If you spend enough time on the survivalist internet, you’ll stumble upon a number of woman-run blogs specializing in a softer side of prepping, one that combines aspects of survivalism, healthy eating, and home economics. They have names like Survival Mom, Apartment Prepper, and Organic Prepper and can boast Facebook and Pinterest followings in the tens and hundreds of thousands. Together with a number of online forums and private Facebook groups, they form the basis of a loose-knit community with a shared interest in a constellation of traditional and contemporary domestic practices, including long-term and short-term food storage, growing and preserving food, frugal grocery shopping, family first aid, and basic self-defense. It’s a community found primarily online, but it also includes the occasional in-person trade expo or foraging class. For Jennifer and other mothers who partake in this feminine strain of survivalism, being prepared is more than a means of shoring up for some unseen future disaster. It’s a form of self-empowerment in the present.
The 3 most important immediate needs are water availability, water purity and food to feed the family. I am starting a business to be an authorized dealer for items that meet these needs – as a way to help out friends, neighbors who have not started preparing for immediate needs if the power goes off for more than a week. Hand pump on the well head, Water purifiers and a home freeze dryer which will pay for itself in a year or 2 based on the prices of freeze died foods. I really, really want to freeze dry my own highly nutritious food without preservatives instead of buying commercial freeze dried foods.
Your next trip to the grocery can yield extra provision to add to your emergency supply. The next time you have a couple hours of spare time you can scout rural routes out of town, or get in some practice on any number of skills. Even so, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and bewildered staring down all the possible disasters that may occur and all the varied skills to learn and supplies to gather.
When I am going through a grocery store gathering survival food, I get some strange looks from people close enough to hear me muttering under my breath as I discount items. Phrases like “not enough calories”, “needs more fat”, not enough carbs”, and the like roll off my tongue frequently. The truth of the matter is that what we consider to be a healthy diet in normal times is probably inadequate in a high stress, very active, crisis situation. There is a reason we like carbs, and fats, and sugars, and that reason is our body needs these things. The human palate developed in times when being physically active and dealing with life threatening events was the norm, and when a steady supply of food was not a guarantee. Hence the urge to get all we can when we can, which leads to rampant obesity in modern sedentary times but is adaptive to survival in harder times.
When speaking to preppers like Jennifer, Luther, and Nygaard, it can be hard to separate the more practical aspects of the lifestyle from the enjoyment that comes from doing things yourself instead of paying someone to do them. When I point out that running a small-scale farm and caring for two kids seems like an awful lot of work to do on top of a full-time job, Nygaard demures. “Yeah, it is. But I choose it. I choose to spend it like this because there are things that give me pleasure. I enjoy canning. I love seeing my work on the shelf. You grew that, and you canned it, and you get a source of pride from that.”
I guess I have been taking a longer view. Any disaster will shut down delivery to stores so all fresh greens will stop. I remember that during the same period in history the Polynesian sailors were able to stay out at sea much longer than European sailors and didn’t know what scurvy was. They used bean sprouts to supplement their diet. Last Christmas I asked my wife for a bean sprouter. It has been a lot of fun playing with, eating and learning to work with a multitude of seeds. One interesting fact was that wheat sprouts have an interesting sweat taste. This got me gathering information about what makes good sprouting seeds and it seems that fresh and non-treated (as usually done by our commercial world) is the critical factor. It was about the same time I learned that one of my nearby farm friends has a crop of winter wheat being harvested this July and would have no problem giving me a 5 gal bucket. (@ ~$8.00 a bushel) So I started looking for a food grade bucket and learned that both Jewel and Dominics (grocery stores) go through a number of 5 and or 2.5 gal buckets weekly or daily, (labels usually describe cake icing) for free. Sometimes I have to clean the remnants out, but that’s not to hard and the price is right and they are food grade. I am excited to have fresh wheat and two uses for wheat. Opps I still need to get a flower mill. One step at a time. I have the buckets now.
While I’m a big fan of mylar bags and 5 gallon buckets, since my family is just two folks (unless extended family make it to the house in an event), I package things up in 1 gallon mylar bags before placing into the buckets. Allows me to open less food at once to the elements. Sure, I have gamma lids to apply afterwards, and the mylar bags I use have ziplock style tops for resealing, but the less I open to the elements at once the better it will last. To further extend shelf life of opened bags, I have a large supply of small silica gel packs that I can toss a few into open dry good bags. Once I finish the bags I can reuse the packs by gently heating in my Sun Oven.
A lot of prepping is common sense, but there’s very little of it around. The theory goes that it’s psychologically uncomfortable to think about death and dying, so people tend not to. And people often think that a disaster won’t happen to them, so they’re less likely to prepare. But it’s not very difficult, and it’s not expensive – I buy equipment from Amazon: a survival blanket, a sleeping hammock, one of those bottles that filters contaminants found in water. Most of the time you won’t need it. But it’s that one time when you really do, and you haven’t got it, or you haven’t taught yourself how to use it… that’s when it’s too late.
Keep in mind that Legacy didn’t necessarily intend to create a product only for vegetarians. It was designed as a base for people to add their own protein, salt, seasonings, and ingredients. Which means Legacy requires more “cooking” than many of the other options we looked at, to the point where some of our testers didn’t think it qualified as “emergency food.”
I keep several five gallon gas cans filled and ready for use. I don’t put any gas stabilizers in them, but I have stabilizers on hand. At the end of each quarter, I fill the cars with the gas from these cans, and go and get fresh. If the SHTF, and it looks like more time would be needed for the gas to keep, then and only then would I add the stabilizers to the gas.
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.