I’m seeing a lot of bad advice on the Net regarding future plans and preparations for collapse and post-collapse scenarios. I am somewhat surprised by all of this so-called “advice” because it flies in the face of common sense and utterly fails to take into account natural systems.
One of these issues that I’m seeing is the concept of priorities and importance regarding the essentials of life. Few people seem to even know what the essentials of life even are, they assume that these essentials will always be available and provided by someone other then themselves.
One of these primary essentials is food. Civilizations are built upon the need to produce food to support their populations. This is the main purpose of civilization. The extraction of raw materials, manufacturing of goods, transportation, electricity, commerce, international trade, national boundaries, demographics, distribution of cities and the populations themselves are all related to the production of food.
Civilizations collapse because of the lack of food production (starvation). Drought, depletion of the soils, fisheries, forests or pests have all caused the collapse of civilizations in the past. The survivors move on to “greener pastures” if they can and resume their struggle to produce food. If they can???t, the population dies off, back down to sustainable levels in direct relationship to the surrounding environment and remaining resources.
Most of us are far removed from this process and awareness today. It seems perfectly “natural” to us that food is always going to be available in the stores. But this isn’t the least bit natural, it’s extremely artificial and totally dependent upon massive farms, global distribution networks, international commerce and trade, and the availability of cheap energy – all by a relatively few people compared to the populations that depends upon this entire process. Unfortunately for the world’s population, all of these mechanics are in severe peril, and therefore, the food production which we rely upon is too.
Added to this teetering house of cards is the grossly excessive resource exploitation and overuse, soil depletion, acid rain, polluted oceans, rivers and reservoirs, drought conditions and climate change. One good stiff breeze and this entire apparatus is going to come crashing down. Then people will quickly realize, like Katrina victims did, what is “essential and necessary” and these stupid and pointless debates are going to come crashing down with the pangs of starvation.
One of the problems the modern world has, unlike the ancient world, is there are no “greener pastures” left to flee to. And the world’s population is far, far higher then the world has ever seen before. We have long surpassed our ability to simply sustain ourselves with food production without cheap energy. On this single fact alone, we are living on borrowed time, just like ancient civilizations who depleted their environments and faced massive starvation.
There is some rather ridiculous debates that food is not as important as shelter, or meeting your mortgage payments, which is incredibly short-sighted. Or that a “balanced approach” is needed. What is in error here is the utter failure to recognize the true balance of the natural order of things, which is the cycle of life; the consumption and production of “energy” (food) in order to sustain life itself (you). The natural order was severely disrupted a long time ago when people simply forgot how to feed themselves, and became reliant upon these massively interlocking and dependent systems to do this for them.
These dependent and collapsing systems demonstrate the worldwide need to return to the only viable and sustainable alternative that there is, and that is local food production. This is essential and not open for debate by ridiculous arguments of a “balanced approach” that weigh in mortgage payments over something as critical as food.
The point is to get away from the dependency of the collapsing system. Peak oil is going to result in a whole lot of peak everything’s – peak food, peak heat, peak transportation, peak debt, peak population, etc., I am persuaded we are looking at total collapse in the future, how soon is a matter of debate, but one things is certain – nothing is going to get easier then it is today – and nothing is going to be cheaper then it is today.
There is another poor assumption often being bandied about and that is hunting is going to meet the needs of the post-peak survivors. This is absurd. Our environment is devastated. Some areas are better off then others, but for how long? How many people will they support? I’m not at all certain that the game populations will last more then a few weeks or a few months at best after TSHTF for millions of people. How could they? All bets will be off and people will be eating whatever they can steal, trade, barter, kill or grow. Food is and always has been a weapon (look what we did to Iraq after Desert Storm).
I’m a hunter and have done so for decades, but there is no way in the world I’d rely on hunting to feed myself. It simply won’t work like people think. War torn countries amply demonstrate what happens to the existing food supply, including the native populations of game.
The preservation of the kill becomes a problem, as does sanitation. Curing, canning, smoking, pickling, jerky, etc., there is a lot that can be done – but realistically, will it be done? Year round? By who? Suburbanites? No, not likely. Our ancestors could do this because 1) they knew how; 2) there was a super abundance of wildlife, plants and natural ecosystems that were still intact, locally, and the population levels were are a fraction of what they are today. None of that exists today. And even they in those conditions wiped out their food supply during periods of excessive over-hunting.
It takes energy to find / create energy, something has to keep you going in between hunting trips or the production of your garden or a failed crop year. Where is that energy going to come from? Walmart?
I think this “over demand” on the present local systems will be prevalent everywhere. Locally grown produce and livestock is great – but is it really going to be enough to feed the local population? No, not even close, not presently. The fact is, we are all extremely dependent upon what the “grocery store” provides. And the hardware store. And the gas pump. And the corporate manufactures that are mass producing cars, houses, telephones, electricity, propane, heating oil, chain saws and on and on from a worldwide global production and manufacturing and distribution systems, which is in turn reliant upon raw resources, which can only be extracted with cheap energy. What is going to happen when this entire house of cards stops at any point in the chain?
It’s all vulnerable to cheap energy – every bit of it. But underlying it all is the focus of civilization and that is the production and distribution of food. You can live without a telephone, or even electricity or a car or even shelter (homeless people do it all the time), but not without food.
Ideally, food should be grown locally. This is what needs to be developed – locally grown sources of supply (for everything, not just food), but during crash and post-crash, this isn’t going to happen, because people are not geared for it and importantly, they simply aren’t even thinking about it like they should. They are going to take the “wait and see” approach, just like they are now with the environmental indicators that are screaming “collapse”. They don’t understand the need for food or where it come from or how it is produced, maintained, preserved and distributed and this lackadaisical attitude is going to kill tens of millions of people. By starvation, by war, by disease, by a hundred, a thousand different things that will no longer exist.
The current state of “local production” lacks the ability to deal with the massive demands of millions of hungry mouths to feed. They will quite simply be overwhelmed (just like what happens now in a disaster, the stores are stripped bare). This is where the problem is – and where it’s really going to start hurting and killing a lot of people. The local sources of supply will be quickly overwhelmed and the ability to transport needed goods will be questionable at best.
You will need to safeguard your food stores, which isn’t hard (now), but it’s anybody’s guess what you’ll deal with in the future. But would your rather try to hide a bucket of rice, or ten boxes of Mac & Cheese? Only one of these is buriable and rodent proof and will weather the elements (if needed). You could go to the trouble and expense of repacking store bought food, but this really makes no sense at all, since you’re already paying way too much for such a small quantity.
I asked my eldest son who works at a grocery store how much food people were buying. He told me that he sees the same faces in there every day. I find that incredible. He also told me that they were buying quite a bit of food during these daily forays. I don’t know what this represents – except an incredible amount of waste and maybe a super huge family…. but the supermarkets are getting rich off of our dependency, which isn’t going to last.
Right now, the tiny packages you buy in the grocery store are mostly air (and water) requiring a relatively large volume of space for a little bit of food and in a day or two, you’re back at the store again, spending more time, gas and effort because the supermarkets and manufactures want you to come back, again and again, so it’s obviously setup that way. We’re not supposed to notice.
Dehydrated food is highly compact, you’re not paying for water, air and wasted packaging and you can store a year or more in a closet. I stored a five year food supply for six rather easily in a stack of buckets stored in a tent. I still have that tent, but my food is now stored in a safer place.
A one year canned supply is the most compact and easily stored type, for one person, this is a stack of 12 cases, each case contains 6 cans for a total of 72 cans. This is a stack 19″ x 13″ x 90″, way smaller then you’d think. And that’s for an entire year.
Buckets are bigger, but hold quite a bit more and can be even stored outside. You need to consider heat, moisture and oxygen, but sealed containers can be buried in the ground where it is cool if necessary. The preservation methods used for dehydrated and freeze dried foods make moisture a non-issue. Oxygen is dealt with by using oxygen absorbers in the containers. Once opened, they’re no good anymore and should be tossed out (they are not replenishable like desiccant). You will still have a couple of years to consume the food in an open container (if kept dry and cool). I’m still eating spaghetti that was opened five years ago.
I am still a strong advocate of the locally grown and produced, which is one of the reasons why I’m promoting the ecovillage concept. Even dehydrated food is reliant upon the dominant system, which is overdue for collapse. But it IS the energy source everybody is going to need until food is locally grown in sufficient quantities, manufactured and processed, and that will be a while. Possibly a long while, I can easily envision a generation of difficulties for the survivors of crash to endure before they’ve gotten their feet underneath them. There is a lot that can go wrong, I suspect, a lot more then most people think. Katrina gave us a birds-eye view – and that was with the dominant system still in place, still providing the outside support.
I don’t think that dominant system will be much help in the future, it may be more of a hindrance actually, depending on how things go.
Recently, I address one of these rather silly questions regarding food:
So, where do you store it when the bank forecloses on your $3k a month house? Do you move it in your repossessed automobiles?
You’re not asking the right question here. What are you going to eat when you don’t even have the money to pay the rent? Even if there is food in the market? Steal it? For how long? That food supply will be your life saver. You can always go buy another house…. but not if you’re dead – or in jail.
Storage isn’t the problem either, or the right question.
To be fair, there is no “right” question, but there is the clarity that comes with asking the right question from the vantage point that puts these issues into the proper perspective.
The question remains the same question that everyone is now asking – what am I going to do when the SHTF and I need to live?
Your personal needs of food (including water), clothing and shelter come first – before mortgage, transportation and movie tickets. If I had to, I could carry a month’s supply of food on my back.
If you were really tossed out into the street, and your cars repossessed, are you also planning on leaving your clothes behind? Of course not, they are just as important to you as the food you eat. You’re going to grab your “stuff” and do like you’ve always done – manage. You’ll move your grubstake somewhere – just like everyone does now (and in the future if necessary).
Recall those National Geographic pictures of the loaded bicycles with the household belongings piled high on top of them? That will happen here in America.
Removing the pressure to feed yourself is simply sound advice. Sure, I sell this stuff, but I have also seen the results in present times how not worrying about literally starving to death can make a world of difference. Right now, there is the system to literally “take care of you” – as long as it last and as long as it works. But it doesn’t always work as we have all seen, if even long distance. The future promises a real world where the system either doesn’t work at all – or is even used against you. But you’re needs still remain the same (and a mortgage is not one of them).
My whole philosophy regarding this is “Sustainable living & Common Sense”. I don’t believe in “survivalism”, because it utterly fails to take into account a number of issues that are at the root of what is causing most of our problems today. How “sustainable” is a mortgage if the system collapses? It’s not. You don’t know if your house will be repossessed or not. Or your financed car. Or if there will even be any gas available.
But your personal survival needs (I had to use that word) haven’t changed. You still need the same basic requirements as everyone else, except this time, it’s millions and millions who are going to be competing for whatever is still available. The stores will be stripped bare in a matter of hours (just go check with hurricane victims or those who have endured ice storms and such like).
One of the first things they had to do for Katrina victims was get them (you guessed it) water and food. Medicines and medical help came a close third. Imagine a Katrina a thousand, million times worse where everyone is fighting and scrambling over our “just in time” delivered supplies that stop coming because they either can’t be produced, won’t be produced, can’t be delivered or the raw materials are simply gone.
Everyone of us lives at the end of a stack of dominoes today. If even one of these dominoes falls, the entire stack will start to collapse. What we have learned regarding peak oil / peak energy, overpopulation, pollution, the environment, global warming, rising sea levels, the collapsing oceans and on and on (it’s a very long list today) amply demonstrates that our dominoes are about to fall. How could they NOT?
A poster on our forum (Paradise) put this best –
“The cost of this brainwashed life is that our life support system (our natural environment) is so devastated that we are now spending hours out of our every daily lives trying to figure out how to survive WTSHTF.”
And that’s a fact if you’re the kind of person that is even paying attention and thinking about YOUR future. This house of cards is about to collapse, there are indicators worldwide screaming out for our attention. But it is too late to prevent it. Collapse WILL happen.
It never seems to occur to people that we shouldn’t even be in this position to think about our survival. But we’re having to do so because of some incredibly shortsighted “choices” that were made a long time ago (greed) and that million upon millions of people went along with those choices.
You have the choice right now to decide your future. You can go along with the herd (most will) and die, or you can wake up and realize it really is up to you to (finally) start taking care of your own basic needs.