We liked the Rice Pilaf because it had actual vegetable content! Whole peas and large slices of carrot. No other company has this much vegetable content, not even Mountain House. With chicken broth, white rice, and a surprising addition of orzo, this meal was excellent, especially with some of the freeze-dried chicken included in the Premier bucket.
Still, these extraterrestrial-looking foodstuffs seem to be having something of a moment: For the past four years, Costco has been selling pallets of shriveled vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats that promise to feed a single family for up to a year—and if you’re not a member, you can purchase similar survival kits, many of which boast a 20- to 30-year shelf life, at Walmart and Target. One top seller, Wise Company, saw its sales nearly double over the past four years, reaching around $75 million, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story last November. The company’s CEO, Jack Shields, told me he estimates the industry as a whole generates between $400 and $450 million annually in retail.
If this particular calamity strikes, what's the step-by-step playbook you would follow, and how much time would you have to carry out the plan? Will you be sheltering at home, or is this a situation where you need to evacuate? If the answer is "it depends", what would be the key factors, and how quickly would you need to make the final call? If you pick the wrong option, how bad would it be?
Still, this does not mean that the survivors of a nuclear war would have to choose between starvation and death. Water and food stored in closed containers will not become radioactive - people would just have to be mindful of the dust on top. Crops can be grown after removing several inches of topsoil, and most rivers, streams, and creeks become safe quite rapidly (shallow bodies of standing water are a different animal). In other words, with basic precautions, it's quite possible to thrive in the aftermath of even the worst nuclear war. All it takes is some luck and a bit of knowledge; blast-proof bunkers are not a must.
With the rules internalized, you are extremely unlikely to cause unintentional harm. Keep practicing at least twice a month until you get good, and then go to the range at least several times a year. Try to use practice ammo with lead-free primers and clean bullets (e.g., RUAG Copper Matrix, Magtech Clean Range, Winchester Super Clean, Federal Ballisticlean, Remington Disintegrator, Federal American Eagle TMJ, Federal Power-Shok Copper) and avoid tracking lead residues from indoor ranges back home - especially if you have small kids. Always wear hearing and eye protection, too.
So, here's your homework: make a list of all the major threats discussed in this guide, alongside with any other contingencies you worry about. For each and every one of them, draft a detailed, step-by-step preparedness and response plan that sounds right to you, and that you can see yourself actually putting into action. Don't obsess over getting all the details right; we'll try to refine your choices in section 4, and even then, it may take several iterations to settle on an approach you are really happy with. For now, simply list all the noteworthy dangers, jot down some initial answers to the following questions, and see where that takes you.
After 15 minutes, I was startled to discover that the cereal had puffed up into a Kashi-like multitude of grains, flecked with tiny pieces of apple, complete with green peel, that looked just-chopped. It didn’t taste as good as it appeared: Eyeballing a fourth of the bag had resulted in a poor distribution of seasoning, yielding a flavor I can only describe as water laced with traces of cinnamon and sugar, though subsequent attempts tasted better.
If you're doing something that's morally reprehensible or socially unwelcome, you are greatly increasing the odds of getting hurt. It doesn't matter if you think it's perfectly legal: if you are a monumental and malicious jerk, a bored prosecutor will probably dream up a felony charge to hit you with. Or perhaps they won't, but one of the people you wronged will lose it and take justice into their own hands. In other words, if you want to escape harm, don't mess with others out of malice, jealousy, boredom, or for petty personal gain.
Heck, even if you do have a nearby water source, it may take surprisingly little to spoil it: for example, after an unusually powerful storm, floodwaters can carry toxic sewage from treatment plants and into rivers and lakes. All in all, stockpiling some amount of drinking water is just a smart, low-effort prepper strategy, especially in areas with an elevated likelihood of large-scale natural disasters or industrial accidents.
I try to shop just as the supermarkets open if I’m doing a big stocking run. Around here there are usually just a handful of shoppers between 7 AM and 7:30 AM on a Saturday or Sunday, so it’s easier to avoid prying eyes. Then I just joke with the cashiers that it’s such a great price and now I won’t have to buy more for six months until the next sale. Or if I’m seeing a cashier too often I’ll say I’m donating to the food pantry, and while I do donate regularly to the food pantry, most of the stock is going into my personal pantry… If you find your supermarket is crowded just after opening, then try visiting at odd hours if you can to find a time where the store isn’t as busy. Then it’s just the cashiers you have to talk with, unless the store has self-check. I love using self-check since one store near me allows me to scan items as I walk around the store and bag it as I go. When I get to the self-check then I scan my card and the computer knows what I bought. Occasionally they will do an audit to make sure people are keeping honest, but it’s a lot easier to hide mass quantities from prying eyes when you can bag things up before leaving the aisles. 🙂
In the early 20th century, the world kept witnessing just that; a series of bank runs and economic contractions forced the governments around the globe to act. At that stage, outlawing fractional-reserve banking was no longer politically or economically tenable; a simpler alternative was to let go of gold and move to fiat money - a currency implemented as an abstract social construct representing indebtedness, with no predefined connection to the physical realm. A new breed of economists saw the role of the government not in trying to peg the value of money to an inflexible commodity, but in manipulating its supply to smooth out economic hiccups or to stimulate growth. Depending on who you ask today, contemporary monetary policies - especially in the era of bank bailouts and debt-fueled GDP boosting - are either a brilliant way to stabilize free markets and promote wealth, or a reckless charade that papers over systemic problems and sets us up for serious trouble in the coming years.
For those who are worried about less likely, longer-term contingencies - or who want to limit their future grocery expenses in case of a financial shortfall - a more varied stockpile to cover 3-4 months is a reasonable choice. At that timescale, it's still smart to begin with some number of hassle-free survival rations, but it is important complement them with a more palatable menu: freeze-dried or canned meals, MREs, or cheap home-made food. Crisco aside, some of the nutritious and easily stored staples include Mylar-bagged, oxygen-scavenged white rice, white flour, dried beans and grains, instant mashed potatoes and oatmeal, pasta, sugar, honey, powdered milk, salt, spices, and so forth; when stored properly, all of them can last 5 years or more. Freeze-dried or garden-grown fruit and veggies can add some flavor to your post-disaster cooking, too. Heck, you can even buy supposedly tasty butter, chicken breast, canned bacon, and bread-like crackers with 10+ year shelf life (although they are not cheap).
In all the years I’ve worked with preparedness one of the biggest problems I’ve seen is people storing food and not knowing what to do with it. It’s vital that you and your family become familiar with the things you are storing. You need to know how to prepare these foods. This is not something you want to learn under stress. Your family needs to be used to eating these foods. A stressful period is not a good time to totally change your diet. Get a food storage cookbook and learn to use these foods!
Astronauts are provided with survival kits due to the difficulty of predicting where a spacecraft will land on its return to earth, especially in the case of an equipment failure. In early US space flights, the kit was optimised for survival at sea; the one provided for John Glenn on the first American space flight in Friendship 7 contained "a life raft, pocket knife, signaling mirror, shark repellent, seawater desalting tablets, sunscreen, soap, first aid kit, and other items". A survival kit was provided for the Apollo program which was "...designed to provide a 48-hour postlanding (water or land) survival capability for three crewmen between 40 degrees North and South latitudes". It contained "a survival radio, a survival light assembly, desalter kits, a machete, sunglasses, water cans, sun lotion, a blanket, a pocket knife, netting and foam pads".