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Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Search Of: A Complete Protein

I've been seeing quite a bit in the news about how prices for food have been soaring.  I guess I've been fortunate - so far - but I haven't seen it.  I've read that a number of the processed food manufacturers have been absorbing the increases, but they're about to start passing them on.

So I've been thinking about food preps.  When the raw materials have gone up in the past, it "trickles down" into other types of foods.  I'm thinking about Proteins That Move in particular - beef, pork, poultry and fish.

I like my meat, and look for deals whenever possible.  I have been able to get very good deals on big pieces of pork tenderloin.  I buy a 10 to 12 pound chunk, cut it into 3 pound pieces, and vacuum seal them.

But what if fresh meat becomes cost prohibitive, and we're forced to dig into our prepper food stores?  What if we have to go veggie (gasp!)?

Non-meat protein (plants:  legumes, nuts, vegetables, grains/seeds), for the most part, does not contain all of the amino acids we humans need.  If we don't get them from some other source, our body will literally cannibalize itself to get the protein.  Eww.

But, we can combine different types of plant proteins to build a complete protein.

This chart (PDF) give a good listing of plant proteins and the specific amino acids that are missing.  The last column tells you what to eat with it to help get all of the amino acids you need to stay healthy.

This article, from the same site, states that you don't need to eat complete proteins at every meal.  Your body will store the amino acids it's not using, and apply them later.  They've got a bunch of quotes from Medical Doctors attesting to the fact.  YMMV.

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Interesting stuff.  I can't conceive of not having meat.  I don't have a steak every day, but we have pork and chicken a lot.  Fish, probably not as often as we should.

At a minimum, this will get you closer to a complete protein than just winging it, especially in a SHTF or some similar circumstance.  Knowing that you need to combine plant proteins will make you more likely to do so.

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terrie said...

Cheif: Have you ever thought about canning meat? Thats what I have been doing. Very easy. Just canned hamberger. I hear you can can bacon but I havent tried it yet. You just cant can processed meats like hot dogs and salomi.Also I'm learning to make wheat meat.
We have a lot of Halibut from a fishing trip my husband made 2 years ago that Im worried about in the freezerthey are kryovaced but Im getting ready to can those also.
Love your blog as always.Terrie

MikeH. said...

Considering the various predictions of coming prohibitive food prices through inflation, food shortages and then food riots, I think many of us may find plant based foods will also become out of reach or unavailable. And there won't be enough folks really concerned or prepared if or when it happens.

Should we find ourselves in such a situation, and after we pretty much decimate domesticated and wild animal life for meat, most people won't know the right plant life to forage after. Of course, it won't be long after that until folks will be turning to that plentiful last resort... long pig.

Our friend "Anon" may scoff at the thought, but we really can't dismiss the possibility.

Good post and link.


Anonymous said...

I liked this post very much too. I hate to admit this but I am also a coffee lover and have noticed a $2 hike in the 33 oz. cans at even big box stores. This is also in the storage bins at the lower prices but maybe it's a good idea to get off the caffeine fix. eww

Chief Instructor said...

Terrie - I can mean quite a bit. Hamburger is my favorite. It retains more of the mouth-feel of regular burger.

I've found that when I do beef, pork or chicken breast chunks, it comes out like canned tuna - flaky. I use it mostly for mixing into other foods. For instance, I take one quart of home-canned beans and a pint of meat, mix it together with cumin, chile powder, onions and garlic, and it makes great burritos or tacos.

Mike - sounds like "One Second After" to me! If there are some sorts of food shortages, it will be very, very ugly. Other than water, there will be no more valuable of a commodity.

Cat - yeah, coffee is a crutch for me as well. I've got a pretty decent amount stored away in a number of forms - whole bean, ground bean and instant - but it would only last a few months. I think I'm going to draw the beans/ground from my stores and swap it for more instant.

Longer life and more compact.

I drive my tractor in pearls... said...

Printed out the PDF and stuck in my binder o' info.

This post makes backyard chickens all the more important - or CSA's where someone with quite a bit of land raises the chickens for you - or barter something you can do for a farmer while they raise your chickens. Trust me - if you dont have anything a farmer needs, if you can work, that farmer can find something for you to do.

Know where your food comes from and if possible - shake that person's hand....

suek said...

If you're up to it, learn something about domestic meat rabbits (Rex or New Zealand are the most common). They're tremendous producers...but of course, there's only one way to get it, and you have to be up for it. Once upon a time, the USDA had a rabbit experimental herd in Chino,Ca. They had as part of it, the experimental commercial herd. The practices in that barn were judged on the basis of whether they were commercially viable (made money) or not. Does (female rabbits as well as female deer) were not kept in the commercial herd unless they produced 120 lbs of live weight per year. The average doe weighs 12 pounds, so this is ten times her body weight. Live weight is the weight of her young weaned at 8 weeks of age. This requires that she produces 4 litters per year, averaging 8 babies per litter, and the babies weighing 4 lbs at weaning. Compare this to your average beef cow which weighs 1000 to 1200lbs, and produces 1 calf per year, weaning it at about 5-6 months of age weighing 5-600 lbs. The rabbit produces 10 times it's body weight, the cow produces about 1/2 it's body weight.

Besides which, with rabbits, you can raise worms for your fishing and have fertilizer for your garden. And they take up less space.

The only real drawback is that you usually kill and dress at about 8 weeks of age. Have you any idea how _cute_ 8 week old baby bunnies are???

Sneaux said...

I always laugh at the "complete protein" argument made by carnivores. It's not like you have to eat a "complete protein" each time you consume a protein source. If you vary your diet as much as possible, there's really no need to worry about it. I've been a vegetarian for 20+ years, and never worried about combining my foods to make the "complete protein"... I'm healthy as can be, and have no protein deficiencies whatsoever. So basically, don't worry about it. Vegetarianism is no Holy Grail. You just have to eat a variety of foods - just like any other "diet" - and you'll be a-okay. Besides, Americans actually eat far too much protein as it is... it's evident in the size of our waistlines.

Anonymous said...

Not to start a fight, but... Protein is a problem for vegans and vegetarians. As adults we can survive major insults to our body and could live comfortably for months without complete proteins in our meals. However pregnant women and children cannot. If you are pregnant and do not get complete protein your child is at risk of incomplete mental development. Most vegetarians cannot easily get B12 and depend on supplements to provide it. Do you really think these supplements will be available when food is not??? Regardless of what the reason is (fad food diets like veganism or lack of available meats and fresh fruits) illnesses from improper diet is a very real threat when good food is not readily available. Post-SHTF will be very stressful for people with diabetes for example. Not all of us will thrive on rice and beans (I'll take hotdogs with that please). So plan ahead.

cory said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chief Instructor said...

Pearls, I did the same. It went right into our Survival Bible.

I want chickens, but they're not allowed in our city. Need to move, need to move, need to move...

Sue, that's pretty amazing about the rabbits - how quickly they grow. I'd like to see if they compared how efficiently rabbits vs beef converted feed into protein/weight. Any ideas or links?

Sneaux, hmmm. Not really the point of the post. Yep, Americans are fat and happy. Maybe not in the future. Understanding how to get your body a complete protein could be a lifesaver.

Anon, yep, we're omnivores. We're designed for meat AND veggies. I want to know how to keep myself as healthy as possible if things get ugly and meat isn't readily available.

Cory (post content deleted). Looking at your site, I assume you're somehow associated with Lipscomb. I've written him twice to substantiate his claims that his buckets-o-food will feed two people for a year for a few hundred dollars.

When his own site had the calorie content posted, those buckets provided each adult around 300 calories a day. Your "just add meat" claim is hollow, unless you expect people to eat 1700 calories of meat each day. And if you do, you need to make it clear.

My post back in June on the subject:

talnik said...

Quinoa. Complete protein grain but an acquired taste.

Chief Instructor said...

talnik, I've eaten it a number of times, and really like it. I don't have any of it in my prep stores because it is so expensive!

I believe it was on the website I cited that they noted that soy was also a complete protein. I need to verify that, and if it's in all of the different forms. I've got a good bit of TVP in my preps, and if it is in fact a complete protein, I'll add some more.

suek said...

Found this, but nothing on domestic rabbits.

Searched further and found this site:

For the relevant info, check the second paragraph of the "Feeds" section.

It's impressive.

Chief Instructor said...

Sue, wow, amazing stuff. I need to print and retain this info.

Chickens and rabbits on a small plot of land.... hmmm....

suek said...

It's because you slaughter them so young. Pigs - as I recall - are something like 6-1 feed efficiency. Very good. But you slaughter them at about 6 months +/-. Steers are normally about 12-14 months, so the growth rate has slowed considerably, which reduces the feed efficiency.

The efficiency is because they're growing. Once they reach a certain maturity level, the weight has to be mostly fat accumulation, and that requires a greater caloric input than muscle and bone.

The problem with cattle/goats/sheep is that the reproduction level is pretty low. Goats frequently twin, as do sheep, and not infrequently have 3. Four is not exactly rare, but definitely unusual. No matter how good the feed efficiency, that just isn't highly productive. The high birth rate and short gestation period make rabbits (30 days) and pigs (4 months??)more prolific and therefore, better producers.