When you think of a last meal, you might think about those given to death row inmates. However, there are some people who are planning much more large-scale “last meals.” These are people who are sure that the end of the world is nigh, and have been stockpiling and planning accordingly. They”re known as “doomsday preppers,” and their hypotheses about the destruction of civilization as we know it range from environmental disasters to divine intervention.
Photographer Henry Hargreaves spent some time with a handful of the estimated 3 million preppers in the U.S., and catalogued their end-of-the-world meals. These meals became part of his latest photo series, Ready for Dinner!
Jason Charles, New York
Charles was an emergency responder in the 9/11 attacks, and fears a natural disaster, namely a volcano (unlikely in New York). His food rations include military-style ready-to-eat meals, ramen, and other canned goods. He also has a waterBOB, an emergency water storage device, which he will use in the bathtub after sealing off his NYC apartment “like a bunker.”
Wilma Bryant, Missouri
Bryant and her daughter are both insulin-dependent, so their rations have to take this into consideration. Their doomsday diet must be low in carbs and high in protein, so they keep live chickens, and have saved up beans, nuts, soups, and other non-perishables. The insulin will be kept in a nearby stream to keep it cold. Their destruction of choice is tornadoes, which actually do pose serious threats in some areas of the country.
Wayne Martin, Texas
Martin stores canned goods in cat litter, believing that this prolongs their shelf life. He also keeps cans of cat food on reserve, since they can be eaten by humans but aren”t appealing enough to be stolen by competing survivors. He fears financial collapse, and also keeps bottles of homemade wine, which he plans to use to barter once money is nonexistent.
John Major, Idaho
Major is concerned with the lasting effects of radiation, especially those from terrorists” dirty bombs. He stores a bank of 1.5 million seeds underground, keeps bees for honey and medicine, and, in what”s perhaps the most hardcore prepper activity, he forages for and collects insects to eat. His stored food includes mealworms, grasshoppers, and crickets, which are served with parmesan cheese and sprouted seeds.
Rick Austin, Appalachian Mountains
Austin is a sustainable homesteader, which means he”s pretty much living without the crutch of civilization anyway. He believes the food system is on the brink of failure, and has taken to cultivating his own food. He grows his own crops of fruits and vegetables, and raises cattle for meat and milk. He also keeps bees. He says that since adopting this lifestyle, his health has improved greatly.
Josh Wander, Pennsylvania
As an Orthodox Jew, Wander keeps kosher military-style, ready-to-eat meals, along with matzo and rice, and keeps live rabbits, to be used as a last resort. His kids are not allowed to name or get attached to the rabbits, as he believes they might have to kill and eat them in the near future. He fears terrorist attacks.
Kellene Bishop, Utah
Bishop”s Mormon faith endorses doomsday prepping, although she thinks the end of civilization will manifest as financial collapse. She likes to cook, and regularly rotates her saved items. She preserves many of her foods by pickling, vacuum-sealing, and freeze-drying. Her vast pantry includes meats, vegetables, waxed-sealed cheeses, and pasta.
(via Lost At E Minor, Peta Pixel)
Hargreaves said his photography series was a learning experience, and that he was actually quite impressed with the levels of planning that his subjects exhibited. He also found that their choices, both to begin prepping at all and the foods they chose to store, reflect their personalities, beliefs, and experiences.
The foods also offer a glimpse into their thoughts. “Through their choices of these foods, I think their personal [stories come] to life,” Hargreaves says. The actions of these people, while we might think they”re extreme, also show us the fears that society has, and the human will to fight for survival.
You can see more of Hargreaves” photography on his website. You can also check out his series on food and power and a humorous series involving chocolate here on ViralNova.