US Prepper movement explodes
by VEG-HEAD on FEBRUARY 13, 2010 - 13 Comments in SELF-SUFFICIENCY

There are now over four million active preppers in the US – meaning that this middle-class “survivalism lite” movement far outnumbers the Tea-Party protesters, estimated at about one million members.  Self-doctoring, laying down food supplies, and a “bug-out” location where friends can meet if things go bad, are the main preparations being made by preppers.

Both preppers and tea-partyists are disillusioned, alienated or just plain angry at the way society is run,and both are dominated by middle class families which have the most to lose in the event of a major calamity – whether economic or physical.  But it is the prepper movement, repeatedly covered in previous articles on, which is growing fastest.
Prepper Web sites advise readers on such matters as the best chickens to rear and other aspects of survivalism.

Mother-of-three Tess Pennington, 33,  lives outside Houston, Texas. She is not taking the safety of her suburban existence for granted. Pennington is learning how to grow her own food, has stored emergency rations in her home and is taking courses on treating sickness with medicinal herbs.

“I feel safe and more secure. I have taken personal responsibility for the safety of myself and of my family,” Pennington said. “We have decided to be prepared. There all kinds of disasters that can happen, natural and man-made.”  Preppers believe that it is better to be safe than sorry and that preparing for disaster – be it a hurricane or the end of civilisation – makes sense.

Unlike the 1990s survivalists, preppers come from all backgrounds, live all over America and want to livein communities after “the big one” rather than retreating into a solitary bunker. They are just as likely to be found in a suburb or downtown loft as a remote ranch in the mountains. Prepping networks, which have sprung up all over the country in the past few years, provide advice on how to prepare food reserves, how to grow crops in your garden, how to hunt and how to defend yourself. There are prepping books, online shops, radio shows, countless blogs, prepping courses and prepping conferences.

John Milandred runs a website called Pioneer Living, which is one of the main forums for discussing prepping. It provides a range of advice for those who just want to store extra food in case of a power cut, to those who want to embrace the “off the grid” lifestyle of America’s western pioneers. “We get inquiries from people from all walks of life. We had a principal from a school asking us to talk to their children. We have doctors and firemen and lawyers,” he said.

Milandred lives in Oklahoma and, should society collapse around him, he is well placed to flourish. Indeed, he might not notice that much. His house has a hand-dug well that gives him fresh water. He grows his own food. He has built an oven that needs neither gas nor electricity. He can hunt for meat. “If something happened, it really would not affect us,” he said.

There are several reasons for the rise of prepping. The first is that, in the post-9/11 world, mass terror attacks have become a fear for many Americans. At a time when US diplomacy is focused on preventing Iran getting nuclear weapons and terror experts continue to warn of “dirty bombs” on American soil, it is no surprise that many Americans feel threatened. Added to that paranoia has come the recession. Suddenly, millions of Americans have been losing their jobs and their homes, reinforcing a feeling that society is not as stable as it once seemed.

Hollywood has caught on. A succession of films, such as 2012, The Road, The Book of Eli and Legion, have tapped into an American Zeitgeist that is worried about the end of civilisation.

“Prepping masks a wide range of stances and ideologies. But the more people are prepared, the more they are likely to have an apocalyptic way of thinking,” said Professor Barry Brummett, of the University of Texas-Austin.

Even government officials have accepted that the financial crisis posed a threat to social order. In recent testimony before Congress, treasury secretary Tim Geithner admitted that top-level talks had been held on whether the US could enforce law and order in the wake of a collapse of the financial system.

Certainly, Tom Martin agrees. He runs the American Preppers Network, which helps provide a wide range of resources. Martin, a truck driver who lives in Idaho, believes that more and more people will become preppers. “Millions of people now have the mindset that they want to be prepared for something, but don’t know what to call it,” he said.

That rings true with Pennington. In the 1990s, survivalism was the province of anti-government militiamen or loners in the woods. But preppers are more concerned with stocking up on food and water and relearning skills so that they can fend for themselves.

To that end, Pennington has set up a website called Ready Nutrition, which teaches basic food skills to prepare for a time when pre-packaged goods at a supermarket might not be available: “Prepping is not taboo, like survivalism. There is no negative connotation to it. We are not rednecks. In many ways, our ancestors were preppers. So were the Native Americans. It is just going back to being able to look after yourself.”

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1 Wretha { 02.15.10 at 1:38 pm }

While I love reading about other preppers, and I am sure happy to see this “movement” becoming more mainstream with more and more people doing it, I cringe when I see the media stating first and last names and the locations of these preppers, what do you think will happen if/when the worst happens? The people who weren’t prepared will go looking for those who were prepared, forcing those who were prepared to make some hard decisions, either share what they have and put their families at risk of not having enough, or having to protect what they so carefully prepared for.

Does that make me a selfish person? Well, when it comes to my family, your right, I am selfish, I want my family to survive, that’s EXACTLY why I (and any other preppers) prepped in the first place.

Perhaps the preppers written about in this and other articles agreed to have their full names and locations used in the article, maybe they didn’t think about the consequences of doing that.
I’ll go back to my private prepping now, wishing the best for all of us, hoping that none of ever have to experience the worst, hoping for the best for prepping for the worst.

2 Tom { 02.16.10 at 11:53 pm }

Publishing your name is not something that I would recommend for everyone for the reasons that Wretha states. They asked me my name and I thought about it for a while and wasn’t going to do it at first but then I thought if I keep hiding my name, then media will wonder what have I got to hide so I went ahead and did it. I’m not afraid, the government already knows who I am. My neighbors are all prepped and we work together so I do not fear them, as for everyone else who’s not prepped, they sure would have a long way to travel just to seek me out, it would be easier for them to steal from some other poor fool. Anyway, someone has to be brave enough to come out in the open to wake others up….I wasn’t the first and I wasn’t ready to do so, that’s why I asked Lisa the Survival Mom if she wanted to. I think she’s a hero for doing it, because now tens of thousands more are getting prepared now as a result. Can you imagine the number of lives that will be saved as a result of her doing that newsweek article? Well, I saw that she could do it, so I decided to as well, and John from pioneer living is doing it. If we all come out and make Prepping the new “in thing” then we can change the face of the world. If everyone becomes prepared, then we all can survive any disaster and not have to worry about those who would steal or kill after a disaster.

3 splashy { 02.17.10 at 6:37 am }

Ah, I’ve always been a bit of a prepper, to the point of living for something like 6 years without electricity or heating provided by a company. We used wood heat, wood cook stove, kerosene lanterns, an outhouse, gravity feed water from a spring, and grew a humongous garden. Only worked enough for others to get enough money to keep things like a chain saw, vehicle, and toilet paper going. That was back in the 80’s, so this is not a new thing. In fact, a good percentage of people living around me have done this for generations. They have added electricity, and some use propane for heating these days, but pretty much all have gardens and store food.

It’s just a way of life to keep stocked up in supplies. That’s the rural way. I’m not a libertarian, conservative, or anywhere on the right politically, but still think it’s not a bad idea to try to keep a supply on hand, just in case there’s a natural event that cuts us off for a while. After all, growing up where hurricanes come in now and then trains ya that way.

4 longchamp { 02.17.10 at 9:00 am }

wretha, i completely understand and appreciate your counsel,
i will not publish myself either but i must admit the prepper movementis our best chance yet.

if shtc happens, there will be blood and the more are prepared the better. if you really think you are invisible i must say that i very much doubt that.

your ip is not invisible – but that isnt what i am talking about, people who are able to get to you via your ip will not be interested in robbing you – you dont sound as if you had gold bars and jewels
lying around – it is people who live close by,
or will wander close by if thinghs happen,
and some of whom will always turn out to be reptiles.

the best thing would be if the preppers founded a party of their own,
turning the us into at least the resemblance of a democracy
(because, with just 2 parties it simply isnt one – it only just
comes close).

now for that to happen, but i repeat myself, we need things to get
a lot worse – and believe me, they will.
does anyone really believe we can ever regain the lifestyle
of the 60s to the 2000s, good ole american way of life
all over the planet ?


5 Wretha { 02.17.10 at 11:44 pm }

longchamp, my biggest wish would be that everyone was prepared for everything possible, but there will always be people who don’t think the worst can or will happen, or if it did, then Uncle Big Bro will take care of them. I hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Where I live, and I realize this isn’t typical of where and how most Americans live, it would be pretty uncommon for the general public to wander in, and in the event of an emergency, especially one where martial law was enacted, where I live would be one of the last places where the masses might flock toward to find help. It wasn’t designed that way, but it’s how it has turned out, I feel particularly safe here from the “masses” of angry, hungry people, they would have to walk in pretty far over pretty unforgiving terrain to get to me/us, there will be no “wandering near by” of people for us to deal with. Fortunately for me/us, our neighbors, the few we have out here also know about prepping, maybe not on a large scale, but most people out here do have some food, fuel and water put back, it’s just how it is here, with the nearest town being 20 miles away (one way), people don’t generally get to town very often, so it makes you have to stock up at least a little bit. I’m also not worried about my IP giving anything away, at best it would place me within one of the largest counties in Texas, I have had family and friends try to find me using a GPS with my address, it’s not easy, and I like it that way. :)

6 longchamp { 02.18.10 at 5:45 am }

hi wretha,
yep that does sound okay – i guess you can do that at some
places in the us and canada, in siberia, argentine and australua –
the last great outdoors not infested by woodcutting mafias nor drug mafias nor racist or fundamentalist guerrillas…
i wouldnt dare trying it in africa, for example, though that is
a very beautifuil continent.

maybe i should pack my bags and got to patagonia, i am getting
pretty old by now but if it is that feeling of looking around and not seeing any street lights, being able to use the telescope at night and
looking at bursting stars without light pollution…
might be worth it.

the ip, okay that is certainly not likely, but the cia could easily
get you that way and i bet they have you on satellite record :)
not that they would have any reason to…
then again, they didnt find mr bad man osama either –
which means, yes i agree – you are probably right !
some hope left, seen this way.

7 Wretha { 02.20.10 at 2:41 am }

longchamp, I already have several of the alphabet gov agencies following my stuff, it’s OK, they know where I am. I’m not hiding from them, so far they haven’t created or changed any laws that I would be breaking by living my life off grid, yet… not being paranoid either, they aren’t spying on me, they come in the open, leaving their traces openly on my tracker, they aren’t hiding, perhaps it’s an intimidation game for them, or maybe they are just keeping tabs on me for now.

I will say that I wouldn’t want to live in any other country, as messed up as our gov is, it’s still the best one around, IMHO. I might be naive, and that’s OK too, I’ll live my simple life for as long as I can, for now, that’s not breaking any laws.

8 longchamp { 02.22.10 at 8:41 am }

hey wretha,
i was really just horsing around about the cia etc –
i find it hard to take humanity seriously all of the time –
life is beautiful, god is great –
its a clear blue sky, satellites are out tonight…

and governments, sure – they all believe they are doing their
best, and that they are the good (best) guys,
and surely god is on their side.
yours have by now proved that they are no exception.
a tribe within a tribe, within a circle in a spiral.

naivety is a general weakness of all
who have no knowledge of what will happen in the future
(which is why one good option is to assume that history
will probably repeat itself) –
this is also why you always find very wise critiques of past events,
while we really are all about the future,
and we are all in it together.

so good night, and good luck.

9 Pure Mormonism 2010-02-27 18:08:00 | Mormon Bloggers { 02.28.10 at 6:11 pm }

[...] I don’t know why I was so late to discover EfoodsDirect, because they are shaking out as one of the premier food storage suppliers in the country. Not only are they popular among Mormons, but they appear to be the favorite of a lot of those gentiles in the aforementioned Prepper movement. [...]

10 US Prepper movement explodes | The Flopside { 12.20.10 at 4:04 pm }

[...] There are now over four million active preppers in the US – meaning that this middle-class “survivalism lite” movement far outnumbers the Tea-Party protesters, estimated at about one million members.  Self-doctoring, laying down food supplies, and a “bug-out” location where friends can meet if things go bad, are the main preparations being made by preppers. [...]

11 Madmax { 03.21.11 at 2:17 pm }

Most people these days are Sheep: apathetic, lazy, brainwashed. They say “why are you preparing — nothing’s going to happen”

They trust that nothing will happen to warrant preparing. So they don’t.

Truly they are grasshoppers and we are ants.

12 Jay { 11.23.11 at 9:07 pm }

Anyone know where the “4 million active preppers” figure came from? I assume it came from a survey. Anyone know the company that did the survey? Thank you.

13 Steve Nelson { 07.01.13 at 9:29 pm }

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