Survival Foods: Can You Live On Just One?

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely seen at least one article listing foods that you should have in your survival stockpile because you’re interested in it. But … what if you only had the option of living on one food?

You’re stuck after a SHTF scenario with one crop and nothing else but it, other than water. Is there one food that you could live on? Let’s talk about that.

There are two factors to consider since we’re already assuming that you have one single food in a large enough quantity to survive on. That’s a pretty big hurdle in and of itself. Some people might think they wouldn’t make it. Would you?

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But say you do have one food only. Those two factors are nutrients and food fatigue.

We’ll address nutrients first.

Macronutrients aren’t optional

Your body requires three macronutrients to keep the balance and live: fat, protein, carbs, fiber, and water. If you don’t eat carbs and fat, your body will start consuming first its own fat, then muscle tissue.

Your heart is a muscle, so this is bad. Especially if the meat is particularly lean, like rabbit.


If you don’t eat fat, your organs will shut down. Your gall bladder, for example, requires a certain amount of fat just to function. Something like 40 percent of your brain is fat, and lack of fat, particularly essential fatty acids such as omega-3, and an overabundance of carbs have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. So, eat fat.


If you don’t eat protein, your muscles will degrade, and your body won’t be able to heal and generate new cells. There are 20 amino acids that are the building blocks of protein, and 9 of them are essential – our bodies can’t make them so we have to eat them.

Other Nutrients

Not only do you need these macronutrients, you also need micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.

For example, if you don’t get any vitamin C, you’ll have scurvy inside of a month. Listing all of these wouldn’t just be another article; it would be a book.

Here’s a chart to help you out. In addition, you also need about 40 grams of fiber to keep your digestive tract and cardiovascular system healthy.

Food Fatigue

There are documented cases where entire villages have starved to death with readily available food within access. A good example of this is rice. Your body gets so tired of eating only one type of food for a long period of time, especially if it’s only prepared one way, that it will literally make you sick rather than allow you to eat any more of it.

This could be because it’s lacking nutrients that the food is missing, or it has an overabundance of the nutrients in the food because it can’t process them due to missing necessary macronutrients or micronutrients. For whatever reason, it’s a reality.

That being said, there are places on the planet where people survive almost solely on one food, usually rice. Maybe the key word is “almost.”

Is There a Perfect Food?

So, knowing what we know now, is there one food that provides all of the nutrients in adequate amounts that you need to survive? No. There are some that are close, but none of them meet all of your needs.

So which ones are the closest to perfect?


People have survived solely, or almost solely, on potatoes for centuries. For instance, during the Irish potato famine, the impoverished portion of Irish citizens lived off of potatoes and, when available, milk.

And the Scots will joke and tell you that a hundred years ago, their diet was potatoes, milk, oatmeal, and kale. Nutritionally, you could survive quite well off of that combination.

Also, there was Andrew Taylor. For the entire year of 2016, he lived on a potato diet, but there were a few caveats. He ate both white and sweet potatoes because just one or the other didn’t provide the nutrients he needed, and he occasionally threw in some tomato sauce, soy milk, salt, and herbs, and he took a B12 supplement. He did well, but it still wasn’t technically an all-potato diet.

They provide protein, carbs, and, especially if you combine the two, all of the macro- and micronutrients you need, except for molybdenum, which you can get from oatmeal. White potatoes are lacking in vitamins C and A, too, and calcium, which is where the kale and milk comes in.


Milk, especially fermented milk (aka yogurt, kefir, sour cream, some cheeses) is pretty darned close to perfect, too. Actually, human milk is the perfect food but that’s probably way outside the realm of reality, so we’re not even going there. Other milks, though, are still good.

You could meet your protein, fat, and carbohydrate needs, but it has zero vitamin C or iron. It’s missing several minerals, too. So, you couldn’t live off of milk.


Serious superfood here. Plenty of fiber and vitamins A, B6, and C – as a matter of fact, just one cup gives you 134 percent of your daily value of C. It even has protein, but you’d have to eat twenty cups a day to get enough protein, and then it’s not complete.

There’s no fat to speak of, and it only has 33 calories – 2 grams of carbs – so you’d have to eat at least 30 cups a day to meet minimal requirements. It’s also missing several micronutrients. So, no.

Your body is a complicated machine. Saying that you could feel it one food is sort of like saying as long as you keep the air checked in your tires, your car will run just fine. It’s just not the same.

Could you survive off of one food? Yes. If you had to, I’d go with potatoes. But if you have to do it long-term, you’re going to be suffering from vitamin and mineral deficiencies within a couple of months.

Do yourself a favor: stockpile a variety of foods. Make sure you have plenty of beans, rice, flour, and sources of vitamin C, because that’s a serious one that will have rapid negative results. You do not want to develop scurvy.

Think ahead and plan your survival! You never know when a disaster will hit!

Is there a food that you think may be complete enough to survive on long-term? If so, please tell us about it in the comments section below and get a dialogue going.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors. You can send Theresa a message at editor [at]

Latest comments
  • There is one food that you can live on for years and be healthy. Pemican is a complete diet and has everything your body needs. It prevents and cures SCURVY as well. Do some research on it.

    • Pemican is NOT one food source – it’s a mixture of fruit and meat! Not what the author was getting at…….. and meat isn’t a food source either.

      • Not all pemican had berries in it. Please tell me why meat isn’t a food source.
        People have been eating meat for thousands of years.

      • Pemmican (the correct spelling, by the way) may or may not have fruit in it. But regardless, to say that meat isn’t a food source is asinine. One of meat’s advantages is having more calories per ounce than many other foods. It’s usually quite easy to find in the wild too. It’s definitely a good food source, especially when in a survival situation.

  • That’s a lot of good advice. But…in the list of proteins, buffalo and bison are the same.

    • Not true, there are a few species of buffalo. Bison is not a nuffalo, that is a misnomer.

      • I stand corrected. Based on what I found just now, there are no buffalo in North America. Thanks for the correction.

        • There are buffalo In Alberta Canada and that is in North America.

  • PEMICAN is a complete diet. It has all the nutrients the body needs and will prevent and cure scurvy.

    • Not true. Although the nutrient content varies on the actual ingredients in the pemmican, it by no means has every single nutrient the body needs. Therefore, it is not a complete diet.

      Here is a nutritional breakdown of pemmican. Again, the actual nutritional value varies, but this particular recipe has zero vitamin A and C, zero calcium, and zero fiber. And that’s just the listed nutrients, as this isn’t even a complete list of all nutrients:

      Keep in mind that the link I listed doesn’t have fruit in it. Although the fruit would add some nutrients, it’s still not going to have every single nutrient the body needs, and even the extra nutrients it does have may not be in amounts enough to keep the body from having deficiencies.

      This is a different recipe. It still has no vitamin A, but has 12% RDA of calcium. Not a lot, but a good start. However, it still shows zero fiber and only 2% RDA of vitamin C. So, you’d have to eat 50 servings (10,500 calories) just to get one day’s wort of vitamin C:

      And again, neither of these links is not even a complete list of nutrients. I wonder how many other nutrients both have zero of, or not enough of?

    • Pemican is NO more of a food source than MREs or swanson tv dinners. It is a product of many food SOURCES.

      • Pemican can bemade fro one animal that is one source.

  • Tea made from pine needles is very high in vitamin C…in a pinch it will prevent scurvy.

  • Jeff D. Please tell what you think she was getting at?
    Buffalo was listed and the part you eat is the meat.
    Jeff do you eat the hide, hoofs, hair and all the rest?
    If Buffalo are a food, Why aren.t other animals?

  • PEMmICAN is a complete diet. It has all the nutrients the body needs.
    Below is the complete definition of Pemmican:
    Pemmican is a concentrated mixture of fat and protein used as a nutritious food. Historically, it was an element of Canadian cuisine in certain parts of the country.

    • It still is but only by a few people but it is coming back as more people search for ways to store food long term.
      for a SHTF situation it is ideal. Besides being a complete food, it keeps for years without refrigeration and keeps
      its nutritional value.

    • Did you not see the two links I posted that show the nutrition in pemmican? I not only posted links showing the nutrition in two different kinds pf pemmican, but I discussed the nutrients pemmican lacks, or doesn’t have enough of to be complete.

      Pemmican has decent nutrition, but it is by no means complete. A can of deluxe mixed nuts from Walmart has more nutrients than pemmican does. Trail mix, with both dried fruit and nuts, has even more nutrients than deluxe mixed nuts, even if the concentration of calories per ounce isn’t as much.

      You couldn’t even spell pemmican until I posted what the correct spelling is, yet you claim to know what nutrition it contains?

      • I never claimed to know the the nutritional value of pemican only that it was a complete food and can cure scuvy. The nutritional value of pemican can vary depending the meat used. Concentration camp beef will have a lower nutritional value because of the their diet. also it is loaded with ANTIBIOTICS and HORMONES that are not good for you. the way that pemican is made can also affect the nutrition.

        I don’t know by what standard that you judge something as a complete food or not. But if a person can live on it for years and stay heathy, it is a complete food.

        “Trail mix with both dried fruit and nuts, has even more nutrients.” This might be true but is it as healthy with all the toxic chemicals used to grow and PROCESS them. what has that got to do with whether or not pemican is a complete food or not. It only confuses the issue.

        Pemican and pemmican are different ways to spell the word. There are other words with two spellings and some dictionaries give the alternative spelling.

        • “complete diet”, which are words you used, implies that it has every nutrient needed by the body (aka nutritionally complete), and pemmican does not.

          You also literally said that pemmican “has all the nutrients the body needs”, and that’s not literally true, as the links I posted prove.

          Yes, pemmican may prevent scurvy, although I don’t know if it would cure it. It might cure it, but the cure takes more nutrition than thee prevention. However, there’s more diseases caused by nutrient deficiencies than just scurvy. so nutrition for those diseases needs to be taken into account.

          There are trail mixes made from organically grown and processed fruits and nuts, just like there’s organically grown and processed meats that can be used to make pemmican.. So since that can go either way regardless of the survival food used, that’s basically a moot point, because either can be the case with EVERY survival food..

          I mentioned trail mix because it’s an example of a survival food that has a lot more nutrients than pemmican. Touting pemmican as “complete” while ignoring survival foods that are CLOSER to being nutritionally complete (because they have a lot more nutrients) makes no sense.

          I don’t doubt that pemmican is a good survival food. But if given the choice and ability to do so, my diet would consist of more than just pemmican. I wouldn’t want to take any chances. Would you?

          There is indeed more than one spelling. But before i posted, I searched online and saw pemmican as the most widely accepted spelling.. I even searched for pemican, and at the top of the Google search results, it said “searching for pemmican, search instead for pemican”. That’s how it is with Google when the wrong or less accepted spelling is used. And, every dictionary link I found gave pemmican as the most common or only spelling. So, pemmican it is.

          • Diet is what one eats so if they eat only pemican the pemican is their complete diet. If you eat only trail mix, that is your complete diet.

            Theresa aked “is there a food that you think may be complete enough to survive on long-term? Pemican is one and you agree.

            How it is spelled and all the other IRRELEVANT points you brought up only CONFUSES the issue.

        • I never agreed that pemmican can be survived on long term. I only said it’s a good survival food.

          The reason is the definition of “long term”. Are we talking 4 months, or are we talking 50 years? Just because a person may do okay eating one food for 4 months does NOT mean they’ll do okay eating that same food for 50 years.

          The closest definition of “complete diet” would be the same as “balanced diet”. I did a search for “complete diet”, and “balanced diet” came up. I’m not talking about one single food that a person eats exclusively. I’m talking about a diet that has enough of all the nutrients the body needs.An pemmican does not fit that definition.

          The link above contains several definitions of balanced diet (aka complete diet), all of which have the same basic meaning, and none of which pemmican, as a sole food source, falls under.

          • Have you ever eaten Pemican? Is google your only source of info? Pemican is made from raw meat that is dried, PULVERIZED and mixed with rendered fat. raw meat has all the nutrients needed to live on for a long time. CARNIVORES live on raw meat all their lives. When meat is cooked it looses some nutrition.

            authorities can be wrong. They once believed the world was flat and have been wrong many times since. THE MEDICAL EXPERTS GAVE ME ONLY 6 MONTHS TO LIVE 40 YEARS AGO AND I AM STILL ALIVE AND HEALTHY. THEY ALSO SAY COMMERCIAL FRAKENFOODS ARE SAFE TO EAT.

            pemican stores for years if kept below the melting point of the fat. I have lived on pemican for ten months and remained healthy.

        • Yes, I’ve eaten pemmican,and know how it’s made.

          You said you “never claimed to know the the nutritional value of pemican”. Well, there ARE people out there that DO know the nutritional value of pemmican, so I’ll go by what THEY say.

          Predicting the outcome of a disease and how long a person will live is a totally different thing than scientists finding out what the nutrients in pemmican are. You cannot use how long they said you would live to say that scientists don’t know what’s in pemmican.

    • Sorry, I thought you were the other guy I had replied to.

      • Regardless of whether or not Pemmican is nutritional sound or not, IT WILL FEED THE BODY AND PREVENT MALNUTRITION.
        That’s not such a bad thing is it.

        • Yes, not a bad thing. But given the choice and ability to do so, I would have several foods to eat. Pemmican might be one of them. If I had no choice but to eat JUST pemmican, of course I would. But I would try to make it as short-term as possible, because eat one food long enough,and the body will suffer. It may take 6 months or 6 years, but it will happen.

  • Wow! A very heated debate about pemmican. But in the bigger picture it goes back to the original question “Is there one food you can live on?” Clearly the answer is no–for many reasons–vitamins, minerals, micro nutrients, carbs, calories, protein, and fats–but also appetite fatigue, which is a very real problem. Maybe a better question is “what 10 foods could you survive on?” I would store up rice, beans, wheat, pasta, olive oil or lard, Because they are readily available and inexpensive. Then I would grow potatoes, winter squash, kale, corn, and tomatoes, because they are easy to grow and produce reliably, and are surprisingly high in calories and nutrients. OK tomatoes are an unnecessary luxury food, but I like them. I’d also store up salt and sugar, not sure they qualify as “food”. Animal products are missing from my list simply because I have no knowledge in raising livestock. So what 10 foods would you store or produce to assure your survival?


    • My point exactly, which you said very well. It pays to have more than just one food, if at all possible.

      So the answer to her question is maybe, depending on how long as well as the individual and their physical condition. Is it going to be 3 months, or 3 years? If 3 months, it’s very possible. But 3 years? I’d say no.

      • Is your OPINION based on fact or feeling?

        • Who, me?

          You mean like your opinion of a complete diet, which no dictionary, medical or otherwise, supports, but you made up your own definition of complete diet anyway?

          • Check your dictionary .

            Complete: having all the necessary or appropriate parts: a complete list of courses offered by the college
            • entire; full: I only managed one complete term at school.
            • having run its full course; finished: the restoration of the chapel is complete.

            Diet: the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats: a vegetarian diet

            A person’s diet is a list of what he or she eats, It can have only one item on it if that is all he or she eats and is his or her complete diet.

            Pemican is a food consisting of meat and fat. It doesn’t need anything added to make it a food therefore it is a complete food.

            It has all the nutrition a person needs to survive for months or years as thousands of people have done. But the meat has to be nutrious to start with like grass fed cattle or wild game, not chemical laden frankenbeef sold in the stores these days.

            you mentioned there might be health issues from eating a complete diet of pemican but I am not aware of any. however I am aware of many health ISSUES of people on so called BALANCED diets promoted so called health experts.

            Parrots and tape recoders can repeat things they heard but that does not mean they understand it.

        • The dictionary definition you posted doesn’t even prove your definition of “complete diet” to be correct. In fact, the very first part says “having all the necessary or appropriate parts”. Necessary, in the case of the human body, means all nutrients. It’s been long established what the human body needs, even if the actual amounts needed may vary from person to person.

          I checked YOUR dictionary that YOU provided. And by the way, I had already checked dictionaries.

          Of course people that eat a complete/balanced diet can have health issues. That’s because there are a LOT MORE factors that affect health than JUST the foods a person eats. Did you not know this?

          Things like air and water pollution, chemicals in foods, radiation from cell phones and other electronic devices, the effects of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use (including prescription and over-the-counter drugs), not getting enough exercise, genetic and hereditary related problems, and probably a lot more that I cannot think of at the moment, can affect health in negative ways.

          Again, did you not know this?

          The fact that people can have health problems despite eating a complete,/balanced diet does NOT prove that eating a complete, balanced diet isn’t better for the body than just eating one food. And therefore, that doesn’t prove you to be correct.

      • I agree. But to make up definitions for words and to make claims that make no sense, despite proof to the contrary, helps no one.

        I have no problem at all with anyone coming here to lear, coming here to ask questions, or sharing knowledge. But when a person comes here saying things that either aren’t true, or is saying things that are a bit skewed or exaggerated, that’s what I have a problem with.

        And then what makes it worse is when the person doing that keeps standing by their claims, despite being told, with links to information being posted to back that up. And then the person gets agitated or offended, with their responses becoming minimizing and belittling.,

        That kind of behavior helps no one.

        • A diet consists of what foods a person eats or drinks. In other words a person’s diet is a list of what the person eats. There are many are many diets and they differ on what foods how many are included. Whether or not they are nutritional or not does not alter the fact they are diets.

          Complete is having all the appropriate parts and none are missing. That means the whole thing. The list of things a person eats is his or her complete diet. Pemican is a food made with powdered dried meat and rendered fat. it is complete because all the appropriate parts are there.

          Balanced is having different elements in the correct proportions. there is a big difference between complete and balanced and we are talking about two different things.

          I did check the links you provided. They confirmed my statement that the nutritional value of pemican can vary. The values listed were for the samples tested, not all pemican. That does not mean there is no nutritious pemican. If dozen people score low on an intelligence test, does the prove there no one with a higher score?

          The nutritional value of the meat used is one factor and the drying method is another. Raw organically raised meat and wild game is nutritionally balanced. Meat that is dried slowly at low temperatures will retain almost all the the vitamins and enzymes. Drying at high temperatures destroys them. Factory farmed meat raised in concentration camps is not. They are fed GMO feed, dried chicken shit and other unnatural food. they are given antibiotics and hormones so they grow at an accelerated rate.

          GM plants are engineered to withstand being sprayed with glyphosate or to make their own glyphosate. Glyphosate penetrates into to feel of living plants and animals. It bonds with minerals making them unavailable to living organisms. Organisms need these minerals to develop a strong immune system. Without a strong immune system the organism is susceptible to diseases. Since the GMOs lock up the supply of minerals there is little or no minerals the meat.

          Glyphosate penetrates the the cells and cannot be washed off like the other agri-poisons. When glyphosate breaks down it forms a toxic acid.

          Your claim: I make up definitions for words and to make claims that make no sense is not true. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary 1973 lists several definitions for diet. The first one is “food and drink regularly provided or consumed.” Doesn’t that mean the same as what foods a person eats or drinks? I make claims that make no sense. They make sense to those the know the difference between complete and balanced. What makes you believe I am agitated or offended. Actually I am delighted. The more you say the more your credibility dwindles. Which of my responses have been minimizing and belittling? Perhaps you should review your comments about me.

          “What makes it worse is when the person doing that keeps standing by their claims.” Worse for the one who is right or the one that is wrong? Are you suggesting even if a person is right he or she should give into the nay sayers. Socrates kept standing by his claims and chose death than to give in. Time proved him right. There were many others that went against the accepted norm and changed the world.

          When people no evidence to back their claims they the resort to irrelevant data to confuse the issue. If that don’t work they resort defaming the opposition’s character. When that door’t work they resort to threats and violence.
          Please tell me what the following the following has to with whether or not pemican is a complete food or diet. How it is spelt. The nutritional value of nuts and trail mix. Your preferences. I really would like to know.

          How do you account for the health problems of people with
          balanced diets?

        • What does whether bison are buffalo or not have to do with survival food? It is only pointless QUIBBLING. From what I have heard and seen a lot of them probably aren’t able to distinguish between humans and goats. They call children kids. Kids are young goats. Humans and goats cannot interbreed that makes the two different species. If bison and buffalo can interbreed then they are the same spiecies.

    • Have you ever been in a suvival situation? There are so many armchair experts who haven’t a clue what a survival situation really is.

      A plane crashes in the WILDERNESS and you are the sole survior. where are you going to buy all those supplies or get those seds?

      You are in your bugout and a gang of thieves rob you of your supplies but you manage to escape alive.

      There are many situations where you are caught without supplies and all you have is your skills and knowledge. Without them you will not survive. I doubt that few of you experts Have them.