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.

Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Robert Francis "Beto" O’Rourke's disgusting and obviously-staged political stunt during a press conference about the Robb Elementary School massacre is just another of the many ways the man is "human trash," Glenn Beck and Stu Burguiere agreed on the radio program Thursday.

"Beto is human trash. He is scum. He is the scum of the earth, the lowest form of humanity our society can produce," Stu said in response to a video clip of O'Rourke heckling Gov. Greg Abbott in the middle of an update on the tragic mass killing in Uvalde. "This was obviously staged from the beginning ... clearly planned. Even CBS News pointed out it was blatantly a staged event. And this guy [O'Rourke], because he wants more power and more money, decided that this event was about him. He wanted to make the [deaths] of 19 children and teachers all about Beto O'Rourke because he is human scum. He is the worst form of life imaginable on this Earth."

Democrats like O'Rourke have been quick to use the tragic deaths of 19 children to advance their own pro-gun law political agendas, particularly "red flag" laws that would empower courts to take guns away from "potentially dangerous" people

"You want a solution? Stop selling AR-15s in the state of Texas. You want a solution? Have universal background checks. We don't have them. You want a solution? Red flag laws or extreme risk protection orders, which stop a shooting before it happens," O'Rourke shouted after being escorted out of the press conference.

Glenn wasn't buying O'Rourke's "righteous indignation," especially as his own resurfaced writings qualify as the "ultimate red flag for any red flag law." As a teen, O'Rourke wrote about hacking, overthrowing the government, and, most disturbingly, murdering children by running over them with his car.

Glenn read an excerpt from a fiction O'Rourke wrote when he was 15 years old:

[O]ne day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles. I knew, however, that this happiness and sense of freedom were much too overwhelming for them. This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams.

As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two. I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head.

"Dangerous, right? Nothing good's going to come of this. According to Reuters, those are the teenage writings of Beto O'Rourke," Glenn said. "The state of Texas should be very aware and not allow [O'Rourke] to buy a gun because of this. This guy, this guy, and his righteous indignation — give it a rest, bud. Give it a rest."

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Texas AG Ken Paxton says gun laws are NOT the answer, urges schools to arm teachers

Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

In the wake of the unspeakably grievous mass murder at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, many on the left are calling for increased gun control measures, but without specifying exactly what legislation could have prevented the horrifying event. Attorney General Ken Paxton says gun laws are not the answer. He joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to detail specific measures he believes could stop similar school atrocities in the future: arming teachers.

Paxton told Glenn that Texas has already put laws in place that allow schools to opt in to training and arming teachers as either a marshal or under the guardian program.

"We passed laws when I was in the Texas Senate, I think it was 2013, that would have helped greatly. There's no way that law enforcement can get to every location as fast as they would need to," Paxton said.

Glenn interjected, "I'll tell you, I went to a school where my son was playing football ... and there were signs all over. 'Beware. Teachers are armed. We take the Second Amendment and the protection of our students seriously.' It was so clear — not doing anything here. That's the way to do it."

"Yes," Paxton agreed. "I think that's the way it should be. I mean, these people [shooters], they know they're safe, at least until law enforcement gets there, to accomplish their goals. And we're going to keep seeing this happen until we decide as a state ... to protect these kids," he added.

"It's ridiculous for the Biden administration to suggest that this kid who decided to violate the murder laws would [think], 'Oh. Wait a minute, there's a gun law. I can't do this. I wouldn't violate gun laws.' It's law-abiding citizens that follow the law," Paxton continued. "Second, we have a fentanyl crisis that the Biden administration has presumably invited and we've had over 100, 000 people that overdosed and died from fentanyl. [...] Why isn't the Biden administration so concerned about the hundred and something thousand people that died from overdoses because they opened up the border and allowed fentanyl to come across?"

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation:


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In the wake of the horrific Buffalo shooting, the left-wing media tried to paint all conservatives as subscribers to “replacement theory” — the idea that immigrants are taking over to such an extent that they will destroy white Western civilization. Of course, no serious conservative believes in this ugly, racist, dangerous ideology, but there is a ton of ACTUAL replacement going on, and it has nothing to do with immigration or racism.

What we saw yesterday in Uvalde, Texas, is more dark horrific evidence of the only replacement theory that ultimately matters because it affects everything. We’ve replaced God in society. Glenn argues it’s why gun control is ultimately useless — even though he completely understands our human impulse to DO something. While our culture has replaced God for rot, the Biden White House and Democrats are also working overtime to replace key elements of American political, legal, economic, and cultural life.

BlazeTV host Mark Levin of “LevinTV” tells Glenn why Media Matters' latest hit job on him over his Uvalde coverage is pathetic. “Stop pushing God out of the public square” is not a radical concept to help prevent evil from taking hold in our schools. He also takes on the Democrats’ attempts to destroy the Supreme Court, voting rights, and the separation of powers.

BlazeTV host Allie Beth Stuckey of “Relatable” tells Glenn why she believes the Uvalde shooting reveals how we are failing young men in this country and what we must do to stop the replacement theory that threatens to keep an entire generation from becoming a benefit to society.

Watch the full episode of "Glenn TV" below:

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Glenn Beck addressed the incomprehensibly tragic mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on the radio program Wednesday, saying it's time to stop with the politics, from both sides, and focus on healing a nation that is tearing itself apart.

"It pains me to think about the political garbage that has happened in the last 12 hours," Glenn began. "I believe that we are on the verge of losing our nation, and the reason why we're about to lose our nation is the same reason some kid walked into an elementary school and shot and killed people. It's not the guns ... it's our society."

Glenn called the tragedies plaguing our nation' —kids shooting kids, committing suicide, dying from fentanyl, joining gangs, and suffering from depression and loneliness — are symptoms of a greater sickness.

"Where's the value of human life? The hatred that is being poured down our throats, the class division, the racism — make no mistake, it is intentional," he stated. "The best way to destroy a nation is to cut it apart. ... In our society, where are the ethics? What are ethics? It's your truth versus my truth. There is no absolute truth. And in a world where there is no truth, who gets to be God? Well, it depends on which group you're in I guess."

Glenn said America’s underlying problem is "a rotting in our soul" and until we "live in a nation that is willing to even recognize that there is something bigger than the self, and it has nothing to do with government, we'll never fix this problem."

"Let's not make this about Democrats and Republicans. Let's just make this about what the hell is going on because everything in our society is falling apart," he said. "And until you're willing to have that conversation, the rest of it is bullcrap."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


Can't watch? Download the podcast here or listen to the episode highlights below:

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.