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.
That doesn’t mean that some companies aren’t marketing freeze-dried food as an innovation. After eating the Wise Company meals for three days, I switched to Thrive Life’s Simple Plate program, a Blue Apron–esque service that teaches you how to cook from the company’s store of freeze-dried ingredients, which customers can also get mailed to them in recurring shipments. Unlike Wise Company, Thrive Life’s website makes no mention of emergency preparedness, instead emphasizing the sorts of qualities, like saving money and avoiding waste, that might have appealed to Lydia Maria Child in her time: “These foods won’t spoil in a few days... You won’t be thawing, degreasing, or cutting raw meat. You won’t be chopping veggies or washing and peeling fruit.” I reached out to Thrive Life’s founders to hear more about their rationale for marketing freeze-dried food for everyday use, but didn’t hear back.
If the men on the blog Doomsday Preppers seem inordinately preoccupied with some distant future in which everything falls apart, he explains, it’s because that imagined scenario represents a moment when they get to feel like they’re actually useful. “I’ve got a chainsaw and a pickup truck and a little cabin in the woods and I can get my assault weapon out and I can be important,” he explains of the mindset. “I’m not really useful until something goes wrong.”
I prep on two levels: first, for events that might cause a bit of social unrest and all of the food in my local supermarket to quickly disappear – a financial collapse, say – and, second, for something bigger: a national pandemic, a major environmental catastrophe. For the first scenario I’ve organised a reliable supply of clean water and a store of long-shelf-life food, and then some practical stuff: stitches for wounds, analgesics, antibiotics, a whole range of meds you wouldn’t normally have, various kinds of equipment needed to start a fire. I have go-bags at home and in my car, because you never know where you’ll be when something happens, and I’m part of a prepping community that has an equipment cache stored in a secluded spot near to my house. If there’s some kind of cataclysm? I’ve organised escape routes, away from the general population. You’ll find me above 900ft – or out of the country.
After 9/11, my dad filled a duffel bag with some energy bars, a couple gallons of water, some penicillin, and a map. Amid scaremongering headlines about imminent anthrax and “dirty bomb” attacks in the city, he wanted to have some supplies on hand in case we needed to get out of Brooklyn fast. Were he to assemble such a bag today, he’d likely stumble on a number of companies promising a more wholesale brand of disaster preparedness: a box full of shelf-stable freeze-dried meals, to be revived from their dessicated state with the addition of boiled water.