Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's all the "To-Do" about Preppers?

Since "Prepping" or "Preppers" have been on National Geographic in the last year or so, America has been abuzz with this new rage.  I'm not sure it's such a new thing actually.  Mormons have been doing it for years what with their religious views mandating that they should have a 6 month to one year supply of food and water on hand.  I clearly remember one of my co-workers buying big blue plastic 55 gallon drums for water storage back in the 80's.  I also remember my grandparents having a pantry in our house (I lived with my grandparents on and off as a child) that carried at least a months worth of supplies.  My parents had a huge garden and mother canned and froze a lot of food.  I do know she didn't store water or anything else. 

Most Americans in the last 200 years (both Native and Non Native) stored food and fuel during the summer and fall for the coming winter and spring.  They did it in a lot of ways, drying the meats and fish as well as many vegetables, salting the pork, pickling a lot of fruits and vegetables and meats. They cut and split cords of wood for both heat and cooking. The hope was that there was enough put by to get through the harsh winters or hope that they would be able to find food in the wild. 

Today we have so much more at our disposal.  The "Supermarket" is just down the street.  Right?  There is a 7-11 or Walmart in just about every neighborhood.  If things get tough there is also the Food Bank where you can get a bit of food for free if you find yourself unemployeed and hungry. Some folks have to rely on food stamps once a month from the government.

In the last 50 years things have changed mightily.  Very few women know how or even care about food preservation.  Where there was once a garden in every yard, now most yards are so small they aren't even large enough for a swimming pool.  Land has become a premium and an extravagance.  Men don't think too much about where their food comes from or what it is made up of as long as it is hot and on the table unless they are from a farming family or involved in some type of agriculture. 

Most people don't know they are 3 days from possible starvation.  That's 72 hours!  Lot's of people laugh when they hear that.  Let me explain it as easy as I can.  If, let's say a major earthquake in California happens.   The infrastructure suffers major damage, this in turn causes levees to fail, buildings to come down and structures to fail.  Day one, guess what? No delivery services. Trucks cannot get in to deliver their normal shipments of bread, milk, meat, canned goods etc.  So the stores have to pull their supplies from the "back".  Day two, people have got their bearings again and realize they need "groceries" so they go to the store where they realize everyone is there loading up which creates a bit of a scare so soon everyone is grabbing everything they can see.  The shelves are empty before the close of the business day.  Day three, there is a line of people waiting for the store to open but there isn't any food in there so they don't open.  Looting begins. 

The Department of Homeland Security suggests every household has a minimum of a 3 day supply of food and water but they also suggest maybe a 2 week supply is better.  Remember Katrina?  Those people didn't think something like that would ever happen in their wildest dreams.  But it did and many people lost their lives by not being prepared.  3 days of supplies or even 2 weeks wasn't enough for the families that were unable to return to normal activity for MONTHS.

There are other reasons to be prepared.  Let's say in your situation you have yourself, spouse, 2 kids a dog and Grandma.  Dad is the primary wage earner and you have a second income but don't make quite as much, Grandma gets a monthly Social Security check.  If Dad gets laid off tomorrow and unexpectedly. Can you get by on your income and Grandma's check?  Or in another senario, what if one of your adult children has to move back in?  And brings his wife and 2 kids.  Surprise! They both lost their jobs and Jr is sick too.  Can you feed them and take care of their needs until they get on their feet again? 

We are not talking about some wierd stuff like a Solar Flare-up or the Earth shifts on it's axis or Zombie Vampires attack.  We are talking about normal things that happen everyday in weather and life and how these things effect us. 

With today's economy there are so many ups and downs that we just don't know when our jobs may be effected or what the government might decide is a good idea to do with your social security instead of give it to you as promised.  We don't know what the weather is going to do in the way of drought, flood, hurricane, tornado or heat.  We have a lot of insecurities  that we really don't think of as effecting us.  It always effects someone else, it just doesn't happen in our corner of the planet.  But it does. 

So what do we do?  How do we do it when we decide what we should be doing?  That is the topic of this and the next few blogs.

I have been watching the news and weather reports for years as have most of you.  I started noticing the heat waves back east and in the midwest that were happening very early in the spring. There is obviously a drought situation going on. It doesn't matter who's fault it is, global warming or act of God, all that matters is that it is happening.   A good deal of our food is grown in the "bread basket" called the mid-west.  We get our corn, wheat, soybeans and a lot of other farmed foods grown there.  Much of it is contracted and sent to other countries so if there is a crop failure due to drought, there will be shortages both for the contracted countries and for us here in the US.  This in itself makes it a world food shortage or crisis.

So, you think maybe you don't use that much corn in a year maybe a couple of bags of frozen corn, a few cans of corn or even some corn on the cob once in awhile.  But do you eat a candy bar? How about meat? Do you enjoy a burger or some fried chicken?  Guess what those animals eat ?  CORN! Guess what by product is used in thousands of packaged foods? CORN SYRUP, CORN SOLIDS etc.
Some vehicles use fuel made from corn too.  Soy products are used by a lot of people too.  It is used in baby formulas, lotions, dairy free products, etc.  We all know how much wheat we use, it's in bread, cereal, dog food, hay, animal feeds, etc. 

I am advocating that if you don't already, you should be doing some planning for your usage of these products for at least a year.  There are a lot of ways to store grains without them going bad or becoming bug infested.  You can Google it and find simply thousands of websites that will give you directions on storing grain in its havested form or flours, meal or end product.

I am not a person who has grain mills and generators and all sorts of cool survival gadgets.  I am just a wife, mother, grandmother and one who enjoys living a simple country lifestyle.  I cannot invest a couple hundred dollars for a grain mill, nor can I store a couple hundred pounds of wheat per person in my tiny home.  But, I can store 50-100lbs of flour, cornmeal and the things needed to make bread, biscuits, tortillas, frybread etc that will feed my family for a few months if the situation calls for it.  What about medication? Do you have enough to get by on if you don't get your check next month?

For some people the need to store years of food and supplies is important.  I only want to get thru comfortabley until the next years harvest.  Either the national harvest or my own harvest.  One way or another I know there will be some folks that think either I should be planning long range or some folks that think anything more than their weekly or monthly shopping is too much.  It's really up to each person to decide what their situation is.  Just keep in mind how long it took the government to respond to the folks during Katrina.  Help is not always just around the corner or going to come from your government.  We are responsible for ourselves.

Over the next few weeks we will go into different ideas about how you can store food, preserve foods, and what else you should have on hand.  We will also go into skills and how to's.  There are a lot of things to examine and websites that are both good and helpful and even wierd and helpful.

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