Posted on

Sit and Think is Your First Preparedness Task

Cover the basic needs first. What good is 12,000 rounds of ammo, two battle rifles, BDUs, one flashlight, and one case of MREs after the first week?

You must have a full plan to survive. Providing for just one year takes some serious dedication to reach that level. A couple of decks of cards, pens, papers, small note books, the list can go on and on and on. You have to be well rounded.

Can you skin a buck, run a trapline, drop a tree with a chainsaw, plant a garden, protect your garden, preserve your food? Do you have dogs? Do you have enough stored food for them?

How about pest control, mice traps, squirrels, rabbits, coons, ground hogs, can sure tear up a garden do you have traps for them? Think it through: Chipmunks, gophers, garden pest, and bug control. Mosquito netting is the best thing you can buy if you plan on being outdoors.

Sit down and try to put a list together for one year of supplies. You know just the basics like where are you going to get water every day. How are you going to cook? How do you heat in the winter? Have you ever tried to chop a year’s supply of wood?

Do you have children? What kind of medicine will you need for them in 1 year? What kind of non power games do you have for them to do? Does you wife sew or crochet? Do you have some supplies like that put away. A knitted wool hat or mittens sure would be nice if you didn’t have them when you left. How about washing clothes?

You did put away enough toilet paper for a year, right? You also protected this toilet paper with traps or poison so the mice and chipmunks didn’t chew it all, up right? How about feminine products for a year.

What about yeast infections? I know it’s not the most pleasant thing to talk about but a must if you are seriously planning to survive. I talked to an old timer once that grew up in the Depression and I asked him what did you use for toilet paper his words “Last year Sears and Roebuck catalog, oh and by the way I sold all my furs to them too.” What would be a good catalog today? How about some thick old city telephone books, might be a good choice to store away for back up toilet paper.

These are some thing you must consider. Walk your land, think about every tree you have, how much open space you have, how much water, wildlife, and shelter you have. A plan cannot be made until one knows what he needs!

Posted on

How to Dry Cure Meat at Home

One of the old forms of food preservation is fermenting and curing meat. It’s also one  of the tastiest in artisan salamis, pepperoni, aged cheeses, and of course, bacon, just to name a few. Not only does fermenting add preservation to the meat, but it adds flavor, flavor. Need I repeat it again.

If learning how to do things the old-fashioned way, bringing back traditional skills and learning true art forms, or just plain eating delicious foods that you know where they came from and went into them, then you my friend, are in the right place. Let’s raise our cheeses and pepperoni together!

Today we’re talking about the art of using salt and fermentation to preserve your meat.Many people use the freezer or canning to preserve their foods, and while I’m a die hard Mason jar and canning addict, looking back at older forms of food preservation is just as important.

The art of fermenting is using the good bacteria (and salt with meats or dry curing) to give flavor and preservation to the meat, along with drawing out the moisture, which allows it to be a form of preservation. 

Advantages to Fermented and Dry Cured Meat

Cured meat increases in flavor as it ages, as opposed to time in the freezer where over time your meat slowly degrades. Hanging and aging your whole muscles cuts and salami it concentrates the flavors and gives it a more intense flavor process. Plus, there’s the cool factor of being able to have shelf stable meat cured like the pioneers did.

 How to Dry Cure Meat at Home

Purchase a culture specifically for meat SausageMaker.com or ButcherPacker.com  You can keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to do your meat.

The easiest way to preserve your meat is taking a whole muscle cut, make a salt and spice rub and cover it with the rub, and put it in the fridge for a few days. This way you don’t have to use nitrates or any special ingredients.

After a few days, when the salt has had a chance to get in there and draw out some of the moisture, hang it in a controlled environment at 60 degrees Farenheit with 70% humidity and let it dry until it’s lost about 30% of its water weight. That is preserved traditionally and you can eat it raw.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. I make a commission if you make a purchase, but it costs you  no more. Thank you so much for helping support this site and podcast.

Resources for Dry Curing Meat at Home

Kitchen Scale– digital kitchen scale weighing up to 18 pounds at a time to make sure you can accurately tell when 30% moisture loss has occurred.

Salt This is a pink Himalayan sea salt with no additives

Curing Salt– for use in ground up cured meats to help prevent the growth of botulism

The Cave – unit that allows you to control the temperature and humidity on any refrigerator or freezer.

Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing -the book on how to cure meats at home.

Three FREE Recipes on How to Dry Cure Meat at Home- homemade pepperoni, salami, and prosciutto

How long do you let your muscle cut cure?

Prosciutto cuts can take up to a whole year, but smaller cuts don’t take as long. It depends on when it looses the 30% of its water weight. So you need to weigh the cut going in and then after its aged.

You can make Panchetta, which you usually cook, so if you cook it, and don’t eat it raw, then the 30% weight loss isn’t as crucial.

How do you store your cured meat and how long is it good for?

You can continue to store it in The Cave to continue to age it and concentrating the flavors. If you keep curing it will get really hard, otherwise you can store it in your fridge.Lowering the temperature slows down the aging. You can freeze it as well.

Once the meat is completely dry cured, it is shelf stable. You can keep it out on the counter. But to keep it as palatable as possible,  you store it in the fridge or freezer to extend the shelf life and keep it from drying out too much.

Karen says they take they’re salami camping and don’t worry about keeping it in the fridge.

What cuts are a whole muscle cut?

The most popular would be your back leg of a pig, deer, or lamb. You can do something smaller like a loin or neck muscle. Just a whole muscle group, just follow the line and separate that muscle from the rest of the muscle groups. This way you don’t need a grinder.

A grinder is a small investment and you can find both manual and electric
meat grinders here–>stainless steel meat grinder

You can take any piece of meat and do this process of salting and dry curing it.

Back when people naturally cured their own meant, they’d use an basement, cellar, or attic.

You want a slightly warmer temperature so the good bacteria blooms and forces the bad bacteria out, and not being to cold helps with this.

You can use cheese cloth to wrap your meat while its hanging if its in an open environment like a basement or attic. For ease and safety, a contained chamber is best, not only to keep the bugs off, but to help with humidity and temperature levels.

Karen and James created a product, called The Cave, to control your humidity and temperature that attaches onto any refrigerator or freezer. It has a touch screen that allows you to set the humidity and temperature for dry curing meat, cheeses, and even culturing yogurt and sourdough. It has a wireless app so you can easily change the settings if you’re not home.

Right now (thru June 8, 2016) they have a kickstarter campaign going for the Cave including some special kits and e-books.

The fridge or freezer you put it on should be a single unit (no separate freezer) and the heater for warm cultures works best at 10 square feet.

With cheese and meat, if it gets to dry on the outer layer of your meat and cheeses then it creates a hard crust and that hard crust traps the moisture inside and creates a safety issue. This is why the humidity level is so important.

This is also true of your cheeses, if the good mold doesn’t start to form. We had some disasters in the first few years, before The Cave, which is why we ended up creating.

How to Make Bacon at Home

Take your pork belly and throw it in a container with spices, maple syrup or brown sugar is a favorite, and put it in the fridge and flip it once a day for a week. Then throw it in the smoker or in the oven and cook it to a set temperature and you’ve got your bacon.

On the Kickstarter campaign is bacon making kit, both ginger garlic and apple cinnamon bacon.

Salt Safety in Dry Curing

Again, you really need some type of scale. You need 2.5% percent of the weight of the meat to salt ratio, if the meat is 100 grams then you need 2.5 grams of salt to the meat.

If you’re grinding the meat you need to include some type of sodium nitrate or pink salt, and it’s .25% in order to prevent botulism. Nitrates are controversial, but our opinion is we’d much rather not die of botulism if we’re aging salami, the nitrates protect against that.

You don’t need to use nitrates in a whole muscle cut. Unless, you’re rolling up panchetta, in that type some of the meat has been exposed to oxygen, and some hasn’t. Nitrates are needed when the  meat has been exposed to oxygen and is then put into an anaerobic environment. 

Type of Salts for Dry Curing

You want to use salt that doesn’t have any additives to it, like anti-caking methods.

Sea Salt, Kosher Salt, Himalyan Pink Salt.

Is your cured meat okay if its moldy?

Orange and black are bad.

You’re dry aged pepperoni’s are covered in white mold.

You can buy mold powder to add to your meat when you’re hanging them. It’s beneficial to help with the moisture level and to establish the good mold.

We dissolve the mold culture into water and then spray our sausage with it to help bloom that mold onto the surface of our sausage.

What’s the molds purpose?

It helps the flavor profile and when you make a sausage like salami, the casing helps it not dry out too quickly, and the mold does the exact same thing. It helps regulate the moisture loss, so you don’t dry out the outside too quickly and then moisture gets trapped inside instead of releasing.

Three Dry Meat Recipes:

Home Curing Recipes Pepperoni: Homemade pepperoni is worlds above what you can buy in the store. It is also a great “beginner” fermented sausage, since it is aged in a smaller casing and is ready to eat much sooner than other sausages.

1400 g pork  600 g lean beef (or venison)  10 g Bactoferm F-RM-52  50 g de-chlorinated water  50 g salt 5 g Pink salt #2 (not Himalayan salt—pink salt is a mix of sodium nitrite/sodium nitrate)  30 g dextrose  56 g nonfat milk powder  13 g paprika  6 g sugar  6 g black pepper  6 g cayenne pepper  5 g anise seeds, crushed  1 g fennel  24 g reduced dry red wine (optional: boil wine for 15 minutes then chill)  3 meters hog casings, or 6 meters sheep casings

If using natural casings, soak the casings in cold water for about an hour, making sure to rinse and replace the water at least once halfway through. Open the casings underneath running water to rinse the insides. 2. Grind chilled beef and pork through the small die of your grinder. 3. Dissolve the starter culture (F-RM-52) in de-chlorinated water. Let sit for 20 minutes. While it is re-hydrating, chill the beef and pork in the freezer to keep it cold. 4. Combine meat with starter culture, salt, and remaining dry seasonings. Mix for 1-2 minutes, until it becomes tacky. 5. Add chilled dry red wine and mix until combined. If you took the optional step to boil off the alcohol and concentrate the wine flavors, be sure to add the same mass of liquid that the recipe calls for (start with a quantity of wine greater than 24 g and boil this down to 24 g). 6. Stuff immediately into casings. Prick all over with a sterile pin to eliminate air pockets. Weigh the mass of your sausages and record this value. 7. Ferment using the Cave fermentation controller at 85ᵒF and 90% relative humidity for 12 hours. 8. Optional: cold smoke for 6 hours. 9. Dry using the Cave fermentation controller at 55-60ᵒF and 75% relative humidity until the pepperoni has lost 30% of its weight. Adjust airflow so that it is highest at start of drying, and gradually decreases until the pepperoni is complete. This should take approximately 2-3 weeks, if using hog casings (less time if using sheep casings)

Goat Prosciutto: Lamb or goat prosciutto is easy to make, requiring only a few minutes of hands-on time before hanging in the Cave. It is intensely flavorful and has an amazing mouth-feel when sliced thin. This is a traditional recipe made with juniper berries, garlic, and fresh rosemary. You could also substitute other game animals for this

de-boned and butterflied goat leg (or leg roast)  3.8% sea salt  0.25% cure #2 (optional)  3.0% sugar  2.0% minced garlic  1.0% fresh rosemary (or 0.6% dried rosemary)  1.4% pepper  0.4% crushed juniper berries 1. Start by de-boning and butterflying the goat leg. Trim off any silverskin. 2. Mix the salt, cure, and seasonings Cure in the refrigerator: place it all in a zip-loc bag (or a covered non-reactive container) and put in the refrigerator. Cure for about 5 days, being sure to redistribute the cure every day or so. 4. Rinse in water or wine and pat dry. Weigh the meat and record this number. 5. Tie with butcher’s twine and hang in the Cave. Age at 55ᵒF and 75% relative humidity. The goat prosciutto is done when it has lost 30% of its weight and is firm to the touch. 6. Slice thin and enjoy!

Hungarian Salami Hungarian salami is a slow-fermented sausage with traditional flavors of Hungarian paprika, pepper, and garlic.

1200 g pork  400 g lean beef (or venison)  400 g pork fat  0.9 g T-SPX dissolved in 30 g de-chlorinated water 50 g salt  5 g pink salt #2  20 g Hungarian paprika  20 g pepper  10 g fresh garlic, minced  4 g dextrose  3 g white pepper  24 g reduced dry white wine (Hungarian Tokaji)  3 ft of beef middles 1. If using natural casings, soak the casings in cold water for about an hour, making sure to rinse and replace the water at least once halfway through. Open the casings underneath running water to rinse the insides. 2. Grind partially-frozen meat through small die and pork fat through large die. 3. Dissolve the starter culture in de-chlorinated water. Let sit for 20 minutes. While it is rehydrating, chill the beef and pork in the freezer to keep it cold. 4. Combine meat with starter culture, salt, and remaining dry seasonings. Mix for 1-2 minutes, until it becomes tacky. 5. Add chilled Tokaji wine and mix until combined. If you took the optional step to boil off the alcohol and concentrate the wine flavors, be sure to add the same mass of liquid that the recipe calls for (start with a quantity of wine greater than 24 g and boil this down to 24 g). 6. Stuff immediately into casings. Prick all over with a sterile pin to eliminate air pockets. Weigh the mass of your salamis and record this value. 7. Ferment in the Cave chamber at 70ᵒF and 90% relative humidity for 72 hours. 8. Cold smoke for 6-12 hours. 9. Dry in the Cave at 55-60ᵒF and 75% relative humidity until the salami has lost 30% of its weight. Adjust airflow so that it is highest at start of drying, and gradually decreases until the salami is complete. This may take 2-3 months if using beef middles.

Posted on

Teaching Your Kids Not to Rely on the Digital World

Children between ages 8 and 10 spend around 5.5 hours every day using media , according to a media usage report by the Ganz Cooney Center and the Sesame Workshop. But in reality, they’re exposed to eight hours a day of media because they’re often multitasking–watching cartoons while using a gaming system. Meanwhile the American Academy of Pediatrics warns too much media can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders and obesity.

Technology can be useful in helping kids master valuable skills relevant in today’s digital workforce. There are also plenty of gadgets, tools and digital resources that can help kids learn. But there are life skills every child needs that go beyond technology. Here are five things kids should know without the help of a laptop or smartphone.

Telling time

With smartphones never being further away than arm’s reach, it is rare to see people looking up for a clock on the wall to tell the time. Being able to read a clock is a skill that is fading among the younger generation. Teach your kids the technique of telling time with an old-fashioned wall clock. Busy Teacher offers time telling worksheets illustrated with pictures and shows how to do simple tasks like writing the time and drawing the hands of the clocks. When they’ve got the hang of telling time, show them how to set a watch or clock to the correct time.

Money skills

Kids today see adults putting charges on credit cards and don’t know how to make change or count it back to ensure it’s correct. Children as young as age 4 can understand the concept of earning and saving money. Give them three clear jars and mark one for spending, one for saving and one for charity. Start a chore chart and let them earn an allowance that must be divided into their jars appropriately. When they save up for a big purchase, show them how to calculate how much they’ve earned and how much they still need. The sooner you teach your kids about money, the sooner they’ll develop the confidence to deal with financial matters themselves.

Reading a map

GPS devices make it easy to get from point A to B and never get lost. But a GPS doesn’t work everywhere, and your kids may find themselves in a situation where they need to read a map. Start by showing them how the map on your GPS works and what the different colored lines mean. Next, get out a paper map and show them how it looks just about the same as a GPS map and how to read it. Give them a challenge like how to get to grandma’s house just by using a map and have them write out the directions.

Entertaining themselves

Believe it or not, entertaining yourself is a skill that should be learned and is quickly becoming a lost art. Technology gives kids plenty of options from video games to online chatting without much room for imagination. Make mandatory nature time and get the kids outdoors in your backyard or at a local state park. Let the kids figure out what to do to have their own fun without suggestions from the adults. See what they come up with and remind them how much fun they had the next time they’re bored and looking for something to do on their computer.

Write a handwritten note

Handwriting and crafting a letter are getting left by the wayside with the rise of technology. But every child should know how to write a handwritten note with a structure including an opening and closing. Show them an example of a letter you wrote and its purpose. Whether it was a thank you note or correspondence with a relative, tell your kids why it’s important to learn how to communicate without emojis and text messaging. Give your kids an assignment like writing a note to their grandparents once a month or after receiving a gift.

Posted on

8 Challenges Every New Prepper Will Face

challenges-for-preppers

Good things do not come easily.  If you want something that is worthwhile and valuable then you will have to work hard at it consistently with patience.  In our society we are used to having everything quickly such as microwavable food, fast food and ordering things online.  Then when something that we really want becomes hard or takes too long we get frustrated and discouraged.

When I became interested in the preparedness idea it was hard for me to pinpoint how to start or where to begin.  Searching on the internet resulted in hundreds of websites and YouTube videos each with differing views and experiences.  I became overwhelmed and discouraged.  I began to feel it wasn’t worth the time to sift through the information to truly become prepared.

However, everyday I see on the news and read in the papers daily what is happening in our world.  Natural disasters are happening more frequently.  Violence and hatred is at an all-time high in this world.  Then seeing the economy tanking with millions of people out of jobs I realized that it worthwhile to be prepared now.

Ultimately it was a verse of scripture that I came across that made the difference.  In Proverbs 22:3 it says“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”  Now you may not be a Christian or even believe in a deity but you cannot deny the wisdom of that verse.  How many times have we seen societies and even regular people neglect to take heed to warning signs ending in tragedy?

As I continue this prepper journey there are challenges that I face almost daily.  It can be easy to let discouragement turn us around and neglect the warning signs that we see every day.  It gets hard but I believe that it is worth it to continue on.  Our work will not be done in vain.

With that being said I believe there are a few challenges that every prepper will face during their journey.  So I have included my suggestions on how to overcome those challenges.

8 Challenges Every New Prepper Will Face

1. Not knowing where to start

As I mentioned when I began my prepper journey I was clueless on whereto start.  I didn’t know any dedicated prepper.  My family members do not believe in the same way of thinking so I couldn’t ask them for advice.

Therefore, I turned to the wonderful world of the internet where many believe if it is on the internet then it must be true.  I spent endless hours studying and sifting through the knowledge available in order to find a foundation to build on top of.

Eventually after much studying of how to get started I was able to put together a plan.  This wasn’t a concrete plan but is something that is ever evolving.  Either way it is important to have a plan instead of mindlessly wandering buying gear here and there.

In a previous post Must Have Prepper Gear and Where to Start I outlined that plan.  It helped me determine what dangers are most likely to happen in comparison to other threats.  From there I was able to prioritize those threats by first getting a better understanding of them.

For example, you don’t want to build a fall out bunker because you saw it on Doomsday Preppers but not be prepared for a hurricane if you live in Florida.  Yes, a nuclear attack may happen but the likelihood that you will face a hurricane is a lot higher.  Therefore you need to identify the threats and prioritize them using that post.

2. Disapproval from friends and family

In our society people call someone who is a prepper crazy because they believe in being prepared for disasters instead of depending on a government to save them.  People have become so mindless that they believe something similar to a small pox outbreak could never happen in our time.  Then when they meet someone who does it shocks them.  The media has painted preppers to be crazy conspiracy enthusiasts which is true to extent but doesn’t apply to everyone who calls themselves a prepper.

As a single person I’m not dependent upon the approval of a wife or kids.  That is much more challenging especially if you are a new prepper and your spouse is not on board.  Many times they will roll their eyes at you or scold you for spending so much money on supplies.

In a previous post by Dan Sullivan he explains how you can be a prepper without looking crazy.  Our goal shouldn’t be to control family members into believing what we believe.  Instead we should try to speak their language.  For example, they may not believe in the potential of martial law being instituted but they could be concerned about an earthquake in your area.  Try finding their fears and speak their language to encourage them about the importance of being prepared.

3. Finding storage for your preps

As an apartment prepper it is extremely challenging to find space to store emergency supplies.  You don’t have a garage or able to expand your property to fit everything.  Storing food alone is challenging.  Then you have to find where to store gear.

This challenge is not only for the apartment prepper.  Even if you have a house you could be very limited to space due to having a family with kids.  So we have to find creative ways to build storage.

On Pinterest there are tons of articles on prepper storage that you can find to help you to either build your own storage or find small living hacks.  Another good option is look into renting off site storage.  Now I would recommend having the essentials in your house along with at least a 30 day supply of food.  The remainder can be stored in these off-site locations.  This is also good if you are raided and your supplies are stolen.  Off-site storage will give you a backup solution.

4. Getting caught up in prepper fantasies

A lot of new preppers have seen episodes of Doomsday Prepper and are attracted by what they see.  They see these bunkers and weapons thinking that it is all there is too prepping.  They are made to believe that they could be a one man army against the world.

I hear it all the time from new preppers when they are just getting started with building a bug out bag first.  They think that it is going to be like on the tv shows where they can evade danger to live in the woods without facing any challenges.  Of course they don’t realize that bugging out should be the very last option to consider.  You should be more focused on bugging in.

5. Too much focus on gear and not survival

Don’t get me wrong, this blog is about prepper gear where I share reviews of what I buy along with DIY survival gear.  But the focus should not be on the gear when you first get started.  The focus should be on surviving.  You can survive without a lot of the gear that is available.  Prepper gear just helps make it easier.  However, if your gear breaks or fails then you better be able to survive without it.

When it comes to survival you want to follow the rule of 3’s.  This rule states that you can survive only 3 seconds without hope, 3 minutes without air or blood, 3 hours in extreme weather conditions, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.  So you should learn the survival basics of each.  For example you can learn how to filter and purify water so that it is drinkable.  You could also practice building a fire to survive extreme weather conditions and so on.

6. Lack of money to purchase gear

A lot of us are feeling the effects of an economy that is suffering.  Even if the economy is doing well there will still be a lot of us that will still be suffering.  This makes it almost impossible to buy high quality gear because it can get pretty pricey.

This is why I share my experience purchasing prepper gear and testing it on this blog.  I can’t afford some of the high end stuff.  So I purchase the best possible gear at the most reasonable price.  Don’t get me wrong you pay for what you get.  Therefore if you buy generic then you are buying generic quality which typically isn’t great.  So you will have to sacrifice sometimes.

However, I try to provide you with the best possible price for the gear that I review and why I recommend purchasing from there.  Most of my gear is purchased through companies on Amazon because I don’t want to search all over the internet to find gear.  But there will be some gear that is not available on Amazon that I will purchase as well.

In my post 7 Great Inexpensive Places to Buy Prepper Gear I include a lot of great places to check out.  Some include yard sales, Goodwill, army surplus, etc.  Sometimes we may have to start with cheaper gear just to have something there quickly available until you can afford the better quality item.

Being a prepper is a lifestyle.  It isn’t something that is done overnight.  You will never be finished being prepared because there is always going to be something better to buy and learn.

7. Becoming fearful and overwhelmed

During my prepper journey there was a time that I felt extremely overwhelmed and stressed.  I believed that I didn’t have enough gear and didn’t have enough survival skills.  I felt like there was an imminent danger.

There is that fear that will be present when it comes to being a prepper.  This is especially true if you get caught up in a lot of internet shows and conspiracy theorists who live off of the fears of others.  Be very weary of people who constantly keeping you in fear in order to get you to purchase their products.  Stuff like that can drive you insane and into poverty.

Eventually you will have to realize that even if you are at least somewhat prepared you are still more prepared than millions of others in this world.  For example 53% of Americans do not have 3 days of emergency supplies.  So if you even have three days worth of supplies you are more prepared than millions of people in the United States.

8. Meeting other like-minded preppers

One funny thing that I have learned about preppers is that they are very suspicious of other people especially if you are also a prepper.  Many of them believe that if they let you know that you are a prepper then you are going to come to their house and raid them when SHTF.  So they don’t bother bonding together to build prepper communities.  This has been especially challenging for me.

There are few places or things that you can do to meet like-minded people.  You can find a local amateur radio club in your area.  A lot of the people who are HAM operators are preppers or are like minded.

Another great option to find like-minded people is to visit a gun range frequently.  You can also join a local rifle club or gun enthusiasts club.  Many of those people are concerned about defending themselves and others in times of a disaster.

One final suggestion is that you can find a local survival or bush craft group.  A lot of survivalists and bush crafters are also concerned with preparedness but may not necessarily call themselves a prepper.

Posted on

The Surprising Benefits of Honey

surprising-benefit-of-honey

Throughout history honey has been considered a food with unparalleled nutritional and physical benefits. For over 10,000 years (and maybe more) honey has been used as a staple food and as a medicine. This deliciously sweet substance is one of the few foods that can actually sustain human life all by itself. If you’re not already storing honey as part of your survival strategy, learning about all the surprising benefits of honey ought to convince you to start.

Storage

Honey lasts forever; if stored properly you will never need to worry about your honey going bad, forget about FIFO with honey. There was actually edible honey discovered in the pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt. It is also a healthy substitute for sugar that contains no fats or cholesterol.

My honey is hard and crystallized!

Not to worry, if your honey has become crystallized all you need to do is heat it to return it back to normal. Or if you like, turn it into mead!

Health

Skin

Honey is great for overall skin health and can even help to reduce wrinkles and nourish the skin.

Antibacterial

Honey has been used as an antiseptic for years, it was even one of the most popular treatments for wounds in the First World War. Recent science has explained to us why honey is such an effective antibacterial agent.

One New Zealand researcher says a particular type of honey may be useful in treating MRSA infections. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect, and high acidity. 

Wounds

Honey has also been shown to reduce odor, swelling and scarring when used to treat wounds, aside from its antibacterial effects.

Stomach Ache

Got a stomach ache? No problem, mix one teaspoon of honey with a hot glass of water, squeeze in about half a lemon and your stomach ache should go away.

Pink Eye

While it has only been proven in rats, honey was considered an effective treatment for conjunctivitis.

Allergies

Folk medicine suggests that taking local honey will help your allergies because you gain a tolerance to local pollens. Recent studies suggest that while it doesn’t help by eliminating allergies it helps reduce allergies.

a recent study has shown pollen collected by bees to exert an anti allergenic effect, mediated by an inhibition of IgE immunoglobulin binding to mast cells. This inhibited mast cell degranulation and thus reduced allergic reaction.

Coughs

Honey coats the throat, making it great for a sore throat. To cure your sore throat simply take about 1 teaspoon of honey and let it slowly trickle down your throat.

Burns

Honey is also great for burns since it removes the pain and helps aid in the healing process.

Colitis

Honey is shown to reduce the damage done to the colon in Colitis.

Insomnia

Some studies suggest that honey can also help with various nervous disorders such as insomnia. If you can’t sleep, mix 1 teaspoon of honey into a warm glass of water and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

**Because of the spores contained in honey, infants under the age of 1 year cannot consume it. While it’s fine for older children and adults, infants under 1 year can contract botulism from honey

Posted on

7 Great Inexpensive Places to Buy Prepper Gear

inexpensive-places-to-buy-prepper-l

It is true that if you buy cheap you buy twice.  However, I still believe that you are able to find good deals on prepper gear without sacrificing quality.  It is just a matter of identifying these places.

If you are like me you are probably prepping on a budget.  With the prepper gear market growing we are starting to see some increase in prices.  With that being said, in my search to find prepper gear I have identified a few inexpensive places.

7 great inexpensive places to buy prepper gear

1.  Pawn shops

Pawn shops are the ideal places to find inexpensive prepper gear.  Many times the items that you find at a pawn shop are only there because the owners had found themselves in between a rock and a hard place.  So it’s not that the items weren’t of great quality.

On the contrary, many pawn shops will not purchase items that do not have great quality.  Without quality items pawn shops are not able to make an extra dollar.  So they are sure to inspect much of the equipment that is being pawned or sold to them.

Still you will want to inspect the items before purchasing.  There will be some shady pawn dealers who are just looking to make a fast buck and will swindle you.  This is especially important if you are purchasing guns.  You will want to make sure that the gun is functioning properly and safely.

Some of the great prepper gear that you can find at pawn shops include weapons, tools and hunting gear.  It is important to have a great set of tools.  If the grid goes down or if the crap hits the fan there will be no one else around to fix stuff besides you.

2.  Thrift shops

Thrift shops many times will have some great quality items to purchase.  Prepper gear that you can find include grey man clothing, radios and even camping gear.  Furthermore, most of these items were donated by well off people who barely used them.

3.  Military Surplus

Many cities will have a military surplus shop.  Unfortunately most of these shops are found in the bad parts of town.  However, it is definitely worth the trip.

Some of the great prepper gear items that you can find at military surplus shops include military grade clothing, equipment and camping gear.  When bugging out I don’t recommend wearing camo in the urban environments.  However, if you do make it to the woods you could change into something that will help you blend in with the environment.  Military clothing is also built to last.

4.  Yard Sales

Most items being sold at a yard sale have great quality.  Many times families are just looking to clear out their closets with items that they don’t really use anymore or have replaced.  So yard sales are the perfect place to find inexpensive prepper gear.

Great items that you can find at yard sales include clothing, camping gear, food and even coins.  If you look carefully into these coins you can find some valuable treasure.  This is especially true with finding silver. Silver should be saved because if the economy collapses or if crap hits the fan the price of silver will grow exponentially.  If you take a look at the financial struggles of 2001 and 2008 you will see the price of precious metals more than doubled.

5.  Facebook groups

Now Facebook groups are a great place to find prepper gear but you should be cautious about these transactions.  I have heard of people being scammed and even stood up.  On the other hand I know of some people that have bought some really great gear.

There are Facebook groups for virtual yard sales, prepper swaps and even private gun sales.  Many times you will find “preppers” who are giving up on prepping or giving up the lifestyle.  So they turn to online outlets to sell their gear for the cheap.  I would advise meeting with these people in public well lit places.  Also, never go alone.

6.  Craigslist

Just as the previous tip, you want to be very cautious when making exchanges with people over Craigslist.  There have been cases where people have been kidnapped and even murder.  At the same time, I have made some great purchases through Craigslist as well.  I would use the same advice from the previous suggestion.

7.  Auctions

Finally auctions are a really great place to find inexpensive prepper gear.  I know of one prepper who found some really great deals on guns and ammo at auctions.  As a matter of fact, there was a prepper who died but had an arsenal prepper gear that was auctioned off.  It just so happened another prepper purchased that gear.

So these 7 places are really great for finding inexpensive prepper gear.  If you have another other suggestions please leave a comment below.  I would love to find some additional places.  Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list so that you can stay up to date with all of the newest content.

Posted on

The Most Important Preps Of Your Life

most-important-preps

Many have threads, blogs, magazines and even books on the single most important prep that people have to stockpile. Some of the common phrases you may hear include “you need three of this” and “make sure this is in your bag”. Whether it be weapons, tactical gear, water filters, can openers, or any number of other items, all of these things are nice to have in multiples of each. Like the old saying goes “one is none and two is one”, but there is something that most people forget when it comes to their preps. It’s something that a lot of us have the ability to control and improve, and it can give you and your family a fighting chance in TEOTWAWKI or a SHTF situation. I’m referring to your body, your health, and your mind!

How Do I Know This?

First, let me share a little about me with some quick highlights. I am a Marine Corps combat veteran Infantry Sgt., trained in tracking and personal security, and I am a combat lifesaver with three tours under my belt in a PSD (Personal Security Detail). I have been to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once. We were tasked with the security of the Battalion Commander and Battalion Sgt Major as well as other big wigs, like former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and numerous generals as we traveled our battlespace doing large scale operations, training the locals, and doing meetings with local leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan. I left the Marines and did personal security for a former CEO of a major cellular company. I now am an EMT firefighter in a major city in the Midwest. So why does all of this matter? How does it make me knowledgeable enough to speak on the body and mind in SHTF? I have seen what happens when “it” hits the fan. I have seen what happens to people when an IED goes off and then the gunfire starts and the RPGs fly. I have seen the importance of being in the best shape you can be to carry that tactical gear everyone has. I know the importance of training your mind as well. I have trained Marines and security personnel in areas to help them live longer by fighting harder. My hope is to maybe inspire people to prep their body and mind. The following is not for everyone and should be used on a case by case basis, depending on each individual’s ability, health, and fitness levels. Always talk with your doctor before starting any fitness training.

Your Body

Your body and the condition it’s in, physically and mentally, is going to determine how long you can make it in a TEOTWAWKI scenario……….period! Your body IS the most important prep, not sweet n hot beef jerky, although that is mighty tasty stuff. If we have a hard time walking to the corner store without being short of breath, how are we going to run, maneuver, or just hike with your plate carrier, chest rig, battle belt, weapon systems, pack, ammo, and other gear? Most of us have this gear. Have you tried walking in it in your house or yard? Have for you walked in this gear for a mile, three miles, et cetera? It is nice to have, but if you can’t move in it what’s the use in having it. Should something large scale, especially a nationwide situation, happen, the supply chain could very well be shut down. There would be no more super markets open or stocked where you could go to get your groceries. You could find yourself going on long expeditions to find food and foraging. So how do we improve our ability to move in all that gear, let alone just our bug out bag?

You start slowly, especially if you have not been doing much physical activity as of late. Start off with walking your neighborhood or on a treadmill. Then start throwing in some full body weight training. The key again is slowly getting into it to lessen the chance of injury and setting you back further. Once you have been doing the both of them for some time and your body is getting used to it. Move up to walking with your full combat load out, if you have an area that you can do so without drawing too much attention. The next step is to start getting formal training through places like Gunsite Academy, Tactical Response, or onPoint Tactical. As with any skill, seek to improve it. Continue to improve your fitness level at your body’s pace. Even if you just plan on wearing a pack and rifle or just the clothes on your back, increase your body’s cardio ability and strength output regardless. It will make it that much easier when that threat presents itself.

Food and Drink

I love the sweets and sodas as much as the next person, but I’m sure we all heard the saying “stockpile what you eat, and eat what you stockpile.” The main purpose behind that is so that during stressful times there is not a shock to your system. You don’t want your body left wondering where the six Dr. Pepper a day habit you had went. I cut out pop a long time ago to increase my overall health from the amount of sugar and of course to curb the habit. I almost always drink just water. We all can stand to improve the quality of food intake. So, should there be TEOTWAWKI, we can all probably agree that we will go through our entire food stores, right? At some point we are going to run out or lose it one way or another, whether that be from using it, damage, spoilage, theft, et cetera. I know I personally do not have a lifetime supply of supplies. So what does that mean? Well, it means that we will have to resort back to eating single ingredient foods– foods that we get from our environment and our surroundings. These include leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, animal protein, and so on. So the closer to that we can be to that today with our diets and our storage, the better off we will be should that time come.

Something that can also fit into the food and drink category is alcohol, tobacco, or any other bad habits. I know everyone knows the downside of alcohol and tobacco, so I am not going to beat this dead horse too much. However, have you thought about how tough it would be if your supply ran out and you were thrusted into a SHTF situation? We all know how tough it can be to break these habits because of the addiction and the effects on the body. It is not something I would want to go through in a world with limited resources. Another given is the amount of money that can be saved that could, in turn, be used on other critical preps.

Gear Considerations For a Healthy Body

  • Weight is first among other things to think about when it comes to your bug out gear or tactical gear. Remember when you are packing your bug out bag or loading up your tactical gear “ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain.” When you are packing, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Remember that a bug out bag is to get you from point A to point B. It’s not to sustain you indefinitely. Also, think about when wondering if for your main battle rifle you should go .223 or .308, part of the reason the 5.56/.223 was adopted was that you could carry more rounds with less weight. With that being said, you can increase your weight-carrying capacity by increasing your physical fitness.
  • Balance is another gear consideration. For example, if you do plan on having a full on tactical load out, why have every mag you own on your chest? Spread it out to a pack on your back and to a battle belt. Why kill your back being forced forward from the ten or twelve full 30’s in your rig? Lower the center of gravity of your setup with a battle belt. Or even if you plan on just having a bug out pack, use the cummerbund, if it has one. It is there to place some of the weight on your hips and make the hike more comfortable. Maybe consider upgrading to a pack that has one, if yours currently does not, especially if you find yourself being a pack rat.
  • Footwear is a BIG one to think about. You have to take care of your feet or you will get nowhere. If you plan on having a set of footwear that is only in case of a bug out situation, break them in. There is nothing worse than major blisters on your feet from shoes that are not broken in or don’t fit properly. For the ladies out there that wear heels to work, be sure you have that back up pair of footwear in your pack. Also when choosing your shoes or boots, choose them based on your environment and time of year. Running shoes may not be the best form of footwear during a Midwest winter, for example.
Posted on

Why You Need To Garden Now

why-you-need-your-garden-now

It’s easy to find excuses not to garden: I’m too busy, I don’t want to ruin the lawn, I don’t have enough space, I’ll start when I move to the country. There might even be a few who bought a container of heirloom seeds, tossed it into the freezer and checked gardening off their to-do list.

The main fallacy in all these excuses is that you need all the experience you can get in growing your own food now, before your life depends on it. Of course, there are also many benefits to gardening: saving money as food costs continue to increase, learning to preserve your harvests, learning to cook fresh produce in appetizing ways, eating healthier foods, adjusting you (and your family) to a different diet before you have no choice.

Time: everyone is busy. We also make time for what is important to us. Starting a new garden is labor intensive; if your schedule includes exercise then gardening can replace it at this stage.

Lawn care: gardens don’t have to be an enormous rectangle in the center of the yard. A large border garden along the fence can be very productive and attractive. Raised beds can be built with stone or pavers. If you absolutely can not dig up any of your lawn because of a militant HOA or an impending sale, container gardening is the answer.

Space: be inventive. Look into community gardens, allotment space, friends or acquaintances with room to plant. Elderly neighbors who might not be up to the physical exertion of maintaining a large garden could be willing to share their space for a portion of the produce. They will often be an excellent source of information regarding gardening for your climate and soil.

What if you don’t want to invest the time and energy into a garden where you live now when you will be moving to the country or a bug-out place? The answer is: you had better be putting in the work somewhere! If you own land but can’t live on it now, make time to get out there and begin the process. A long weekend, or even better, a week vacation spent camping on your land can see a lot of clearing work done. If nothing else, a spade, bag of compost, stack of cardboard for mulching and seed potatoes will be the starter garden that sets you up for future efforts.

Soil quality has to be your number one concern. Many suburbs and housing divisions are begun by grading the land flat and seeding grass onto what is left. When the grass is dug up what the home owner isn’t going to find is topsoil. The first step is going to be amending the growing medium; a.k.a. making really good dirt for healthy plants. There are choices available for this step. If money isn’t an issue landscape companies will truck in topsoil for you or you can make your own with compost.

Be aware of your gardens needs when placing it. Alan Titchmarsh, prominent British gardening expert, recommends spending a day in a lawn chair observing the space. Watch where the sun hits, what is shaded by trees or fences and where the wind blows unchecked. Know the needs of your chosen crops: is there full sun for corn? Is a place sheltered from the midday and afternoon sun best for the lettuce?

Did you observe any pests? Rabbits can be a serious problem in town where many won’t kill them because they are considered ‘cute’. Do you have family pets which will dig or trample your tender seedlings? Even a knee-high fence made of chicken wire may be enough to keep these out while still allowing you easy access. Another option is to use a greenhouse, polytunnel or coldframe to both keep pests out and extend your growing season by protecting from frost and wind.

Remember that other plants can interact with your garden. My yard is filled with black walnut trees which produce a chemical to retard the growth of other plants. I can’t even use the leaves for compost. Two years ago I opened up a second garden area and I’m still struggling to get decent crops to grow there. These also allow for earlier planting by providing protection from frosts. Eventually, it will be as rich and productive as my first garden. The time and work is an investment that will be rewarded.

Whatever method you choose, start now. This may literally save your life someday.

Posted on

Could Leaving The U.S Be The Ultimate Prep — And Do You Have What It Takes?

ultimate-prep

I have to admit, this is a difficult topic to bring up because, to many people, it veers way too close to betraying the country of our birth. However, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. If I truly believe that utter chaos is coming to America in the form of an economic collapse, EMP, or some other horrific event, then why stay here? Why not find a small, obscure country and hole up for a while, thus protecting my family and myself?

I began researching this subject a few years ago when a reader contacted me and told me about her move to Chile. She and her husband had decided to make the move after much research. They were loving the clean air, pure food, friendly people, and a change in their lifestyle.

I was intrigued. Hmmm…could leaving the U.S. entirely trump food storage, a bug out location, and all the other traditional preps? I began to research residency requirements of various countries.

My first discovery was a shocker. Very few countries want me! They don’t want me, my husband, my family, my parents. Rules for residency can be quite strict, sometimes even requiring the deposit of a large sum of money into one of the nation’s banks. Some countries are quite frank about preventing people like me from coming into their country. To do so, I need to provide:

  1. Proof of health insurance
  2. Proof of regular income
  3. Background check
  4. Health report from a doctor for each family member
  5. Financial information
  6. Birth and marriage certificates
  7. Possibly proof you can speak the language of this country

Additionally, there are strict rules regarding time in country and visa requirements.

This is a stark and startling contrast to the mass human migration we’ve seen in the past couple of years. If citizens of Central America, Mexico, and nearly every other country can walk past our southern border without any of the above, including personal identification, then why do other countries make it so difficult, and, more importantly, where can a law-abiding, hard working American citizen go when they decide to relocate?

(To be fair, the U.S. does have a lengthy process for legal immigration, and it’s quite a difficult path, thus the popularity of illegal immigration.)

Plenty of questions, no easy answers

At one time I thought my family could just pick a country and move there. The entire world was our oyster! Where should we go? Australia? New Zealand? England? Somewhere in Europe? Obviously, we would want to go where English was spoken and where we could quickly blend in.

Well, it didn’t take long to find out that if I’m over 35, Australia doesn’t want me. Other countries may let us visit for a time, but do not allow long-term or permanent residency. The countries that are left are an odd mix:

  1. Chile
  2. Panama
  3. Costa Rica
  4. Hungary
  5. Ireland (ancestry)
  6. Israel (If you’re Jewish or have Jewish heritage.)
  7. Belgium

There are a few more, but the pickin’s are slim when it comes to finding a country that has less restrictive residency requirements.

It boils down to having money, ancestry, time, and/or flexibility. $100,000 will buy a passport and citizenship in Dominica. Ancestors from Hungary, going back 4 generations, can smooth the way for residency in Hungary and Hungarian citizenship. Convert to Judaism and you may become an Israeli citizen, complete with mandatory military service.

If you’re about to have a baby, or are planning one, Brazil is one of only a handful of countries that provides citizenship to every baby born within its borders. Permanent residency can be obtained in Chile, after living there continuously for five years.

As you can see, there is no simple path to residency or, if you choose, citizenship. And then there’s the nightmare of dealing with bureaucrats, long distance phone calls, websites and applications in a foreign language, and, in many cases, visits to a consulate or embassy that could be hundreds of miles away.

Gaining residency in another country is possible. Just not as easy as one would think.

More complications and considerations

If you are able to find a country that will allow temporary residence, and possible permanent residency, then there are tax considerations. The United States is one of only two countries that taxes its citizens no matter where they live and regardless of how long the have been out of the country. I’ve read horror stories of people whose families left the United States when they were very young children, grew up elsewhere, and the were taxed by the U.S. on the income they had earned in that country. Yep, the U.S. and Eritrea share this same tax policy. The only 2 countries in the world.

Something to consider, when researching an expat destination and residency, is what the taxation policy is of your country of choice. Some countries, such as Hungary, has a double taxation policy, which allows them to collect taxes from non-resident citizens — but then there are loopholes and exceptions!

The U.S. is dead serious about collecting taxes from expats. Not sure if it’s out of greed, entertainment for the I.R.S., or stems from a desire to punish anyone leaving the country, but stories like this one are far more common than you might think:

I just found out that despite my income earned and taxed abroad being a) below the foreign income exclusion limit, and b) covered by a bilateral tax treaty between the country where I have lived for the past 49 years, the IRS wants to tax it fully, leaving me with an effective tax rate of 61% from now on.

One of the reasons is that many of the required subforms, e.g. W-2, do not exist in this country (Finland). I sent them my Finnish tax decision along with a translation. They accepted the amount of my earnings, but gave me no credit for the local national tax paid. They have given me three weeks to refile, but the information that they want, such as Social Security and Obamacare payments, doesn’t exist here or is irrelevant to my situation. I am a pensioner whose sole source of income is a Finnish state pension, and I am fully covered by the Finnish health care system. Having worked only in Finland, I never paid into and am ineligible for Social Security and cannot, of course, sign up for Obamacare. They are threatening with draconian fines and seizure of assets so as to leave me destitute for the rest of my life.

So, you may find the ideal country that welcomes you with open arms. You can learn the language and start a new life, but no matter how far you go, the I.R.S. will track you down and demand their pound of flesh.

Oh, and there’s a sweet little federal law, FATCA (Federal Account Tax Compliance Act) that requires foreign banks to reveal the identity of Americans with accounts over $50,000. They have to hand over names, addresses, account balance, account numbers and Social Security or other U.S. identification numbers. Banks who do not comply are punished, by the United States, with a withholding tax of 30% on payments from U.S. banks. Naturally, this has caused many foreign banks to refuse Americans wishing to open accounts, and who can blame them?

The Treasury Department has been unable to cite any constitutional, statutory, or regulatory authority which allows it to compel foreign institutions to collect and share the financial information of U.S. citizens.

Americans living abroad must file an annual report, the FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report), by June 30, of each year, if they have a foreign account holding more than $10,000. Failure to file that report, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, can result in fines up to $500,000 and up to 10 years in prison!! Spreading that money between multiple banks may help you disguise the sum total for a while, but not forever. And, $10,000 is a pathetically small amount of money, considering the fact that the I.R.S. collected over $1 trillion in the most recent fiscal quarter — October, 2014 through January, 2015.

It looks like FATCA, FBAR, and these draconian policies are here to stay, forever, so it’s just one more consideration if you’re planning on leaving the U.S.

By the way, a little civics lesson here. FATCA was included in a quietly passed jobs bill. If a Senator or Representative would have voted against this bill, they would have been excoriated by the opposing party for voting against a “jobs bill”. The next time a politician you favor is accused for voting against a bill that seems altruistic, dig a little deeper to find out what else, exactly, was in that bill.

Loopholes & confusion

Countries that have lenient ancestry requirements still don’t make it easy for applicants. Take Ireland, for example. You may be granted permanent residency and citizenship:

ultimate-prep2

A couple of years ago I was on New Zealand’s website, looking for information about residency and came away with a massive headache. A few forms on the Switzerland website were in German only.

To complicate matters (is that even possible?), these laws can change quickly and without notice. A country friendly to American expats could become hostile with just the election of a new president.

Lessons learned?

  1. Research, research, research!
  2. Simplify your lifestyle now and prepare to live on less money and with fewer belongings.
  3. Have your vital documents at the ready.
  4. Read the fine print.
  5. Take your time.
  6. Be patient.

Oh, be wary of professional expat advisers. I’ve come across a few that paint an alluring picture of the country and people but after more research, I discovered they were more interested in selling their services than in providing accurate info.

Why leave?

I answer that question and provide several historical examples of relocating — in fact, it’s highly likely your own ancestors relocated and that’s how you ended up an American citizen!

Are you ready to relocate?

After researching, studying, praying, and discussing a relocation, you’ve decided to take the plunge. But! Have you considered whether or not you are a good candidate for this major step?

One of the most critical factors in transitioning to a new location, whether foreign or domestic, is your ability to adapt to new situations. Is your basic temperament and personality one that is flexible? Do you enjoy new experiences and meeting  new people? When faced with an abrupt change in your life, do you adapt easily or do you resist the change? I know one woman who, after several years following a divorce, insists that she’s still married in spite of the fact that her husband is remarried to someone else!

A move to another country is going to plunge you and your family into a world in which most everything is different and new:

  • Language
  • Customs
  • Food
  • Holidays
  • Housing
  • Attitudes
  • Entertainment
  • Technology accessibility
  • Laws
  • Climate

Some personality types adjust to these changes more easily. Others will require more time.

Along with adaptability are expectations. How realistic are your expectations for this move? Are you expecting a smooth and seamless transition? Thorough research, talking with other expats, and then actually visiting and spending time in the country or area of your choice will help keep your expectations well grounded.

Then there are the practical issues of age, health, time, and money. There’s no perfect age for moving out of the country. Younger people are likely in better health but with fewer career skills and less saved money. Young couples have each other to depend on but having younger children will make this quite difficult.

Imagine, or remember, taking all the kids to Target or the grocery store. That’s no easy task! Now, imagine taking them to a foreign country where English isn’t spoken and trying to find a place to live, decipher even the most basic written information, stand in line in various bureaucratic offices to get one license or document or another, and adapt to a completely different lifestyle. No matter how young and fit you are, this just might push you over the edge into insanity!

The process will be easier if your kids are older but then, at the high school age, they often don’t want to leave their friends, sports, and other activities. How easy will it be for them to develop new friendships in this new location and how will they go to college, in particular, if they aren’t fluent in the language?

Growing up in this new country, the kids will probably meet their future spouse, who may very well be a local. Now, with grandkids in a country that is not the U.S., will you ever want to leave them? Those with grown kids and grandkids now, face the challenge of moving away and, possibly, never again being a part of their lives. As we age, health issues ultimately become a fact of life.

The health of each family member may impact whether or not a country allows residency. For example, Australia has been known to prevent families with autistic kids from coming into their country, even when the parents have viable, well-paying jobs waiting for them. And, if there are health issues of any kind, will you be able to find the doctors and care necessary in this new location and how will you pay for those services? Some countries, upon granting residency, require a fee for their national health insurance. Fair enough.

Now, the issue of money. Bottom line: the more you have, the easier it will be to find a country willing to grant residency quickly and the easier it will be to settle into a comfortable lifestyle. No surprises there.

But expenses add up even for the non-millionaires among us. It’s highly recommended that you visit the country, or area of the U.S., first before taking the plunge. That’s going to require travel expenses and time off from work. One family I know had their hearts settled on Belize. They did the research, had contacts in the country, visited once, and on the second visit, realized the country was not for them at all, but by then, they had sunk a few thousand dollars into the venture.

The moving process can be quite expensive. What do you take with you? If it’s just the clothes on your back and whatever a suitcase or two can hold, that’s no problem. Most of us, though, will want to take other possessions. Yes, you can sell it all, but how expensive will it be to replace those items once you relocate and will the quality be what you want? A shipping container costs money and may take several weeks to arrive at the dock of your new country. In the meantime, you may have to live in a hotel or a furnished apartment.

In addition to the expenses of checking out different locations and the moving process is the financial requirements of just about every country I know of. Examples:

  • Costa Rica requires a deposit of $60,000 in a Costa Rican bank for those in the “rentista” category. You are paid $2500 per month out of that balance for 24 months and this becomes your monthly income, at least in part.
  • Antigua has an “economic citizenship” program that requires a government donation of $250,000, plus another $50,000 per family member.
  • Belgium requires that you have a salary of at least € 50,000 per year.
  • Hungary has a residency bond program. Deposit a little over $300,000 in one of their banks and you’ll have to pay another $60,000 as a processing and administration fee.

All countries will have fees for visas and whatever other bureaucratic fees they choose to apply. If the paperwork is not in English, that’s a hurdle to overcome and many countries require a face-to-face interview. In their language.

So what if you have little to no money? Is becoming an ex-pat out of the question? Not at all. In fact, if you’re adventurous, you may even prefer the much simpler lifestyle it brings. Rather than being barricaded in a luxurious neighborhood behind guarded gates, you can live among the locals, shop where they shop, hang out where they hang out, and learn the language and customs very quickly. This is pretty much how I lived when I traveled for months at a time and ended up living in both Germany and Israel.

In this video, I explain a few more considerations before you jump into the decision to leave the U.S.

Emotional ties

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the issue of deep, emotional ties to your home country and the loved ones you’ll leave behind. It’s interesting to see who can do this easily, without looking back, and who can’t. It’s not a matter of being callous and without emotional attachments, as these people wholeheartedly love the family members they leave behind. In some cases, they plan to help move them to their new location as soon as possible.

Deeply felt ties to America aren’t quite as easily cut as many think. “America” isn’t just a land mass but a way of thinking and how you view the rest of the world. And, it works the other way, too. Locals in other countries will have a different worldview and cultural norms. One article asks, ” Does everyone in Chile lie?” You’ll miss living in a country where everyone pretty much has the same social norms.

You’re going to miss favorite foods and restaurants and ease of living. You’ll miss your favorite brands of clothing, your church, holidays spent with friends and family, and Amazon Prime! Depending on where you move, you will probably have to leave pets behind.

On their own, these may not seem like much, but together, combined with the foreign-ness of a different country may make assimilation far more difficult than you’d ever imagined, which circles back to my original question: How adaptable are you?

Is it even worth the bother?

Based on the huge number of hurdles and hassles, is it even worth considering leaving the U.S.? Well, that depends on your reasons for leaving. One family who chose to relocate to Chile did so because they believe a nuclear war is coming, it will mostly affect the northern hemisphere and they don’t care to suffer the long-term consequences. (Both have backgrounds as scientists in the nuclear energy field.) Based on their last email, they are still very happy with their choice.

If you’re convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that war is coming to the U.S., or an EMP, then why would you stay here and subject your family to the aftermath? Some believe that God’s judgment is coming on America — why not escape that, if possible?

My point is that the hassles and hard work of leaving will be worth the effort, or not, depending on your motivation. Once you make the move, remember that it’s not necessarily forever — if that thought helps get you through the rough patches.

A reader on Facebook wrote, “We tried it out in Panama for 2 years. I did not like it at all. I wanted to kiss the ground when we arrived back in the US a year ago. We made a ton of expat friends (and some local friends). But it wasn’t for me. You have to adjust to a very different way of life. I was unable to adjust. For those who are interested in learning more about Panama, there is a group, ExPats in Panama, that my friend admins. There are tons of people who’d love to talk to you about it.

We saved a ton of money by living there. We work remotely for a company (get a paycheck, even though the company was our own company), and so we were able to claim the foreign earned income tax credit for 2 years. It is fairly easy to become a resident of Panama, but I don’t know why you’d want to become a citizen.  If you lived like the locals live, you could easily live on $1,000/mo. If you want to live the same lifestyle in the US, then it would be more toward $3,000/mo as reasonable.”

Could you ever leave the U.S. for good? What is your motivation to leave, or stay?

Posted on

Why WWIII Is On The Horizon: “The Prospect Of Armegeddon Will Continue To Rise”

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 gave birth to a dangerous American ideology called neoconservativism. The Soviet Union had served as a constraint on US unilateral action. With the removal of this constraint on Washington, neoconservatives declared their agenda of US world hegemony. America was now the “sole superpower,” the “unipower,” that could act without restraint anywhere in the world.

The Washington Post neoconservative journalist Charles Krauthammer summed up the “new reality” as follows:

“We have overwheming global power. We are history’s designated custodians of the international system. When the Soviet Union fell, something new was born, something utterly new–a unipolar world dominated by a single superpower unchecked by any rival and with decisive reach in every corner of the globe. This is a staggering new development in history, not seen since the fall of Rome. Even Rome was no model for what America is today.”

The staggering unipolar power that history has given to Washington has to be protected at all costs. In 1992 top Pentagon official Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz penned the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which became the basis for Washington’s foreign policy.

The Wolfowitz Doctrine states that the “first objective” of American foreign and military policy is “to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat [to US unilateral action] on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.” (A “hostile power” is a country sufficiently strong to have a foreign policy independent from Washington’s.)

The unilateral assertion of American power begin in ernest during the Clinton regime with the interventions in Yugoslavia, Serbia, Kosovo, and the no-fly zone imposed on Iraq. In 1997 the neoconservatives penned their “Project for a New American Century.” In 1998, three years prior to 9/11, the neoconservatives sent a letter to President Clinton calling for regime change in Iraq and “the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.” Neoconservatives set out their program for removing seven governments in five years.

The events of September 11, 2001, are regarded by informed people as “the new Pearl harbor” that the neoconservatives said was necessary in order to begin their wars of conquest in the Middle East. Paul O’Neil, President George W. Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, has stated pubicly that the agenda of President Bush’s first meeting with his cabinet was the invasion of Iraq. This invasion was planned prior to 9/11. Since 9/11 Washington has destroyed in whole or part eight countries and now confronts Russia both in Syria and Ukraine.

Russia cannot allow a jihadist Caliphate to be established in an area comprising Syria/Iraq, because it would be a base for exporting destabilization into Muslim parts of the Russian Federation. Henry Kissinger himself has stated this fact, and it is clear enough to any person with a brain. However, the power-crazed fanatical neoconservatives, who have controlled the Clinton, Bush, and Obama regimes, are so absorbed in their own hubris and arrogance that they are prepared to push Russia to the point of having their Turkish puppet shoot down a Russian airplane and to overthrow the democratically-elected government in Ukraine that was on good terms with Russia, substituting in its place an American puppet government.

With this background, we can understand that the dangerous situation facing the world is the product of the neoconservative’s arrogant policy of US world hegemony. The failures of judgment and the dangers in the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts are themselves the consequences of the neoconservative ideology.

To perpetuate American hegemony, the neoconservatives threw away the guarantees that Washington gave Gorbachev that NATO would not move one inch to the East. The neoconservatives pulled the US out of the ABM Treaty, which specified that neither the US nor Russia would develop and deploy anti-ballistic missiles. The neoconservatives re-wrote US war doctrine and elevated nuclear weapons from their role as a retaliatory force to a pre-emptive first strike force. The neoconservatives began putting ABM bases on Russia’s borders, claiming that the bases were for the purpose of protecting Europe from non-existent Iranian nuclear ICBMs.

Russia and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, have been demonized by neoconservatives and their puppets in the US government and media. For example, Hillary Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, declared Putin to be “the new Hitler.” A former CIA official called for Putin’s assassination. Presidential candidates in both parties are competing in terms of who can be the most aggressive toward Russia and the most insulting toward Russia’s president.

The effect has been to destroy the trust between nuclear powers. The Russian government has learned that Washington does not respect Washington’s own laws, much less international law, and that Washington cannot be trusted to keep any agreement. This lack of trust, together with the aggression toward Russia spewing from Washington and the presstitute media and echoing in the idiotic European capitals, has established the ground for nuclear war. As NATO (essentially the US) has no prospect of defeating Russia in conventional war, much less defeating an alliance of Russia and China, war will be nuclear.

To avoid war, Putin is non-provocative and low-key in his responses to Western provocations. Putin’s responsible behavior, however, is misinterpreted by neoconervatives as a sign of weakness and fear. The neoconservatives tell President Obama to keep the pressure on Russia, and Russia will give in. However, Putin has made it clear that Russia will not give in. Putin has sent this message on many occasions. For example, on September 28, 2015, at the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, Putin said that Russia can no longer tolerate the state of affairs in the world. Two days later Putin took command of the war against ISIS in Syria.

The European governments, especially Germany and the UK, are complicit in the move toward nuclear war. These two American vassal states enable Washington’s reckless aggression toward Russia by repeating Washington’s propaganda and supporting Washington’s sanctions and interventions against other countries. As long as Europe remains nothing but an extension of Washington, the prospect of Armegeddon will continue to rise.

At this point in time, nuclear war can only be avoided in two ways. One way is for Russia and China to surrender and accept Washington’s hegemony. The other way is for an independent leader in Germany, the UK, or France to rise to office and withdraw from NATO. That would begin a stampede to leave NATO, which is Washington’s prime tool for causing conflict with Russia and, thereby, is the most dangerous force on earth to every European country and to the entire world. If NATO continues to exist, NATO together with the neoconservative ideology of American hegemony will make nuclear war inevitable.

Posted on

When Shit Hits the Fan literally, Will you be prepared and ready to Go?

What to do to plan, prepare, and protect during an Extreme and Mild Survival Scenario!

When you’re hiking while on a camping trip and happen to get turned around in the woods or waking up to the aftermath of a terrible storm that hit, you’ll be dealing with the lack of resources in those specific scenarios. As a result, you will need to remain calm and be smart about what your surroundings are and think what could be of use to you? In order to have these survival smarts, you need to take sometime to plan, prepare, and then protect if needed.

The first step is going to be the planning part and learning what you need to have in order for this step to work. Next, you will need to prepare for it if something disastrous such as a terrible outbreak which causes humans to turn to zombies or something as simple as a tornado stripping your town to nothing. The last step is having the equipment to protect yourself, which can be something as simple as a kitchen knife or you could have the mother load of weaponry that’s secretly kept in your basement that even your best friends don’t know about.

The gear, supplies, tools, weapons, food, water, and even the physical energy should be conserved.

wd

Let’s take this to the top of  the scale of survival situations, of 1 being mild and 10 being extreme. As they always say go big or go home, we are going to go big! So, with 10 being the highest on the scale we are going to say that a Zombie Apocalypse just broke out and your neighbors are turning as we speak. You still have time to react but not much because they are starting to break the glass of your windows to your house. You and your family immediately run down to your basement where you can regroup and make a plan. You then grab everything you can think of that’s in your SHTFandGo pack! Your dad yells at your brother to go grab the sleeping bags upstairs which are in the front closet but you stop him and say “Here, take this.” Your brother looks down and sees the Zombie Apocalypse Machete 101. Now while he does that, you’re running around with your mom and sister shoving bags full of supplies, tools, weapons, and anything that can fit. You don’t need to make too much food in the rucksacks, as they are already prepared in the Food Storage containers containing black beans, rice, noodles, and all other vacuum sealed food items. As for the water you just need to remember to grab the H2O 2.0 or H2O 3.0, depending on how much water you want to have on hand. We also stocked up on the H2O 1.0 just in case we get separated from one another at times we have a way to consume water. Your brother gets back and has the sleeping bags and rest of the gear your dad asked him to get and seems to have survived the neighbors! Our family also stocked up on some gasoline for the vehicles and we separate into vehicles and head out of town to someplace south. Just remember to not get bit!

wd2

I know that was a very extreme scenario but you never know when Shit will hit the Fan!

wd3

A little less milder one would be if a disastrous storm such as a tornado or hurricane wiped out your town. Here you would do the same, plan how you are going to prepare for a disastrous storm, prepare for it, and if you need to protect yourself for whatever reason you will be able to do so. First you’re going to have a plan once you hear the sirens going off, which means to head down to your basement with your family. There you can discuss what will happen if there is damage beyond repair. Then you will gather the things you need to prepare yourself, for instance you will get your rucksacks and fill them with anything and everything such as supplies, tools, weapons (if you feel like you need them), and whatever you think you will need. The food storage should already be prepared as you would have  Food Storage buckets full of black beans, rice, and noodles which are already vacuum sealed and ready to go. Of course you can have any other food stored in those buckets as well. You then will grab the H2O 2.0 or H2O 3.0 water storage depending on how much water you will want once you find a source of water. You will also have each rucksack packed with a couple H2O 1.0 just in case you and your family some how get separated during the chaos. If for whatever reason you need to have weapons on you during this kind of disaster just be careful.

wd4

Just remember to always plan, prepare, and protect.

 

Posted on

These Suburban Preppers Are Ready for Anything

They’re rich, armed, and ready for the end of days—and they just might live in the McMansion down your street

BY ROD O’CONNOR

ILLUSTRATION: ARTHUR MOUNT

By all appearances, Bob Valenti is your average upwardly mobile suburbanite. The 40-something father of two has a couple of advanced degrees and a high-paying job at a high-flying technology company. He has an aggressive retirement plan and plenty socked away in college funds for his kids. As of last year, he also has a plan for surviving the end of the world as we know it.

A few years ago, Valenti (who asked that his real name not be used, for reasons that will be clear soon enough) and his wife traded their Chicago townhouse for a gorgeous $800,000 residence in west suburban Downers Grove. The idyllic 12-room house features handsome walnut cabinetry, a sprawling yard, and a basement that holds the beginnings of what will ultimately be a year’s stockpile of food and emergency supplies. Valenti recently ordered a box of 50 lighters and is squirreling away batteries, which he believes could someday be highly valuable for bartering. He has 25 pounds of meat in his freezer and another 50 at an undisclosed location out of town that he refers to as “Plan B.” Should he and his family need Plan B, he has a couple of 30-pound packets of “survival seeds” there for jump-starting their own farm.

Valenti, who otherwise seems like a perfectly reasonable man, is preparing for society’s collapse, which he believes could come any day now in the form of a global pandemic or the implosion of our highly leveraged financial system. “All of a sudden, you have hyperinflation, and you’ll need a wagon of cash for a loaf of bread,” he says as we chat in his immaculate kitchen while a cleaning woman vacuums in the next room. “Society could crumble in three days. That’s all it would take. Then it’s going to get primal.”

You can bet Ted Nugent’s crossbow that, for most people, the term “survivalists”—or the more polite “preppers”—conjures images of tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists holed up in Montana hoarding canned pinto beans and assault weapons. National Geographic Channel’s hugely popular Doomsday Preppers, which spotlights fanatics who build bulletproof shelters out of train cars to wait out Armageddon or dress their families in matching HAZMAT suits, reinforces the extreme stereotypes. So do the “doom boom” opportunists who peddle nuke-proof multimillion-dollar luxury condos in abandoned missile silos, complete with spas, rock-climbing walls, hydroponic farms, and HDTV windows programmable to the preapocalyptic view of your choice.

Valenti is just one example of how the prepper movement has climbed out of the bunker and established itself, quietly, along affluent streets in Chicago, its suburbs, and beyond. Combined Universal Martial Applications Survival School chief instructor Waysun Johnny Tsai, with his penchant for knives and a license plate holder that reads “Zombie Police,” looks the hardcore survivalist part but says that his students don’t. Over the past few years, participants in his classes at the Chicago school have included doctors, lawyers, and upper-management types who live in upscale city neighborhoods and hoity-toity surrounding towns. Tsai tells me that he trains individuals for “the possibility, not the probability” of hardcore disasters and civil unrest. They come to him to learn how to build makeshift traps for catching their own food and light fires with a metallic rod and Vaseline-soaked cotton ball after the shit hits the fan—or SHTF, in prepper-speak.

With every new epidemic or terrorist attack in the headlines, a new batch of preppers is born, says David Scott, whose Northbrook company, LifeSecure, sells everything from crush-resistant earthquake survival kits to fireproof masks designed for fleeing a bombed-out building. “We think of it like sediment,” he says of the movement that he, of course, has a stake in stoking. “Another headline comes and another layer forms.”

Scott started his business in 2005, a few months before Hurricane Katrina, and believes the storm’s aftermath was a wake-up call for thousands of Americans. “It taught people you could go hungry, thirsty, and even die in the U.S. before the government could save you,” he says. “I talk with people on the phone, and they’ll say, ‘I don’t think I’m going to die from Ebola, but it made me think.’ There are a lot of prudent people out there who you wouldn’t identify as preppers who understand the need to be prepared.”

How Prepared Are You for the Apocalypse?

It was last fall’s Ebola outbreak, in fact, that made Valenti suddenly feel he was ill-equipped to protect his family if a pandemic disease were to spiral out of control. “I remember exactly where I was. I was crossing one of the bridges in the Loop, and I thought, Why am I not more prepared for this?” he recalls. “I fear the government isn’t very prepared. I don’t have any confidence that Chicago can handle it; Chicago just figured out how to handle major snowstorms.”

Valenti decided to call one of his hunting buddies, a longtime friend in Wisconsin whose reading list had recently shifted from postapocalyptic fiction to books that addressed “more plausible scenarios,” as Valenti puts it. “He was having exactly the same thoughts. And he had already done research. He’s like, ‘I’m thinking about starting to buy some food.’ ”

Within days, Valenti kicked off his own efforts, which he sees as no different from those in other walks of his life. As a professional, he likes to be overprepared. “I am paid to anticipate the questions my clients are going to ask,” he says. He’s telecommuting today, so his usual khakis have been replaced with comfy sweats and a Blackhawks cap he wears backward. He walks me down to the basement and cracks open two large plastic storage trunks. Inside one is a six-gallon bucket containing 330 servings of just-add-water meals with a 20-year shelf life (the same Chef’s Banquet All-Purpose Readiness Kits that sell for $121 on Amazon), a water purifier you can drop in your tub—which can store 100 gallons of drinking water—and a military-grade first-aid kit complete with sutures, splints, and a hand-crank emergency radio. The other trunk holds three 15-­gallon containers of gas.

“Come back in a year [and my stockpile] will be double the size,” he says. “Ultimately, it comes down to one fundamental concept. I have the disposable income. I’d rather be in a situation where I have something and I don’t need it than need something and I don’t have it.”

Valenti’s largest-scale effort, Plan B, is an outwardly innocuous summer house that’s been in his wife’s family for years. It’s this property that he and a handful of like-minded friends and family members have designated as their safe haven if they need to (a) wait out a short-term threat or (b) start from scratch (hence the survival seeds). Valenti won’t tell me where this house is, except that it is a few hours’ drive away, is near the woods, has a virtually limitless water source, and is “easily defendable.” Onsite is a small arsenal of “multiple rifles, guns, and pistols,” along with 3,000 rounds of ammunition.

No one other than those in on Plan B knows about his new hobby. Not coworkers, not friends, not extended family. And especially not the guy next door. “This is about survival. I only want to talk about it with the people I’ll be surviving with,” he says matter-of-factly. “Mostly, I don’t want my neighbors to know about it. Because I don’t want them knocking on my door when the shit hits the fan.”

food

A portion of the Trapp family’s supply of dry goods and canned food PHOTO: RYAN LOWRY

Preppers are, not surprisingly, a paranoid bunch. Locating people willing to speak with me about their habits was more challenging than finding vegans at a gun range. After emailing a dozen members of Northern Illinois Preppers, a Meetup online community whose membership has grown from about 110 to more than 150 in the past six months, I received two responses. One was from someone who told me to take a hike (“I have no interest in being involved in your article. I also do NOT give you permission to quote me,” he wrote, which was perplexing, considering that no interview had been conducted). The other was delivered via a peer-to-peer encrypted email service.

“I took the liberty of setting up a secure email for you,” read the note, whose sender requested I call him Tommy. Then, in the encrypted message, Tommy chewed me out for asking about his prepping efforts:

Due to OPSEC (operational security) and PERSEC (personal security) you’ll never see my stored materials. Though I personally take no offense at your question due to the nature of this interview the question itself is exceptionally rude in prepping circles. By way of analogy it’s the equivalent of my coming over to your home for the first time and, in front of your wife or girlfriend, telling you I think she’s hot and I’d like to see her without clothes. It’s simply not done. Any prepper who would be willing to show you their stocks, anonymously or otherwise, has violated so many rules they may as well just put their stocks on the curb for all to see and take.

A few weeks later, I went to a Lombard gun range on shooting league night and met a wealthy couple from Barrington who, I was told by a reliable source, had recently begun taking shooting lessons as part of their preparedness plans. Both gave me their phone numbers. After repeated calls, I finally caught the man on his cell. He told me they were both too busy to participate in this story and hurriedly bid me adieu.

Then I casually mentioned this assignment in an email exchange with a former colleague, an advertising executive who lives on the North Side. I was surprised to discover a closet prepper in my midst.

“I’m sure you want people a lot more hardcore than me,” wrote my friend, whom we’ll call Pete Campbell, “but I’m a bit of a prepper. I probably have some materials and views that could get me seriously put on a watch list. Plus, I don’t want people knowing I got the goods when they get desperate. My greatest asset is my unobtrusiveness. No one would suspect me of harboring such ideas.”

We agree to meet at a bar near his place. When I arrive, he’s already there, sitting in a booth and sipping a craft beer. After some small talk, he tells me that if things “go from pudding to poop,” as one prepper so eloquently posted on a chat board, his primary concern is getting out of the city, which would have the highest concentration of desperate, unprepared types. Since he’s a condo dweller with little space, his “bug-in” plan is limited: two cases of military-issued MREs (meals ready to eat) that could last him a month and three firearms (an AR-15 rifle, a .38 revolver, and a .45 semiautomatic pistol).

I ask Campbell if he fears the kind of lawlessness seen in post-Katrina New Orleans or the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. “I don’t think that’s too far-fetched that something like that could happen in Chicago,” he says. “And if that happens and I’m holed up in my house and somebody tries to break in, I want to be able to protect myself. You can call 911, but what if they can’t get there in time?”

For the trek out of the city (on foot, if necessary), he has a carefully constructed bug-out bag, which some preppers refer to as a 72-hour kit or an INCH (“I’m never coming home”) bag. (Preppers really relish their acronyms.) “If something goes down, I grab this bag and a couple other things and get out the door,” he says. “Once the roads become impassable, I throw this on my back. My plan is to make it 72 hours and figure it out from there.”

He places the compact 25-pound pack on the table and starts talking me through its contents: water packets, protein bars, survival rations, a tent, light sticks, a first-aid kit, and one of those foil thermal blankets that are draped over finishers at the end of marathons. Everything is individually packed in plastic bags, in case he has to wade through a river or endure a rainstorm.

“Check this out,” he says, excitedly holding up a paracord bracelet that looks like one of those Livestrong wristbands but unwinds to provide 10 feet of rope. “You could use it to secure things, or as a trap or a snare.”

At the end of show-and-tell, he fishes out a small utility knife, flips open its corkscrew, and smiles. “No matter what happens, I’ll always be able to open up a bottle of wine.”

For Campbell, who is in his 40s and dresses in the youthful ad-industry uniform of untucked shirts and hip sneakers, the interest in prepping began two decades ago, when his parents, both military contractors with top-secret clearance, would occasionally call him with vague warnings. “They’d say, ‘I can’t tell you anything, but shit may be going down,’ ” he recalls. “To this day, my mom still won’t tell me what she meant.”

He doesn’t consider himself an extremist. “As soon as the power goes out, I don’t pull out the supplies. I like to think I have a firm enough grasp on reality that I am comfortable with my level [of prepping]. For me, it’s a hobby I hope I never have to use. A lot of people have figurines on glass shelves that they display. I’m collecting peace of mind.”

The whole notion of prepping is a mental exercise, argues Richard Mitchell, a sociologist from Oregon State University, who wrote the 2001 book Dancing at Armageddon. “There aren’t any practicing survivalists because the world hasn’t come to an end yet.”

Mitchell points out that preppers emphasize certain threats and ignore others to “craft a scenario where their preparations can be seen as both necessary and sufficient.” Their most popular threat, by far, is an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which, whether caused by a nuclear detonation, terrorist strike, or solar flare, involves waves of intense magnetic energy frying our electronics, ushering us and our Kindles and computerized coffeemakers back to the Dark Ages. In response to our cushy existence full of meaningless choices—Should I get the space-gray iPhone or the silver-and-white one?—preppers choose to imagine situations that put their choices to the ultimate test.

“Modern life has traded complexity for efficiency and abundance,” Mitchell says. “Most are satisfied with the exchange. But a lot of us are damn near useless. [Preppers] want a place between a rock and a hard spot to test their talents and gauge their gumption. This hands-on grappling, at least hypothetically, gives them purpose.”

This need seems to be particularly heightened among the wealthy—those with the most to lose. Edward Limoges, who has worked as a bodyguard on behalf of the Glenview company NIS Consulting Group, which provides security for high-net-worth individuals, explains that among the superrich, preparedness often extends as far as their disposable income allows. He shares stories of families in gated communities in Barrington and Long Grove who own pickup-truck-size generators, satellite hookups for emergency phone and data communication, and high-end freeze-dried entrées such as pasta primavera stored in their climate-controlled wine cellars.

Preppers with big bank accounts want to maintain at least a semblance of their comfortable pre-Armageddon existence. In the case of Valenti from Downers Grove, that also means preparing for the possibility that, for a while, the nation might operate under a totally new economy in which the dollar is useless.

During my visit, Valenti shows me his basement workshop, just around the corner from the kids’ playroom. On the wall is a large poster that diagrams proper assembly of an AR-15, a lightweight semiautomatic rifle (the civilian version of the M-16) popular among preppers. Here in this small, unfinished room, he’s taught himself to recycle spent bullet casings into fresh ammo. When he’s at the gun range, he collects used casings—like picking up errant golf balls at the driving range—and refills them with primer, powder, and the actual bullet. The function of his substantial ammo stash, safely kept at Plan B, is more capitalistic than ballistic. “Ammo is a great barter tool,” he says. “It’s the ultimate commodity item.” He also has a network of contacts who can help him acquire coins and precious metals, he tells me, in case he needs to stock up quickly on cash alternatives as the economy goes south.

Much of Valenti’s approach to prepping has been shaped by books such as 2014’s Prepper’s Blueprint, a step-by-step manual by Tess Pennington that promises “freedom through self-reliance.” A few times a week, Valenti consults the legal pad on which he’s scribbled lists of supplies in five primary categories: food, energy, defense, shelter, and hygiene.

He says the last category is tragically underappreciated among preppers. “It’s one thing to have food. But if you don’t have tampons, your wife is going to be pissed off. And let’s say it’s difficult for me to take a bath because water is scarce. I’ve got baby wipes.”

Mark Trapp, a corporate attorney, and his wife, Karina, invite me to sit on the couch in their sunny living room in Glenview. A large portrait of Abe Lincoln lords over the proceedings. The bookshelves lining the walls are filled with tomes on Reagan and Churchill, as well as a few zombie books. The Trapps’ spacious brick colonial overlooks the Grove nature preserve.

Their oldest child, 17-year-old Eleni, plops down next to me, along with her friend Blake. Unlike Valenti and Campbell, whose significant others are largely uninvolved with prepping, the Trapps view preparedness as a family affair.

The clan of seven convenes every Monday night to pray and to discuss whatever is on anyone’s mind. One evening last fall, Eleni brought up the topic of emergency planning, which she had recently learned about at school. Soon the conversation progressed from blizzards to the quintessential prepper novel One Second After (detailing the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse attack; Newt Gingrich, America’s favorite conspiracy theorist, wrote the foreword), which she had recently read. Eleni, who has braces and hipster glasses, asked her parents how prepared they were for a serious disaster such as an EMP.

“Putting the kids to bed that night, I thought, What if something bad happened?” Karina recalls. “What do we say to our kids: Sorry, we didn’t prepare?”

The concept of prepping wasn’t new to the Trapps. They’re practicing Mormons, members of a religion that stresses self-reliance. “If you look at history, Mormons were chased out of a lot of places, so they had to take care of themselves,” says Mark. “It’s not just a theological thing. I think God does want you to rely on yourself, but the church does it as a practical matter.”

food-1 The Trapp family’s bug-out bags PHOTO: RYAN LOWRY

All members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to have an emergency plan that includes at least a three-month supply of food and, ideally, up to a year’s worth of “long-term storage.” And while not every practicing Mormon follows this rule, it is actually a full-blown commandment.

The Trapps have made up ground quickly since last fall. “We may not be far up in the Mormon totem pole,” Mark says with a laugh about the size of the family’s survival stash. “But we’re pretty far up there compared with most people just by virtue of the little that we’ve done.”

After the family meeting, Karina started stockpiling first-aid supplies, which are now stored away with toiletries, protein bars, and other gear in individualized bug-out bags in a front closet. The backpacks of Eleni and her other teenage sisters (Reagan, 16, and Bella, 13) include items like favorite sweatshirts and girlie shampoos. Five-year-old Libby, who peeks around the corner during my visit before giggling and running away, has her own bag. Six-month-old Kiffin, the youngest child and only son, keeps his stash of Cheerios, Binkys, and bottles with Mommy’s gear.

Next Karina ordered wheat flour, oats, beans, and spaghetti from the Mormon Church, which sells the items in bulk to members and nonmembers alike both online and at home storage centers throughout the country. During trips to big-box stores, she loaded up on extra cans of corn, beans, soup, and fruit.

We walk down to the basement, where shelves across the back wall are filled with food. Boxes of Cap’n Crunch and Cheez-Its are stacked 10-high near the crawlspace, which the family might clear out for additional storage. Twenty-four cases of water sit under a table. All told, the Trapps are closing in on enough food and supplies to last about three months.

Most of the items have a 20-year shelf life, but the idea is to rotate the food, not stash it mindlessly. “You don’t buy a huge bulk amount and then, when the world doesn’t end in the next 20 years, you throw it out and buy it again,” Mark explains. “You cycle through it. You buy what you’re going to use anyway.”

food-2 Two of the Trapp girls with their rifles PHOTO: RYAN LOWRY

While food storage is a recent effort, Mark bought a .22 revolver in 2012, something he shares with me about an hour into my visit. Fresh-faced Reagan walks in, and Mark tells me he got her and Eleni their own rifles for Christmas not long after. She smiles and says that most of her friends didn’t believe her when she told them about her 22-gauge present under the tree.

Mark took both girls to the range so they could learn about gun safety as a family. “I didn’t want the girls to have the mindset that guns are the absolute worst things in the history of the world,” Mark says. “Because they’re not. If you know how to use one, it could save your life.”

We discuss whether, as many preppers believe, society is more dangerous now than in the recent past, as reports of school shootings, terror attacks, and global pandemics have become routine. “I don’t know if we’re the only ones feeling it, but there’s this sense that times are different now,” he says. “It’s sort of like the middle is not holding. Things are fraying, and I think more and more people are coming to the conclusion that if something is gonna get done, you may have to do it yourself.”

That includes protecting his family if a disaster triggers mayhem in the streets. “Those who are ready to deal with it are going to do much better than those who aren’t,” he says. “The social contract is potentially written on very thin paper when stuff goes down.”

I find myself wondering whether the rise of the modern prepper represents a grand illusion or a societal step forward through self-reliance. Who’s living the fantasy—them or me? I think back on something Bob Valenti told me when I visited him: “I don’t consider myself to be radical. I consider myself to be rational and practical.”

As he walked me out, he put in an earpiece and dialed into a conference call. We shook hands, and I jokingly asked him if I could be on the list to head to Plan B if the world as we know it ends.

He looked me in the eye, cracked a smile, and said, “I hope it never comes to that.”

But just in case, I have my real estate agent searching for houses in Downers Grove within a few blocks of Valenti’s. I’d love a big yard, but I’d kill for a bunker in the basement.

This article appears in the May 2015 issue of Chicago magazine. Subscribe to Chicago magazine.

Posted on

Fema Words of Advice


Are You Ready?
A Guide to Citizen Preparedness



Federal Emergency Management Agency
Washington, D.C.

Dear Citizens,

We live in a different world than we did before September 11, 2001.We are more aware of our 
vulnerabilities, more appreciative of our freedoms and more understanding that we have a personal 
responsibility for the safety of our families, our neighbors and our nation.

Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness provides practical information on how your family can 
prepare for any disaster.It includes up-to-date hazard specific safety tips and information about 
preparedness and protection.In addition to information on most natural and technological disasters, there 
are new chapters on "Animals in Disaster," "Extreme Heat­­ (Heat Wave)," "Landslide & Debris Flow 
(Mudslide)," "Emergency Water Shortages," and newly updated information on terrorism. 

We know that disaster preparedness works.We can take action now that will help protect our families, 
reduce the impact an emergency has on our lives, and deal with the chaos if an incident occurs near us.
These actions are at the heart of everything we do at FEMA, and they are the reason President George W. 
Bush established Citizen Corps, a nationwide initiative encompassing public education, citizen training and 
volunteer programs.FEMA's vision of a nation prepared is best achieved by your participation in 
community and family preparedness so that we are all better protected for every disaster. 

Contact your local emergency management office for information about specific hazards in your area and 
to volunteer to help make your community better prepared.

We know that disaster can strike at any time. We all have a personal responsibility to be ready.

Sincerely,

Joe M. Allbaugh
Director