Up next is Ryan Croft, from Ashville, North Carolina.
This former Air Force airman is the father of five teenage boys and like most the show has featured, is concerned for worldwide financial collapse. But Ryan isn’t afraid to think outside the box that ‘prepping’ has become. Unlike other folks on the show who focus on mobility and bugging out, Ryan is ready to stand his ground with other members of his community. And unlike almost everyone else on the show, his food plan isn’t based around hoarding canned or freeze-dried food.
First off, Ryan comes across as very earnest in this segment, probably because of his Tea Party topics, but also because he talks to the camera a lot! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially given that the things he talks about are things people need—but probably don’t want—to hear. (Probably my favorite is when Ryan tells us that as a former member of the USAF, “government solutions SUCK!” As someone who just finished up a gig with the US Forest Service, I’m inclined to agree.)
So, as we’ve said, Ryan is worried about an economic collapse, which will bring about a social collapse along with it.
That’s nothing we haven’t seen on the show so far (especially this season). However, why does he think this scenario might come to pass? Because, as he says, “the value of a dollar is totally artificial.” YUP. Unpleasant truth avoided by Our Culture # 1: when your whole civilizational experiment’s system of wealth is based on shiny, inedible rocks, you’re going to be working within a framework of completely arbitrary values for everything.
Ryan continues to explain that this economic collapse has already begun with the 2008 Financial Crisis/Great Recession/Depression MkII/whatever you want to call it. (On a side note, I’m sick of hearing talking heads refer to, “this current economy”, as if our global slump is just something temporary to shake off and rebound from. Sorry guys, but it’s just the way things are, and it’s simply a result. If you drink too much, you have a hangover the next day. If your economy is designed around the idea of infinite growth and expansion (in a finite world), eventually the bubble will burst. That’s all we’re dealing with. I only wonder how long people in This culture will continue to seek solutions for this inevitability we’re living through now, instead of considering a different system altogether.) He goes on, saying that the economy is now in a “gentle glide” downwards, and that the one thing keeping it moving forwards is consumer confidence. It makes for an interesting visual, and it makes sense to me.
So, as I’ve said, Ryan isn’t planning on bugging out or hoarding food. So what is he doing? Growing algae! Apparently, Spirulina is a healthy, easy-to-grow aquacultural food supplement. Of course, while Ryan’s telling us about how awesome the stuff is, our undercutting caption pops up to inform us that a cup of dried Spirulina contains only about 325 calories. If that’s the case, I’d lean more towards gardening/ horticulture, but keep growing the algae as a valuable supplement.
Not only is Ryan growing this nutritious green stuff, he’s also organizing folks around town to grow it, creating a network of ‘microfarms’, essentially acting as a hedge against a vulnerable monoculture. His family’s no-bug-out plan stems from a great community-based ethic (as he says, “This is our home; we love these people”—major thumbs-up, dude!), and although they don’t go into any details, he also plans not just for a network in his neighborhood, but within his region. Their goal: “Everybody lives, nobody dies”. It’s a good theory, but I actually agree with the experts, that he should keep his focus small on a microtribe-sized group (20 people or so) at first, and let it grow organically so that in a few years, maybe he will have big network for support.
I also like his notion that a prepper’s “number-one resource should be people! …and that’s not on most people’s prepper list!” Believe me, I’ve noticed. Why is this the case? First off, as I’ve written about many times, the modern idea of ‘prepping’ has less to do with preparedness and more to do with consumption as a means of keeping one’s current civilized, unsustainable way of life going for just a little bit longer, should disaster occur. Secondly, we as Americans are in love with the idea of the rugged individualist/lone wolf-types. These are the men (very rarely women) who struck off into the wilderness with a belt axe and the clothes on their back and Singlehandedly Built This Great Country, By God.
Except, that was never really the case.
As part of his ‘stand your ground instead of bugging out’ strategy, Ryan does some tactical-y exercises with fellow enthusiasts, using some of his self-designed weapons. He shows off his outfit (Amendment Arms)’s new AK/AR mashup (he calls it the Joshua Mk5).
I understand the respective strengths and weaknesses of those two popular platforms, so I’ll be very interested in seeing how his new rifle works out.
Anyway, Ryan explains another reason he doesn’t hoard food is a result of his airman’s survival knowledge: “you don’t need to stockpile if you have experience with primitive techniques”. Again, we are in agreement. If you’re living off the fat of the land your people have been carefully stewarding for thousands of years, of course there’s no need to stockpile! Food is everywhere! Of course, if that land has been stolen by members of a cannibalistic death-culture who’ve done their very best to destroy the fertility and diversity of that land so that you can’t live off it…yeah, stockpiling might be a good idea.
He takes his boys out in the pasture and they set up a figure-four deadfall trap to catch fieldmice. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t bother with the bushcraft trap. I keep a couple of Victor rat traps in my survival pack for the simple fact that they’re inexpensive, efficient, easy-to-use, and lightweight. And even in a long-term disaster scenario, even when the grocery store shelves have long been empty, I’d bet these ubiquitous classic traps will still be around.
So, Ryan and his boys make a good-looking campfire and chow down on a mouse; nice to see their enculturated food preferences fall by the wayside. Speaking of which, when Ryan talks about supplementing his algae with wild protein, he eats an earthworm. Now, I’m pretty sure he’s not an animist, so I’m not going to get on his case about why he doesn’t thank the Great Spirit for the sustenance the worm will provide him. But I am going to ask the question Why Doesn’t Anyone On This Show Know How To Eat A Worm? Seriously. This is like, the second episode in a row where someone picks up a red wriggler, half-heartedly wipes some dirt off it, and just eats it. When one of Ryan’s sons eats one, he says, “Hm. Tastes like dirt.” Well, no wonder! I bet it feels like dirt, too! The trick to eating worms is simple: throw ’em in water for a few minutes first. Without that crucial step, a worm is simply an unappetizing, writhing, gritty, meat-tube full of dirt-shite. However, letting them sit in water not only gets the grit off, it also makes them purge themselves, leaving you with a tube of pure subterranean protein.
In the end, the experts give him 63 points, for ten months’ initial survival.