Haven't had much time to do a ton of writing on this subject, but wanted to put something out there to get the wheels turning.
Food storage is a hugely important thing, but there's only so much food that a survivor can put back. A solid food supply of several months should be good for weathering most problems, but we're looking at something long term and truly devastating on a global scale. In an event like this, you're looking at years before the large scale commercial farms are up and running, the supply chains are rebuilt and the grocery stores are re-opened--if ever. In a situation like this, it's not likely that your food storage will last through the troubles.
Food quickly becomes one of the prime concerns for surviving long term--probably the biggest, aside from a plentiful supply of water--and water is generally easier to come by. If you've got food sorted out, that's a huge step towards surviving a bad scenario indefinitely.
As with all important things, we want to have at least 3 ways of acquiring food. Here's some of the options:
- Growing it - garden, fields or orchards
- Raising it - Livestock
- Gathering - wild edibles and meals of opportunity
None of these methods are foolproof--livesstock can get stolen, gardens can fail, and the fishes can opt not to bite. The more options you have, the more likely you are to succeed.
The importance of actual skill and experience can't be overstated--we're not talking about a situation where you can run down to the corner store. A can of survival seeds and zero experience gardening? Not a good plan.
Trade is often overlooked amongst the survival crowd, but it is valid, if you have something to offer up in trade. Your best bet won't be ammo or gold, but valuable services. Something that would be valuable and rare in a surviving community--doctor, dentist, someone with legit high level .mil credentials. Information will also be valuable--scouts and messengers may be able to eek out a living. A printing operation & community newsletter could also work. Craftsmen, tinkerers and builders--guys with gunsmithing, blacksmithing, carpentry and similar skills would also do well if raw materials could be sourced.
Your trade options are something worth thinking through--what can you offer up? Of course, for trade to work, you will need to have food producers willing to trade, and enough security in the area to allow for it.
Long term hunting will require an ample supply of ammunition or the ability to make your own--black powder, arrows, etc.
Trapping and gathering/foraging hold a special place for survivors, in that they are both mobile and typically require a lower calorie output than the calories brought in. Once set, traps work 24/7 until they're set off. Gathering/foraging is all about seizing food opportunities when they present themselves.
The best situation would be a dedicated, pre-existing farm that can shift to off-grid operations when things go bad. You'd also want to be located in a food producing area--some place with other similar farms nearby. You'd have the growing it and raising it squared away, and with land, you'd have space to hunt, trap and gather. Access to moving water or a stocked pond and you'd have fishing, too. That's a lot of what makes a full-time retreat so attractive, though certainly not without tradeoffs.
Your long-term food production options are certainly something to think through and make preparations for. The skill and experience needed to be successful are key, and they're not acquired overnight.
Personally, I'm an expert in none. It's an area my wife and are I looking to build skill in--we're gardening this year, which has seen mixed results, but at least some positives. Hunting, trapping and wild edibles are on my "gain skill/experience" list, too.