Since I don’t own a tell-LIE-vision, I’ve never watched the show “Doomsday Preppers,” but from what I understand, that show aims to cast people who prepare as some kind of antisocial, selfish, kill or be killed freakshows hellbent on causing the very chaos they claim to fear.
As Oscar the Grouch said, “Scam!” “Get lost!” “So close your eyes and dream of all the wonderful Trash that’s yet to come. You too. There’ll be more Trash tomorrow.” Although I’m on friendly terms with Oscar, I’m not that kind of prepper.
I prefer a more joyful perspective. Yes, I want to have access to food, water, good community, and reasonable levels of amenities should the trash hit the fan … but not from a place of fear. Although the precarious state of our world flickers across my brain and influences some decisions, in the interests of sanity, positivity, and living in the ever present Now, I view prepping as a way of improving life regardless of what Congress, Obama, X-Class Solar Flares or Mother Nature decides to throw my way. Some examples:
Many people have asked me what kind of water filter I recommend. I have no stake in this company, but after much research, I decided to buy a Travel Berkey with the optional fluoride and arsenic filters. This filter can purify water from streams, rain barrels or contaminated taps, uses no electricity, just fits under our cabinet doors, keeps the good minerals in the water, and — most importantly for day-to-day pleasure — Berkey filtered water tastes amazing! I used to struggle to drink our home-distilled water. My body just didn’t want it. Nor did I enjoy Brita or bottled water. Ever since we set up our Berkey, I love drinking water! It just tastes so fresh, and I have peace of mind that were any kind of water issue to occur, we’d be fine.
(I do still keep about 10 gallons of bottled water on hand “just in case,” but we generally run through those for the waterpik, since the minerals in Berkey water would clog that thing up fast.) On a daily basis, the Berkey gives me pleasure and good health, regardless of what happens (or not) “out there.”
Yes, my original motivation to start gardening in 2011 arose from concern about how my raw food loving self would handle packaged FEMA meals in the event of an emergency. Given how clean I eat, I think the preservatives might send me to the hospital faster than refusing to eat for the duration of most events. I actually feel that way about most “food” on grocery store shelves, so it’s not really about FEMA. I just love real food, fresh food, and hyper local food. Since I began gardening two years ago, I’ve discovered the true joy of digging my hands in the dirt — of watching tiny seeds spring to life.
I’ve also gotten completely spoiled with the freshest produce harvested just minutes before eating. I decided to plant a winter garden bed with attachable cold frame in part due to a possibility of food supplies being disrupted, but mostly because I didn’t want to give up the level of yum to which I’ve grown accustomed. Books like Four-Season Harvest have me already salivating over turnips, mache and spinach, not to mention winter hardy kale, collards and root veggies. If nothing else, we will have a whole lotta yum and access to hard to find, fresh, local greens in January and February.
We’ve also got fun, functional decorations:
And tomatoes upon tomatoes for preserving in all manner of ways — dehydrated (both electric and solar), frozen, and soon to be canned:
My friend Patricia taught me how to can a few weeks ago and short-term loaned me her pot. David’s mom offered to loan me hers, but David’s sister has now gotten so excited about canning that I didn’t want to interfere with her enthusiasm. We’ve acquired tons of free jars from various former canners, and my friend Leah suggested two no-sugar, high “foodie” appeal canning books: Put ‘Em Up! and Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry. I’ve not received them yet, but based on Leah’s extreme endorsements, I’m looking forward to experimenting with unusual flavor combos and some non-frozen ways of preserving bumper crops. [UPDATE: I received the books. Put 'Em Up! does use sugar, but not in all the recipes. It's also a book that includes multiple methods of food preservation, including pickling, drying and freezing.]
I have so enjoyed the Lavender-Infused Dandelion Preserves (with birch sweetener) from my first canning experience with Patricia that I’m embarrassed to call myself a dandelion hoarder! I don’t eat honey, but this stuff is the most floral, delicious “honey” I’ve ever tasted. I’ve been eating it with almond butter on sprouted multi-grain tortilla chips with fresh sage leaves. Weird? Yep. Awesome? Uh-huh.
Then there are the herb crafts — the teas, the homemade dandelion blossom vinegar to increase mineral absorption from cooked foods and flavor salad dressings:
People worry they don’t have enough money to prep, but shopping with a prepper mindset can actually save you money. My mom used to laugh at me whenever she visited, because my cupboards and fridge were all but bare. I shopped almost every day, because I liked fresh food. I still love fresh food, but I “shop” from my garden, and I stock up on pantry items when I find bulk items on sale. Instead of spending a premium for canned beans, supplements or specialty curry pastes, I keep a running list of things I know I will eventually use. When those things go on a super duper sale, I’m there, stocking up on items I’d buy anyway, but saving sometimes 60-75% off.
I know many people prep from a sense of scarcity or lack: “OMG, I won’t have this, or what if I can’t get that?” By all means, if you’re going to fixate on the potential lack of something, go ahead and get a backup (or three) just so you can free up that energy for something more enjoyable and productive. For me, though, prepping emphasizes abundance. I plant with an idea of having “enough to spare and enough to share.” I love giving away free produce, and I love entertaining people with food I’ve grown and infused with love. Wild food foraging also adds to the sense of abundance. There’s nothing quite like Mother Nature’s free smorgasborg to remind you that God/dess provides. “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…” Personally, I enjoy sowing and reaping, but wild foods offer intense nourishment on several levels at once.
Part of my joyful prepping stems from how it has inspired my own growth. I have learned so many new skills, so much information, and met so many amazing people through my research! I’ve also become far more in tune with Nature, natural cycles, and that mysterious balance between going with the flow and influencing the flow. Yes, we can do many things to feed the seeds we want to grow, but some things remain outside our control. The dance with Nature both humbles and empowers.
I’ve also grown through evaluating what makes me feel vulnerable or secure. I know many preppers swear by guns and ammo, and when I was on Facebook, some of my more politically aware FB friends used to laugh at me for saying I’d use prayer and magic over guns. I don’t judge people who want to protect themselves and the ones they love. I totally understand that impulse. I’d just rather pay attention to signs and my intuition so that I know when I need to shift the energy around me or temporarily shift my location. To me, that, along with interactive prayer, feel more effective, far more in alignment and infinitely easier than learning to shoot someone who wants something I have. I live by my intuition and engage in nonstop communion with the Universe, so for me, it really does feel infinitely easier to recognize the energetic breach before the physical one occurs. This may not be true for most people, but for me, honing and amplifying that process has encouraged my own spiritual development.
I’ve also enjoyed delving deeper into my Runic and yogic studies, learning ways to amplify, protect and shift the energies around me, and I remain in awe of the powerful ways that Nature Spirits have worked with me to avert damage during storms or even redirect and dissolve them. On other occasions, I’ve asked for rain and felt them dancing it into being. The sense of connection I feel when a “crisis” forces me to get creative and to tune in to all my resources makes me feel incredibly alive. I have gathered together ancient and traditional knowledge that has turned out to feed my soul, grounding me in ways I never expected. This process has transformed “the world as I know it” into something even more magickal and loving than I imagined possible. So many preppers worry about TEOTWAWKI (“the end of the world as we know it”) or when the SHTF. I welcome those changes. I read the “S” in “SHTF” as “shift,” and it’s high time we got on with this love-o-lution.
Am I prepper? Yeah, and I know that puts me on a US terror suspect list along with “people who want to make the world a better place” and “people who don’t like paying taxes.” You know what, though? I can handle that. I do want to make the world a better place, and the joy of learning, imagining, doing and communing has already made my world a better place.
“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~Mary Engelbreit
“You must welcome change as the rule but not as your ruler.” ~Denis Waitley