I was watching Cinderella man yesterday depicting the economic crisis in the 30s and the documentary The Corporation this evening about the damage that large corporations do to our planet, and all along I had this idea in the back of my mind of what to do in the case of a major disruption of our current situation.
Even though we eat diets that promote great health, we still have to deal with water supplies, the air we breathe as well as possible epidemics. With all fragile the economic situations is, we never know if things could start getting worse very rapidly.
I was wondering if anybody in the Paleo community had thought about a plan for escaping civilization in case things rapidly get much worse. I have this general idea of taking some basic survival supplies, finding a secluded place where I hopefully wouldn't be found, preferably close to a fresh water source for food and water in a climate that's not too cold or too prone to dangerous predators. Food, water and shelter would be my main concerns so the selected location would have to cover all these.
When bad stuff happens a lot of people get stuck and end up being at the mercy of the system while an escape from it isn't too difficult most of the time, especially if you already value the ideals of living simply and in accordance with nature.
What are your ideas for when things get wacky and the world as we know it is about to change dramatically? Any good books or other resources on that? Any specific region of the globe you would go?
One of the absolute truest quotations ever put down in literature is actually in a deliciously schlocky SF book by Robert Heinlein: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
A few years back, when I was living the lifestyle of a hard-partying punk rock starlet in Los Angeles, I started having dreams about the end of civilization every few nights. So I started an urban survivalist club, which was basically lil' ol' me and a bunch of dudes who just wanted to talk about guns all the time. I decided to teach these boys how to make moccasins, a few different forms of traditional food preservation, which plants living in the area had what unique and helpful qualities, etc., and I insisted that they all do research about how to deliver a baby in an emergency. Because it's not just guns and Mad Max and glory.
Even if the world doesn't end, we should be able to do pretty much everything, especially non-gender-normative things. It encourages new synaptic connections and genuine personal growth to expand our boundaries. Though my savings will be soon going toward a house that will be prepped well for unfortunate times, and I have chosen to move back to my native South in part for the concern over the sustainability of urban living, I don't think doomsday is coming. Still, I pride myself that I can frame out a room, weld, grow a decent garden, kill and dress a deer and then turn it into a delicious stew, sew basic clothing, defend myself with my tiny little midget fists, amuse myself and others with nothing, make killer 'kraut, make killer wine, and generally assess situations with a calm head and a rational and creative brain. Because we're humans, not insects.
That was long-winded and a little overly philosophical. Sorry about that.
As for books, this one certainly sparked my journey into this sort of stuff. It's super hippie dippie crunchy granola, but that's part of the charm: http://www.amazon.com/Living-Earth-Alicia-Bay-Laurel/dp/0375708812
And Process Media publishes a pretty interesting self-reliance series: http://processmediainc.com/store/books/selfreliance/ (full disclosure, I used to work for Process and their sister company, not that I get any kickbacks or anything, but they are dear friends. If you like supporting independent presses, though, this is the real deal.)
That being said, as an angler, hunter, and general wild food buff, I'd really not recommend going from sub/urbanite to hunter-gatherer as a strategy for surviving interesting times.
Simply put, a hunter-gatherer suddenly dropped into my current highly technical job would probably do better. Living off the land is not easy; while we think of hunter-gatherers as primitive and uneducated, the knowledge and skill base required to forage food and raw materials and make the tooles necessary to survive is huge. You need detailed knowledge of local resources and how they fluctuate over time. Where and when the edible plants come into season; where the animals congregate at various times of the year, their migration patterns/routes, etc. You need detailed knowledge of season-specific hunting techniques. You need to know how to make a wide range of tools, cordage, and clothing. You need how to know to build season-specific shelters, deal with insects, orient yourself, start fires using primitive methods, how to find and use medicinal plants...
And of course, if you're in a collapse-of-civilization scenario, you'd be doing this while thousands of times the number of people your local ecosystem can sustainably support as hunter-gatherers are trying to do the same thing while engaging in some serious live-action live-fire Mad Max historical pre-enactment.
Population overshoot is a bitch.
The best way to learn how to be a hunter-gatherer is by the side of a family of experts as you grow up doing it. Just getting competent at hunting alone takes years (trust me; I'm in this process myself). Figuring it out on your own during an emergency is impossible; by the time you've got it figured out you'd starve to death hundreds of times over.
If you're worried about surviving the zombocalypse or whatever, the classic survivalist strategy of getting a bunch of your fellow believers and stockpiling a whole bunch of guns, ammo, and MREs in a remote bunker makes a lot more sense.
I'd also recommend survivalblog.com It's one of my daily stops. Mark Sisson actually did a neat, pseudo spoof on the subject http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-preparations-for-the-post-apocalypse/. I have been a prepper for a little over a year now. I was struggling to mix my paleo diet (which incorporates fresh food, etc.) with the idea of long term survival (most long term foods are grains, beans...) I haven't figured out how to do it perfectly, but I have settled on a 2-3 year compromise. I have been stocking up on canned tuna, sardines, coconut milk, and some dark chocolate. I also started my own garden, and have a deep freezer I am going to hook up to a solar panel. Then I can have long-term clean meat (and cheaper as I can buy in bulk). The topic in general is hard to deal with. But I find that taking steps each day, week, month, etc.. no matter how large or small, helps.
I'd recommend the survival podcast (http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/). This guy recognizes that the most likely survival situation we'll face is the type of food/water/power disruptions following a hurricane or an earthquake or something. We'd probably all have a little more peace of mind if we had a couple months worth of food, water, and medicine on hand.
You asked about a dramatic change in our society, however. This could induce intense competition for dwindling stocks of food and water. I think in this case you'd want to be a well-armed hobby farmer, probably in the Midwest. This has a great climate for farming or raising any kind of livestock, and in fact is currently where most of our food is currently produced. California produces a lot of food, too, but is totally dependent on steady supplies of water being pumped in from elsewhere.
And don't ignore community. Many survivalists exhibit a fortress mentality and think they can hunker down and defend themselves against anything. They're wrong. It takes a community that can gather together for mutual aid in times of trouble, or any time. Think harvests and barn raisings.
Also, think food preservation. The beauty of cereal grains is that they store so well, but Paleo foods need to be canned, smoked, frozen, salted, or otherwise preserved.
Know your body, know yourself, know your local farmers, pay attention. Beyond that... once you get past the screaming hype (or romantic fantasies) of certain online communities, the risk of social collapse in developed nations in our lifetime is, realistically, essentially zero. How much time do you want to invest in preparing for this, and what else could you be doing with that time instead?
If you are worried, I'd suggest you learn how to hunt and trap your own food and preserve it, how to tan hides using natural materials (like brain), how to use natural resources as medicines, how to find and purify water in a variety of situations, how to grow your own food, both plant and animal, how to build your own shelters using natural materials like logs or mud, etc. Basically, you will want to learn how to survive without modern conveniences.
Gathering a hoard of food and sneaking off and hiding would not only be expensive but it would not serve you in the long run. No matter how much food you bring, eventually it will run out and then what do you do? I think it's always good to have a backup cash of food and supplies for emergencies, but for the long haul, what you will need most is the skills and knowledge to get more. Survivalist education can be a fun hobby for when things are good and a means to survive just in case things don't stay good.
The food available will likely be grains and legumes. If you are gluten sensitive, the most important survival tool may be an extra set of underwear.
You should check out the TV show "The Colony." Season 1 is on DVD and season 2 is airing now.
Create a go-bag with all your survival stuff in it that you could grab and go in minutes notice. If you don't own a gun, it is probably a good idea to change that. Set up a rally point with the buddies you can trust and that hopefully have guns and go bags too and start heading towards the woods/ mountains far from the city to set up camp and wait it out. Expect hostility from outsiders who want your resources. You'll want at least one person always awake on zombie watch to alert the group if you have been spotted.
Check out the movie Defiance to see how you can survive in the woods for a long time.
I love this thread. 80% paleo for just over a year, and new to prepping. taking baby steps. the part I keep forgetting is the importance of having skills! thanks for all of the important advice! I've been wondering about food storage, and the fact that so much of the long shelf life foods have grains. I could tolerate it, but my husband can't. Ready nation has some freeze dried meats I've been considering...anyone tried those? I really have to start lining the pantry and closets...enough baby steps! Stay safe out there everyone!
We (I) should make a website.. a big database of all our phone numbers. Which you would submit to anonymously and couldn't view the other numbers. Then if/when society collapses, the database would be unlocked and we could all meet up before the cell phones go out... yes, that would be awesome.
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