By Beth Buck
I’ve already spilled about a gallon of digital ink writing about topics related to emergency preparedness, and that’s because there’s always more to say. Today, let’s get back to basics. What is it all for? Peel back the layers, past the whys and wherefores of hurricanes, earthquakes, civil unrest, and the explosion of the sun, and we find this: emergency preparedness means you won’t die if you can’t buy things at the store.
Our economy is built around buying everything from someone who makes it commercially, not just groceries like bread and milk, but also shoes, clothing, kitchen utensils, and kids’ toys. There’s a growing population of people who don’t even cook – ever – and eat at restaurants for all of their meals. The state of being a consumer relies on the availability of goods to consume. Preparedness culture, however, is about being self-reliant. Therefore, consumer culture is the antithesis of preparedness. When a crisis disrupts the flow of goods, you’re out of luck. If you have the skills to produce your own goods, you’re much better off, and not just during a crisis.
I’ve talked before about how you can’t just buy your emergency supplies and call it good. What good is your lifetime supply of wheat if you don’t know how to make anything with it? Wheat is only raw material that you can use to make a very wide variety of tasty food. Make your own bread/tortillas/naan/pancake mix instead of relying solely on your neighborhood grocer.
Here’s another good example: currently my family is on a fairly stringent budget as we put my husband through school. My kids didn’t want to wear their flannel winter pajamas in the sweltering July heat, but I wasn’t willing to run down to the big box store to buy a shoddily-made set of clothing with garish cartoon characters on it. Instead, I made each kid a pair of yoga-style pants out of some discarded t-shirts. The raw materials cost me nothing since I already had them on hand, whereas comparable sleepwear would have cost at least $15 per set, so 45 minutes at the sewing machine saved me $30.
(As an aside, while I’m very pleased that I was able to do that for my kids, I am equally pleased that I do not need to rely solely on my own hands for all the clothing for my entire household.)
Many people dislike consumer culture and want to find a way out of it but don’t know where to begin. If you are interested in drifting away from being strictly a consumer in favor of producing your own goods, here are some helpful places to start:
1) Replace media with hobbies. Instead of spending your evenings with hours of television and movies, use this end-of-the-day time to unwind with practicing a new skill. Knitting and crocheting are very popular. You could also try your hand at woodworking or sewing. The internet and increased access to libraries has made it easier than ever to begin a new hobby.
2) If you do not already know how to cook, learn to cook. Bake bread from scratch, especially if your food storage strategy includes wheat. Home-cooked food is less expensive and healthier. If you are already an established culinary artist, branch out with canning, or jam-making.
3) Fix things, don’t throw them away. It’s certainly easier to just toss an old pair of jeans in the dumpster when you can buy a new pair without much trouble. Being a producer doesn’t only mean you make your own things, it also means caring for what you have.
4) Identify something you buy a lot of. What would happen if you didn’t or couldn’t buy it? What would you do and how would you compensate? As an intellectual exercise, try making your own. You may find you like the homemade version better!
Beth Buck has been involved with emergency preparedness since her very earliest years. She enjoys hiking, martial arts, reading, and writing about food storage. Beth lives in the Intermountain West with her family.