Young’s observations rang true: Though the Wise Company meals would keep me alive in the event of an emergency, they were simply a lot more carbheavy, with a lot less animal protein and a lot fewer vegetables, than what I eat on a typical day (many of the Wise meals I bought substituted small globules of vegetable protein for actual meat). For the next two days, I supplemented my diet with freeze-dried vegetables, fruit, and yogurt I’d bought from another company, called Thrive Life, and felt the low-bloodsugar sensation dissipate. (Wise Company also sells individual ingredients, in addition to full meals, but I thought I’d diversify my sources.)
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.
Communication: Radio is still the best way to get emergency info. Unfortunately we’ve had a lot of bad experiences with the $20 to $70 “emergency radios” commonly available on Amazon. Poor reception, awful durability, bloated with unneeded features, etc. So we’re not going to make a recommendation until we’ve done a full product review, but if you’re looking anyway, Kaito and Eton are the two most common brands.
I don’t encounter any preppers at the school that day, but I do meet women from all over the United States and with all kinds of reasons for wanting to learn how to cut and drill wood, including a young yoga studio employee from Wisconsin who is building some custom shelving for her kitchen appliances and cookbooks, as well as two seniors from Washington, DC, who want to build a set of matching cabinets to house their prized collection of vintage wine glasses. Down by the garden, I meet a pair of women from Missouri who are hoping to go into business flipping houses. “We’re tired of waiting for our husbands to do it,” one of them says.
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.