The Critical Role Food Plays in a Dystopian Environment

Actively preparing for short and long term emergencies is a wise thing to do. The odds that most of us will have to rely on what we have stored in food and supplies for a short amount of time is very likely. But what about something bigger? What about the complete collapse of society as we know it from a widespread apocalyptic event? Those who have prepared will do well for some time, possibly a long time, but food will eventually run out if you’re not producing your own.

The end of July 2012 left 38% of the contiguous United States in extreme drought conditions. That means that the majority of farms, almost 70%, are fighting tough battles to save as much of the crop as possible. Corn, soybeans, cottons, wheat as well as cattle, pigs, chicken and other livestock are all affected by these trying conditions. 2013 will see increases in food prices but the extent of the price is yet to be determined.

One thing we can predict is that this drought combined with other food crisis situations throughout the globe has cumulative effects which can be devastating. Our current food model is globally connected and what happens on the one side of the globe can disturb the other.

What can we expect the price of food to do if another disaster is thrown into the mix? Or maybe a series of consecutively devastating disasters. What if disasters continue to happen in the midst of political and economic meltdowns around the world?

The complete collapse of societal and governmental cohesiveness could lead to widespread panic leaving those prepared with food surpluses in an interesting situation of survival. Keeping their families alive and defending themselves from opportunistic people who didn’t prepare.

Food Is Our Lifeline

Food, water and shelter are the most basic forms of survival. Without the promise of our next meal, when we have grown so accustom to living with abundance, panic can quickly set in. The rise in food prices over the past decade combined with major food shortages across the globe gives us a glimpse of what a food shortage would do in other nations.

The current east African food crisis is caused by a severe drought. It has caused millions of people to be displaced because of the lack of food. The situation is now out of the emergency state but in the wake of the crisis tens of thousands of people have died. The height of the crisis saw some refugee camps with 500,000 people. The camps were filled with disease, sexual assault, violence and death. Meanwhile armed bands of marauders violently pillaged people not in the camps for the remaining dwindling resources. Sound like a place you want to survive? Don’t think this couldn’t happen to a developed nation.

In times of food shortages relying on the government to supply you with basic necessities is the worst possible way to survive. Food, protection and shelter for those in your family will be the most important pieces of the puzzle. In a truly dystopian scenario food will not only sustain you and your family but will also be used as a bargaining chip to acquire what you need.

Post Apocalyptic Food Bartering

In a society that has suffered complete collapse a new currency will probably rise from the ashes eventually. What that currency might look like is beyond me at this point, maybe gold and silver, but what we can predict with some accuracy is the emergence of a barter system until something more formal is in place. Bartering is the exchange of goods or services you have for goods or services you need without the use of money.

If you have to barter after the collapse of society focus on good rather than services. If you only have skills to barter in times of crisis you can be in trouble. There will be lots of items to barter with but food may be the primary weapon used to get what you need.

Things that are difficult to make by hand like a sowing needles or things that take a while to grow like wheat will be extremely valuable. Sure an orange tree in your backyard will come in handy but oranges rot. A vacuum sealed cup of wheat or rice is going to be more desirable and easier to conceal when transporting.

If the collapse of infrastructure continues for extended periods of time seeds will become very valuable. A container full of non-genetically modified seeds to plant a “crisis garden” that will sustain your family will be indispensable. You can barter your stuff for seeds or simply get some now. If you have extra seeds in an crisis they may be the most valuable item in your supply you can use to barter.

Food Glues Communities

Surviving in a community during an apocalyptic event will be much better than fending for yourself. You may think you can do everything yourself, but chances are you will need some help. Getting a well rounded group of people to band together will be vital for long term survival. Food and skills will be the glue that brings people together.

Planning for long term survival will require rationing of food and supplies. Even with the rationing of food it will eventually run out making growing and harvesting sustainable food even more necessary. In addition to growing food, things like managing cattle, chickens, pigs, dairy production and other means to survive must be done. A group of prepared people dedicated to survival will function more efficiently than just you and your family with these tasks. If someone is ill you’ll need a medical professional. If you come under attack, the bigger your numbers, the better your chances of survival will be.

Whether you are planning to weather out the storm in your residence or bug out to your secure location, food and water will be at the top of your survival list. Plan for the potential of using food to barter for those unexpected necessities and as a bargaining chip if you need entrance into a community of survivors. Tightly packaged grains in transportable containers like a vacuum sealed bag will work very well to trade with.

Preparation is paramount and brings peace of mind. There are many more ways to plan for long term survival in case of infrastructure collapse but never forget you need food to eat and some food to barter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Flynn is a freelance writer and expert in emergency food storage.

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