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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Outsourcing information OR why you should study the posts at American Preppers Network

(click to enlarge, but don't trust the info)
If you are new to prepping, or a new to a specific area of prepping, you'll be reading everything you can get your hands. I myself am studying up on wood burning stoves, how to raise grass crops, trying to learn more about understanding soil composition based on Mississippi native plants, and HAM radio. THIS IS A WARNING that not all information you read is equal-- or even correct!-- and an ADVISEMENT to trust the information on the Preppers Network.

I'll start with the advisement. Those of us who post to the states' networks are not know-it-alls, although our posts tend to focus on what we know about-- and know about because we've learned through trial and error. We try to pass on other types of useful information. And of course, as we tackle something new, and try & fail, we become knowledgeable in those area, too. So we're trying to be know-it-alls! :-) Fortunately, across the entire network, the entire spectrum of information is available. The point is, the voices in posts at the American, and individual states' Preppers blogs, are the voices of experience-- of "experts." Which brings me-- in a minute-- to the warning.

IMHO, true experts know what they are talking about (based on experience) but they are also thirsty for more knowledge in their areas of expertise. The other day I picked up a free copy of Do it Best Home magazine because the biggest, mainest, center-stagest headline was "Take a bite out of your food budget". Do it Best
member stores are all independently owned and typically carry their own name, but may also include the names Do it Best and Do it center as a part of the store signage. Each store is serviced from one of seven Do it Best Corp. distribution centers around the United States but can also get products directly from the manufacturer. The stores have joined together as part of the Do it Best Corp. cooperative to buy in huge volume to offer you lower prices.
The bolded phrase means that DiB stores typically sell a lot of locally produced products, from honey to leather goods to outdoor furniture. Insofar as most preppers understand the value of buying locally, DiB stores (although they do carry products produced by megacorporations) are a nice alternative to China Mart. My experiences with these stores have been good, and I found that the staff knows what they are talking about. (They are experts.)

Now, I don't really need to do the cost analysis on growing your own veggies. I keep records & I've done my own. Growing your own saves heaps of money. But I was nevertheless intriqued by the article in the Fall issue of Home magaine. And I was especially interested in the table, "By the numbers". Until I looked at it. Awful. Just terrible. I won't go into too many details-- it took me two single spaced pages to do so in my letter to the editor-- but it's obvious to me that who ever put this table together has never planted a seed in her life-- much less a rosemary seed.

Before I highlight a few of the many things wrong with this table, I want to be clear that I'm upset by it because of what I said at the onset of this post. A novice gardener-- someone taking one step at a time to get into being more self-reliant-- is going to be completely mislead by the information in the table. Not all information you'll come across as you begin prepping is good, correct, or reliable. And with no real way to communicate with the author of that information-- you're sunk. That's why you can trust the information at American Preppers Network. If someone posts bull hockey-- it's pretty likely someone else is going to clarify or correct it. We are real people sharing tips, recipes, advise, instruction, warning & advisements, and reasonable musings without pay. You can comment with questions. Our motivation is to become more self-reliant by teaching others to do the same.

What's wrong with the table?

1) It compares apples to oranges. The cost of store bought veggies necessarily includes the cost of the raw material-- in this case seed-- and the costs of growing, harvesting, transportation, and a profit margin... and the retail markup on the wholesale price (which also includes costs + a profit margin). To compare the cost of six packets of seeds to that of a "summer's worth" of store-bought veggie is just plain stupid, and misleading. I am no fan of global corporate agibusiness, but what's fair is fair.

2) The notion of s summer's worth of veggie is calculated in the table by multiplying the "week's worth" x 12. The growin sesaon in zone 6 (a lot of Ohio) is roughly 180 days. 12 x 7 = 84. Tomatoes and peppers will produce from July through mid-October. Beans need to be planted sucessivley. A productive vegetable garden include cool season as well as 'summer' veggies.

3) Who in their right mind would plant 100 rosemary seeds? That's what a packet of Burpee rosemary seed contains. Rosemary is a perennial in zones 7 and warmer. I've overwintered it in Cincinnati. Even if you did plant 100 seeds, which is what the table suggests implicitly that you do, you'd have enough rosemary to last your life time and your grandchildren's. The savings would be far greater than the $27 indicated in the table.

4) Likewise, I do not know a single vegetable gardener who plants tomato and pepper seeds in the ground, which is what the table implies you should do. And the relavent comparison here should be a comparision between how many tomatoes a packet of tomato seed will produce, and what you would spend on the same quantity of tomatoes. NOTE: A packet of tomato seeds from Burpee contains 30 seeds. At a 75% germination rate (started indoors) that's 23 tomato plants. Depending on the variety, 23 tomato plants could yield as much as 180 pounds of tomatoes (based on my own records). That's a helluvalot of tomatoes, and more than a "summer's worth." Indeed 10 plants can satisfy your fresh needs through mid-October, and keep you in canned or frozen sause well into the next April.

I will stop. But I hope you-- especially the new preppers out there-- get the main point which, again, is that not all information out there is reliable.

One final thought, to tie into the title of this post. As I was writing up my less-emotional and more detailed critique, and trying to figure out who to send it to, I discovered that DiB Home is a publication of MSP publishers. DiB outsourced the writing and publication of a FREE little magazine, presumably aimed at increasing sales at DiB stores where people actually know what they are talking about, to a company that wouldn't know s*&^ from manure if their lives depended on it.

So beware! Trust the Preppers Network!
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Ohio Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. Ohio Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.