Doomsday Preppers Proves U.S. Doesn't Understand Farming

Prairie Gleanings

National Geographic show highlights how far Americans have strayed from the farm.

Published on: September 18, 2012

A couple years ago, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t bear to watch another one of network television’s new sitcoms or fantasy dramas. The breaking point was when I realized Charlie Sheen’s “Two and a Half Men” was one of the top-rated sitcoms.

I was beginning to accept that I was paying for cable just so I could watch sports. Then I found “Doomsday Preppers.” If you haven’t seen this show, do yourself a favor and set the DVR now.

Here’s the premise. The National Geographic Channel profiles folks who are convinced Armageddon is just months away. In the process, the families (Note: in many episodes, the wife is not on board with the plan.) discuss which disaster they’re preparing for and what they’ve done to ensure survival.

I’m not going to debate whether or not the end of the world is near. Rather, I’d like to point out the complete idiocy that seems to be a requisite part of any “preppers”’ plan.

Most folks follow the same basic outline. Step one: buy a bunch of food with a long shelf life. Step two: acquire a safe place to ride out the end of days. Step three: get a bunch of guns and ammo to shoot looters. Step four: wait.

Depending on the prepper’s IQ, the likelihood of successfully implementing the plan varies wildly. One of my favorite episodes featured a woman who lived in Washington, across the street from the nation’s capitol. She’d stockpiled a room full of food, but her safe place was in Utah. The “experts” quickly pointed out that there was no way she could carry enough food to sustain her on a cross-country hike.

Here’s the clincher: most of these are urban folks who don’t even consider the possibility of growing your own food as a sustainable means of survival. Instead, they pretty much all follow the “protect the food stash” code.

And, let’s be honest, who will come looking for food in the wake of a crisis? Do you think a bus load of convicted felons will kick down the door and steal your food? Or, perhaps more likely, your next-door neighbor will knock on the door and ask if you could spare a can of soup? Are they really willing to shoot their neighbors for asking for food? I hope not.

Very few episodes have profiled folks who plan to set up an agrarian settlement in the wake of a disaster. Instead, they’re too busy worrying about killing enough wild game to feed their family. I’ve got to think this has something to do with all these survival-themed shows. There’s a big difference in finding your way back to civilization and starting a new civilization.

I’d wager most “Doomsday Preppers” viewers see a bunch of paranoid gun nuts. I see a nation that’s forgotten how to farm. Isn’t there an old parable about teaching a man to fish vs. giving him a fish? We need to remind folks that celebrity chefs and grocery stores do not feed people. Farmers do.

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  1. Caesar says:

    While Doomsday Preppers present preppers as extreme and paranoid, but being involved in the entertainment industry I know this is "staged reality" and selective editing. That being said, my family in NJ thought I was crazy because I was a prepper. I am not as extreme as those on the show, but I stockpiled food, water, guns and ammo. When Sandy hit them, they had no water or power and limited food for two weeks. (they don't even live an area that was hit hard.) I would have survived much more comfortably than they did.

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  3. PJ Griekspoor says:

    Reminds me of one of favorite supermarket tabloid covers of all time: Big Headline: NOSTRADAMUS CORRECT: End of the world coming Tiny type at the bottom: Tips to help your family survive, Page 38. Really? Tips to survive the end of the world? Of course if you just want to survive the blackout following the great electromagnetic solar flare or the meltdown of the power grid when reliance on wind goes over 35%, perhaps a wood cookstove, a stash of firewood, some rabbit snares, mason jars and a pressure cooker and a supply of vegetable seed wouldn't be a bad idea. Not that most of the population would have any idea in what order those things might be put to use.

  4. H. Bell says:

    I say most preppers are talking about nucklear war, which will be followed by unimaginable hardship. Few see into the future with the clarity it will take to prepare. Even fewer will be prepared for that end.

    • S Friedmann says:

      Good one. I only hope the mess that crowd led us into doesn't include what they are talking about.

  5. K McBride says:

    The show "Doomsday Preppers" is really of entertainment value, if you enjoy viewing paranioa. However, the concept of preparing is not such a bad idea. It's true, we'd be hard pressed to store enough food for 20 years; unlikely that we'd survive that long without another source of food. How many were prepared for the recession, or the drought. You probably won't need to feed yourself and your family exclusively from your storage, but you could avert serious problems by preparing for such eventualities. Have you ever been without electricity for 2 weeks? Within a couple days all your meat and other food in the fridge or freezer is no good. The stores don't have any food, because they don't have electricity either. Doomsday Preppers live outside reality, but a more moderate approach deserves some consideration.

  6. Yes, i agreed with the ideas that can provided in the post.

  7. JP Martin of says:

    I don't know, there are actually a number of preppers who are into farming as a way of life (see David Sarti, Jules Keller, Dennis Evers etc.) to various levels of success. Of course it's the only way to survive sustainably and it's better than having 20 years of ramen. But the threat of looters is very big, people in cities are going to get crazy when their kids are hungry after a few days.

  8. Zulu says:

    If its really dooms day, there will not be any uncontaminated ground to grow anything. Will you be hoarding seed for then or do you think the local ag-coop will really be open for business. I don't think you have really thought your comments through. I agree with the other poster, you will see how your neighbors treat you when they find out you have food or seeds that they need and you are not willing to give up. How will you defend yourself and your wife and children.........with a hoe and shovel. Really, grow up and get out of your fantasy and join the real world.

  9. JP Martin of says:

    I can agree that most of the preppers take it too far but you should definitely consider the reality of decent people becoming looters. Look at the aftermath of Katrina or any riot in the past 20 years... regular Joes can get violent when the situation gets rough.

  10. Carl Baumann says:

    Doomsday Preppers admit to living up to their lifestyle and not just the theroy of doomsday. Bullets and guns give them a feeling of power and control. Think about this of living for 20 years on stored food, the passing of 80 seasons, do I really want to live that way or is there a better place? Famers, in spite of the 2012 drought, know there is a new year in 2013.

    • Josh Flint says:

      Could you imagine living those 20 years in an underground bunker? I get a little depressed when daylight savings time is over. Not seeing the sun for 20 years, no thank you!