Link – The Great Starvation Experiment

Starvation is something that has always fascinated me. Not the actual mechanics of it, although that does have some fascinating features, but rather what it does to the mind of the starvation victim.

We are all familiar with the phrase “Hungry people are dangerous people”, but that’s really just an abstract concept for many of us because we’ve never been truly hungry. I don’t mean ‘hungry’ as in “I haven’t eaten since yesterday afternoon”…I mean hungry as in ‘behind barbed wire’ hungry. The kind of hungry that comes from someone purposefully depriving you of food, or from there literally being no food available.

I’ve mentioned it before, but at the end of World War Two a scientist decided to see what actually happened when you starved people. He lined up some volunteers, starved them, and took notes. The result was the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.

Here’s a link to a website with some good info about it.

Worth noting is that many of the subjects became ‘obsessed’ with food and it became a primary focus of their waking hours. This part is interesting:

The stress proved too much for one of the men, twenty-four-year-old Franklin Watkins. He began having vivid, disturbing dreams of cannibalism in which he was eating the flesh of an old man. On trips into town (before the buddy system had been implemented), he cheated extravagantly, downing milk shakes and sundaes. Finally Keys confronted him, and Watkins broke down sobbing. Then he grew angry and threatened to kill Keys and take his own life.

Mind you, these were people who knew it was an experiment. They knew they wouldn’t starve to death. But….what starvation does to the mind is interesting. To continue:

Almost sixty years later, in 2003, 19 of the original 36 volunteers remained alive. Of these survivors, 18 were interviewed as part of an oral history project about the experiment. They admitted that there had been some lingering aftereffects of the experiment. For instance, for many years they were haunted by a fear that food might be taken away from them again.

Notably, two of the survivors from the Essex are reported to have hoarded food in the later parts of their life. I’ve also read of death camp survivors from World War Two who, even fifty years later, never went anywhere without pockets full of crackers or snacks.

So, yeah, in a world where the ‘rule of law’, such as it is, may be a tad thin someone starving (or watching a loved one starve) is probably going to be a remarkably dangerous, virtually feral, individual.

The solution? Well, don’t be there. Second solution, have lots of food. Have lots of food in several locations.

Which brings me to Mountain House. I was thinking about putting in a big order with them in March. It’s $3500 for a minimum order and I was toying with seeing if anyone here wanted to see if we could get enough people on board to make it happen. This would be for the #10 cans, whole cases… no broken cases. We’d probably have to set some sort of minimum on it, like $200 just to keep it manageable. But..if there’s enough demand we could make it happen. Figure pricing would be around 25-30% off MSRP. Local pickup would be available for those so inclined. Give it some thought.

ETA: Email me if youre interested and when I have a list of pricing and shipping set up I’ll let you know.


9 thoughts on “Link – The Great Starvation Experiment

  1. In the misty past, I have been unemployed and broke, to the ketchup sandwich stage.
    To the rounding-up-found-recyclables-for-cash-for-food stage.
    Not literally without food, but skipping meals, and with severely limited menu choices. And yes, you can live a long, long time off the Dollar Store diet.

    The bounceback, in terms of diet, purchases, and your thoughts, once that changes is a thing, and so is the food hoarding.
    I channeled mine into prepping, not paranoia.
    Which means that while I may die with my bank account on fumes, I’ll still leave behind a full pantry and a deep-stocked larder.

    Hunger leaves a memory.

    Now, think about your parents/grandparents who might have survived the Great Depression, and view them and certain choices they made in light of that newfound wisdom.

    The current Western Plenty is the aberrant situation; hunger, and partial or actual famine, is the historical rule, for most of 10,000 years. Think of the biological drive present in your DNA to make it so. That’s the literal struggle for survival, one mouthful of calories at a time.

  2. RE: Big MH order: What will be important will be the cost of drop shipping for those who need it.

    Nota bene, it might be useful to take a look at Auguson Farms. Their stuff is both pretty good and priced lower than MH (I’ve noticed AF uses considerably less salt then MH); Sam’s Club put a lot of AF stuff on sale a while back – the 1 year package (21 cases of 6 each #10 cans, with 8500 or so servings, each 1750 calories) was $1299 with free shipping, AF wanted $1799 + shipping; similar deals were to be had on 3-can cases). No clue who absorbed the $500 delta and shipping, but AF is, IIRC, also located in Oregon, and given MH’s well known name, it’s possible AF might be interested in wheeling and dealing to get more notice and market share.

    In any case, drop shipping will be key; the trick will – probably – be to have pallet loads shipped as “flexible” LTL to an address where 2/3/4/5/6 buyers can receive it and break up the pallet loads (which could also be the local freight terminal; I’ve done this with other stuff – terminal personnel simply fork lift the pallets into the parking lot, get the signature and leave). (“Flexible” means they can sit in the terminal until there’s empty space on a trailer headed that way, rather than scheduling trailer space; it’s possible that trailer may sit somewhere for a couple days waiting for local delivery, so winter/early spring is a better time than summer/early fall.

    • I have just looked up their one year supplies and it says 1,323 calories per day per person, which aligns with many national health organizations’ average recommended daily calorie intake of 1,200″. Which – if any – national health organizations recommend 1200 calories in adults to maintain weight? You need at less 1800 to 2000 calories, and in a emergency I’d want 2500 plus. It’s a six to maybe eight mouths supplies at most.

  3. I’d be interested in participating in a Mountain House buy at that kind of discount, but I’d also need to have at least a rough idea of drop-shipping costs in advance.

    Per the comment above, I can get Augason Farms foods at my local Walmart and they’re fine. Reasonably priced, too. I do buy and use them. But Mountain House is better (and normally too expensive for my budget).

  4. back in the early 70’s I starved myself to make weight on the wrestling team. Just didn’t eat. After a while it became normal not to eat, probably very similar to anorexia.

    Interesting side effect, (in addition to crippling cramps) when my body started to consume itself to stay alive, I developed a very bad onion-like body odor. Guys on the team would complain that I smelled bad even though I showered everyday.

    Buy it cheap and stack it deep.

    • I’m not sure about body odor, but your breath develops a very distinctive chemical sort of smell: ketosis, IIRC. It’s possible that that is what they were complaining about. The problem is that you are also burning muscle tissue along with body fat. And, you won’t get that muscle back when you resume eating properly.

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