One of the doomsday scenarios that people are worried about that are pretty high on the feasibility list, is the fall of the American Dollar, which will cause Americans to have difficulty importing a lot of things. This will cause supply to fall, and prices rise.
The thing is, if your country’s economy falls, as a creator being you have the power to create your own economy.
Imagine this. Money is just a piece of paper that people trust. They trust that when it is time for them to buy something, other people will accept it in exchange for real goods and services.
Now if you came to your local bakery and asked for a loaf of bread, and you tried to pay in the form of bond paper, the baker won’t accept it, because he knows other people won’t accept it in exchange for flour either. Now if that baker were your close friend, and you have another friend who sells flour, a written promise with your signature on that paper will be acceptable as payment for the bread, because the baker trusts you as a friend, and so does the miller. And if ever the miller needs to “cash in” the piece of paper, all he needs is to do is call you on the phone and ask for you to come over and pay, not necessarily in cash, but perhaps in another form of good or service.
In this way, we see that economy is based on trust, and to create our own local economy, all we need to do is trust each other to respect whatever medium of exchange we have agreed on to use.
This does require that you have a prior agreement with your friends. And so, let’s start creating a network of friends with whom we can barter and stay comfortably alive with if ever the grocery shelves run out of food, or prices go too high. In fact, you might have so much fun doing this that you’d prefer to do this even if the economy is doing fine.
First, we need a food source. All food come from the soil, whether it passes through several animals in the process or not. So we need a farmer in our network. Look for a friendly farmer, say in your local farmer’s market, or a friend of a friend, even a Facebook friend. Ask that farmer to teach you how to run a farm, in exchange for working for him (manual labor).
Now farmers don’t always have work around their farms – they follow the cycles of Nature, and sometimes Nature doesn’t require work, just waiting for things to grow, especially when it comes to plants. In that case, you might have to offer to pay for the lesson. To make the most of your time on his farm, watch YouTube videos about farming to familiarize yourself with things, so you can put some of the lessons out of the way and go straight to the serious part of your lessons. This includes the not-so-hands-on aspects of farming, like what material they use to build which parts of the chicken coop and where do they get it, how much feed is needed for each pig and each cow, deeper questions that’s not so obvious at first, but will be important when you try to feed your own family off the land.
You could of course leave all the farming to the farmer, but he won’t necessarily have food to feed all the people you’re going to invite to join your network. The most important thing you can get from each member of the network is skill – because that way, if anybody in your network can’t perform anymore, others can quickly pick up the slack. And the most important links in your network are food and water.
Don’t let your farmer friend take the entire responsibility of feeding your network either. Turn your backyard into a food garden, and encourage everybody in your network to do the same. For that matter, don’t spare your front yard. Turn it into a garden too.
And then learn to preserve your food. Put them in jars and vacuum seal them, or dry them, or smoke them.
Now, if your supermarket goes bust, your family won’t starve.
The farmer won’t be happy just accepting your promissory notes and feeding everybody. You’ll have to take up a trade or craft to exchange for the food you’re getting.
Perhaps the most important thing would be farming supplies, because the modern farmer usually have become dependent on modern tools and equipment, fertilizers and things like that. I do highly recommend using organic fertilizers, and natural predators like spiders instead of insecticide. You can stock up on those store bought fertilizers. But you can also start collecting organic refuse, buy some earthworms, and create a compost factory. That way, you can trade fertilizer for food, and you and your farmer friend will both be happy.
Or, if you want, you can make it your business to maintain connections with farm suppliers near and far, and in time of crisis, “import” those farm supplies into your local community. Then again you’ll have to export your local community’s goods in exchange. If you do that, you’ll have to travel long distances. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.
Other crafts that members of your network can take up include weaving, raising cotton plants or sheep and turning the cotton or wool into cloth, pottery, hunting, fishing, carpentry, teaching, the medical arts, and blacksmithing.
Blacksmithing will be especially important. Blacksmiths can turn metal pipes and bars into axes, hammers, nails, saws, even carriages and car spare parts. Although it seems the average american has a well stocked toolbox, if you run out of nails, you will have a very difficult time creating things out of wood.
About the gasoline, I’ve seen used cooking oil turned into diesel using a biodiesel converter. This fuel can also be used to generate electricity using a biodiesel generator. If you don’t have that, use bicycles, try to acquire horses, or train your dogs to pull carts. =)