10 survival lessons from the Great Depression

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As we've seen with the 2008 Great Recession and the stock market ups and downs the past few weeks, our society will never be immune to negative economic outcomes.

Whether it be a stock market crash or a foreign attack on our banking systems, there are a variety of potential situations that could negatively impact our financial well-being as individuals and as a country.

Fortunately, there's a lot we can learn about preparation for economic worst-case scenarios simply by looking at the recent past—the Great Depression, for example.

The Great Depression started when the stock market crashed in 1929 and lasted until 1939. By its lowest point in 1933, roughly 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country's banks had failed.

Thanks to human resilience and creativity, many people were able to survive this tough time in U.S. history.

That's why today I'm sharing ten concrete survival tips we can glean from the Great Depression. Understanding what people did to survive during this tough economic period helps us to prepare in advance for similar situations.

With tightening monetary policies and geopolitical risks, Morgan Stanley analysts have determined that 2018 is on track to be the most volatile since the financial crisis.

There's no better time to read this list and prepare yourself and your loved ones.

And with that, here they are...

#1 Grow your own food

During periods of economic hardship, the last thing you want to do is rely on external systems for your own food sources.

During the Great Depression, the United States' industrial production dropped by half.

Farmers couldn't afford to harvest their crops, and bread lines, soup kitchens, and rising numbers of homeless people became fairly common in America's towns and cities.

About 20 percent of the population lived on farms. Fortunately, many city dwellers still had gardening knowledge from their country days. If your family had a cow and a garden, you were considered rich.

Today, with a growing urban population, it's less common to possess basic gardening knowledge. We've lost that skill overall in our culture.

But in the case that grocery stores become too expensive or simply run out of food during a financial meltdown, it will be essential to know how to grow your own food.

Take the time now to learn how to plant and harvest foods—whether in your house, backyard, or on your rooftop.

At My Patriot Supply, we have a product called the Survival Seed Vault by Patriot Seeds, which are perfect for gardens like those grown during the depression.

Containing 21 varieties of USDA Certified Organic Heirloom Seeds, they can last 5+ years in proper storage.

#2 Learn to hunt, fish and forage

Like learning to garden, it's equally important to learn to find and hunt your own animal protein sources...before disaster strikes.

If you have a family member or friend who's experienced, there's no better time than now to ask for a lesson in the basics. Who knows? Maybe you'll discover a new hobby along the way.

During the Great Depression, foraging for edible plants helped many people sustain themselves.

For example, nuts and wild asparagus were common findings for families that would go out foraging for the day. Identify the areas in your local community where you can find and harvest additional food. Keeping a deck of Edible Wild Foods Playing Cards nearby would be of help as well.

#3 Turn to a barter system if banking systems shut down

In the years and decades before the Great Depression, banks were revered. No one ever considered the idea that they could fail and that their money would simply disappear. When many of the banks closed down as a result of the crisis, the only cash people had was whatever they had on hand or stored up at home. This was unfortunate, because the banks would close down with virtually no warning—leaving no time to go make cash withdrawals from accounts. And people were forced to rely on other forms of value exchange.

Bartering is an age-old practice that human civilizations have used for generations—even before banks were created.

During the Depression, payment was often made with eggs, fresh milk or produce. Bartering was also beneficial because it meant that families could add different types of food to their meals—expanding the variety of produce they could consume.

Bartering makes an additional case for learning to grow, hunt and forage for food—it gives you more of a base to use in negotiations and trades. Bear in mind that food isn't the only valuable item—during the Depression, things like wood could be collected, split and exchanged as firewood.

In our modern-day context, everything from additional fuel for camp stoves to ammunition for weapons can be valuable barter items. See our recent Survival Scout article on the Top 15 Items That Disappear When Disasters Strike for more valuable barter items.

#4 Be as resourceful as possible

If you have a grandparent or parent that lived through the Great Depression, you've likely heard or seen them express values of resourcefulness and frugality. They were our last, truly self-reliant generation.

For example, they might tell stories about how they used...

  • Pieces of rubber tires as replacement soles when shoes were worn through.
  • Anything and everything you might find in the kitchen or that was donated by others to make what became known as "Depression Soup."
  • Flour-sacks to make dresses.
  • Newspapers to wrap presents.

Knowing how to reuse and recycle everything was the name of the game in those days—and something we can all benefit from.

Challenge yourself to see everything as multifunctional, and get creative with what various items can be used for, in the event that your resources are depleted.

#5 Sleep outside during heat waves

Air conditioning is a luxury many of us take for granted. In the case that it becomes too much to afford or your unit breaks and replacement parts cost you a small fortune, you'll need to find ways to beat the heat.

During the summer months of the Great Depression, it wasn't uncommon to see whole families sleeping on their front lawns or in local parks.

Additionally, they would use other cool-down tactics such as hanging wet sheets over doorways. Hot air was slightly cooled as it passed through the wet fabric.

#6 Strengthen family and community bonds

During the Great Depression, it wasn't uncommon to have grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins living in the same house or vehicle. With so many displaced, it was critical to rely on extended family for help.

The same was true of neighbors, and you'd see people donating meals and money whenever possible. Some communities even organized what they called "surprise parties." They would collect food and necessities (including cash), and then designate a particular family to receive the collection at each surprise party.

This spirit of generosity and community bonds is apparent in many stories from the Depression. The people who did well during this difficult time were often those who depended on family and friends and were able to be depended on by others.

Take the time to establish and strengthen these bonds, with neighbors and your local community, now—don't wait until an economic collapse makes everyone desperate.

#7 Be a jack-of-all-trades

When it came to finding work during the Depression, it helped to be a jack-of-all-trades. These people could often find work when others couldn't.

The following skills will come in handy during periods of hardship:

  • Sewing/knitting
  • Fixing plumbing
  • Home or car repairs
  • Gardening, canning/food preserving
  • Sharpening or making tools
  • Butchering and curing meat
  • Metal- or woodworking
  • Gunsmithing
  • Cheese or candle making
  • Recognizing wild edibles

In our knowledge-based economy today, handymen and jacks-of-all-trades are harder to come by. Develop a competitive advantage and learn these skills now. They will certainly come in handy (no pun intended) later.

#8 Stock up on supplies

During the Great Depression, housewives could be judged by how many jars they had "put up" during harvest season.

When things go awry, you can bet that items will be flying off the shelves at local stores. Don't wait until then to stock up on the essentials, or to start canning and jarring your own food. Make sure you have enough stored up to last you for several months, at the very least.

To get you started, at My Patriot Supply, we sell a Three-Month Emergency Food Supply that can provide you with a strong hedge against economic downturn. With a 25-year shelf life, this supply includes delicious meals that average 2,000+ calories per day for one person.

#9 Don't rely on credit cards or loans

Too many of us rely on credit cards and loans from the bank to make big-ticket purchases.

However, during the Depression, many people had to buy their first cars and homes in one lump sum since they couldn't rely on a bank to give them a loan. To do this, they would live with family members and save whatever cash they could as they worked.

Avoid taking out a loan and going into debt—and start saving a supply of cash now.

You should also make sure you have a supply of assets outside of cash or credit. Whether it be houses, land or precious metals, make wise investments into long-lasting items of value. As we've seen with the Great Depression, keeping the majority of your wealth and money stored at the bank isn't exactly the most secure solution.

#10 Remain positive 

Aside from relying on barter systems, growing your own food, and learning to hunt and scavenge, there's a great deal of mental resilience needed to survive tough events like the Great Depression.

According to Murray Hunn, head of global research at Elliott Wave International, "We think the major economies are on the cusp of this turning into the worst recession we have seen in 10 years."

With predictions like this, there's cause for preparation.

And as one woman who survived the Great Depression shared, "Poppy always said the world turns and everything that has happened would happen again. I am sure if he were still with us today he would be warning us to start a garden and buy some chickens."

Take these lessons in stride, and learning from the past makes all the difference when life as we know it changes drastically.


This article originally appeared on MyPatriotSupply.com.

Did the FBI just get away with the BIGGEST armed robbery in US history?

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In 2021, an armed group broke into a U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills and stole $86 million worth of valuables — the largest armed robbery in U.S. history. That "armed group" was the FBI. Now, it appears that the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles "misled" the judge who signed the warrant for the seizure and still haven't returned the stolen goods to the 700 customers affected, according to newly disclosed court filings.

The details of the government’s alleged deception have come to light in a class-action lawsuit by U.S. Private Vaults customers who say the raid violated their rights, the Los Angeles Times reported. The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office denied misleading the judge, and a spokesperson claimed the warrants were lawfully executed.

On the radio program, Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguiere reviewed some of the shocking story's details and discussed why incidents like this may become more common.

"None of the customers have been charged with any crimes. Not a single customer, out of the 700, not a single customer has been charged with a crime, but they can't get their stuff back," Glenn noted. "And this is going to happen more and more."

"It's incomprehensible that this stuff goes on in the United States of America," Stu said. "If you were to tell me this happened, you know, in Russia, I'd expect it. The fact that the United States government is claiming and just taking stuff from citizens all around the country with no crime, many times without even being charged, let alone ... conviction."

"Listen to this," Glenn continued. "The lawsuit also claims that some of the box holders who came forward to reclaim their seized property were then subjected to another investigation. If you went to the FBI and said, 'I want my stuff back,' the FBI examined their bank accounts, their DMV records, their tax return, and any criminal history checks."

However, box holders who decided to forfeit their property were also suspected of trying to "avoid becoming an FBI target," Glenn noted.

"So, you're guilty if you walk away and you're guilty if you ask," Stu added.

"This is America, gang," Glenn said. "It doesn't seem like it because it's not a constitutional America. But this is the America we now live in, and it is important that you wake up and stand up. ... God's people have got to start standing up, or we'll lose freedom. The world's freedom will be on our heads."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Glenn Beck: One TERRIFYING thing is clear no matter who caused the Nord Stream pipeline leaks

Photo by Danish Defence/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Evidence strongly suggests that the Nord Stream pipeline leaks were the result of sabotage, and U.S. and European officials have been working to discover who could be behind the explosions that damaged the natural gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

Was it Russia? Ukraine? Germany? But no matter who carried this out, it has put the entire world in grave danger, because if this is indeed an attack, it means that non-military key infrastructure outside Ukraine is now on the "target menu," warned Glenn Beck on the radio program.

"It is so important for you to understand, this is now a non-military key infrastructure that has been destroyed," Glenn explained. "If Russia thinks we did it, they've already said, 'Nukes are now on the table.' That gives us a green light to use nukes," he added.

"This is non-military key infrastructure outside of the borders of Ukraine. To date, as far as we know, combat targets were either in Ukraine, or were military targets hit inside of Russia by Ukrainian Air Force or special forces. But the target menu now includes key civilian infrastructure: electricity, water utilities, energy production. That makes Russia more dangerous than ever. And that would be true no matter who carried out the attack," Glenn stated.

Now, the Russians are saying the Unted States did it, and the U.S. is saying it was Russia. But no matter who carried out the attack, "We are facing a Cuban Missile Crisis," said Glenn.

"This could end up being the biggest story of our lifetime and ... if it isn't played calmly by every side, this could be World War III," he continued. "Russia has already said that this gives them the right to use nuclear weapons as soon as they find out for sure who did it. That would be catastrophic, absolutely catastrophic."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

The White House can try to spin inflation all day long (and it's trying very hard). But you feel the effects of President Joe Biden’s disastrous leadership every time you go to the grocery store or fill up your car. The American economy is on the brink of disaster after less than two years of a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House. And they’ve got plenty more destruction in the works.

The bottom line is they WANT you to get used to a lower living standard. So, what do you do? How do you prepare? What will food and fuel cost in the months ahead? What would the next Great Depression look like? How are you going to feel the effects of ESG and the Left’s war on oil?

On Wednesday night's "Glenn TV," Glenn Beck brings in a panel of economic experts to answer those questions. He’s joined by Carol Roth, former Wall Street investment banker and author of “The War on Small Business,” and Jim Iuorio, a small business owner, stockbroker, and managing director of TJM Institutional Services. While both forecast the worst-case scenario for average Americans, they also offer a glimmer of hope to get us out of this mess.

Watch the full episode below:


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To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

The FBI recently sent more than a dozen armed agents to the home of well-known pro-life activist Mark Houck to arrest him for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances or FACE Act. Now the father of seven faces up to 11 years in prison over claims that he blocked a man from entering an abortion clinic and shoved him when he wouldn't stop verbally harassing Mark's 12-year-old son. Now, if that doesn't sound insane enough, this all happened after local authorities dropped the case. So, what's the full story here?

Attorney Peter Breen joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to tell the family's side of the story, including how the case was already "won" three years ago, and how, after receiving a target letter from the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Mark's legal team agreed to cooperate fully, only to hear nothing back until the day the FBI showed up on Mark's doorstep.

Breen also explained how the FBI has tried to downplay "abuse of power" claims, accusing Mark's wife of making "inaccurate claims" about the terrifying experience.

"Ryan-Marie, who is Mark's wife, she thought she saw 25 [FBI agents.] The FBI came back and said it wasn't 25, it was no more than 15 or 20 heavily armed federal agents. And she had called them a 'SWAT team' because she's a lay person. I don't know the difference between a SWAT team and a bunch of heavily armed, armored, and shield-bearing federal agents," Breen said.

According to Fox News, a senior FBI source said:

There may have been 15-20 agents at the scene, but denied 25 were there. The agents who came to the door had guns out and at the ready, according to this FBI source, but the guns were never pointed at Houck or his family and were lowered or holstered as soon as Houck was taken into custody. Houck was handcuffed with a belly chain.

"So, yeah, they had guns drawn and pointed at Mark in front of his wife and their children. And that whole show of force was done against a man who was not a drug lord, not a mafia boss, but instead, a law-abiding pillar of the community whose attorney said, 'we'll bring him in if you decide to charge, even though you have no case.'"

Breen went on to assert that he believes Congress "needs to" hold Attorney General Merrick Garland accountable for the arrest. "I can't imagine that those 20 federal agents were excited about being called out to a peaceful man's home, guns drawn," he said.

In the video clip below, Breen goes on the explain what he believes should happen next, and why Houck's arrest "should frighten all of us." Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.