This is behaviour that can sound extreme, but often it’s forged in reaction to events that could affect any one of us. Some preppers are concerned by natural disasters. Others worry about terrorism, or our financial system, or the repercussions of Brexit, whatever they may be. Survivalism has had a dedicated following in America since the 1970s, swelling during the run-up to the millennium in the 90s and peaking again after 9/11. Trump’s posturing hasn’t helped – the threat of nuclear war can send even the most rational thinkers running to the tinned-food aisle.
From accounts I have read when the Romans invaded England they planted vineyards that flourished and provided wine, so England at that time must have been a little warmer than it is now. Just before the great plague in the 9th century there was a long period of cold and very heavy rain in Europe. I’m talking about years of cold and heavy rain. When the plague hit, the author of the book theorized that the population was already in a debilitated state due to the lack of food from the decades of adverse weather and that at least partially accounted for the lethality of the black plague. I was always under the impression that there was only one episode of plague sweeping Europe but I was very incorrect in that impression. There were several episodes of plagues, some centuries apart from others. In an EOTW situation, rats and other vermin will be common and we could well have another world wide plague, limited only by the movement of people and rats.
I run the BSc psychology course at the University of Central Lancashire. I wrote my doctorate on survival psychology and completed the write-up in LA, on the San Andreas fault. I’m a big sci-fi fan, and obviously tales of the apocalypse creep into every great story in the genre, but I only really started to consider my own preparatory behaviours when I began living in a city that experiences major earthquakes and spending my days writing about people dying horribly in disasters. I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be embarrassing, writing what I was writing, if someone found out I’d never looked into prepping myself?
Freeze-dried food is nothing new. As early as the 13th century, the ancient Quechua and Aymara people of Bolivia and Peru pioneered a form of the process by exposing potatoes to the freezing temperatures of the Andes overnight, then drying them in the sun. In 1937, Nestlé used industrial technology to create the world’s first freeze-dried coffee, and in the 60s and 70s, the US military shipped freeze-dried food rations to the troops in Vietnam.