We talk a lot about the 80-20 rule (the “Pareto principle”) on The Prepared. For example, 20% of the total possible work gets you 80% prepared. To go from 80% to 100% prepared requires a lot more work and money. Another example is that you should prepare for the 80% of likely scenarios, not the unlikely ones like fascist zombies arriving on a radioactive alien asteroid.

This past September, Wise Company’s products proved lifesaving in a very urgent sense: Strapped for rations following the double whammy of Harvey in Texas and Irma in South Florida, FEMA placed an order for 2 million servings of food to relieve Maria’s victims in Puerto Rico. On a typical day, though, its selection of 72-hour, one-week, and one-month survival kits, packaged in boxes that can easily fit under a bed, seems more geared toward everyday Americans looking to prepare for the unknown.
19. Coconut Oil – What substitutes for cooking oil, butter, & health salve? Coconut oil! Most cooking oils will go rancid in a very short time. However, extra virgin coconut oil can last 2-4 years if stored properly. It has many uses including cooking, dry skin, energy boost, reduces inflammation, and even heals diaper rash, but my favorite is to use it for popping popcorn. Gives it a nice buttery flavor.
Cavemen were gathers before they began hunting. After that they were hunter-gatherers. They ate fruits, wild greens, roots, nuts and seeds. There are most definitely carbs in those. If you are not eating some carbs you are not healthy. You don’t need a lot unless you are very active and definitely do not need manufactured carbs but you do need some carbs in your diet to survive.

5. Customized emergency kits.  These kits are sometimes referred to as Bug Out Bags, for getting out of town in a hurry, or 72 Hour Kits, packed with everything you need to survive for 72 hours on your own.  However, I recommend a Vehicle Kit, smaller kits for each member of the family, and a larger kit that contains items that will be needed by the whole family, such as extra food, an emergency toilet, and a wind-up radio.


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.

I would like to add something, not necessarily to the list, but more like “food for thought” ideas that could very well save you and your family’s life. Living in the South, you “will almost” grow up around some natural disasters, whether it be a hurricane or tornado, most of us here take “prepping” very serious..and we learn a lot from those disasters also (I.e. Hurricane Katrina). I grew up around great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, other relatives and friends, who have a garden, almost for the entire year. Learning to can and freeze food was as natural as brushing your teeth! During the summer, when school is out, we shelled peas, shuck corn(yeah say that fast!), canned beans and tomatoes, picked berries, smashed berries, and, on occasion, churned butter! I wish I had a dollar for every pea I shelled! I be richer than Midas! Knowing these “techniques” can make a huge difference in feeding your family for several months without electricity. There have been lots of times when we would get lunch or diner straight out of the garden, washed and prepped, cooked, and on the plate in a couple of hours. No storage. No refrigeration! Scraps of food went into the garden or compost. And you can cook this stuff straight over an open fire. Two words…”cast iron”…it is a very good investment…it is great to use anywhere…open fire or stove! You don’t have to wash cast iron(I know it does sound gross, but believe it or not, that is the “beauty” of cast iron)..you wipe it out and keep it seasoned. You can cook anything in cast iron, from biscuits…to a cake! People with cast iron can cook almost forever! I would view it as essential. Enough about the garden.
A long-range nuclear missile is incredibly sophisticated. It needs to be; it has to deliver a warhead – possibly up to a dozen warheads for a MIRV’d missile – to a precise location. A Trident II submarine-launched missile can drop half its warheads within 65 feet of the target, letting it destroy even hardened bunkers with a relatively small weapon. An EMP attack doesn’t need anything like that precision. As long as the rocket can get the weapon to a high enough altitude, it can detonate anywhere in a circle hundreds of miles wide and still blanket a huge area with its pulse. Every country that currently has nuclear weapons and several that could be very close to building them has the ability to attack with high-altitude EMP – and that includes rogue or unstable states like North Korea and Pakistan. An EMP might not be the worst thing that could happen, but it’s a real risk.

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.
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 you go back to the last depressing days when we were in a survival mode, the last one the Y2K of course, before the 1970s, what had happened was you only saw this one element of survivalist, you know, the caricature, the guy with the AK-47 heading to the hills with enough ammunition and pork and beans to ride out the storm. This is a very different one from that: you're seeing average people taking smart moves and moving in intelligent directions to prepare for the worst. (...) So survivalism in every way possible. Growing your own, self-sustaining, doing as much as you can to make it as best as you can on your own and it can happen in urban area, sub-urban area or the ex-urbans. And it also means becoming more and more tightly committed to your neighbors, your neighborhood, working together and understanding that we're all in this together and that when we help each other out that's going to be the best way forward.
3. Supplies for bartering: These are my lowest priority but it never hurts to have a little extra of something that could be useful for bartering in the future. But remember your situation is different from mine. You might not have the room to store hundreds of gallons of fuel or water, so you might want to stockpile supplies that take up less room like batteries, lighters or water purification tablets that can be used to barter with in the future.
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.
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