Prepping: The Greek Strategy

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6 mins read

One thing that never seems to change is the preppers’ obsession with storing enough stuff. They want more canned green beans and more ammo and more gold, as if once SHTF hits, there’s nothing left to do but live off your stockpile. Here’s the short answer to that obsession: if at the end of the crisis we’re not going back to the way things were, you can’t store enough stuff. Ever. So stop trying, and plan to produce what you need rather than consume all the stuff you’ve stored.
I noticed that approach especially in a vid by a former marine explaining how to inform your family that they oughtn’t show up at your house on SHTF +1 because you can’t support them. Even aside from my biblical responsibility to support certain folk*, this is, IMO, wholly the wrong approach. It betrays the wrong mindset for one trying to prosper, rather than merely survive, in a new world.
Now, obviously I can’t support folks coming to eat Fritos and play Minecraft all day.  But we will not be eating Fritos or playing Minecraft at Casa d’El Borak, and not just because I’m not storing any Fritos. I won’t support adults who produce nothing.** But can I support them if they are going to be feeding animals, trimming plants, digging beds, and hauling wheelbarrows full of coal up an abandoned US highway?***  Of course, as they will be supporting themselves. If we really expect that when SHTF comes, the shit is going to hit the fan, then we need to realize what every ancient society realized: every mouth comes with two hands. And we are going to need a lot of hands, because there is going to be a lot of really hard, nasty, backbreaking labor to be done. Serfs are wealth. Enrich me.
But thinking about those ancient societies, I am reminded how the Greeks managed to get so rich and powerful. It wasn’t because they were great subsistence farmers: the poverty of Greek soil is legendary. In fact, you can’t even grow some of what they grew in good soil. Yet the ancient Greeks built an incredibly wealthy and powerful society on that soil.****
The lesson isn’t that bad soil is better. It’s actually a bit more obscure, though it becomes obvious when you look at it straight. The lesson is that if you want to produce more value, you concentrate on high-value products. The Greeks grew herbs and grapes and olives – items that could grow in poor soil and that held a far higher unit value than grains – and concentrated on small manufactures, which they then traded to the Egyptians and Syrians, who grew plenty of grains.

Greeks
Enough to season many pounds of potatoes

Think about it this way. You can generally get 2 pounds of potatoes for $3 m/l. A third of an ounce of rosemary leaves costs 3 bucks retail, while a pack of rosemary seeds, enough to grow 100 plants, costs half that.  So better than saving #10 cans of dried potatoes is planting your own. But even better is planting rosemary, which has a high unit value, and trading that for potatoes.  Sure, grow some spuds of your own, for you never know what the market will do in the short term. But find a high-unit-value crop or learn how to make a high-unit-value item; you can then trade that for all the potatoes you’ll ever need on really good terms.
In the ancient world, certain societies prospered, while others always seemed on the edge of starvation. Some lived in luxury, while others slogged along in poverty. It was not at all related to soil, nor was it always related to government nor trade rules nor slavery nor culture. The people who lived well were almost always those who produced items they could trade on favorable terms.
If we are going back anywhere near that world, then the rules that ruled then will rule again.  You’re likely not going to live well growing corn by hand.  But lots of people will be growing corn by hand. Produce something that people who grow corn need, and you’ll have plenty of corn to eat.
Then put all those slackers at your door to work doing the grinding.
* Parents on both sides first, then other family.
** 2 Thess 3:10. Family and friends who have no intention of contributing will be invited to leave.  But I will have met my responsibility.
*** It’s the final Minecraft update, called “IRL”, you might say.
**** That they burned up most of their wealth fighting each other in idiotic and futile wars helped their success to be historically short-lived. Word to the wise.

 

El Borak is an historian by training, an IT Director by vocation, and a writer when the mood strikes him. He lives in rural Kansas with his wife of thirty years, where he works to fix the little things.

8 Comments

  1. Any thoughts on what combo rifle/pistol to get for my son. Will be twelve to fifteen if predictions are right when it gets ugly. Thought about the ar57.

    • I don’t think it really matters so long as you know how to shoot and clean it well and safely. If you live in the right place, you’re far more likely to shoot food than invaders. So finding out what your neighbors hunt with is a good place to start. Even so, I’d stick with common calibers if you choose not to reload your old brass.

      • I farm for a living. We live in a good place but I like to be prepared. The writing is on the wall. I think the combo of a Ruger 10/22 and pistol for beginning then the AR-15 and 40 caliber Glock for when he gets older. Good for defense and ability to take any game in my area. Thanks for replying. Learning to reload is next on my to do list.

        • I would humbly submit the .45 for your consideration sir, over the .40.
          And if you are looking for a gun for when he is older, I would push you towards considering the .357 instead, but that is from an admitted wheelgun fan, so take with a large grain of salt if you are rolling with semiautos.

          • Good call on the 357. I can load it with the 38 special and then step it up later. I like the velocity of the 357. Thank you for the input.

  2. Rosemary on potatoes? What kind of devilry is this? Dill…maybe parsley if you are out.
    But, onto the main point, the stockpiling thing has never made sense. You need a stockpile for the first year when things are tremendously turning over and the lights go out. From that point, you should…as you mention here…start producing stuff. The stockpile route either leads to you getting killed for your stockpile, or a false sense of security whereby you don’t enact any of the harsh rules that will certainly be required in a new paradigm.
    Right on you sir for pointing this out.

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