Whenever you try to think life will return to the normal of pre-Covid times, there seems to be more bad news just around the corner. In recent weeks the news keeps blaring warnings about impending inflation and shortages due to major shipping issues, especially bottlenecks at U.S. ports. Predictions of shortages of everything from food, to paper goods abound and even the White House acknowledged the shipping issues and warned that Americans might not be able to get the items they want for Christmas.
Along with the ongoing shipping issues, this past weekend I saw several prepper channels on YouTube blaring warnings about food shortages and hyping a letter, supposedly from Auguson Farms, a producer of freeze-dried foods designed for long-term food storage, which many preppers and outdoorsmen purchase. The letter stated Auguson Farms was temporarily shutting down due to food shortages in their supply chain. I googled a bit, but didn’t find an official statement from Auguson Farms. However, the online prepper community panic-inducing chain reaction was pretty typical from what I’ve seen in YouTube’s prepper community, where the doom and gloom prognostications flourish and feed an online prepper rumor mill.
Just because so and so at one YouTube channel “reports” something, doesn’t mean it’s verified information or accurate, so I googled and didn’t come up with anything to verify the information. I did notice Auguson Farms has temporarily shut off taking orders on their website, citing a high-volume of orders. The letter some YouTube prepper channels were citing might be an actual letter from Auguson Farms, but I’m not sure who received these letters. And that’s the thing with so much of social media “news,” it lacks verification and huge gaps in details and often the source of the information is vague. Unfortunately, this lack of verification now applies to many actual news organizations news too , not just random social media influencers. It’s getting very hard to verify information.
I also saw a comment on social media where someone was wishing there was some list of items that are expected to become in short supply, so she could figure out what items to hoard. That got me thinking about my own prepping experiences again. My prepping mind-set keeps evolving. I admit to falling prey to a lot of fear when the pandemic, great toilet paper shortage of 2020, then the BLM pandemonium hit.
The 2020 shortages were due, not only to shipping/supply issues, but also to massive panic-buying. The 2020 shortages prodded me to become a pretty dedicated prepper in regards to stocking up on food and household items. I always had a lot of food stored, because that’s just how I am, but I had no focused prepping effort or organization.
Everyone’s home is different, from budget to diet to the household items they use, but how most people, myself included, react to any news about shortages seems pretty predictable – a whole lot of panic-buying and that goes for a lot of online preppers too. Many of the popular preppers on YouTube claim their being prepared allows them to avoid panic-buying, but most of them overreact to any rumor of a shortage, by rushing out to stock up more (i.e. panic-buying). Along with a lot of useful and practical information, the online prepper community spreads a lot of fear about impending doom and gloom scenarios, many spread a lot of rumors and many are hardcore panic-buyers, because no level of food and emergency supplies ever seems to be enough for them and they fixate on every morsel of bad news, from someone posting about some random shortage in their local grocery store to overexaggerated fears about the system falling apart and SHTF events
I’m a lifelong conservative, but here’s a home truth about the political right in America – many of them fall for a lot of demagogues selling doomsday claptrap (see the most popular right-wing pundits) and fear of the Left, 2nd Amendment hysteria, and since Trump came along, too many on the right overreact as much as the looney fringe on the Left. The right-wing politics does intrude into the online prepper community too. Many in the YouTube prepper community are part of the Trump-right politically, where a whole lot of doomsday/anti-government conspiracy theories flourish. I’m not trying to pick on Trump supporters, but It seems a lot of that right-wing partisan politics plays into much of the trendy online prepper topics. I skip prepper channels where the people go on and on about SHTF, civil war/guns & ammo stockpiling, and doomsday scenario stuff, because I don’t believe in living my life fixated on doomsday events and find it more constructive to try to live life with a hopeful heart.
I’m a worrying kind of person, so thinking about the “what ifs” comes naturally to me too, but after going through this pandemic and all the craziness everywhere, from politics to civil unrest, new reports of this current news warning of impending shortages didn’t get me worked up or worrying. I can’t change the international shipping problems, but I can continue to try to plan ahead a bit more for my own basic needs.
Preparedness is individual and some people can manage very well on very little, while other people can be surrounded with all sorts of stuff and be completely helpless. I’ve known people who can’t even open a can of soup and heat it, so truly in a real emergency or SHTF scenario, having acquired skill sets probably matters more than acquiring a massive stockpile of supplies. Along with all the focus on buying things to be prepared, saving up some money to have an emergency fund should be a higher priority than stockpiling piles of SHTF supplies. There’s got to be a balance between buying stuff with your prepping efforts and common sense putting money aside for emergencies, which in everyday life usually range from expensive car repairs to something in your home breaks and needs to be replaced rather than a doomsday event or major weather emergency.
Finding your own comfort level matters. I can guarantee you that some hardcore preppers will never have enough food or supplies stored up that would allow them to relax. Planning for SHTF events is their life. It’s almost a perpetual state of paranoia and it’s contagious if you start believing all of the dire stuff. Knowing how easily I worry made me stop and reassess a lot as I’ve worked out a preparedness level that fits my budget and my lifestyle. Here’s the other big thing – a lot of food and supplies stockpiled can lead to a whole lot of waste. Wasting less matters to me and is as much of a priority as stocking up.
One thing I would not do again is rely on emergency preparedness food lists other people create, where they tell you how much of the various food items you should stockpile, other than glancing over it and seeing if there are items on it that I do use and haven’t stocked up on yet. With master lists that are supposed to be a one-size fits all food storage plan, it sets a lot of unrealistic expectations, plus can lead to wasting a lot of money on food items you’re not likely to use in your everyday meal preparations. Here’s how I look at it, if you don’t have a supply of everyday foods to last you for several months, it makes no sense to spend a lot of money or worry about building an extended food storage pantry (stuff that last 20-30 years).
What’s working for me is I’ve turned “prepping” into a more relaxed “shopping ahead” attitude rather than based on reacting to alarming news stories or the alarmist prepper social media rumor mill. I feel more in control of my preparedness now, by calmly looking through my pantry and around my house, gauging how long my current supplies will last and building my shopping list from that, rather than reacting to more doom and gloom news or social media hysteria.
I’m done with fear-induced buying.
With the current bad news, I’ve already got most of the basic food items for holiday meals this year, because I’ve been “shopping ahead” the past year and will continue to stock up, but I’m not going to run from store to store in a panic. I have built up my food storage to a level I’m comfortable with and I will continue to shop ahead. Changing my mind-set from preparing for a SHTF/emergecny event to a more sustainable “shopping ahead” mind-set has allowed me to relax more, think more carefully about what items I am buying and most of all to think more in terms of buying with the meals I regularly cook or items for new recipes in mind rather than worrying about some “expert’s” prepper list. I have learned a lot from the online prepper community and enjoy many of the YouTube prepper channels, but I’ve become a bit more confident in thinking through my own preparedness planning and purchases, by gearing it towards my own life rather than based on what’s the latest hot topic in the online prepper community.
Impending shortages are very real news right now, but slowing down, catching your breath, organizing and inventorying your own pantry and household, then calmly making a shopping list based off of your own meal preferences and routine will allow you to maintain a more normal lifestyle than running around buying stuff based on fear constantly. And before you even start that shopping list, with inflation hitting seriously assessing your budget and finances should be step one.