Monday, November 29, 2010

A Word About Being Prepared

This past week staying with my Mormon side of the family got me to thinking. They are all set to weather some food system collapse they think will happen in the near future.

Kind of.

They have buckets of freeze dried food and grains in their basement. They have the Survival Seed Bank buried in their backyard. They think they are all set. But they aren't. Those things just give the illusion of being prepared.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm all about being prepared for a disaster. I live in earthquake country after all. But freeze dried food and seeds buried in your backyard just isn't enough.

Everything has a shelf life. Freeze dried food can last 20 years max. Then what do you do with it? As it ages it loses it's nutritional value. At 20 years there's virtually no nutrition in it. And who wants to live on freeze dried food? Not only that, but it requires water to prepare it, precious water that you would need for drinking.

Seeds, even when buried in the ground will only be viable for 5 years maximum depending on the type. Corn, spinach, and onions are only viable for one year if they are stored correctly. So you put all this faith that if there is a disaster you can plant these seeds only to find out that they won't germinate. Then you're stuck. Not only that, but you'll still have to wait at least 3 months before your first harvest.

And what if there is a major disaster and you have to start growing your own food? If you don't have access to food you probably don't have access to gardening equipment and soil amendments. If you live in a difficult growing area do you know how to maximize your harvests? I live in California - a prime place to grow food - and yet I failed miserably my first couple of years because I was still learning. Even now I'm still learning and it's been over 5 years of constant food production.

So I guess my point is that stockpiling what you think you'll need in a disaster is not disaster preparedness. Truly being prepared is being able to hit the ground running because you already know what you're doing


  1. Really good point, Rachel. We all want to be prepared, but when it comes down to it, a bank of SKILLS--and the confidence to execute them--is way more useful than anything material. Books are one step, but practice is the really the only practicality...the only way to know if your plans are viable for YOU.

    I would also add that knowing your neighbors--having strong relationships in your community--are worth 1000% more than ANY goods you can stockpile, in a disaster situation.

    I am enjoying reading about your adventures!

  2. Hear, hear to neighbors! Those relationships are much more valuable than the occasional cup of sugar.

  3. Wintress, you make a really good point about neighbor relations. When we moved in to our house the first thing we did was meet our neighbors. Now we regularly share food and other stuff with them. We had a game of tag going on with the neighbors next door with sharing food. It was pretty funny.

  4. I have relationships with 2 neighbors who garden, and we share produce between us, as one grows certain things, and another grows something else that I can't grow because of my growing area size which is very tiny...But I share the greens I grow and other things that I grown in cold frames with them in the winter and early spring.
    The rest of the neighbors if you want to call them that are druggies and alcoholics and do nothing, but cause problems and whine because they have no money for food, but we do have the money for booze and dope....
    I don't share anything with these people, as at one time, I tried, and was told that they didn't eat anything or cook anything so, I wasn't going to share things that I grow lovingly and enjoy to do. One neighbor wanted some through the summer and I told her, that I would if she would put "sweat equity" in it once a week helping me water and weed and I would share, she wouldn't, as that was beneath her, so I didn't share. I am cruel.

  5. Denimflyz
    Not cruel, fair. I would have done the same. Remember however that if it ever goes badly and they need food your the first stop shopping. I also share my bumper crop as well as early plants with people around me. Neighbors, friends and occasionally just some stranger who we get talking about gardens. This is all wonderful but as this article states it takes so much more. I hadn't really thought about it like that but realistically its time to start making more reliable plans then simply sustainability. Survivability plans are a must, sustainability can come along once survivability has been met.

  6. Couldn't agree more. I'm on my 5th year of vegetable production and just now feel like I'm starting to understand what I'm doing. The skills to provide for ourselves should we need to are more critical than MRE-in-a-box solutions. And more fun!