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Doomsday Dining a Growing Trend

Is Armageddon around the corner, and if so, what’s for dinner?
Is Armageddon around the corner, and if so, what’s for dinner?
Is Armageddon around the corner, and if so, what’s for dinner?

That seems to be the attitude of a growing number of Americans freaked out by real or imagined coming events including floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts and economic or geopolitical warfare.

Should any of these events occur, dinner for the survivalists will be apparently be things like freeze-dried fettuccini Alfredo, with freeze-dried ice cream for dessert.

Sales are up for so-called “survivalist food,” aka “emergency foods,” typically freeze-dried and/or vacuum-packed ready to eat fare that come with a three-decade shelf life.

According to a story by Kate Murphy in The New York Times, manufacturers report sales increases ranging from 20 percent to 100 percent annually since 2008. And the buyers aren’t all wacko’s living in mountain cabins with rifles at the ready.

Purchasers of emergency foods can now be found across all demographics, from hipsters in their twenties, to retiree/viewers of Fox News. And, yes, the fringe folks featured on cable TV shows such as “Doomsday Preppers.”

“Our customer base has moved away from the gun fanatics and political extremists to something more mainstream,” said Mark Hyland, chief executive of FoodInsurance.com in Kaysville, Utah, in the Times article. His company’s sales increased 80 percent last year. “It’s not hoarding food,” Hyland said. “It’s having an ability to take care of the people you care about in case you have an unexpected change in life.”

Five years ago you could count the number of emergency food mail order suppliers on one hand. Today there are at least 20 companies selling such products, and you can also buy the foodstuffs at major retailers including Walmart and Costco.

Several brands are endorsed by conservative talk show hosts like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. “Prepare yourself for what we all hope won’t happen but probably will,” Mr. Beck tells listeners in one commercial spot.

Fear and uncertainty are driving people to search out end-of-the-world foods, and events like Superstorm Sandy play a role in the movement’s momentum.

The Mormon religion is a factor, as well. The church has 6.2 million members in the U.S. and is the nation’s fastest-growing denomination. The church encourages followers to stockpile enough food to survive three months to a year following the prophesied “End of Times” or some other disaster. Most emergency food manufacturers are, in fact, run by Mormons and are located in Utah.

How do these freeze-dried foods that could still be enjoyed in the year 2040 taste? Well, Brandon Brooks, co-founder of FoodStorageReviewer.com gave Murphy this appraisal of freeze-dried chicken teriyaki and freeze-dried lasagna offered by Mountain House: “If you tasted it, you’d probably say it was 8 out of 10,” Mr. Brooks said. “But if your ken is a nice New York restaurant, then maybe it’s a 6.”

Well, that doesn’t sound too bad, but, me, I’m not ready to invest in a fallout shelter and I don’t think I’ll be stockpiling emergency beef stroganoff either.

How about you?
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