Here's yet another thing to consider in planning your emergency food storage. A percentage of Americans, especially those of European genetics, have a food sensitivity that they probably don't recognize. It is a sensitivity to foods from the nightshade family, which are very common in the American diet. To be more correct, the sensitivity is to specific chemicals, called alkaloids, within these foods. Symptoms of the sensitivity include muscle and joint aches, headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms that can include severe intestinal cramping and diarrhea. Fatigue and mental dullness can follow about of too much nightshade food. The half-life of these compounds in the body is long, and it can take weeks for all the symptoms from a mild to moderate case of poisoning to completely resolve.
I know about this because I am one of those people who can't tolerate nightshades. One good enchillada puts me out for three days, and they are not three days of fun. A full blown case of moderate poisoning will start with what feels like indigestion. This progresses to severe abdominal cramps, which nothing really helps though pepto soothes a bit. Next, a headache and several hours of toilet time add to the festivities. Following that litle bit of Heaven, count on flu-like symptoms minus the fever for one to three days. Muscle aches and fatigue can last beyond that, but you feel so much better that you don't notice them that much. These foods in smaller doses can cause minor gastrointestinal problems, joit and muscle aches and just feeling crummy.
So what are these foods? Are they rare or outlawed? Nope, you probably eat them every day. Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepers, red and yellow peppers, our friends red and green chili, pepperoncini, pimento, and even tobacco are just a few of the nightshades.
You think you're safe because no one has complained. They probably haven't made the correlation. I was 30 years old when I had my first case of this. On a trip to New Mexico, I was pigging out on enchilladas made with fresh Hatch chili had one almost every day for a week. Bad idea. Haven't been able to eat more than a couple of bites of one without getting sick since.
There are ways to avoid bringing this problem into your emergency situation by carefully planning your food storage. Here are my 'tips:'
1. Store and serve these foods for use in moderation. I suggest limiting to no more than 2 servings a day. Sounds simple? If you have hash browns for breakfast with a generous dose of ketchup, you're done for the day.
2. Don't plan your seed supply around nightshades. What edible plants for your garden do you see most often in stores like Home Depot and Lowes? Six packs of tomatoes, potato starts and all kinds of peppers!
3. Pay attention to your symptoms and those of family members. Each person has a different tolerance for these alkaloids. Unexplained malais, achy or "I hurt' complaints a couple hours fter a meal with nightshades (whopper with fries!) could be a sign of sensitivity.
4. If someone in your group shows the sensitivity, learn to cook with less tomato sauce or whatever seems to be the problem.
Luckily not every group will have someone with the sensitivity. If you do have one, be kind. They didn't plan it. It's better to manage this through diet planning than by white-knuckling it!!