Posts Tagged ‘organic’

Doomsday Preppers: David Mays

Alright, folks. It would seem DP has finally jumped the shark—or at the very least, hit peak media oversaturation, and exhausted its fifteen minutes as a rating$ juggernaut—and stopped producing new episodes, which mean there are only two I have left to cover this season…and I really couldn’t be happier. It’ll be a big weight lifted off my shoulders when I won’t have to subject myself to watching this program (one which, in the big picture, turned out to be pretty sensationalist, exploitative, and generally detestable) for the bigger purpose of uncooling its message.

It’s not 2012 anymore, and I think folks are kinda sick of ‘reality’ shows about midlife-crisis, middle-class white guys with more money than sense, delusions of grandeur, and hard-ons for ‘tactical’ weaponry and foodbuckets. Don’t worry, they’re still out there; but the media landscape has (unsurprisingly) shifted over the past two years to the point where Prepperdom isn’t such a hot commodity anymore. Which is fine by me, because while it means a little less blog traffic for this page, it also means less toxic, deluded, status quo-y notions being broadcast into the public mindspace.

Anyway, episode ‘Nobody Will Be Ready’ cuts between the two Davids from Tennesseee; both guys are supposedly (but not unreasonably) preparing for a quake along the New Madrid fault line.
First up is David Mays:

© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment

Transparency clause: David and his wife Holly run an essential oils business (remember, this show has almost always been about ‘preppers’ using their appearance as publicity for their own enterprises).
Even though they live in a tract of burbland, their family seems to be taking some good first steps to increase their self-reliance by raising silkie chickens in the backyard, and growing aeroponic vegetables in a vertical garden tower.

But David’s main hobby, it seems, is flying drones!
While the military-capitalist-corporate-industrial hegemons rain down remote-piloted death and destruction on foreign civilians of colour, here at home the basic technology has trickled down to the prosumer level, allowing armchair hobbyists to tinker about and remote-pilot their own camera-equipped drones around their pre-apocalyptic suburban wastelands! Isn’t our modern age great?

David’s plan post-quake is apparently to use his ‘drone army’ to ‘patrol’ his neighborhood, and equip them with various payloads—like one of those GoPro cameras that are all the rage right now, or a disposable camera-turned-improvised taser, or an ultralight silver parachute of medical supplies.
I dunno, I feel like it might just be easier and more productive/rewarding for David and/or the family to get out in the neighborhood on foot, meet their neighbors face-to-face, and start turning their subdivision into an actual community. Get a couple more families in the cul-de-sac on the chickens-and-gardening bandwagon and they could have the seeds of a nice little self-reliant network. Just a suggestion.


Doomsday Preppers: Jules Dervaes and family

Here we have another guy from Cali, this time preparing for the collapse of our industrial food system.
He says our reliance on GM  crops (not to mention petrochemicals) puts our farming model at the mercy of superpests, which—thanks to the monoculture of our totalitarian agricultural system—could destroy a harvest, driving up the price of food and thereby leading to hyperinflation.

In this scenario, fuel and electricity could become a luxury, and so as the narrator describes, “[their] strategy to live without…is to live without.” And good on them—plain living for the win!

To combat the shortsightedness of the food industry, he and his children have taken it upon themselves to try and grow as much of their own food as possible. And they’ve definitely succeeded— especially on less than an acre of land—as Jules rattles off a most impressive breakdown of their harvest: beans (188 lbs), carrots (38), cucumbers (241), onions (109), peas (115), peppers (113), tomatoes (958!), and 500 pounds of salad fixings, plus some comically large squashes. And I’d say it’s a safe bet that their produce is of the heirloom, organic, non-GM variety.

Basically, their system is what the city farmers call SPIN farming (Small Plot INtensive)— which is a great way to get the maximum amount of produce out of a limited amount of space.  By wisely utilizing vertical space instead of growing horizontally, they’ve turned their backyard into a permaculture ‘edible forest’. They also keep a menagerie of ducks, goats, chickens, bees, and fish for eggs, dairy, honey, and meat, plus a cat for pest control. In all, they have a pretty sweet self-sustaining spread.

As their car runs on old french fry oil, the expert appraisal is simply, ‘get a diesel generator’. This is the only problem I can see with this family’s plan: like a lot of biodiesel folks, their source of fuel comes from restaurants—so I guess it’d be hard to resupply post-disaster. Although it looks like they only use the biodiesel in the old Mercedes, I guess the experts want them to get a generator so they could use their extra fuel to keep their lights on, or something.

No mention of weapons or defense/security, although as gardeners they should have plenty of sharp metal things on long handles, and since they are part of a co-op, there’s a ready-made community to lend a hand in defending the ol’ homestead if need be.

After three episodes, I’m starting to notice a trend on this show: the ‘preppers’ who have low-impact, actually sustainable strategies focused on fresh foods (Chris Nyegres, the Harrisons, and these guys) are also the ones who don’t fixate on guns and ammo (or conversely, the guns-and-ammo preppers’ strategies are always focused on hoarding/stacking buckets of prepackaged, processed food up to the ceiling!). They’re also the ones I have a hard time labeling as ‘preppers’, because if something bad were to happen, I can easily picture these folks continuing to live pretty much like they do already.

For what it’s worth, this is another example of the show profiling people who aren’t just random preppers off the street. I mean, Jules Dervaes has his own page on Wikipedia.

part of an ongoing series of columns I’ve written, reprinted from the TU Rambler.

March, 2009.
I’m willing to bet that most people never think twice about the various substances they expose themselves to on a daily basis.  Have you ever tried reading the ingredients list on a bottle of shampoo or shower soap?  I don’t want to scare anybody, but I did some research on some of the chemicals used, and it turns out that there’s some really intimidating stuff in there.  For example, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid tetrasodium salt (Tetrasodium EDTA, for short)—while not believed to have carcinogenic or mutagenic effects—“may be toxic to upper respiratory tract, skin, eyes” and “can produce target organs damage” as a result of “repeated or prolonged exposure”, which sounds an awful lot like science-speak for shampooing your hair everyday.
Polyquaternium 7 is another chemical used in many of the various goops we use to keep ourselves smelling clean.  While this ingredient doesn’t seem to have any obvious toxicity issues and is supposed to be biodegradable, then why is it advised to “Prevent surface contamination of soil, ground & surface water”, and “Avoid disposing to drainage systems and into the environment”?  I feel we are not getting the full picture.  (If you’re curious about chemicals in the products you use, I encourage you to do your own research; search for a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet).
So if the hygiene products we are exposed to on a daily basis may not be the best things for the health of the environment or ourselves, what can we do? Luckily, there are alternative products out there.  If you walk down Limestone to Sqecial Media, you will find a great selection of all-natural hygiene products like soaps and shampoo (plus, you will be supporting local business!).
While it may be true that environmentalists like knowing which ingredients in your shampoo will kill you, choosing alternative products doesn’t mean you are restricted to the three traditional earth-friendly smells: lavender, patchouli, and “natural”.  Natural products have a wide variety of fragrances, and best of all you can always be sure what they will smell like—you won’t find any ambiguous, faux-natural names like “Ocean Breeze” or “Spring Rain”.
Feeling really adventurous? You can even go one step further, and do away with commercial products altogether.  Try a baking-soda-paste for shampoo and rinse with apple cider vinegar—you may smell a bit like a potato chip but your hair will be much healthier.