A Brief History of Prepping

Ancient Mesopotamia

In the not-so-distant past growing, processing, and storing vegetables and grains, raising animals, and hunting was how we survived.  Sometimes we had to pick up a spear, sword, musket, or whatever we had for weapons at the time and fight off people who wanted our land and food, or to kill our families.

A Brief History

The land between the Euphrates and Tigres rivers called Mesopotamia has long been identified as the cradle of civilization.  This is where hunter-gatherers figured out how to farm and over time went from a nomadic lifestyle to a more stationary one.  Growing cereals, grains, fruits and nuts and finding ways to store them eventually led to a surplus of food that allowed people to specialize in certain areas such as metal working, art, religion, weaving, trade, etc; all grew from the ability to store food for long periods.  From this grew a tenuous civilization where small city states battled back and forth for water rights and various political reasons.

Today with the proliferation of the grocery store and better technology for growing crops and raising animals and mass production, prepping, – as a way of life – is no longer perceived as being necessary.  We had periods of time during wars and market crashes where we were encouraged to grow “Victory Gardens”, but for the most part today that’s a thing of the past.

As our civilization flourished we learned to take care of each other and during times of disaster people reached out to those afflicted and rendered assistance.  This is a good thing, but in today’s society we have become overly dependent on the government to take care of us during times of crisis.

The problem is that as we’ve become more dependent on electricity and mass production we’ve lost the skills necessary to be self-sufficient.  With this dependence comes vulnerability.  If we were to lose the electric grid – due to any number of disasters – for any length of time it would prove catastrophic to our civilization.

The Basic Tenet of Prepping

The basic idea behind prepping is this:  No one is coming to care for you after a large enough disaster and that disaster isn’t far off.

Back in the 1970’s and 80’s people who believed this were labeled Survivalists and were perceived as gun nuts wearing tinfoil hats skulking on the fringe of society waiting – even hoping – for civilization to crumble so they could come out and pick over what was left.  Of course this was a mere ten or twenty years after having nuclear shelters in our back yards and running through nuclear drills (“Get under your desk and cover your head!”) in school.  How fast we forget!

Today there is an undercurrent of unease that runs through society partly due to twenty-four hour news outlets broadcasting a message of doom and gloom.  Mix in some fake news and propaganda from foreign countries with enough real information on how easy it would be for enemies to crash our grid, bring down the Internet, or bomb us from space, and you gain a better understanding of why everyday people are now stashing food, water, weapons, and taking classes in bushcraft and self defense.

We are occasionally reminded of just how fragile our civilization is.  Puerto Rico, Katrina, 9/11, huge wild fires, solar flares, all remind us that we are still susceptible to outside forces beyond our control.  The 1815 eruption of Mt. Tambora is a good example of nature throwing us a curve ball.  After the eruption world temperatures dropped and we experienced the “Year Without A Summer.”  Just a reminder that while we may be the masters of the world, we are still at Mother Nature’s mercy.

Be Prepared

Disasters have been with us from the beginning of time and against all odds the human species is still here.   There have been five mass extinctions on the planet and it’s argued that we’re in the middle of the sixth, which is due to a climate change.  Whether or not that change is man-made or not is, in my opinion, immaterial at this point.  The fact that we’re losing species as rapidly as we are should be scaring everyone, but most people seem oblivious to what’s going on around us.

In light of the disasters our world endures on a daily basis it makes sense to be prepared.  Storms, Earthquakes, famine, floods, wildfires, mudslides, tsunamis, and other disasters seem to be a part of the Earth’s daily pattern and with the global temperature going up the storms, droughts, and wildfires are only going to get worse.

The government suggests that you have at least three days worth of food and water stored at a minimum.  Check out the U.S. Government disaster preparedness site if you’d like to get better prepared.

-Jarhead Survivor


6 thoughts on “A Brief History of Prepping

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  1. Yep! Be prepared. We’ve always tried to be ready with basic necessities. Backpacking has helped us to see what we can actually live without. But we live in an area where our electric company has said we will experience blackouts this summer at random times and without notice. Their reasoning is to prevent another wild fire disaster because the infrastructure is bad. So, according to our notice, if certain conditions are met, we can be days without power. So, I’m in thinking mode for how we can keep our perishables cool in that time. It may just come down to not having them this summer, or relying on other, non-electrical methods to store them. It should be interesting. Everything else we will be fine on because we’ve practiced enough living without electricity that we know what to do.


    1. Hi Nichole – Wow! That’s really something that you’ve a notice like that from your electric company. Do you live in the Western part of the U.S.? You might want to invest in a generator or some solar panels to pick up the slack of being without electricity. Good luck!


  2. by the end of “DAY 3”,
    everyone will be ready to kill for a hot shower, and the option to heat their food….

    my Dad frequently said: the biggest innovation in his lifetime was automatic, on demand hot water.


    1. Hey Irish! Your dad was a smart guy. You don’t realize what a luxury hot water is until you don’t have it or have to heat it up over an open fire. I just got a 3 gallon hotwater tank designed to fit on a small wood stove. (Now I just have to get the wood stove!) I’ll do a post about it at some point. Your comment has given me ideas for a blog post!


      1. always happy to inspire…

        my “in-laws” house always had dangerously hot, hot water. great for the dishwasher, laundry etc. for hand washing, safe bathing, not so much…
        finally last year, a “mixing valve” was added to the ancient boiler system.
        I think (hope) it will solve the problem.

        my scout troop had a hot water tank that we used right in the camp fire.
        it provided lots of scalding hot water for cooking, and (really) cleaning our mess kits, etc.
        you probably couldn’t have stuff like that today….
        the key to the system was the funnel on the top, where we added the water.
        inside the tank, there was a pipe that took the cold water from the funnel to the bottom of the tank, like the “dip tube” in a domestic hot water heater. the hot water then exited through a stub pipe at the top of the tank. it worked very well,
        the tank was never under any pressure. no safety valve needed.
        (don’t continue to heat the tank if it’s empty. don’t pour cold water into a hot tank)


  3. the above should have read: don’t pour cold water into a hot empty tank….

    that’s really dangerous! especially in a steam system! if you accidentally allow any steam boiler to run dry, you need to allow it to cool before adding water. it will explode, if it’s not cool enough.


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