POV: timeline of American preparedness

An interesting overview made in a post by Oil Lady, reproduced here in its entirety with her kind permission:

Prior to WWII, the overwhelming majority of Americans knew the wisdom of stocking up. Houses were build with larders. Nicer houses also had a carriage house where you boarded your horse, and sometimes there was a small apartment over the carriage house for at least one household servant. But after WWII, the new normal became suburbia. Millions of Cape Cod cottages were built across the USA with tiny yards, usually no garages, sometimes no basements, and no room to let you expand by building a barn or a shed of some kind. If you did build a shed, it was for your lawn mower. Some families stocked up during the 1950’s and onward (and the fear of nuclear bombs did inspire quite a lot of food storing) but there was yet another social force which discouraged the stocking of food: television.

Television depicted wholesome visions of what the American family “should” be as dictated by Hollywood screenwriters and their producers. June Cleaver never canned pickles, she bought them from the supermarket. Donna Reed never rotated her larder because she didn’t have one. And the only gardens those ladies ever grew were flower gardens for the sheer aesthetics they provided.  Those make believe housewives had their own cars (separate from their husbands’ cars) and drove everywhere to get whatever they needed. There were no blackouts. No gas shortages. No overwhelming snow storms. The 1960’s and 1970’s conditioned American TV viewers to think THAT was the superior way to live.

The house building industry from the 1950’s onward continued to offer Americans few choices beyond the three bedrooms on a quarter acre with a detached garage. When new visions of the ideal American home kept getting reincarnated every year, the focus was on huge living rooms. As for the kitchens — the true selling point of any house — they were designed to have as many gadgets as possible, and to be a luxurious domain of Mother and her desire to feed her family in the same way she saw families being fed on TV. A lovely dining room just off the kitchen was a valuable prize. And a butler’s pantry connecting the two meant you had truly arrived. Long term food storage was not part of the plan.

We also put a man on the moon during the 1960’s, and instant food became fashionable. Tang was the drinnk the astronaughts drank. Just add water. Frozan TV dinners were now utterly normal. The era of pre-packaged food had arrived.

The 1970’s saw house building trends shift toward energy efficiency and insulation. But even then, pantries were not places for long term food storage, just for all your gadegts. Fondue parties became a huge hit. Food had become a focus of entertainment.

Then the mid-1980’s ushered in a new era of prosperity, and houses began to get REALLY big at that point. The “lawyer foyer” and the two-car attached garage were all the rage. Pasta parties were the new craze –yet more food-based entertainment.

By the 1990’s. the “media room” emerged as the place for a giant TV with a VCR (or the new DVD players). Whole rooms were being devoted to mere entertainment. The kitchen was a showpiece for parties, not for preparing your family for a temporary period of regional food scarcity.

Here in the 2000’s, we are now facing three generations of the anti-prepper brainwashing of an entire nation — and techncially the entire world because American entertainment has been the global standard for over 80 years now.  (People in every nation on the planet know who Bart Simpson is.) I will not claim anti-prepper was the goal, merely the result. And people cannot conceive of houses built any other way than with TV/media entertainment as the main focus of the “family room,” and the kitchen as a place for “fun foods” to amuse themselves with. Anything you could desire is able to be gotten in just one afternoon via a quick trip to the local Wal-Mart. Stocking up is pointless.

In the mind of a modern American, long term food storage harkens back to the fears of the 1950’s, and only crazy people are seen as thinking a nuclear attack can be survived. Frankly, I myself do not believe a nuclear attack can be survived. But there are still far too many other possibilities other than just nukes to prepare for. In the event of a regional pandemic, or a sudden nationwide lack of petroleum, your “media room” and your fondue sets won’t be able to help you.


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