Prepping for the Well-to-Do: Part 1
I note plenty of suggestions and websites galore for the budget-challenged to prep ranging from buying a little extra each week---see the LDS shopping list for newlyweds---to hunting, fishing and foraging on state land. At the other extreme are those who can afford survivalist-consultants to build and stock extensive underground bunkers, which require the employ of a staff including farmer/serfs and Blackwater-type security. But no one is targeting the reality of the well-to-do (WTD), so I'm going to. It's not for class reasons, but because that's the kind of income it will take to get up to speed at this late date. And up-to-speed has recently been sped up to two years of stored items from six months.
Let's get going.
Time's Running Out
By now everyone knows they should be prepping, right? Even suit-wearing John Williams of ShadowStats thinks you should (and I don't mean to imply any disrespect by mentioning the suit; by far John's my favourite economist because he's so smart and so practical). In surveying the literature, not only is there a dearth of information for the well-to-do in preparing for coming hard times, but even worse, the WTD, some of whom may still have well-paying jobs, strike me as overrepresented among the Don't Get Its, those who haven't caught on to the severity of our collective situation.
There are already sporadic shortages of various consumer products and, depending on how bad things get, there may come a time when some items aren't available at all. A few years ago when surveying the wreckage after the 2008 crash, a consumer-products analyst was worried about what choice the consumer would be left with as the Great Recession deepened. For those old enough to remember, it looks like it's caviar-helper time again.
The take-away here is not that the needs of the well-to-do are different from anyone else's. The point, again, and unfortunately, is that it will take a WTD income or enough room left on credit cards to catch up to storing two years of necessities. Preferably, this should be accomplished before the November elections in the US.
Everybody's Got to Eat
This week's shopping list will cover bulk purchases and storage of food, water and minimal toiletries in quantities sufficient to get by for two years. You can still buy the dips when favourite items go on sale; however, I don't think there's enough time left to use the Mormon's weekly shopping list that is spread out over a year.
Whether or not you buy into TEOTWAWKI mentality or not, at the very least, storms and other natural disasters can keep you running your generator for a week or a lot longer. This happened in the Northeast during last October's freak snowstorm and happens repeatedly in other parts of the country. Oh, wait a sec; you do have a generator, don't you? It's at the top of 100 Things that Disappear First: http://www.thepowerhour.com/news/items_disappearfirst.htm Ya gotta have a generator. You also gotta have fuel for it, which you gotta store. If it's gasoline, you'll need a gasoline-helper additive like Sta-Bil. Get the original formula for the generator and lawn tractor, Sta-Bil marine for your boat and Sta-Bil diesel for your Mercedes.
Talkin' about Mercedes, when the drought reached crisis stage in Somalia more than year ago, many Somalis---but not all---had to walk for days, weeks and sometimes a month to get to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. One woman who didn't have to walk was approached by reporters as she got out of a car with her kids. Her car was a Mercedes, but she didn't have food and had to go to the FEMA, I mean refugee, camp. And why didn't she have food; why didn't she barter her car, cell phone or expensive wristwatch for food? Because there wasn't any. There wasn't any food at any price. Can it happen here? The US had a drought this year after a lousy growing season last year. The effects of these things are cumulative. So's radiation poisoning, BTW, but we'll go to that some other time.
Many items will end up in short supply or not be available at all. Note the Iranian diplomatic staff stocking up on consumer products (at dollar stores, mind you; times must be tough over there) while in New York to attend UN meetings: http://tinyurl.com/8sm87cg You'd think they'd have a few bucks, so I guess the items they bought were no longer available in Iran.
And the most telling example of all---if this doesn't convince you to prep, nothing will---Walmart has cut back on its restocking schedule and keeping less on the shelves. Oh the humanity!
Rule of Thumb
The rule of thumb has been to store six months of food, cash and anything else you need. Some think two years are safer and I do too. While you may have to increase your food budget 100-fold short term, keep in mind that this is a no-lose proposition. Anything you buy today will be more expensive tomorrow. So, as you effectively pull consumption forward, you will be average-costing down your household expenses. Even if prepping in anticipation of scarcity doesn't grab you, blunting the effect of inflation, or a potential jobless stretch, should. I don't see much of a downside here. Preps not used can be donated to a local food pantry for a tax deduction.
Two Years' Worth
Drinking Water: This is considered the most important prep. The plastic containers water is sold in leach so you should store drinking water in glass containers. I bought gallon glass jars from: http://www.freshwatersystems.com
The Mayo Clinic recommends 72 oz/day for women and 104oz/day for men. Together, that's about a gallon a day with enough left over to fill your cat or dog's bowl. FreshWaterSystem's price break for gallon jars is $4.24 for 24+. Here's where the bucks come in. If you want to safely store drinking water for six months for two adults and a cat, that would be about 180 jars for $339.20; one year $678.40; and two years $1,356.80. The plastic jugs you buy milk in are now formulated to biodegrade, but can be used to store water for bathroom use should it not be forthcoming from the faucet.
Tip: You can fine tune water purity by filtering it through a Big Berkey or other countertop water filter. I bought one last year and I'll let everyone know how it works when I take it out of the box.
If you're looking at second homes, what with prices coming down and all, look for something with a well. If you can dig a well where you are now, do so and install a solar pump.
Adequate Nutrition: The recommended daily calories for women* are 2,400-1,600/day depending on age and 3,000-2,000/day for men.** The easiest way to get sufficient calories and protein is with enriched white rice (brown rice doesn't store well) and black beans, with perhaps a multi-vitamin side dish. I know, a lot of carbs, but rice, beans and veggies can really hit the spot when the alternative is missing that second meal in a row. On the other hand, you'll pretty quickly learn what they mean by food fatigue; its prevention will be covered in later articles.
One cup of white rice is 205 calories; one cup of black beans is 227 calories. It takes four or five cups of both to add up to daily calorie requirements. Probably way more than anyone would want so you'll have room left for desert. According to the US Rice Federation, unopened packages of enriched white rice will last 8-10 years stored in the cupboard. Hint: Buy it in small bags; its shelf life diminishes when the packaging is opened. http://www.buythecase.net carries rice and beans.
Tip: Rice, beans and maybe a few other veggies can be made quite palatable with teriyaki or soy sauce. I bought a lifetime's supply of Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce at http://www.buythecase.net $39 a 36-bottle case, which was a bargain over grocery-store prices.
Sautéing veggies and meats in olive oil improves the taste and adds nutrients. Oil lasts several years in unopened glass bottles or metal cans. ByTheCase.net sells olive oil; just make sure you get it in glass bottles or cans.
*A woman aged 19 to 30 years needs between 2,000 and 2,400 calories daily; 31 to 50 years 1,800 to 2,200 calories daily; those over age 51 need 1,600 to 2,200 calories daily.
Males** ages 19 to 30 need 2,400 to 3,000 calories a day, those 31 to 50 need 2,200 to 3,000, depending on level of activity. Males over age 51 need 2,000 to 2,800 calories a day.
Coffee and Tea: I don't think it's asking too much to include coffee and tea in a survivalist diet. ByTheCase.net carries several brands and sizes of coffee and tea including non-dairy creamer, which, since it has very little organic content, probably has a shelf life of infinity. Honey will last indefinitely too. Ground coffee in an unopened can will last two years or longer. Tea in bags in their unopened box or transferred to a lidded glass jar will last at least two years.
Spices and Condiments: Common household items that store indefinitely are salt, sugar (preferably stored in glass or metal cans), honey and mayonnaise (unopened in a glass jar).
Those that last two years or more include dried or powdered garlic (2 years), dried or powdered onion (2-3 years); ground pepper (2-3 years); peppercorns (3-4 years). Here's a good site to lookup shelf life: http://www.stilltasty.com/
Dollar-Store Spices: Prices are so much better at dollar stores that, for these items, I suggest actually shopping in a store. If you don't want to spend the time, but are OK with spending the extra money, there's always www.buythecase.net
Pet Food: From a vet: "Generally speaking, if you buy the more expensive all-natural foods, the natural preservatives such as vitamin E used do not work as long as the preservatives used in cheaper foods. They break down. This is reflected in the best-used-by-date posted clearly on the higher-end pet foods. Dry pet foods with natural preservatives may be kept under 85 degrees sealed in a container in the original bag for about 4 months, while foods with other preservatives may be kept as much as three years if kept properly sealed up cool and dry. Just kept in the bag, I would not keep dry pet food past three months."
Dog Food: Nutritional requirements for a dog aren't that much different than for a human. They can be feed people food and do fine.
Cat Food: This isn't so for cats, however. There is a good article on the subject from Cornell's Vet School: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/feedcats.html In a SHTF scenario, kitty may have to make due with certain people foods. Low acid foods have a greater shelf life than those with higher acids in them. Fish and meat are low acid foods, hence, can be stored for a long time. Canned fish and meat can be stored unopened for about 2-5 years. Ask your vet about vitamin supplements.
Toiletries: Preppers are obsessed with toilet paper. I don't know why, but I bow to their greater experience. Since it's bulky, it's a lot easier to have delivered than to buy it at the store. Here's where I bought Ultra-Soft Charmin (the price break is at 40 rolls): http://www.restockit.com/ Conservatively, budget 1.5 rolls per person, per week. That's 78 rolls per year/one adult or 156 rolls for two adults. For two years/two people you'll need 312 rolls or about 8 cartons @ $38.94/carton for a total of $311.52.
Tip: TP is considered to be a high-value barter item amongst the prepper cognoscenti. It also makes a nice hostess gift or Christmas stocking stuffer. Think of all those omelette brunches you'll be invited to by backyard chicken farmers when they know you'll show up with a roll. Not having gone through the above formula before I placed my order, I now have plenty to barter with.
If you place orders for the above items---all of which can be done online---you and your companion pets will have two years of adequate nutrition and safe hydration plus toilet paper. In Part Two, I'll go into other food and toiletry items that will help maintain an illusion of wellbeing.
Tip: One more thing, unplug wrap your laptop in aluminium foil tonight; I'll tell you why later.