Being Prepared v Hording Supplies

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Doomsday Preppers is one of my least favorite shows on TV today. Though it is entertaining to me, the message it conveys is completely wrong. The show centers around people who are trying to “prepare” for the end of the world, or major disasters. Whether they are building a giant castle or they build a deep bunker complex, these people portray that they believe that hording as much supplies as possible (beans bullets and band aids) that when the worst case scenario happens they will be ready.

I wish I could say that most people in the world do not have the common belief is that if you gather as much supplies as possible you will be ready for any disaster that comes your way. Unfortunately this is a mistaken belief. Contrary to popular belief, MRE’s & SPAM does go bad, and so do many other emergency food sources. Also most of the emergency supplies that you buy will go bad within a year, even if you store it properly.

A bunker full of supplies has been a part of the world ideology (especially for the United States) for disaster readiness because of the 1950s. In the beginning of the Cold War, US citizens greatly fear Nuclear War with the Soviet Union. The US public demanded that Congress develop methods for individual families to prepare themselves for a nuclear eventuality. The US Congress, under the supervision of a Senator Joesph McCarthy, developed a family preparedness plan. This plan was not actually designed to help or even prepare people but to simply calm the fears of the American public and make the public feel safe. It also helped to get a Senator Joesph McCarthy reelected.

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The US Congress with Senator McCarthy and the newly established Federal Civil Defense Administration (FDCA) stated that for Americans to be prepared for a nuclear disaster that they needed to stockpile certain types of foods and supplies. Typically the FDCA recommended that families had minimum of 2 weeks of supplies, and if possible 6 months. This supply list included: picks, shovels, fuel, various canned food, water, toiletries, clothing, bleach, potassium iodide, and first aid supplies. A hefty list of supplies but most importantly a useless list to bear.

The 1950s preparation lists created by the US government was not created to actually stem off a nuclear disaster. In truth it was made to make the American people feel safer. This typical reaction to public outcry is still common today. In the wake of the 2000 New Year scare, for those of you who were not alive then people thought the world would end in 2000, the US government did the same thing. If you want to survive just simply buy 2 weeks worth of these items, again bread, water, canned food, and etc, and you will be ok. Again no where near true.

Like before in the 1950s, the governments reaction to the public cry for help was not an effective method to survive, it was simply to calm the public fear. I wish I could say that the year 2000 was the last time that the US government developed a bad plan, but no, recently in October 2012 the department of Home Land Security developed a end of the world readiness plan for all American families.  Though this plan was not as promoted as others it was there, and like before bread, milk, canned food, and etc.

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These events, and many like them, have caused misinformed ideas about how to gather supplies for emergency situations. The truth is that it does not matter how much supplies you gather. Everything has an expiration date. Even the famed MRE has a an expiration date. Typically “survival food” lasts for about 10 years. The problem is that no survival food will really last beyond 5 years. However if you are in a survival situation the truth is you have about a year to live off of your supplies. This is because in survival situations you should not be on survival food for more than 1 year regardless of where you are.

Choosing the right supplies is only half the battle. You can buy a mountain of MRE’s or SPAM but you are going to need to find a continuous sustainable food source. The truth is that supplies corrode. Rats, bugs, oxidation, radiation, disease, bacteria, you name it, eventually you are going to lose your supplies. Even water tight containers do not last forever.

Animals chew through plastic, temperature changes the effectiveness of packaging, and people get hungry. Three months of supplies are easy to hide, where as if your basement looks like a grocery store hungry people will eventually find you.

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Limiting your supplies for three months is better for more than just simple reasons. One of the best reasons is that a 3 month supply of rations is easier to manage and replace. Yes from time to time you are going to have to replace your stock. Again the typical shelf life of supplies is about 5 years. You should replace your stock once every 5 years. This will not only save you money, simply because it is easier to buy 3 months rather than 6 or 12, but it will also keep you mobile ready.

As far as choosing which supplies to buy, you should mix your food supplies between MRE’s, canned food, freeze dried food or dehydrated food, and natural food. A mixture of these food sources will ensure that you maintain a good diet even in terrible conditions. However do not fall prey to marketing of emergency food.

I am not saying MRE’s are a bad choice, as a matter of fact I actually like them. Eating MRE’s all of the time though can be bad for your health. MRE’s were designed to keep soldiers in combat for about 30 days. They were not designed to be a way of life. First off they only have 24 flavors, only 18 of which are considered edible by those who have used them. MRE’s also tend to have adverse effects on your digestive track. This is how they got the nick names, “Meal Refusing to Exit” or “Meal Ready to Exit”. Typically they work very great as a food supplement.

Canned food is great but its shelf life is only about 6 months to 2 years depending on your environment. Typically the best items to buy in can form is vegetables and fruits. They typically have the longer shelf life. I also like to buy things that can serve as a meal in it self, ie. Spaghetti Os, sounds a bit childish but if you have kids it is perfect for them.

Freeze Dried or Dehydrated Food is the longest lasting food source. Until moisture touches the food it will remain good. Unfortunately these also have the lowest calorie count, and flavor count. I typically save these food sources for last, simply for their taste. A good note about this food supply is that this food source is great if you need to travel. It is lightweight and compact.

The final group of food to always have on hand is natural form food. Natural form food is food in its natural state; fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and fresh meat. These foods are need for their nutrients to your body. Natural food is a luxury. The reason it is needed in preparation is because it can boost your morale like no other food source can. It taste amazing, its fulfilling, and its nutritional value is unmatched. This food source can be cultivated though especially if you create an indoor garden, which luckily can be created anywhere. For more information click here for the post Internal Gardening.

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It is always difficult to choose what type of food to have in your preparations. A good guideline is the 30-30-30-10 rule. The only 10 percent is for natural foods. Natural foods will have the shortest shelf life, at max about 2 weeks. This type of food should be gather about 3 days before a major disaster happens. Typically you can tell if a disaster is going to happen. This is when you should collect these food items.

Food and water is the most important aspect of survival preparation. However look forward to more post about what type of gear to select in order to be prepared.

As Always Folks, Prepare and Survive. Todd Out.

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