going for the grass stage, hygiene is everything. You must start with clean grain or mold will grow on them.
Wheatgrass juice can be chewed but this is very labor intensive. Ann Wigmore who made wheatgrass juice famous ate grass from her lawn with her grandmother during the war in Germany and attributes it to her and her Grandmother not starving to death. I think that a wheatgrass juicer is a very sound investment, as important as any other in my survival kitchen. No, a regular juicer will not work. You will need a wheatgrass juicer. With it you can also juice other leafy greens if you like. Manual wheatgrass juicers are not overly expensive unless you want to go stainless steel but they all work pretty much the same way. [JWR Adds: Used wheatgrass juicers can sometimes be found on eBay for very reasonable prices.]
If you have wheat then you have bread and vegetables if you know how to juice. In the summer months, if you have grass growing nearby and it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides and other lawn chemicals you have a garden you may not have been aware of. While not all grasses are necessarily safe to eat, you can experiment with a drop at a time. As with all suspect plant life, first put a drop on your skin and see if it gets irritated over the next few hours. If that works, next put a drop under your tongue and spit it out. Was it bitter or soapy or was there a milky sap? (A survival botanist who wants to elucidate/correct this would be appreciated.) If not and if you feel okay after another few hours, next try to drink a drop. With some experimentation you may be able to determine if the grass varieties growing wild in your local meadow are safe for consumption.
While many other sprouts are also useful and certainly more tasty and easier to manage (mung, buckwheat, adzuki) wheat is something that anyone reading this blog is likely to have in abundance. You can, however, sprout any grain or bean too increase it’s vitamin content. Also, sprouting does not mean you must eat it raw. You can sprout your beans and grains and then still cook with them. The chinese do this with mung beans in their cooking. You will lose some of the vitamin content by cooking them but you will still end up with a meal many times higher in vitamin content than otherwise. – SF in Hawaii