Food When There is No Food

It couldn’t happen here. That’s all in the past.

Most people alive don’t remember famine, war, or disease in the United States of America wiping out large swaths of US peoples. War, plagues, famines, and food shortages are things that happen across the oceans, or at least across the borders.

You don’t have to live in an exotic location for natural and manmade disasters to strike.

In 1816, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted pushing massive amounts of ash into the air. The global weather turned so cold that crops across the US died due to frost in June. Pennsylvania had river ice in July and August that year. Many people starved to death the next winter. Luckily, that could never happen again in the USA because Indonesia no longer has volcanos.

In 1861, Democrats decided to go to war instead of accept the Republican Congress’s and Republican President’s call for an end to slavery. They started a civil war that maimed and killed 100,000’s of Americans. Armies confiscated citizens’ food for their troops and many Americans died because of starvation. The war Democrats started killed more Americans than any other war in American history, including World War II. This of course could never happen in America again, because extremist Democrats now embrace Republicans as their beloved fellow citizens and have no desire for their political enemies to curl up and die.

In 1918, the Spanish Flu swept the globe. One quarter of all US residents had the disease. On average, every household in the US had a death due to the disease. Restrictions were placed on stores, and other places people interacted publicly. As bodies very literally piled up, towns restricted transportation in and out of their city limits. The scene across the US was reminiscent of the European Black Death of the  Middle Ages.

Can you imagine what would happen in our modern society where most people rely on food shipped from all over the world to make it to the grocery store they buy from in the next town over? Don’t worry. It couldn’t happen again, because no one ever gets the flu or any other disease these days.

In 1934, a five hour dust storm hid the Statue of Liberty. “Black blizzards” swept the plains during one of the worst droughts and environmental disasters America has ever seen. Plagues of grasshoppers and jackrabbits destroyed farms all over the Dust Bowl states. Doctors gave prescriptions for food for malnourished and starving children across the US. Long food lines and hunger were common place everywhere in the country.

Of course this could never happen again, because humankind has learned to live as one with the planet, and droughts don’t happen anymore.

In 2015, … all is well, unless you live in California where water is running out, or along the southern US border where the government posts signs warning they can’t protect you if you get closer than 80 miles from the Mexican border. Most of us don’t live in either of those locations. So we’re fine.

No unexpected disasters are expected to happen any time soon.

However, if you have an understanding of history, and it’s constant repetition, you might want to consider being prepared for times when food is not plentiful. Even in the modern world, grocery stores end up with empty shelves.

The above examples are of big nationwide and global events, but regional disasters happen all the time. A town, or small region, can get cut off from shipping lines during floods or winter storms. Mudslides block roads and highways. Even workers striking can shut down stores.

A disaster doesn’t need to be global in reach to be a big deal for you and your family.

Some areas of the US are prone to hurricanes, earthquakes or other common natural disasters. Having at least a couple of weeks of food and bottled water on hand only seems prudent in those areas.

Unfortunately, not everyone behaves like a model citizen when natural and manmade disasters strike. As seen during the latest hurricane to hit New York City, looting can become common place and food may be stolen.

Learning what plants in your area are edible could prevent suffering for you and your family, if your food is stolen (or confiscated). If you are a land owner, plant some non-obvious edible landscape items. With any luck, you’ll never have to look at them as a food source, but they will be there giving you peace of mind if bad things happen.

Having more than a couple of weeks of food and water on hand, may come in handy at some point. Hopefully, no major global disasters will strike in our lifetimes, but history tends to repeat itself. Knowing even a little about the past tells us that the future is likely to have surprises that involve food shortages lasting longer than a few weeks.

California Drought Affects Us All

With the drought in California reaching critical status, we could see much higher prices for all kinds of products. Believe it or not, a shutdown of food production in California could lead to shortages of many food products across all of North America.

All of North America feels the effects of California’s drought.

In the last half century, California has become the agricultural giant of North America. Most of the vegetables, nuts, and fruit consumed in America come from California. Milk, grapes, and almonds are among California’s lead exports. California grows nearly all of the America’s olives, kiwi, pistachios, prunes, raisins, and walnuts, among other products. Even the majority of our strawberries—1,400,000,000 pounds of strawberries—come from California.

Currently, much of that food production is grinding to a dusty halt. News anchors gleefully talk of “potentially higher prices,” while the reality of potentially empty shelves, gets swept under the newsroom rug.

Now there are arguments about who is causing the drought in California. Environmentalists claim it’s all man made global warming’s fault. If only there were less humans, then none of this would have happened. Their ultimate solutions usually sound similar that of savages claiming human sacrifices to their volcano or sun god will remove his wrath.

Others point out that environmentalists have successfully blocked every major reservoir and dam project in California for 40 years, and that during this drought 70% of California’s water—because of regulations—goes straight into the ocean. They also point out that environmental regulations have prevented desalination plants from releasing water reserves from an entire ocean into the drought stricken state.

In the here-and-now, California has a major water crisis, no matter who is to blame. Californians are rationing water, and the shutdown of food production is spreading. Much of California suffers, and even if the water became plentiful again today, the damage to agriculture will take years to heal.

As many critics point out, California knew this was coming. You can’t experience 40 years of massive population growth and make it illegal to build supporting infrastructure and then feign surprise when population expands past the old infrastructures capabilities.

California pretty much doubled its population from 20 million in the 1970’s to nearly 40 million in 2015. However, in the 1970’s down to the present, environmentalists have managed to prevent water and other infrastructure projects from keeping up with population. Certainly, rain has decrease over the last decade in California, but the effects could have been mitigated with proper public works projects.

How does this apply to the rest of us?

California regulated itself into worsening this drought. The same regulatory mindset that stifled California’s public water works projects, resulting in the destruction of California’s agriculture, has spread to most of the states in the union, and definitely has a chokehold in Washington, D.C.

It’s easy to blame government, but voters (better known as all of us) put every one of the politicians in government, whether through a direct vote, or voting someone in that appoints the regulators.

Don’t expect voters to change who they vote for any time soon. Our generation is already indoctrinated, and the upcoming generation will have more thorough indoctrination than ours. Children from an early age are taught directly or indirectly that humankind must diminish (or die) to save the planet. Our children begin their indoctrination into the dimish-or-die mindset in most kindergartens, and have it enforced by most teachers all the way through college. Hollywood laces movies, cartoons, and documentaries with the mindset. Video games base their backstories on this mindset.

Environmental regulation without regard to human needs is destroying agriculture and food production in the US. Don’t believe it? Check out the last few years of news on Nevada’s endangered desert tortoise and what it’s doing to ranches. And that’s only oneexample.

We can point the finger at California and say, you destroyed your own food production, but the same mindset is busy setting up a similar agricultural collapse across the entire USA. Stacks of new environmentally friendly regulations are created every year. So much regulation is created that many farmers see the EPA and other government organizations come in and shutdown their farms and ranches or make them so unprofitable that they give up.

It’s only a matter of time before most Americans see empty shelves at the grocery store. Devout socialist and environmental regulators will ensure that, and unfortunately, that is the privately (if not publicly) stated goal of many of the activists behind the coming regulatory caused shortages. They want to save the planet through regulations, and don’t see why humans shouldn’t suffer.

Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram … Secret Combinations

Today’s news highlights the reasons I garden, grow fruit trees, bought a ranch to build a house on, and spend my little spare time learning prepping skills. No one believes in an actual zombie apocalypse, but every terrorist organization in the world (and several nuclear-capable countries) repeatedly state their objective as “death to America”.

I think they mean it. No matter how much we ignore them, they are at war with us. “Death to America” is not just rhetoric to appease their constituency.

In case you missed the news from the last six years, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram are the three most notorious terrorist organizations in the world. Yes, Hamas, the PLO, and the Muslim Brotherhood, and various drug cartels are bad, but these other three trump them currently. Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram are all training together in Mauritania, and probably working together in other ways. They are an evil triumvirate that swear to destroy (they state this publicly!) all first-world nations, and especially the United States of America.

Today, Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes against the new Al Qaeda based government of Yemen. Egypt already is launching airstrikes against ISIS and Al Qaeda in Libya, Jordan is actively flying airstrikes against the Caliphate run by ISIS. Pretty much every country in the Middle East is actively at war with terrorists, controlled by terrorists, or sponsoring terrorists.

In Central Africa, Boko Haram continues to grow with little effective opposition. In the Middle East whole countries are falling to ISIS and Al Qaeda. And, ISIS has created its own country it calls the Caliphate from parts of Syria and Iraq. World War III has already begun, and the stated goal of the enemy is “death to America”. Worse yet, so far, they are winning!

These organizations finance themselves through criminal activities such as selling women and children as sex slaves and international drug trafficking. They secrete themselves among civilized communities, and use both public and secret means to find, recruit and test followers. These terrorist organizations (along with other organized crime syndicates) are clumped under the term secret combinations.

These terrorist organizations, or secret combinations, seek very openly the complete destruction of every first-world nation. The news may not report it, but they’ve said it, and they are very serious.

The secret combinations / terrorists of our day have grown so powerful that they have declared their own nation, … the Caliphate. To us, this is a new experience. Organized criminals and terrorist groups have never grown so powerful, in our lifetimes, as to create their own countries. This has never happened since the founding of the USA.

However, this is not the first time a civilization consisting of multiple nations has had it’s existence threatened by secret combinations. In March, 1830, Joseph Smith published an account of an ancient people of Central America called the Book of Mormon. In it, a scenario eerily like our modern predicament is described.

Secret combinations and organized crime began among the more wicked parts of a people calling themselves the Nephites. In time, the secret combinations spread to another civilization called the Lamanites. Eventually, they became so numerous and powerful that they set up their own country in the neighboring mountains, and stated that their goal was to destroy all neighboring civilized countries.

A massive regional war ensued. It culminated with members of the civilized countries gathering themselves to a giant heavily fortified refugee camp. The country founded by the members of the secret combinations laid siege to the refugee camp for several years. It looked like ever member of civilized society would be killed. However, they trusted God, believed in Christ, and were saved. The country founded by terrorists was eventually destroyed and their leaders killed.

The scale of our current conflict is global, but the threat to civilization itself is real. The stated goal of our enemy is our death—not our surrender, but our death. We are really only near the beginning of this conflict. We don’t know how many years or decades the current World War against terrorists and secret combinations will last. However, being prepared and trusting God give us a chance to survive the current conflicts.

Hopefully, those screaming “Death to America” will not succeed. I hope everyone I know grows old, happily living in the country I love. However, prudence says to prepare for the worst and pray for the best of outcomes.

22 More Signs You Might be a Prepper

I’m a prepper.  I previously posted, First 10 Signs You Might Be a Prepper. I’m at it again with 22 more signs you might be a prepper.

“Prepper” sounds like such a harsh word. It took me many years to come out of the pantry and admit I was a prepper. Coming out of the pantry helped me find tons of people with similar interests. It’s been very liberating.

Preppers look at the world differently than other people. This unique outlook lends itself to plenty of humor. Yes, people point the finger of ridicule at us now-and-then, but that doesn’t mean we can’t smile at ourselves, too. I hope you share a smile or a laugh.

Signs you might be a prepper …

1) You and your spouse have arguments about bugging out vs bugging in.
2) You substitute freeze dried foods into your favorite recipes
3) You prefer wide-mouth Ball jars.
4) You prefer regular-mouth Ball jars.
5) You look for BPA free plastics.
6) You’ve ever said, “BPA,” … ever.
7) Your pantry feels too small.
8) Your child’s first word was, “Pectin!”
9) You’ve done both hot water bath and pressure canning.
10) You ignore city-wide do-not-drink warnings on tap water, because your filter “can handle it.”
11) You own a rain barrel.
12) You built your bed-frame, … out of canned goods.
13) You want to take your house off the grid, but you still hate
“tree huggers.”
14) You hate National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers, because they’re always doing “it” wrong.
15) Anyone has ever used the word “orchard” while describing your lawn.
16) You know the difference between a clip and a magazine.
17) You only buy ammo with reloadable cases.
18) You spend more time at the shooting range than the grocery store.
19) You have duct tape storage.
20) You own a summer and a winter sleeping bag.
21) You’re mentally taking notes as you read this list.
22) Someone sent you this list.

First 10 Signs, “You Might be a Prepper …”

You might be a prepper, if …

1) You look at your neighbor’s dandelion filled lawn and think,
“Salad!”

2) While visiting Cape Canaveral, you spot astronaut ice cream in the gift shop and ask, “What’s the shelf life?”

3) You look for wood stoves at the department store.

4) You see a wood stove and want to know if you can cook on it.

5) You end up not buying the wood stove of your dreams, because your rocket stove is more fuel efficient.

6) You landscape based on plant edibility.

7) While on family vacation, you scout good bug-out locations.

8) You catch your spouse browsing websites on paracord arts and crafts.

9) You walk into a room and count the exits.

10) You bought a house, because of its garden and fruit trees.

Financial Prepping

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor. This article merely states my opinions and views as a non-professional. If you’re looking for professional advice, contact an actual professional advisor.

One of the most commonly overlooked preps is financial security. Obviously, most people are aware of 401k’s and retirement planning. I’m not talking about these.

In late 2008, the US Fed, Congress, and President all signed on to the first Quantitative Easing. The purpose? The financial markets were in so much trouble that in reality, most US businesses might have lost access to their credit lines. The trickle-down affect would have been much of America going home without a paycheck for a month or more.

This description comes from Republicans and Democrats. I didn’t believe it at the time, but having learned a lot more about how businesses and financial markets work, I agree with their description now, even if I don’t like their “solution.”

What can almost happen once, can almost happen again. Anything that almost happens enough times can actually happen. A financial meltdown that freezes you and I out of our banks, credit cards, and paychecks could happen.

I’m not predicting it will happen in my lifetime, any more than I’d predict that Yellowstone will explode in my lifetime. I’m just saying, these things happen, and it almost happened in 2008. Also, a lot of brilliant economists predict it will likely almost happen again within the next few years.

In light of that information, think of financial prepping. One of the most basic needs for humans is shelter. Having a house or property paid off with the deed safely stashed goes a long way to providing your human need of shelter.

Many of us don’t have the financial resources to pay off a mortgage early. However, some mortgage companies make it easy to pay ahead on your mortgage. In other words, you pay one or more monthly payments in advance.

Paying monthly payments in advance makes no sense from an investment perspective, so expect most advisors to tell you never to do this. If you look at it from a financial prepping perspective, you could be the only home on the block not facing foreclosure if large numbers of average Joes lose access to paychecks and bankaccounts.

Some people choose the more direct approach of stashing cash. Survivors of the first Great Depression were known to stash cash in around their houses and in their mattresses. If you chose this approach, don’t advertise it. Otherwise, you could become the victim of a burglary or other attempted crime.

Many people, including well known economists believe the USD is about to lose massive amounts of value. I’ve know people that have gone through total currency collapses in their home countries. From their personal stories I know we never want to live through a total currency collapse.

A common financial prep for those that believe in the demise of the USD is the purchase of precious metals. I don’t like this one, personally. Gold, silver, and other metals are hard to exchange and almost always exchanged for cash at a loss to the private owner. Also, governments and thieves love making off with gold and silver.

Gold is way too expensive for most people. If I had to chose between gold and silver, I’d chose silver. Silver is staying relatively low in price and affordable for normal people. Silver eagles run for about $20 a piece currently. That means you can sell them for about $15 a piece. I believe silver prices will inflate like gold prices have in time.

When considering your family preps, don’t forget your financial preps. Probably the best financial prep is paying off debt. Personally, I’m dreaming of paying off a small house someday.

Some Shows for Homesteaders and Preppers

I love shows that relate to homesteading and prepping. Unfortunately, there isn’t a genre selection on Netflix or Hulu for prepping and homesteading enthusiasts. They’re all ready for you if you want to browse Disney flicks or find Broke Back Mountain, but nothing for people with a little bit of pioneer in their souls. Let’s be honest though, I’d probably hate their selection even if they had a genre for us.

So, here are a few shows I’ve found fun, that I’d put in the Preppers and Homesteaders genre if I was in charge. I’ll see if I can come up with a few more for future posts, but this selection will be a good place to start.

Tiny: A Story about Living Small

This documentary follows the efforts of a man pursuing his dream of putting a tiny house on a trailer on isolated piece of property with beautiful views. He spends a full year building the house, with the help of his girlfriend. The reason he puts the tiny house on wheels is to avoid issues with zoning laws.

The documentary features many interviews with people that already live in tiny houses. It explores the challenges, advantages, and social responses to tiny house living.

This approach to living may be advantageous to preppers or homesteaders that seek a residence while developing the agricultural potential of land in an area that does not lend itself to home construction.

The last 50 years have seen the introduction of extremely restrictive building laws even in the remotest of areas. Imagine what the early settlers of your area would have thought about the outlawing of their lifestyles. (“Sorry. Do you have a permit for that log cabin? No? You’ll have to tear it down or face a fine.”)

Food, Inc.

If any documentary can inspire you to grow your own food, this one will. Food, Inc documents the treatment of animals and food production now that the farming industry has gone corporate. Not surprisingly, food production in modern times results in less healthy meats, vegetables, and fruits showing up on grocery shelves.

Solutions to the factory treatment of food production include homesteading, hunting, or growing a garden. If you have the resources, buying from small farmers or grocery stores that are supplied locally can help you vote with your dollar for a different supply chain for our food.

Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment

This is a great documentary series for the prepper in your life. The first season starts out with nine ordinary people dropped in the middle of Alaska with only minimal survival training and a heap of supplies—some useful, and some not so much. Their goal is to get out of the wilderness on foot, … and alive.

The great part about this series is that you get insight into mistakes easily made in a bug out situation. If you’re a prepper planning to leave civilization behind for a while during the next local or global zombie apocalypse, then you’ll want to see what worked and what didn’t for this group.

Where Preppers and Homesteaders Roam

The musty smell of our basement surrounded me on the wooden steps down to our cupboard containing glass jars of garden vegetables my mother canned months earlier. Home canned pickles, tomatoes, and yellow beans among other garden goods spread out over several shelves of our large cupboard.

In those days, I never heard the term homesteader or prepper. People still practiced canning food from their gardens, because their parents and grandparents had. Simple country living happened because we lived in the country, and while this lifestyle was becoming less common, it was still common enough that no one thought twice about growing or raising their own food. I knew many kids growing up that had similar lifestyles to the one we lived.

Most people can’t raise or grow food, these days. Those that pick up that skill, and related crafts, gain the labels of prepper, homesteader, or kook. TV shows and movies love to portray preppers as gun wielding para-military crackpots, and homesteaders (though they might not call them by name) as bead-bearing, pot-smoking, hippie-wannabes.

Motivations for raising your own chickens or pressing your own apple cider may vary. Some people just want to get back to nature and live off more natural foods. Others may desire to provide for themselves and people they care about. Neither group fully trusts government regulators or the companies that produce our foods, or they feel the quality of homemade and homegrown products far surpasses those made by big corporations.

Movies and shows portray extreme homesteaders living an Amish lifestyle, rejecting modern medicines, fuels, and equipment. They portray preppers as paranoid horders of water, food, medicine, fuel, equipment, and arms. The vast majority of homesteaders are not going to refuse to see a doctor when they have cancer (relying instead on meditation and the power of healing crystals); and the vast majority of preppers don’t set boobytraps, own any razor-wire, and definitely don’t want their children packing knives and guns everywhere.

Radicals get press. Real people get ignored.

Real people in our community include farmers who everyone else admires on some level. They include hobby farmers who often wish to make the move to professional farmer someday. Homesteaders just want to use their own hands for their own upkeep. My parents probably fell into the category of spendthrifts who just strive for self-sufficiency out of economic self defense. Latter-day Saints grow gardens and keep extra foods stuffs around out of a religious desire for provident living. Outdoorsmen learn a lot of the survival skills often associated with preppers, just because they love being out in nature. Anyone living in rural areas knows the store becomes a week or two away when a nasty storm hits. Preppers that have been through an earthquake, fire, flood, tornado, hurricane or imagine them happening, also join the crowds of normal people labeled as kooks because they learn skills needed for self-sufficiency. Even foodies, that just love fresh herbs and vegetables, fall into our community.

Our community in all its spectrum has crossover interests. We can share knowledge, resources, purchasing and political sway to help our entire community. Many of the areas of interest that overlap include:

  • off-the-grid utilities
  • solar and wind power for personal use
  • self-sufficiency
  • gardens
  • harvesting seeds
  • canning fresh foods
  • drying fruits and jerky
  • country-style living … even within the suburbs
  • raising chickens
  • edible landscapes
  • sharing goods and teaching neighbors our skills

Our motivations and backgrounds differ, but we can meet in the middle on many issues. That’s good for all of us.

We’re use to hard work. Hard work isn’t glamorous, and it becomes even more difficult when we start labeling each other and turning up our noses at people that share common interests with us. It is wonderful watching a YouTube video from a farmer, spendthrift, or outdoorsman that teaches me something my family can incorporate into our lifestyle.

Let’s enjoy and embrace what we all have to offer. Our common interests really make us a common community. We can focus on what we have in common, rather than looking down our noses at “those kind of people,” whoever “those kind of people” are.