For lots of people, the word “prepping” is a relatively new trend. They think it maybe goes back to the Y2K scare or possibly as far back as Cold War nuclear threats. Lots have images of the crazy hermit hunkered down in his bunker full of MREs and guns. In reality, the labels may be new, but “prepping” is nothing new. The confusion comes from something that is new though. It all seems new because of the current mindset of just-in-time deliveries, fast food joint dinners, and stores on every corner.
In the past, what we would call prepping, was known as day to day life. Families could not turn to the corner convenience store when they ran out of something during a snow storm. Unless you lived in a very urban environment, you were responsible for growing or gathering almost all the food you needed on a daily basis. If you needed food or supplies that you could not make yourself, you were forced to travel what could be long distances to trade for those items. In addition to the daily struggles, you had to be ever mindful to “prep” for winter. While summer and fall might give you a bounty of crops and wild game, the winter months ground that to a halt. Due to the risk of exposure or difficult weather, hunting might not even be feasible. In these months families turned to the root cellar where they had stored vegetables (canned or otherwise preserved) and preserved meats (salt cured or dried) to keep them fed. The lessons they learned in food preservation became common knowledge for generations.
These common sense rules applied as you traveled too. If you wanted or needed it, you carried it. There were trading posts and inns in certain places and different times over the years. These were no guarantee though. What you had on your back, in your saddle bags, or in your wagon had to keep you until you reached point B of the journey. A knife on your belt and maybe an ax in your bag was standard equipment. All this was part of life until the urban environment began to expand.
As families became more urban and industrialized the skills and mindset to live this type of life fell out of favor. Why salt cure hams when you can run to the local grocery store and pick up a nicely packaged and pre-sliced deli ham? Even the ones that might desire to keep these traditions alive found it difficult as they moved from farms into suburbs. In the end, the majority of the population came to assume that those stores would always be open and freshly stocked. Even the farmers began to rely on regular and frequent deliveries of things like feed for their animals. The days of the self reliant farm was gone. Specialization became the norm and it leaves a wide open door for disaster.
Now in the present the push to “prep” has returned. It has been fueled by seemingly more frequent natural disasters, terror attacks, and the breakdown of community cooperation. No longer do people assume their neighbor is there to help them in a crisis or are willing to help others themselves. Many people are looking for ways to ensure that they and their loved ones are safe from whatever disaster they may think is the best to focus on. They see that relying on someone to save them is a naive idea. With this the desire to have common self-reliance skills has grown. The skills from yesteryear to forage for food, raise crops, raise livestock, preserve excess food for future use, and to raise your level of self-reliance are all getting focused on. This movement is also not limited to “crazy” conspiriousy theorists or hardcore off-grid types. It is made up of single moms, grandparents, urban families, as well as rural families. It also cuts across a lot of segments of social, economic, and racial backgrounds.
In the end, people making preparations against threats to their family may still be in the minority now. Hopefully though it signals that people are realizing that being prepared is a personal responsibility. One that they may not be able to afford to ignore. Like those previous generations, we might find that one day we are the only resource we have to make it to the next day,