A local friend of mine recently posted his notes about creating a set of emergency bags (BOB – 72 Hour Kit) for his family. It’s great to see a friend getting his family so ready, and even better when they can share such excellent information. In his example, I think he does a great job of presenting how he will get his young sons to carry a small part of their own gear, without overtaxing them. I know all younger families like myself worry about how to ‘carry enough’ for the younger children, and this example shows great thought in dealing with that concern. Check out the Lances BOB setup. Several pictures showing all the included gear, in and out of the bags.
This will be the first of a couple themed posts around having a “Preparedness Christmas”. With world and U.S. conditions being what they are, if you’re like me the last thing you can stomach right now is the idea of spending a bunch of money on silly toys and other frivolous items that will be either lost or destroyed (and somewhat unappreciated) within a week or so of Christmas. Christmas gift giving is a great time to think about sharing the security and comfort of being prepared with the rest of your family.
I run a museum that covers, in part, the Great Depression. In a reply to Steve’s letter about how people may react to a “modern” 1930s type depression, you listed a number of economic, social and cultural differences in America in the two time periods. I might add, or expand on, a few.
In the 1930s, many more people lived on farms or gardened. Even in many towns and cities, it was common to have a garden and raise a few animals including chickens, rabbits, pigeons. An enormous difference, then and now, is that the garden seeds then were “heritage” or open pollinated. That means that a family could save their seed year after year, and always have a crop. That is no longer possible with today’s hybrids. If you save seed now, they, (the hybrids), won’t come back the next year. In a major economic breakdown, there will be little distribution of anything, including seed. No seed, no garden.
In the 1930s, most people had wells or cisterns for water. Today, if the electricity goes off, no more “city” water. Formerly, most people had outhouses. They didn’t need flushing. Today, if you can’t flush, you’ve got a biological lab in your bathroom within three days. In the 1930s, there were more horses, more donkeys, more mass transit and railroads, and more bikes. Today, no gas means no mobility. 80 years ago many more people preserved their own food. It was common for most folks to dry, can, smoke, salt, pickle and cold cellar, food. Today, many people consider food storage a discount card to a restaurant. In the 1930s, most people heated with wood or coal. Now, it’s almost entirely “on demand” gas in a pipe, or electricity. Formerly, most people had treadle sewing machines, grain grinders and meat grinders. Today, nada. In the 1930s, far more people practiced folk medicine and used herbs. If you got cut, sew it yourself. Got sick, chop a chicken and make soup. Today? You’d better have a pill bottle and insurance.
In the 1930s, far more people were church goers. Families tended to live closer to each other. People in general had a more self-reliant attitude. If someone had a problem, they tended to try to solve it themselves. And if they couldn’t, their church family, or own their family, would help them. Society today includes far more people who think the gov’t should, and will, be their caretaker.
It’s my belief, that if today we have a depression, if only as bad as the 1930s Great Depression, that [the societal impact of] such a depression will be many times worse. It’s a somewhat real possibility that, today, in a severe enough crisis, there would be no transport, little food or medicine, no heat, no sanitation, no water and very little cohesion of society.
In the 1930s, people sold apples on street corners, and a popular song was “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” I’m afraid that today, it may be far more common for people to try to take what they can, and consequences be d***ed. A 1930s-type Depression today ? Not pretty.
I have to completely agree with everything the museum curator said. Americans are entirely NOT prepared for anything remotely resembling hardship. We have become a nation of debtors and are addicted to debt. We’ve lost the sense of personal accountability and self reliance that characterized Americans for 200 years.
Here in Utah, I am surrounded by people who believe in the principle of self reliance, preparedness, etc. Not everyone is on board with these tenets, but I believe we Utahns are far better prepared than most in other states, particularly those in large cities.
Don’t believe me? How would these people react to a pandemic, food crisis, etc?
Do we even need to wonder if they have any food storage, money, etc. set aside for a rainy day, let alone something far worse?
What are YOU doing to prepare your family? Even if a catastrophic event were to never occur, what is the downside to gardening, food storage, and general self reliance? I know that if I could afford it my family and I would live on a self sufficient family farm. Today I would be running it in maintenance mode, just keeping a bare minimum of animals, produce, etc. However if something were to happen I could ‘flip the switch’ and ramp up to a self sufficient family farm. What I mean by this is that we would be producing enough milk, honey, wool, etc. to supply our own needs and have some to sell or trade for what we can’t or aren’t producing ourselves.
For now this is just a dream. Our little half acre just isn’t big enough. It is already cramped with our garden, chickens, goat and dogs.
What do our readers think about these topics? Am I being to down on our preparedness level as a society? Am I crazy for dreaming about a little family farm? Comments welcome.
The following is a re-post of content from a while back from my personal blog, responding to a friends comments as he was first getting interested in food storage.
This message is actually some commentary to reply to a recent posting by a “Hoser That’s Not My Brother“. Since he decided to take his food-snobbery into an area that I care more than a little about, I thought I’d give a few opinions. Please go read his bit first, and then come back here and this will make a lot more sense. Actually, from other discussions, much of what I have to say is in agreement with the hoser, but I do hope to clarify some points, and give my opinion on others.
Starting off, there is much confusion in the food storage world, and he’s right, what to store must come from you. “Store what you eat, and eat what you store,” is an oft-repeated mantra that is very correct. Just blindly following some list will get you in big trouble if you ever need that food. You probably won’t know how to use it, and it will likely give you serious problems shortly after eating. The provident living website is a great resource for very basic elements of storage, but it is just a starting point. Along with that, it’s a good starting point for the information you need in actually using your storage in an efficient manner.
For me, I think one of the most important things to start out with though is by asking yourself the question, “Why food storage?”. I too have gone through some inter-job difficulties before where the bit of storage we had was a lifesaver for us, but there could be more. Maybe you want to be ready for WTSHTF aka TEOTWAWKI, maybe you just know that food bought now (well, better last fall) was a great way to beat inflation, and the stock market (often by double digit percentages). Whatever the case, how much, and what you need to store will change with that definition. Me, I figure if I’m prepared for the absolute worst case that I don’t think will ever happen, then I’ll feel pretty good if I just get laid off without job prospects again. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Now, to review by category:
Yes, it is a lot of wheat to keep around, but then again, they don’t call it the staff of life for nothing. Try going without bread for a week or so, and see how you feel. Sure you can say you did the atkins things before, but let’s also look at some other factors. First, given a situation where you really *need* to use your storage. There is a good chance that your physical activity level is going to be changing a bit. Be it heavy stress, to just plain walking a lot more, your body will be needing those carbs quick. Also the fiber content will be very helpful in combating bad side effects of your stress levels, and other dietary changes. One word of caution though, do ease into using real whole-wheat (even from store-bought whole wheat flour), or you will have some serious issues to contend with. Wheat itself can also be used to cultivate simple meat-substitutes (hey, if you’re really starving), and as stated, its protein content is necessary for making breads from other cereals. Besides all of the above stated, your grains are some of your absolute *cheapest* ways to augment just how much food you have stored, heck even at today’s way inflated prices you can get sealed buckets of hard wheat for $23 or so for 45#. Add to that the fact that stored properly it has the longest stable shelf life of any food storage item, you should make sure you have a good amount of wheat and cereals in stock.
But it is smart to mix up your cereals some. Get a couple of types of rice, maybe some softer wheat (cake flour, etc), Rye, Corn, Oats, and others. you’ll always want some variety in your diet, and hey, you can always just experiment with new breads too.
Oh, and do get a mill/wheat grinder. Get a powered one first, and a hand mill second. It’s amazing how much better bread is with fresh flour. With a powered one you’re more likely to use your wheat right now, saving yourself money, getting much better breads, and just getting healthier. Added bonus, your house smells much nicer.
Fats and Oils
Yes embrace the necessity of Fats. Well, I know I’ve never needed to tell a chef that, but I’ll just back you up on that one. For basic storage of oils, I can answer one good reason for shortening over standard vegetable oil. Shelf life. Based on it’s nature, it tends to have a longer time before it goes rancid. You have to be careful about how long you keep your oil around, which is one reason it doesn’t tell you to keep too much. Most people would buy some Costco sized mega-container, and it would all spoil before it was even opened, much less the problems it would have if opened. I’ll agree on the PB too, it’s something we can’t have enough of, and have no trouble rotating through (in fact tend to over do that :) )
Dry beans are important for food storage, because as any Brasilian (and really any Latin American) will tell you, it’s food. It’s cheap food, and combined, beans and rice bring out some wonder-twin powers in each other. They combine to form more complete proteins which most of us will be lacking in a crappy situation because we won’t have nearly the amount of meat we’re used to. With he dry beans, yes, choose most any you like, and get some variety (and learn how to use them). Get the other dry or canned, as you would use them, but variety is good. Dried soup mix can be the basic soups you see, largely for spices, but more often refers to a Soup Base, that the canneries used to have. Was a simple soup/stock that was designed for mixing things in. Stock has great nutrition, even dried, and makes it much easier to use so much of this dried food.
Actually, I wouldn’t lower it at all. Now part of why this seems so high is based on the targeted usages for your food storage. It’s expected that if you’re smart enough to be storing food, you’ll probably have a garden too. You’ll see that sugar disappear the first time you make jam. Don’t forget your body will likely be craving some things that can sooth a sweet tooth while you change diets, and adding to that, most people can really do with the stress relief of their favorite desert.
As for the kool-aid, if you’ve read this far I’d think you’re drinking some :) . Actually one of the biggest reasons for the powdered drink mix is for water storage. Depending on how much, and how you’ve stored it, or what your filtration method and storage is, you can wind up with some funky flavors. It may be clean, but might taste quite off, and a little flavor will help you keep hydrated, which is pretty key in this area. Same thing camping, that mountain stream water aint always that refreshingly crisp :)
I actually think I’d want more of the honey and molasses though. We have a lot of good recipes using them.
How could you even question “other”. As a chef this should be seen as too little, without even trying. Sweetened condensed milk is a good one, along with evaporated milk. But let’s be even more obvious:
- Cheese – Serious comfort food, excellent enzyms and good storage. Freeze dried, Canned “queso”, or *real* canned cheese (that stuff is quite good, and amazing storage). Or if you have “wine cellar” type qualities, keep some cheese wheels around, they’ll just get better tasting, and you know you’ll rotate through them.
- Yogurt – Important dairy, will work wonders for your digestion, especially if not feeling well. But how do you store it? Well, you can get cultures that will store well, and learn to make your own!
- Soy Milk – yeah, it’s worthwhile to have :)
- UHT milk – Boxed milk, stores for a year or so. Parmalat is famous for this.
As for powdered milk, I have a strong aversion to it from having to drink it too often when we lived overseas. The texture is too different for my main staple food :) However, the morning-moos variety is better than others, and I have recently found Nido which is dried whole milk! yes, that helps the texture a ton. You can find it in small cans in the latin foods section of Wally World to try it out, just don’t buy the Nido Kinder (compare ingredients between the two to get a good idea).
There are some good ideas on how you can use powdered milk too, for making things like cheese/yogurt and more. Those could help you out.
Seasonings Seasonings Seasonings! You’ve got a lot of ‘basic foods’, you’ll want to spice them up. Dried, whole, etc, and get your herb garden running.
Oh, and as for the salt, as mentioned with the sugars, just think of having to do some pickling. Oh, and tanning, since I’m sure *everybody* will be running out trying to do some of that :)
This is of course something that we can’t be without, but always think is the last thing that we will not have. Possibly, but I’d rather be prepared. I go with the 2gal per person, since I think if I ever really need it, it’ll be in the summer here, and I know I’ll need more. Plus I like to be clean, meaning more than the minimum.
As for bleach, it loses its real potency starting after about 6 months, so check as to how much you store. You can get good dried chlorine too, good to keep around, and lasts longer.
There are great books that can help with this subject, and plenty of crappy ones too. I can suggest a few, and love to help friend get ready for the best or worst of times.
I saw this reported on a number of web site, here is one of them.
It seems more and more likely that we have only seen the beginning of the financial chaos that is to come. This goes along with our post last week about the Top 10 Tips To Prepare For A Depression and our post on Why we prep.
Top trend forecaster, renowned for being accurate in the past, says that America will cease to be a developed nation within 4 years, crisis will be “worse than the great depression”.
The man who predicted the 1987 stock market crash and the fall of the Soviet Union is now forecasting revolution in America, food riots and tax rebellions – all within four years, while cautioning that putting food on the table will be a more pressing concern than buying Christmas gifts by 2012.
Gerald Celente, the CEO of Trends Research Institute, is renowned for his accuracy in predicting future world and economic events, which will send a chill down your spine considering what he told Fox News this week.
Celente says that by 2012 America will become an undeveloped nation, that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and that holidays will be more about obtaining food, not gifts
“We’re going to see the end of the retail Christmas….we’re going to see a fundamental shift take place….putting food on the table is going to be more important that putting gifts under the Christmas tree,” said Celente, adding that the situation would be “worse than the great depression”.
“America’s going to go through a transition the likes of which no one is prepared for,” said Celente, noting that people’s refusal to acknowledge that America was even in a recession highlights how big a problem denial is in being ready for the true scale of the crisis.
Celente, who successfully predicted the 1997 Asian Currency Crisis, the subprime mortgage collapse and the massive devaluation of the U.S. dollar, told UPI in November last year that the following year would be known as “The Panic of 2008,” adding that “giants (would) tumble to their deaths,” which is exactly what we have witnessed with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and others. He also said that the dollar would eventually be devalued by as much as 90 per cent.
The consequence of what we have seen unfold this year would lead to a lowering in living standards, Celente predicted a year ago, which is also being borne out by plummeting retail sales figures.
The prospect of revolution was a concept echoed by a British Ministry of Defence report last year, which predicted that within 30 years, the growing gap between the super rich and the middle class, along with an urban underclass threatening social order would mean, “The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest,” and that, “The middle classes could become a revolutionary class.”
In a separate recent interview, Celente went further on the subject of revolution in America.
“There will be a revolution in this country,” he said. “It’s not going to come yet, but it’s going to come down the line and we’re going to see a third party and this was the catalyst for it: the takeover of Washington, D. C., in broad daylight by Wall Street in this bloodless coup. And it will happen as conditions continue to worsen.”
“The first thing to do is organize with tax revolts. That’s going to be the big one because people can’t afford to pay more school tax, property tax, any kind of tax. You’re going to start seeing those kinds of protests start to develop.”
“It’s going to be very bleak. Very sad. And there is going to be a lot of homeless, the likes of which we have never seen before. Tent cities are already sprouting up around the country and we’re going to see many more.”
“We’re going to start seeing huge areas of vacant real estate and squatters living in them as well. It’s going to be a picture the likes of which Americans are not going to be used to. It’s going to come as a shock and with it, there’s going to be a lot of crime. And the crime is going to be a lot worse than it was before because in the last 1929 Depression, people’s minds weren’t wrecked on all these modern drugs – over-the-counter drugs, or crystal meth or whatever it might be. So, you have a huge underclass of very desperate people with their minds chemically blown beyond anybody’s comprehension.”
The George Washington blog has compiled a list of quotes attesting to Celente’s accuracy as a trend forecaster.
“When CNN wants to know about the Top Trends, we ask Gerald Celente.”
— CNN Headline News
“A network of 25 experts whose range of specialties would rival many university faculties.”
— The Economist
“Gerald Celente has a knack for getting the zeitgeist right.”
— USA Today
“There’s not a better trend forecaster than Gerald Celente. The man knows what he’s talking about.”
“Those who take their predictions seriously … consider the Trends Research Institute.”
— The Wall Street Journal
“Gerald Celente is always ahead of the curve on trends and uncannily on the mark … he’s one of the most accurate forecasters around.”
— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
All Preppers know that in a TEOTWAWKI or WTSHTF situation or any other crisis event you’ve got to be able to start fires, especially in a Bug Out situation. We’re not talking about being able to get a spark here, we’re talking about strong tinder lighting capability. If you add moisture to the mix you’ve got an even more complicated and risky situation.
Lets say you’ve bugged out, you’ve got all your Bug Out Gear with you, and it’s been drizzling a bit. The ground is wet, found tinder is going to be wet, the only thing that might be dry is your last couple squares of toilet paper – and you’ve got to have a fire. So what do you do? You put your last precious squares of TP wadded up on the damp ground and then set your damp twigs on top of it and use one of your 27 lighters or 6 other fire starters you have in your BOB to get it going. In less than a minute your TP has burned out and the ground and twigs are still damp – and your SOL.
Enter a very simple prep – taking regular old cotton balls (100% cotton, none of that fake junk) that cost about $1.25 for a bag of 120 (that’d be the LARGE size cotton ball) and cover them with Vaseline which costs about $3.00 for a good size jar. Now you’ve got a very compact and light-weight water resistant starter that will burn strong for several minutes.
Here’s the step-by-step and a demo:
Transfer the cotton balls into a decent container – we used ziploc sandwich bags.
Put a handful of Vaseline into each bag and seal with a bit of air in them.
Knead the cotton into the Vaseline until each ball in the bag is covered nicely (this takes a little bit of time)
Voila! You just made a baggie full of really killer fire starter. We made up a few.
There are dozens of ways to make these, this just illustrates what I’ve found useful and easy. One of these baggies will go into mine and each kids Bug Out Bag (BOB) with several baggies going into my regular long-term storage. There are lots of ways to store them too, right now I’m just storing them in their baggie.
To light the ball, you rip it part way open to expose the inner threads of cotton and spark against them. They ignite very quickly and the rest of the ball acts like a candle due to the vaseline covering. Once the ball has sat in jelly for a few days it will be water resistant.
For about $14.00 we just put 600 reliable fire starters into our storage – not bad at all!
This video demonstrates how long and how well the cotton ball burns once it’s covered in jelly, the other balls in this video are plain ole regular cotton balls.
Don’t be caught without the ability to easily and reliably make fire! Take the little amount of time and money these puppies require and you’ll always have the security of reliably starting many fires.
This Reuters article on steep food price increases is very interesting. This seems like a good enough reason for most people to begin prepping. Anything you buy now may become a 7-9% return on investment if food prices increase as much as they are projecting.
What are some other reasons that people prep? TEOTWAWKI, TSHTF, peace of mind? Speak up and let us know some of the reasons why you prep.