I believe that the best way to prepare for the future is to have a good long look at our past. History is filled with the causes of and results from societal upheaval, war and famine, all of which make an excellent source of knowledge for today’s prepper.
I don’t know why but famines today and throughout history seem to take a back seat to war, politics and finances yet famines have killed millions. For example, I’m sure everyone has heard of the World Wars and you can probably name the US Presidents involved in the Great Depression but have you heard of the Russian Famine of 1921? It’s been estimated that 5 million people died as a result of that famine (less than 100 years ago!).
Famine can be man-made or caused by nature. Most often it’s both. The Russian famine came after the 1917 revolts and civil wars when the countryside farmers were forced to cut back on planting during a series of droughts. Wheat seed reserves were confiscated by Lenin and used for food. The country of Russia went from self-sustaining to starving in four years…..that’s something to think about.
A world war, a communist revolution, poor leadership and a drought within 4 years…. sound familiar?
Famine goes on all around us today but you rarely hear a word about it. WHO estimates 70 million people have died due to famine in the 20th century alone!
Famine does have some consistency that we can learn from:
You can’t rely on staying in the same place that you are now. It may sound like a good idea but severe weather or war could force you to find safe haven, at least temporarily. The idea of riding out a famine on your own little farm may sound like the answer but history has shown that leaving your homestead behind is a real possibility.
If there’s no political turmoil and our government is still intact, odds are there will be a structure in place to help the refugees with temporary housing and rebuilding after the disaster. A worst case scenario would mean a total loss of the way of life that we now know.
People become opportunistic and very creative. Without any relief structure and after the cats, dogs and wildlife are consumed, there will be crime. True survival will be the theme until there is nothing left to steal. Hunger will drive the survivors to become very creative. Relief workers from the Russian famine reported that refugees in one village had survived on a soup made from powdered bones, roots and clay. I’ve also read reports of hunger-mad North Koreans driven to eat dirt by the handful.
Diseases pop up. Squalid living conditions from poverty and nomadic lifestyle bring lice and fleas that carry Typhus. Typhus is mentioned again and again in the worst famines. Rats and other vermin collect around camps where they spread the typhus-causing bacteria. It was said that the huts in Russia were so infested with lice that relief workers chose to sleep outside, even in winter and children in orphanages were kept unclothed because their clothes were so infested they had to be burned.
Death and lots of it. If you’re like me, you probably have a hard time envisioning millions dead in a short period of time. As overwhelming as it might be, the dead need to be respectfully and properly disposed of. Graves were sometimes dug long before they were needed because the grave diggers were worried that they may not have the strength to dig them later.
Can We Prepare For a Famine?
Yes and no.
Things do change and history shows that change can happen swiftly. Comparing the events of the day to past events can help understand how famines develop and give an edge to those that are sensitive and observant enough to act. A true famine will be very overwhelming and will impact everyone. It’s doubtful that any one household could store enough food to share with family throughout the course of a true famine.
Freeze dried foods are the best bet. We have several advertisers here that specialize in just that very thing. Freeze Dry Guy, Ready Made Resources andInternet Prepper all offer freeze dried food with a shelf life of up to 25 years allowing the prepper to gradually build a supply of LTS food without much worry of having to rotate often.
Learning to forage in all seasons and learning to preserve food, whether you grew it yourself or not, are key skills to learn. Reading about these things is just a start. Make a point to regularly do something you’ve never done before. Catch, cook and eat a fish right there at the water’s edge or make a salad from wild plants in your area or preserve strawberries and peaches when they come into season. The little things you learn now could pay off in the future.
Famine in the USA?
Like mentioned above, I believe that severe droughts or other natural disaster need to be combined with societal upheaval and poor leadership to cause massive famine.
Droughts dry up reservoirs and small creeks and render wells and rainwater collection systems useless. That’s something to think about if you live in an area without a large lake or river nearby. Large bodies of water also mean better foraging opportunities.
This drought monitor points out the areas in the US that are currently dealing with drought. It’s a very good tool that updates weekly. Currently it shows “exceptional” drought conditions in parts of Texas which has recently started a dispute between Texas and Mexican farmers..It’s important to remember that one drought doesn’t mean a famine is imminent.
I’ve seen emails and blog posts suggesting that food shortages and famine in the US are inevitable and to me, that is just fear-mongering. I still feel that the US has been blessed by God with more than we need. I believe that He will continue to bless us as long as we are not wasteful or reckless with what we’ve been given, .