Rational Preparedness

Takeaways From the Venezuela SHTF Event

People are hunting pigeons and dogs for food in Venezuela

Venezuela, known for being a socialist paradise, is deep into seeing what that actually means.  This experiment with socialism has been tried several times, in the world, and it always leads to the same thing.  It leads to a state of vulnerability to economic hard times.   When those hard times come, the people in the state are unable to cope.  Those hard times have come to Venezuela and the people are– You guessed it– unable to cope.  Venezuela is a true SHTF event–including a hyperinflation.

desabastecimiento1Stores have long been empty of food there, there are huge lines to get what little food comes to them, and people are getting violent.  The Guardian tells a story of a chicken truck coming to town.  It’s been a month since once person, waiting in line since 4 a.m. to get the chicken, has had any.  The national guard tells the truck to move along, when it arrives and that’s when things turn violent.

Mobs tried to loot nearby businesses and trucks coming to town with food.  This makes transporting food dangerous.  This means less food gets transported, which makes it more dangerous.

The government is unable to provide the public services that it has promised people. maxresdefault Healthcare was made free in the 1990s, but now people are having a hard time getting it. The healthcare system only has 20% of the medicine it needs to treat basic ailments.  There are rolling blackouts in 100 degree heat.  Government is unable to stop crime.  With crime outside, people are forced to stay inside, at night, during this heat.  Garbage seems to be piling up too.  This could, if it hasn’t already, lead to disease.

The food shortage is so bad that they are hunting dogs, cats, and pigeons, just to get something to eat, as the PanAm post has reported.  Even military officials have been arrested for stealing goats to eat.  Supermarkets are not allowed to sell food to people within 15 days of their last purchase; as if that means people will need to eat less.  Some people are looking through garbage for food.

The government is accusing businesses of hoarding and is taking them from their owners.  So rather than try to fix the problem, by allowing for freedom to do business, the government is doubling down the the socialism.  A lot of this is a cover story for what the real problem is, and that is government controls on the economy.  The cover story is working and 84% of the people support anti-hording measures.  This means the problem is not likely to be getting better before a total collapse of the state happens.  Only when the state lacks the power to suppress the market, will one emerge that can save those people.

Why is Venezuela in a Crisis?

Wealth is destroyed in socialism and there are often restrictions on doing business and accumulating wealth that could help you weather an economic storm.  One of the biggest problems facing the people in the failing state is price controls.  The government sets a ceiling on prices.  This increases people’s desire to buy them and decreases people’s desire to provide them for sale.  This creates a black market for the goods, which is a help but it’s not enough to overcome the reduced production that price controls bring about.  This post is not about the economics though.  For more on that, check out the book, Economics in One lesson, for free.

For more on the dire situation in Venezuela and the government actions that are causing it, Check out Stephan Molyneux’s video on the topic.  I’m not a huge fan of much of his later work, but Stef’s colorful description of what is happening there inspired this post.  I think he did an excellent job on this one.

What Can We Learn From the Venezuela SHTF Scenario?

To sum up the situation: People in Venezuela are unable to get reliable access to anything the market normally provides.  This includes food, water, electricity, fuel and of course toilet paper.  There is a very high murder rate and people need to stay indoors at night.

While Rational preparedness is focused on more common, less severe crisis events, it wouldn’t be good to ignore a massive SHTF event, unfolding before our eyes.  Also, there is a possibility that this kind of event could happen, wherever on earth, you happen to be living.  It’s happened in Germany and bits of it have happened in the United States. Think of the price controls and long lines during the oil crisis and 70s inflation event.  Empires always collapse, eventually.  So let’s take a look at some things you could do, if you faced this situation.

Food Storage and Preparation:

Food storage and preparation is a massive topic that we will explore many times over the course of this blog.  For this post, let’s just take a high level look at the topic and some of the basics to getting started.   What are some of the skills that may help you with food?  Also, let’s take a peak at some of the products, you will see me talking about in later posts.

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Cooking

The first thing to talk about in this topic, is cooking.  How often do you cook?  How good are you at it?  Cooking a significant portion of your own meals accomplishes two things.  The first is that it causes you to have a full pantry,

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refrigerator, and freezer.  Many people, without even an eye to preparing for disaster have lots of food stored, just because they cook and buy food when it is on sale.  Frequent cooking means you are constantly aware of what food you have in your house and are constantly replenishing it.

The second thing that frequent cooking accomplishes, on it’s own, are well developed cooking skills.  When I started out cooking, I would go to the grocery store, look at things, and not know what to do with them.  It was a little intimidating.  After years of cooking, often, I can see a food that I have never seen before, and immediately know what to do with it, based on it’s properties.   This is a huge help for food storage because it means I can adapt to new foods, that I might face in a crisis.  It also means you will be able to prepare tastier meals with stored food and know what to buy.

Storage

Food storage is critical to waiting out a shortage.  Shortages usually don’t last forever.  Having some significant quantities on hand can help to get you through tough times.  This is true, whether we are talking about a job loss, a weather event, or a true SHTF scenario like we are discussing here.

There are different categories of food storage based on how long it can be stored for.

Immediate use items:

 

This can include fresh vegetables, fresh meats, eggs, fruit, milk, etc.  Basically, it’s anything that goes in your refrigerator or that could go bad in a few days.  Having a well stocked fridge is helpful for a short term crisis like a weather event.

Frozen food items:  A well stocked freezer could supply you with food for months.

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My Own Freezer

Many foods in the immediate use category, as discussed above, can be extended by being frozen.  I recommend that everyone have a deep freezer.  A freezer can keep food for a year or much longer, depending on how you package it.  A quick look at Amazon, shows there are a vast array of freezers available on the market, from as little as $150 and up to $3000+

I plan to spend several articles helping you to sort through freezers, but quickly: I recommend and upright freezer that is not frost free.  These freezers are the cheapest to buy, store food better, are the easiest to get into, and use the least energy.  Don’t worry about defrosting them because you won’t need to very often.  A telltale sign of a non-frost free freezer is the presence of fast freeze shelves, with coils in the shelves.

Of course relying on a freezer alone, is not a long term solution in a situation where there are rolling blackouts, unless you have a backup power solution.  Short of back up power, you can keep a freezer full and it will survive a short term power outage of less than a full day.  Back up power is something we will look at extensively in this blog.

Dry Storage Goods:

Dry storage goods are going to be the mainstay of your long term food storage plan.  Many of them have very long shelf lives, and with proper storage, can feed you years after the stores are empty and the power goes down.  Dry storage goods include canned goods, grains, dried meats, and dried veggies.  I’m going to put an Amazon shopping list below for things that can help you get started with dry storage.  Some of them will be things to help you store food and some are food.  Look forward to me discussing some of these, in detail, in future posts.

Amazon Dry Goods Storage Shopping list

  • Harmony house dehydrated food
  • Excalibur Dehydrator
  • FoodSaver – Package dry and frozen foods to extend their lives
  • Canning Jars I like the wide-mouth ones
  • Oxygen Absorbers – Extend the shelf life of dry canned and sealed goods
    • With Mylar bags for extended shelf life of bulk goods like rice
    • Update: After posting this article, I purchased these bags from Amazon.  They are thicker than the ones above and have zip locks on them for use after opening them.  They also have enough of a seam margin to be hot sealed 2 or 3 times.  I’m quite happy with them.  I do wish the O2 absorbers came in multiple smaller packs though.  I packed my leftovers in the smallest canning jar they would fit in.  That should help them to last.
  • Davidson’s Loose Tea.  Tea stores for a long time, takes little space, and can provide flavor to water, when you are tired of it.  It also weighs little, so it can be easily transported. Amazon sells thousands of teas.  I find Davidson’s teas to be a good value and not available locally.  The paper bag, pictured, is Mylar on the inside and has a quality zipper seal.
  • Keystone Meats  I’m not sure what is going on with the pricing on Amazon.  You can get these at your grocery store for 1/3 the price.  The link does tell you what to look for though.  Keystone meats have few ingredients.  I have a can of beef in front of me and it has two–Beef and sea salt.  I really like the beef.  Look forward to recipe suggestions for it.  I even ate some tonight and the power is on.
  • Pressure Canner
  • The Pantry Primer: a Prepper’s Guide to Whole Foods on a Half-Price Budget  Daisy Luther wrote a whole book on this.  It’s interesting and and can really help you to get a pantry started.  It’s the highest rated product I have seen on Amazon.  Check it out.

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