In his 2016 book, Can It! The Perils and Pleasures of Preserving Foods, Gary Allen, a food writer and adjunct professor at SUNY Empire State College, traces the evolution of food preservation as a source of culinary innovation. “The original food-preservation methods—like salting and drying and all that—actually turned the food into something else,” he told me over the phone. “Cabbage sauerkraut is not the same thing as cabbage. Wine is not the same thing as grape juice.”
For hardcore preppers convinced that they may be left with no access to food for a very long time, it would be also important to maintain a robust intake of protein; somewhere around 40-50 g per day is believed to be optimal, although you certainly don't need to observe it religiously. Ready-made protein-rich foods include some energy bars, most dry ration packets, some freeze-dried dinners, canned meat, and military MREs; smaller amounts can be found in some veggies, too. You can also stockpile protein powder - it's bland but relatively cheap ($1 per day). Freeze-dried scrambled eggs, powdered milk, and related products, including long shelf life canned or powdered cheeses and pancake mixes, work well, too. As mentioned earlier, protein and dietary fiber also have a well-established satiating effect, helping you maintain a balanced diet - which can otherwise be tricky when snacking on high-calorie foods. Oh: having some OTC multivitamins may be a good plan, especially to supplement vitamin C.
Some Geiger counters can keep track of the cumulative dose for you, but most will simply display the rate at which you are getting exposed - typically in microsieverts per hour (µSv/h) or microroentgens per hour (µR/h; for gamma radiation, 1 R/h ≈ 1/100 Sv/h). To figure out what the reading means, you need to do the math: for example, at 600 µSv/h, you will hit 100 mSv within a week, and 1 Sv within about two months. (The usual background rate from natural sources hovers around 0.1-0.2 µSv/h.)
This may sound like a good argument for putting all your money into freeze-dried meals, medicine, shovels, and other survival supplies. But of course, that decision would become a huge liability should the apocalypse not come, or simply not come soon enough: you probably can't pay a roofer or a dentist with a pallet loaded with ammo, cigarettes, and canned ham.
The fundamental rule is to not be greedy: within the scope of this guide, your goal should be to preserve capital, not to take crazy risks. If you are tempted to put your money into Tesla, Twitter, or some penny stock mentioned by your third cousin, you are not thinking straight. Pick about 10-20 boring companies that seem to be valued fairly, that are free of crippling debt, and that have robust prospects for the coming years. Stay clear of financial enterprises, of highly speculative sectors such as biotech or solar power, and of heavily regulated industries that lack the flexibility to deal with sudden economic shifts (say, airlines). Relatively safe picks can be found in no-frills domains: basic chemicals, staple electronic components, profitable freight railways, mechanical assembly manufacturing, home and office supplies, and so on.
Of course, some extreme preppers will settle for nothing less than a military-grade gas mask rated for chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare. While it is true that such masks offer much better protection against nerve agents and similar extremely harmful substances, it's not a likely concern in most parts of the world - and either way, it's doubtful that you would have enough time to suit up once the symptoms kick in.
Religion, however, has everything to do with survivalism—there are things about your faith that affect the way you live, Fletch says, offering me an example. “Today, a great deal [on the menu] was the special you had,” he says. “Every one of the specials had pork in it. Well, depending on your belief system and where you’re coming from, Dan, you could’ve made several decisions about me.” He’s right; I could’ve thought he assumed the breakfast was on me, so he ordered the most expensive dish on the menu. And those assumptions, he says, can break up a group. “If 99 percent of the people in your group don’t eat pork, and you bring in some person eating a ham sandwich next to you, that’s going to cause some conflict.”