September 28, 2021

Food: The Ultimate Weapon, by MacHam

Never before in the history of mankind has a generation of people been so distant from their food sources, both in geography and in knowledge of how they are created. Those who are intent on doing evil have used withholding food as a weapon of war for thousands of years. Unlike modern weapons of war that leave great environmental damage, starvation is a silent albeit slow killer. This leaves a populace malnourished and the people are hence easily led, unable to resist the commands of leaders. Depopulation follows, leaving all wealth and infrastructure in place. It truly is the perfect weapon.

Hunger: Some Illustrations

In my younger years, I was an avid backpacker. I would stay in the backwoods sometimes weeks at a time. The only thing that drove me from the deep woods was lack of food. As a guide to large groups of people on Monday through Saturday hikes through wilderness areas in the early 1980s I would ask to inspect each person’s backpack. My mantra then was: “If you can’t eat it or wear it, then leave it.”  When going through the backpacks of Newbies, I would constantly find items that had no use in the backcountry: From fold-up lawn chairs to cast iron skillets, to #10 cans of stewed tomatoes, to three pairs of boots.

I had to explain to them over and over: “The lack of food will drive you out of these woods very fast.” I tried to explain to them that deep hunger will drive you to distraction to where you can think of nothing else. With these large groups sitting around the campfire the topic of food would painfully come up over and over again. I have seen the bidding on a lowly candy bar top $50 in the deep woods, because people were hungry and there, currency had no value. There is a reason why many trails, streams, and mountains are named after food because you can think of nothing else. The old myth that food is plentiful in the woods is simply not true. I have never seen a fat coyote. Most animals in the wild all look malnourished most times of the year.

I had one group of 24  people that were especially quarrelsome mainly because it had rained two days and the group was cold, wet, and hungry. So I radioed my boss to have some food dropped off at the last campsite where we would be staying. When we got there we found a 50-pound pound sack of potatoes and nothing else. So I handed out about 2 pounds of potatoes each and proceeded to build a large campfire so they could roast their potatoes. I then showed them how to roast the potatoes in the coals provided. To my surprise, few came forward. The group looked sheepishly at me until I realized most of them had eaten their potatoes raw.

The Search for a Crashed Airplane

Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that there is little food in the woods. I the late 1970s a widow posted an advertisement that she would pay $15,000 for anyone who found a crashed airplane with her dead husband in it. Her husband was a doctor who had been flying from Spokane to Seattle and his plane was lost deep in the Cascade mountains. A young buddy of mine was fresh out of the military and was extremely fit and he too thought the $15,000 reward was well worth trying for it. We did have a credible tip from a Forest Service Ranger that he had heard a plane late at night on the night in question and then the sudden thud, then nothing. He gave us the general direction on which to head.

It was late summer so we filled our backpacks to overflowing and headed off into the deep woods. Our backpacks must have topped 80 pounds of mostly food and we were out for a two-week search. We made a high camp near a 7,000-foot mountain. We spent the first week bushwhacking up and down ravines looking for the crash site to no avail. We noticed our food supplies were dwindling faster than we thought. So we decided on the second week to offset our reserves with Brook trout and Cutthroat trout with the hooks and line we had brought. The fish were plentiful and delicious, but each night we felt like we were going to bed hungry.

By the second week with our food reserves down to almost nothing, we made the decision to stay another week. By process of elimination, we were heading up and down the heavily wooded steep ravines filled with old-growth trees. We had covered over two dozen ravines, but there were dozens more to go. We noticed without the fuel of a hearty breakfast our ambition level dropped considerably. Normally we would search until dark, but now we would return early for food. With the trout no matter how many we ate we were still hungry. It was now Day 20 and we had gone without eating a full hearty meal in a week. Now we had the hike out still ahead of us. That was a 26-mile mountainous trek. We were “on fumes” when we made it back to the car at the trailhead. We were starving. There in the backseat was a can of tuna packed in oil that had fallen from one of our backpacks. We shared the tin and no other meal was finer. To this day I look upon a tin of tuna as though it were manna from heaven.

On our way home, we passed by the same Ranger Station where the ranger had given us the tip nearly a month before. We have must have looked a sight because the ranger gave us the look over. We marked on his map all the areas we had painstakingly searched and left our phone number. And to his credit he took up the search where we left off  He went off on his own time and six days later he phoned us and told us that he found the site. The plane was mostly all intact and had softly flown into deep brush and was swallowed up. Later we found out that the doctor had died of a heart attack before the plane had crashed. The Ranger himself was a Federal employee, so he was not entitled to the reward. At least the widow had some closure and we learned lessons that would help us later in life.

Romantic Fantasies

As you might imagine I am no fan of the “Cabin in the Woods” crowd or the “Bug Out Bag” crowd. You know — the bunch that thinks you can live off of wild game and have no use for storebought supplies. A romantic version of that permeates Hollywood with the mountain man tales. And, for the most part, that is all they are, tall tales. A more practical part is realizing that you need 700 to 1,200 pounds of food to sustain an adult for one year. Without these basic foodstuffs you are living at the whim of those that have them. Every action that I do is to try and make time my friend. Neither the Cabin nor the Bug Out Bag approach have that quality.

Food storage happens to be a very boring topic Even in the Prepper community we find that most Preppers not taking food storage seriously. It lacks the snap, crackle. and literal pop of say a firearm-related video. A recent YouTube video shows a well-known Prepper with a huge following with 5 and 55 gallon barrels of food stored on the ground outside under tarps. Some of the barrels are sealed with duct tape. This is not a good look for the Prepper community. The reason food is cast aside as of being of little worth is that food is still very, very inexpensive. From 1904 to 2015 the price of food declined at the rate of income growth. The average American and Canadian spends less than 10% of their income on food compared to the French who spend 30% on food. But since 2016, food has crept up slightly.

I see folks complain about $3.00 for a dozen eggs but nary a whimper about a $30,000 for a one-night stay in the hospital. Only one of those is overpriced and it is not the eggs.

In the depths of the Great Depression farmers were selling wheat at 43 cents a bushel. At the time, the newspapers bellowed that it was a 5,000 year low. Our farmers today would love to get 43 cents per bushel in today’s dollars which would put the price in real inflation-adjusted dollars at $8.43 per bushel.

After gardening for nearly 40 years, I gave been humbled once again. We thought this year would be a bumper crop of almost everything, but yet it’s not. When strolling through the produce aisle of our local store we marvel at the perfect specimens of produce and wonder of the tonnage of misshapen produce although perfectly good did not get consumed but thrown away. How rich of a nation like the USA that can spend $3 billion on kitty litter then complain that a six-ounce can of tomato paste that has 43 reduced tomatoes can cost 40 cents.

I firmly believe boredom will kill more Preppers than by any other means. This generation is the most visually stimulated generation ever. Even though the pantry may be full there will be those that want to venture out before its safe to do so. I do hope that we can maintain a civil a stable society but watching the cracks forming rapidly it seems unlikely. If there is a stable civil society I too want to participate. I have put aside a large amount of freeze-dried coffee that I will share but since I am the holder of the coffee pot I want the local gossip/intel . Information has great value in this society as well as the next.

Rural, Exburb, Suburb, and Urban

Only 14% of Americans live in rural areas. The remaining 86%? There are 16% in the Exurbs (areas between farmland and Suburbs), 39% in Suburbsm, and 31% Urban. The impractical idea suggested is that 86% will flow into the land held by the 14%. It seems like the infrastructure could not support it. We are seeing Urban areas empty out into the Suburbs and some Suburbs flow into the Exburbs and some Exburbs flow to the truly rural areas. The Suburbs and Exburbs will stand with the electrical grid up or grid down. But I hold zero faith that the Urban core will hold grid-up or grid-down.

Need to see proof about the Exburbs and Suburbs? We have all seen those heroic folk in Tornado Alley year after year, decade after decade get their communities ripped to pieces yet by the time FEMA gets their massive government agency moving folks have already started to put their lives back together. FEMA has historically been used to support the Urban core residents only. We have seen earthquakes and forest fires devastate areas, yet folks automatically pick up the pieces and move on.

In my own community two decades ago a massive wind storm blew down thousands of trees and branches that blanketed the roadway and tore off countless roofs. The grid was down for two weeks. Yet once the storm subsided, a chorus of Stihl chainsaws was heard throughout the valley. Thousands of tons of road blockage was removed without government assistance or without a penny in compensation. This is just what people do. The barren roofs were covered with RedNeck sheathing–commonly known as blue tarps.

There was a recent interview with the Mayor of Portland, Oregon and its police chief. The police chief almost appeared to be boasting that although the city was full of lawlessness and mayhem, none of his officers were injured or involved. Trying to coin a term for this new phenomenon I would call this “Portlanding” of all major cities across the USA. This is a major trend to watch that is already in all cities on the west coast from Bellingham, Washington to San Diego, California.

Paraphrasing Gerald Celente: “Fads start at the top and go down, trends start at the bottom and go up. Always watch for trends.” The Portland, Oregon effect has spread to all 50 major cities across America in the last 18 months. To think the next 18 months will be any less violent is shortsighted.

Rural and Exburb residents have known for a long time that the local Sheriffs department is just security theater. They lack the manpower and resources to aid you in your time of need. The Sheriffs department knows that you must be your own first responder and you the individual must take appropriate steps to protect your life and property. Rural and Exburbs have long used gates, cameras, firearms, and dogs to protect themselves.

It has been enjoyable watching Urban residents that had wanted to defund police order up law enforcement on the same phone as if they were ordering a double stuffed pizza. Except the pizza will be there in 30 minutes or less, law enforcement may not show at all. Commercial and residential property crimes will skyrocket in this environment. Expect to travel farther in the Urban core and pay more to find a grocery store that is still in business.

Loose Lips will Sink Preppers

Try as I might to keep a low profile with my foodstuffs I believe my own family will be my downfall. My wife and I have a lovely niece in her late 20s who we have helped raise when her mother became a widow at a young age. We encouraged her to become a nurse and paid for some of her schooling, while student loans did the rest. She met and married a wonderful young man, became a RN, and has three small children. The problem is she has no patience for Preppers and feels there is no use in Prepping. She truly has a heart of gold, but it is her heart and my gold. At the outset of any downfall of the economy she will ask that my foodstuffs be shared with anyone in need. Her husband holds little sway over her and she won’t listen to any other side of the issue. Instead, she uses the dreaded “H” word, that is “Hoarder” to describe the problem. We have yet to solve this dilemma. Just a fair warning to other Preppers.

Never before in my life have I longed for heavenly inspiration to see what the future holds. The word foreboding comes to mind a great deal. What does give me comfort is to prepare in all manner of things.
I’ll paraphrase Matt Bracken–whom I much respect. He stated recently: “You will run out of canned goods long before you run out of ammo.” I tend to agree

I’ll close with a note on the humorous side: The cable guy came out to chase down a break in our Internet cable recently. And before he stepped into the large room where I keep my foodstuffs I warned him that I was a Prepper, and he asked” “Like the ones on television? I stated: “Sort of…” His jaw dropped when he saw the floor-to-ceiling foodstuffs and he went silent. Before he left he turned and said: “I sure hope you are wrong.” To that, I replied: “I too hope I’m wrong.” I wish and pray for those trying to prep, I want nothing more than to be wrong. But something tells me that I am not. – MacHam

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