A selection of old communications bunkers and underground data centers are also out there on the market, including a few for sale (where else?) on eBay. They’ll all require extensive TLC before they’re inhabitable. One 8,000-square-foot communications structure in Kansas built in 1958, for example, is listed at $650,000, though it comes with only one bathroom and no bedrooms to speak of. Another doomsday bunker near Tucson, Arizona, consists of a three-story command structure that’s 40 feet in diameter, surrounded by 12-inch-thick blast doors and buried under 10 feet of soil. The raw structure, described as “ready for sandblasting and paint” and shown in the photo with this slide, has a “Buy It Now” price of $550,000 on eBay.
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For experienced preppers like Daisy Luther, founder of the blog The Organic Prepper and the online survival goods store Preppers Market, ready-to-go freeze-dried meals are more of a last line of defense than anything else. Though she insists these products “have their place,” her version of long-term food storage sounds more like a way of life, a process of slowly building up a pantry that will enable her to feed her family as healthfully and economically as possible. Sometimes that means stocking up on the freeze-dried stuff, or buying whatever’s on sale at the supermarket; but it’s also about living in sync with the seasons, growing food in her own garden and using timetested home preservation methods—like canning and dehydrating—to ensure she always has food on hand.
Any canned foods you purchase at the grocery store will store for a number of years under the right conditions. Canned food makes great prepper food because it can be stored for such a long time and because you can eat it right out of the can if necessary. Canned food will also provide a hot meal when you have the means to heat it and you don’t need any extra water or ingredients. Plus, depending on what you buy, you can get a complete meal in a can (think soups and stews) and you can get almost anything you could want in terms of canned food, including:
Still, these extraterrestrial-looking foodstuffs seem to be having something of a moment: For the past four years, Costco has been selling pallets of shriveled vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats that promise to feed a single family for up to a year—and if you’re not a member, you can purchase similar survival kits, many of which boast a 20- to 30-year shelf life, at Walmart and Target. One top seller, Wise Company, saw its sales nearly double over the past four years, reaching around $75 million, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story last November. The company’s CEO, Jack Shields, told me he estimates the industry as a whole generates between $400 and $450 million annually in retail.