Admit it: You’ve been watching too many horror movies this week — which means you’ve probably also been planning your survival strategy for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Familiar questions include: ‘Hit the gun shop with all the other trigger-happy humans, or hunker down through the initial bloodbath to clean up on melee weapons like axes and golf clubs?’* ‘Gather a crew of cautiously loyal friends or go lone wolf?’* and the inevitable: ‘To boat or not to boat?’*

But while stockpiling ammo and antibiotics is all well and good, have you thought much about your menu? With probable months of blood-soaked terror ahead of you, you’re going to want to make sure you’re not facing the interpersonal and existential stresses of the apocalypse on beer nuts and Twinkies.

Just in time for these seasonal visions of hangry undead to set in, Modern Farmer’s Cathy Barrow comes to our rescue with a how-to guide for stocking your own plague bunker with home-canned local goodies:

Friends would wander into my basement and gasp. They snickered. They questioned my sanity. Lined up against three walls, the heavy-duty steel shelves packed with jars of home-canned food looked like the contents of a fallout shelter. Or the home of a hoarder. “What do you do with all this food?” and “I see you’re ready for the zombie apocalypse!”

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And I’m OK with that. Because I live with the security that my pantry is filled with food that comes from farmers I know, in jars that can sustain us all winter long.

(Well, farmers you USED to know, who are almost all certainly dead or disembowling someone now.)

Almost as staggering: Barrow processes a whole 300 pounds of tomatoes every year to last her through the winter, as well as corn, beets, soup, jams, relish, chutney, and even fish. Yeah, you heard that right: “It’s ridiculously straightforward — pack a jar with raw fish, cover with water or olive oil and pressure can.” Now there’s a nutritious and shelf-stable snack I would eat and/or cower behind any day.

And while Barrow makes it all sound easy, I know that surviving post-apocalyptic horror scenarios is hard work. For example, this one time, I made blueberry jam. I spilled a lot of it, burned my hand, and in the end it filled about three-quarters of a jar. That would have made for a pretty miserable (and short) zombie stake-out, but now I know I can do better. If the future necessitates severing countless undead heads from ditto torsos, I at least want to know that, at the end of a hard day’s wetwork, I can sit down to a dinner table that offers seasonal delights, locally grown and thoughtfully harvested sometime before The Fall.

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Basically what I’m saying is “pressure canner” is now right on my Halloween preppers list, right after “chainsaw-bayonet rifle.”


*Hunker, obviously — nothing crazier than a horde, alive or undead.

*Neither! Trick question. Find a friend you can trust to keep watch while you sleep, but don’t hesitate to take the kill shot if/when the time comes.

*Boat. Always boat.

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