What about Supplements, when Looming Fuel Shortages Become Reality?

by Catherine Haug

Do you take dietary supplements?  I’m not talking about herbal tinctures, teas, salves or powders that you can make yourself. I’m talking about pills, capsules or gel-caps containing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other supplement substances that are made in industrial facilities. If your answer is yes, listen up.

When the day arrives that the shelves are empty in grocery, drug, and health food stores, what will you do? If you rely on these supplements to optimize your nutrition, you’ll be out of luck at the store.

Oh, yeah, you can order off the internet.  Whew!

Nope. If grocery warehouses cannot afford to truck foods and other products to your local store, what makes you think an internet provider will be able to do this?  Well, they could raise their shipping charge from order-of-magnitude $5 to, say $500. But could you afford that? Heck, the supplement manufacturers won’t be able to afford the cost of fuel to produce their product, even if they could afford to ship it to you.

You’re just out of luck. Time to rethink the supplement game.

Now, just think about this a minute. Supplements have been around less than 100 years. What did people do before that? Were they just lacking in all these vital nutrients?  I don’t think so. They got their nutrition from their food. Amazing! (see The Diet of Traditional Peoples: the Work of Weston Price & Frances Pottenger for more).

But if you’re in the habit of eating processed and convenience foods, they don’t provide all the nutrition you need, even if they include added vitamins. You’re going to need to go back to actually preparing your meals, from scratch. Why not start now, and give up those supplements!

Tips to increase your nutritional intake from real food

For some tips on how to maximize your absorption of nutrients in the foods you eat:

  • Check out this story from NPR: Get The Most Nutrition From Your Veggies, concerning recent studies published in the Journal of Food Science.
  • Get more sunshine during the sunny months, to build up your vitamin D supply (the body can store it for use during the cloudy months). Vitamin D has many functions in the body, one of which is helping your body use the minerals in your diet.
  • Sprout your grains before grinding at home (or pre-soak ground flour before mixing into your batter or eating your porridge). Sprouting provides enzymes, additional vitamins, and frees the minerals from the phytates that bind them before sprouting, so they can be absorbed.
  • Sprout seeds, nuts, dried beans and other legumes before eating raw or cooking them. One bonus:  sprouting beans significantly reduces the required cooking time.
  • Add lacto-fermented foods to your daily diet.  These include yogurt, cheese, buttermilk, sauerkraut, kimche, Greek olives, real chutneys and catsups, brined pickles (not vinegar brine), and many other delicious foods. Fermenting foods increases vitamin and enzyme content, and partially digests carbohydrates and proteins for better assimilation.
  • Add kelp and other sea vegetables to your diet (for the iodine).
  • Eat more raw foods; the heat of cooking renders many nutrients unavailable for absorption, and destroys many others. If you must cook them, don’t over-cook.
  • Add raw or rare liver (especially calves’ or chicken liver) to your weekly diet; consider making Pottenger’s Liver Cocktail (with raw liver) or Raw Liver Drink (see Nourishing Traditions for recipes).
  • For some foods, the nutrient profile actually increases with cooking. This includes carrots and tomatoes.
  • Other foods, such as green beans, beets and garlic retain most nutrients with cooking, as long as they are not overcooked.  Roasting preserves the water-soluble nutrients that would otherwise leach into cooking water.
  • Grow your own produce or buy it from a local grower:  the fresher, the more nutritious.
  • Include LOTS of veggies and a moderate amount of fruits in your daily diet. These provide many minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants, as well as yet-to-be-discovered nutrients.  They are also rich in fiber. When possible, include the peel, especially apple, pear, potato and citrus.
  • Add a little fat (olive oil or butter) to your greens and tomatoes, to improve absorption of nutrients, including minerals, anti-oxidants and vitamins. Salad dressings made at home from olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar are perfect for this, and do not need refrigeration if used within a week (unless you include raw egg in the dressing; i.e., mayo).
  • Choose wild game or pasture-raised meats, dairy and eggs, and wild fish (for their better nutrient profile and abundance of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K).
  • Make rich bone broths at home.  This includes chicken, veal, beef, venison and fish broth. Then use these broths when making soups, stews and sauces. Bone broths provide minerals and gelatin, not to mention flavor!


  1. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106968683
  2. http://rebuild-from-depression.com/simplechange/increasenutrients.html
  3. Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.
  4. Traditional Foods are your Best Medicine, by Ronald F. Schmid, N.D.

2 Responses to “What about Supplements, when Looming Fuel Shortages Become Reality?”

  1. Fran says:

    A tea made from the tips (new growth in spring) of evergreens (pine or fir) gives you a goodly amount of vitamin C, and is not unpleasant tasting.

  2. Catherine says:

    Lacto-fermented veggies such as sauerkraut are also an excellent source of vitamin C. Refer to ESP’s handout on lacto-fermentation for more info.