Thursday, January 7, 2021


I know that the word “Diversity” has negative connotations is some circles, but it is a good concept for preppers to consider. I'm not talking about setting quotas on who you associate with; I'm thinking of a more basic concept of “not having all of your eggs in one basket”.

Five or so years ago I wrote a brief article on the basics of farming. I mentioned that monoculture farming was becoming the norm, and that it has the potential for becoming a disaster if a disease or pest affects a significant portion of the crops. The Irish potato blight is an example of monoculture farming gone bad: a fungal infection ruined several years' harvests because everyone was planting the same crop, most of it from the same seed supply. There were political and social aspects of the blight, but the lack of diversity in the food supply was a major cause of a lot of misery and disruption.

Avian flu, mad cow disease, swine flu, and a variety of other diseases have swept through regions and countries, wiping out entire herds of animals being raised for food. Modern transportation means we can move food around to replace those losses, but it also makes it easier for the diseases to spread. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is an on-going threat to cattle and deer, with no cure and limited methods of prevention. Culling herds by killing any animal that may be infected is often the only way to stop the spread.

Current farming practices minimize the possibility of a recurrence of a disaster on that scale but can't totally eliminate it. Locally we're dealing with several invasive species of pests for which we still don't have a chemical solution, and the crops are suffering because of them. In harsh times we won't have access to all of our modern remedies, and crops/herds may fail completely.

Diversification in growing food means planting different types of crops, or raising different types of animals, to provide multiple sources of nutrition. If you're planning on growing your own food, or at least a majority of it, don't base your plans on just one crop. Yes, it's easier to tend to a larger field of all one crop, but if you lose it you have lost everything. Planting corn, potatoes, cereal grains (wheat, oats, barley, etc.) for a source of carbohydrates and also planting beans, peas, nuts, and hemp as sources of protein is a good example of diversifying your nutritional sources. Look at the pictures and plans for the gardens of ages past, and you'll see that the people who had to live off of the fruits of their own land tended to plant a varied mix of things to provide variety and reliability to their diet.

Diversity can also be seen in other areas of prepping:

  • There are very few places where one set or type of clothes will be suitable for the entire year. Having a mix of clothes gives you the options to blend your apparel to meet the demands of the season.
  • A prepper's library should be as diverse as possible. Reference books on fields of study that you have no interest in could be invaluable if you need to learn that field. Being able to share knowledge and pass it on to future generations requires a balanced library, you're going to need basic books to get people up to a point where they can understand the advanced ones.
  • Learning and study methods vary, you'll likely need to check out several different sources to find the ones that fit your personality. I'm one of those odd people who can read about a subject and grasp the concepts, but I know a lot of people who have to have hands-on experience before anything sinks in. Explaining a new or complex situation can often take several tries from several different approaches, so diversify your teaching methods.
  • Diversification is also key to fighting one of the worst things a human can have to endure: boredom. Bored people have time to get into (or make) trouble. Diversity of activities keeps the minds and hands busy, reducing the amount of time and reasons for trouble. Bored people complain and try to spread their misery, those of us who have or have had kids know this well, and adults are often worse than children.
  • Genetic diversity is a touchy field. It's okay to talk about it when dealing with crops and herds, but if you try to include humans you're likely to stir up tribal animosity and anger. I'm not going to get into “racial purity” or “miscegenation” debates, because all you have to do is look at the ruling families of Europe for the last few centuries and you can see that inbreeding is a bad thing. Inter-tribal marriages and “war brides” have been a way to ensure that “fresh blood” is injected into a gene pool once in a while for as long as humans have been walking this Earth. The research varies, but there is an absolute minimum number of unrelated animals required to reproduce without genetic defects. Livestock producers have been tracking bloodlines of their animals for centuries for this reason, which is how we have “thoroughbred” horses.

There are many other examples where diversity isn't always a bad word, but I think you get the idea. Remember to plan to mix things up once in a while to keep life moving forward.

1 comment:

  1. Jeez, why did you give me another reason to buy more books?


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