Our grandparents were the original preppers, really. They could make a chicken last for two weeks. When my wife and I are wandering around the supermarket, I’ll keep my eye out. I’m always looking at a product’s shelf life. I don’t want to buy food that has a shelf life of two weeks; I need five years plus. It’s an attitude, really, but it’s also a fascinating hobby. I’m constantly learning survival techniques: how to forage, hunt, trap, fish, purify water. And I’m informed on larger environmental and political issues by friends in the know. People think I’m a tin hat-wearing nutter, sitting here guarding 3,000 tins of beans, but it’s not all-consuming. It’s like having a spare tyre in your car, or some winter basics: a torch, some candles, a sleeping bag. You can leave it at that, you don’t have to go mad. That’s how I started – I just happened to carry on.
Mel doesn’t subscribe to the “every man for himself” philosophy that is a hallmark of many preppers’ Cormac McCarthy-styled nightmares. “My grand plan is that I will build a community around me, rather than think that I will be in a post-apocalyptic bunker where I have to do everything. You don’t want to be scared of your neighbours and worry about whether they will take your stuff."
Grains. Grains are good for making flour or meal. Wheat and corn are the most common. Bear in mind that you will need a grain mill to process these, and I recommend a good hand mill in case power is an issue. By storing whole grains instead of flour or meal you drastically increase storage life. Again you can buy these in ore-sealed buckets, or repackage bulk purchases yourself to save money. If you want to increase the shelf life even more, you can turn them into flour and then into Hardtacks.
Most to-do lists seem to start with “Go to WalMart and buy a truckload of rice.” It’s not very obvious why. What are you going to do with it when you get it home? The first thing you need to do is prepare to be prepared. Identify a food storage area – somewhere that’s secure, sheltered, dry and cool. Some people like to keep food in a basement or dugout, which is good for hiding it but makes storage more challenging. Make sure your store is protected against rodents. Set up a storage system in there – strong shelves are ideal. Keeping your food store organized is vital: You’ll need to rotate supplies, using up older items and replacing them. The more organized you keep things the less waste you’ll have and the more prepared you’ll be.
While I keep almost all of my food in the basement, with only a small portion in the kitchen pantry, 98% of my basement food storage is in sealed cans, or in mylar bags stored in 5 gallon buckets. That way if my basement floods I can wash the cans with disinfecting solution (10% bleach solution) and relabel using markers. Upstairs I keep my emergency blankets since they aren’t impacted by summer heat where if I tried to store food in the bedrooms it would be at risk from summer temperatures. But as I write this I realize I need to move my water filter and water BOBs out of the basement and upstairs so they don’t get impacted by a flood. Thanks for making me think of this!
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in their "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign says that "the public should report only suspicious behavior and situations...rather than beliefs, thoughts, ideas, expressions, associations, or speech...". However, it is alleged that a DHS list of the characteristics of potential domestic terrorists used in law enforcement training includes "Survivalist literature (fictional books such as Patriots and One Second After are mentioned by name)", "Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)", and "Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)".
Freeze-dried food is nothing new. As early as the 13th century, the ancient Quechua and Aymara people of Bolivia and Peru pioneered a form of the process by exposing potatoes to the freezing temperatures of the Andes overnight, then drying them in the sun. In 1937, Nestlé used industrial technology to create the world’s first freeze-dried coffee, and in the 60s and 70s, the US military shipped freeze-dried food rations to the troops in Vietnam.