What do your friends and family say when you tell them you’ve been storing food, growing your own produce or that you subscribe to Mother Earth News? When they find out that you’re considering raising chickens in your suburban backyard, do they think you’re crazy? My own friends get this uneasy look in their eyes, and then slowly back away as if they hear the opening notes of “Dueling Banjos”!
The fact is, human beings have been survivalists, or preppers, for nearly our entire existence. Foraging, hunting, and gathering wasn’t just an alternate lifestyle for our ancestors but the only means of survival. Each day, each season, brought the possibility of having no water, no food, no medicinal herbs, and no shelter. Storing as much food as possible, yes, stockpiling!, wasn’t radical, it was sensible. The only alternative to preparedness was death.
Fast forward thousands of years, and self-sufficiency, by and large, is a thing of the past. We have forgotten essential, practical survival skills. Why take the trouble to grow your own food when there’s a grocery store on every corner? The produce department displays not just one variety of apples but a dozen, all shiny clean and not a worm in sight. Discount stores offer shoes and clothing at a price much lower than anything handmade. Most of us revel in the quality and variety of goods that are so easily accessible, but will this era of plenty last indefinitely?
Additionally, many of the skills of our forefathers have been lost. Who among us knows how to make shoes by hand or spin wool into thread? Knowledge, as well, has been lost, often within just one generation. A farmer or an ardent gardener discovers that his or her children just aren’t interested in the details and nuances of growing food. Knowledge accumulated over generations is lost forever when that older generation passes on.
It really is no wonder that preppers seem out of step with most everyone around us. There are obvious, ominous storm clouds on the horizon, and to us, it just makes sense to stock up on groceries, learn long-forgotten skills, and make plans for any number of emergencies.
Friends and family may question our sanity, but our ancestors would be proud of our efforts to prepare for an uncertain future.