Luther understands the need for such a policy. A month after she gave birth to her first daughter, her husband lost his job. “We had absolutely no money coming in for three months,” she recalls. “We had a whole bunch of bagels that I had gotten on sale in our freezer, and we had some peanut butter, and we had some vegetables in our garden in the backyard. And that was absolutely all we had to eat. It’s terrifying when you’ve got a new little one and no money to take care of her.”
Further interest in the survivalist movement peaked in the early 1980s, with Howard Ruff's book How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years and the publication in 1980 of Life After Doomsday by Bruce D. Clayton. Clayton's book, coinciding with a renewed arms race between the United States and Soviet Union, marked a shift in emphasis in preparations made by survivalists away from economic collapse, famine, and energy shortages—which were concerns in the 1970s—to nuclear war. In the early 1980s, science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle was an editor and columnist for Survive, a survivalist magazine, and was influential in the survivalist movement. Ragnar Benson's 1982 book Live Off The Land In The City And Country suggested rural survival retreats as both a preparedness measure and conscious lifestyle change.
In 2014 there was a major outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in West Africa. This was far larger than all earlier outbreaks combined, because people are getting more mobile and the disease reached larger towns and cities. Horrifyingly, it also managed to reach out across the Atlantic and infect four people in the USA. We were lucky; all the cases were caught before they could spread further. We might not be lucky next time – and the virus is still out there in Africa. All it takes is one sick person to get on a plane and we could be facing a major epidemic.
You might be able to stretch the time food will stay cold, Martin says, “by wrapping [the refrigerator or freezer] in sleeping bags. Wrap it up as best you can and don't open it unless it's absolutely necessary, and when you do, take out as much as you can use that day.” And when time's running out, why not make it a cooking extravaganza? Fire up the grill (outside, remember!) or go ahead and eat that ice cream you were saving.
“If you’re using it for emergency survival, the fact is you’re going to buy it once, and hopefully you’re not going to use it,” Shields said. “But it’s there as a safety net for you and your family.” That’s what intrigued me about freeze-dried food: You can wait up to a quarter-century to use it, but in an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to eat it at all.
The Hawaii false alarm was indeed a wake-up call! Thank you for publishing all this useful information. I’ve always done food storage but there is so much more we need to have on hand. All those little things you need, like knives, compass, a RADIO! – someone mentioned thick soled shoes and of course water filtration. I recently found an awesome 72 Hour backpack I thought was a pretty good deal on costco.com (https://www.costco.com/72-Hour-Tactical-Backpack-Survival-Kit.product.100386699.html?pageSize=96&catalogId=10701&dept=All&langId=-1&keyword=72+Hour+Tactical+Backpack+Survival+Kit&storeId=10301).
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.