What Subsistence Farming Is... And It can Include Bugs
This part is fairly straight forward. To answer the question of what subsistence farming is, all I have to say is this. It's growing or raising plants or animals to support the basic needs for food of the farmers. This can include bugs, as they too are in the animal kingdom. Technically, edible fungi can be included as well. This is in contrast with commercial farming in that there is the production of a surplus of the plants or animals. This is so that they may be sold at a profit, hopefully.
Now, you may be asking where bugs come into the mix and why would you ever consider farming them for nourishment? Well, have you seen gas prices lately? Shortages in supplies? Shortages of certain types of foods? Well that's why bugs come to mind, at least for me. Trust me, I am not thrilled by the prospect. But, emergencies, whether "self inflicted" or natural do happen.
And if drastic shortages do occur, you may need a strategy beyond simply stocking up on enough food, water, gas, and such. Emergencies usually are for a relatively short time. But economic or other collapses are another matter. A collapse can bring with it a new norm where the previous methods are no longer maintained.
Emergency Prepping Vs. Prepping For a Major Collapse
Most people probably hope that neither an emergency or a collapse will happen. But both can and have happened in world history. Some have been very recent. When an emergency happens, it tends to be reasonably short lived. Eventually, the power comes back, water is restored, and the usually means of getting the essentials are available again. But a collapse can be vastly different.
People tend not to do things for free. Even the universe shows how something as simple as motion doesn't happen without a cost being paid. That cost is having sufficient energy and a difference in energy levels between one place or object and another. Remember thermodynamics in school? Heat tends to go from higher temperatures to lower temperatures. Heat itself can be considered a form of energy. In a collapse, major aspect of infrastructure can grind to a halt. This is often the case at least on a national or regional case. If people no longer have access to sufficient currency for the "current" system, they may not be able to get what they need.
If you have emergency food, rations, fuel, and the like, that can get you by for a while. But a key thing about a collapse is the need to have the ability to produce more of the essentials that you're currently storing. In this, it becomes clear where efforts might need to be focused in preparing for a major collapse.
Methods to Produce a Couple of the Essentials
Drinking Water Processing
For starters, it's a very good thing if you live in a green area. That generally means that water is plentiful. That said, that doesn't necessarily mean that rain water is clean enough to drink directly. So, here are some things that can help with the collection purifying process:
Rain barrels and/or cisterns to capture the water. These should be made of materials that won't leach chemicals into the collected water.
Manual water pumps and filtration systems let you move the water and filter many potential contaminants.
Solar or fire water distillation systems can separate the water from many contaminants by vaporizing the water, cooling it back into a liquid, and collecting it.
While some of these types of systems can be fairly simply, though not necessarily easily, made at home, you may be able to buy already made units.
If you are a hard-core prepper, you may have a year or more of food supplies stored up. That's great news for you. But, if a substantial enough collapse happens, eventually, even those supplies will exhaust. That is, unless you have a way to generate more food. So, it may be time to take up gardening. Grow some fruits and vegetables to get some great tasting and nutritious food. But it doesn't have to stop there. Here comes the icky but potentially necessary part about farming bugs.
Now, I'm not talking about just any bugs, necessarily. I'm talking about black soldier fly larvae. That's pretty much a nice way of saying maggots. I'm actually going to talk about farming a fly larvae so that people can eat maggots... I know I am not really keen on the idea. However, I did have fried bee's pupae when I was in a college entomology (bug science) class. It actually wasn't bad. It tasted like low grade shrimp.
I learned from that class that insects and other bugs can be great sources of protein. Many can be cooked and eaten safely. And then there's what I learned from my own beginner experience trying to compost. It seems pretty easy, at least in my part of Texas, to attract black soldier flies. They came quickly and built up a lot of heat in the compost tumbler. They took the various food waste and coffee grounds and turned it into proteins, in the form of maggots! And it happened pretty fast! From doing a little research on them, they're castings (poop) can be a good soil amendment. Further, they tend to be "cleaner" bugs in that they are not generally considered a vector for transmitting disease to humans.
In a collapse, there may be all manner of mayhem going on. But waste is almost always a given. That means you can potentially get garbage to attract one of nature's decomposing units to turn trash into treasured nourishment. This could help bridge the gap in time between a collapse happening and being able to hunt to get food from other animal life. While I have better food available to me, I will probably choose that. But when up against the wall, I definitely will want to keep this method in mind. For those of you who are big on sustainability, this may appeal to you for that reason as well as for survival.
Preparing for a collapse is different than preparing for a general emergency. The timelines for them can be quite different. An emergency tends to be relatively short, with some form of restoration of resources being likely in the near future. A collapse, on the other hand, can be much longer and may not have a restoration of resources like food and water production. In prepping for an emergency, you are thinking about storage of the things you will need to get you buy. Your gathering of supplies and their storage is in effect creating a battery for yourself to get you buy.
But a battery under load and use will eventually lose it's energy. It will require the input of more energy to get it back to normal operating levels. So, if emergency prepping and storage is like a battery, preparing for a collapse is like a generator. You must learn the ways to generate at least the essentials. This includes water collection and filtration, as well as growing food. It also may mean figuring out different ways to make fuel. This will be especially true for those who live in colder climates with longer cold seasons. Both emergencies and collapses can be life and way of life changing, so think about what you may need to prepare today!
I'll be honest. I hope it never becomes necessary to become bug subsistence farmers. The thought of eating them just doesn't sit right. And as a word of caution, eating raw maggots, especially certain kinds, could cause problems. But that can be the case with eating fresh, raw meat as well. So, cooking may be in order. Now, I was able to eat bugs in my early 20s, even if it was just the one time. And as much as I hope I don't need to do something like this, it is a comfort to have a good idea that it can be done fairly simply in a real pinch. I'd hope that many would find comfort in simple ways to be able to carry on if the stuff hits the proverbial fan. And now, just because I'm creepily fascinated by this, here's a quick video showing the little buggers. If you don't like worms and such, you may not want to open the video!