Far from being a founder of any network relating to the dimension of Prepping, I just consider myself a curious person, eager to learn and, last but not least, a true believer in “good sense” and preparedness.
Since my official entry into the world of Survival came back in 2012 – the supposed “End of the world” year – I can truly recall that, just after a few months, I had been introduced for the first time to the context of Prepping by my boyfriend, as often happens to all the ladies out there.
In fact, he invited me to look at several websites as well as spending a lot of time watching YouTube channels and putting all himself in explanations, teaching, regaling me with tips in order to turn me into the “ideal” companion to have when the worst would strikeout.
What about me, at that time? I was, as mentioned, curious but I had absolutely no idea how to handle a tough situation. I was born in a big city – Milan, one the most frenetic and technologically advanced metropoles of Italy, with more than 1.3 million citizens – and despite the fact that my parents passed through burdensome times like the economical recession during the seventies, as well as the years of terrorism and national guerrilla, they both had no education about survival skills or prepping.
They are just regular people with an ordinary job. They lived (and still do) the great outdoors or the backcountry as a place to walk, run, admire blossoming, not actually a place to take shelter. I can say the same for thousands of other people all over this Country.
So, all those things related to stockpiling food, collecting and purifying water, and being self-reliant were quite .. strange news to me. Nonetheless, I was intrigued, and fascinated too, so in June 2017 I attended my very first prepping meeting in Italy, set up in a forest of Pine trees, away from the chaos of urbanization (and prying eyes too). About twenty individuals, with different expertise, had been invited to talk about the main topic of prepping, according to the singular background. Specifically, I had been asked to talk about the use of tracking in a survival scenario.
Other attendees’ speeches were oriented on Survival skills as well as the importance of stockpiling food, growing your own herbs, investing in solar panels and so on. I can clearly recall how much attention we all paid to the speeches. That revealed not only the hunger of learning new abilities (and consequently mastering them) but also the necessity to be part of a solid network of prepared people you can count on.
Marco Crotta was the man behind this meeting as well as the owner of the website www.prepper.it. He has been one of the originators of the Prepping movement in Italy and he has a sound attitude and a remarkable approach to the dimension of Preparedness. I had the chance to talk with him on several occasions. He never feared the urgency of explaining to people why and how to be prepared as outspokenness is an essential feature of his character. Back when no one would have imagined, he has been interviewed on “What does it mean being a Prepper in Italy”. He was even mocked by a local newspaper, who called him insane, even fanatic. Yet, he didn’t talk about upcoming catastrophes. He just showed up what it means to be in a SHTF scenario.
At that time, few were prone to listen to him. Current times turn over the scepticism of the past, don’t they? This foreword was pretty much mandatory to the array of the topic of this article: why the prepping movement in the US is so drastically different (and distant) from the Old Continent.
Even if European Preppers are all in agreement in considering the United States as a maximum example – and inspiration – when it comes to being prepared, Europe has to deal with various elements of disparity. Shadowing habits, purchases, a like mindset isn’t always possible. Or allowed.
In the next paragraphs, we will discover why.
- Distribution of Population
Europe (and specifically Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and other States) are mainly built-up area with a massive presence of population (and overpopulation). The concept of “Offgrid” does exist only at determined altitudes (more than 13000 feet high), as towns and villages are quite interconnected to each other. So we can describe that, quite exclusively, as a giant urban dimension with few forests. Driving outside the city for, let’s say, 31 miles, lead you directly into the next urban center, not somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
- Different Economic and Social Environment.
Laws related to the detention of weapons do vary a lot from Country to Country. So, if you consider yourself a Prepper and you would like to emulate what you watched on millions of videos on YouTube, well, put yourself into the mindset that carrying a knife can be considered a violation. In Italy, for example, you are allowed only to carry a blade into a backpack positioned in the back of your car. Not exactly a very easy reach, right? Plus, hunting is restricted only to reserves. If you don’t have the specific license and authorization, you aren’t even supposed to enter in.
- The Food Does Not Last As Long
You can be skeptical about that, but I kindly invite you to check by yourself: our expiration dates are pretty close since the legislation on food is pretty stiff and firm. Fresh means healthier, and preservatives have been banned since 1970. Besides that, you can always stockpile dry foods or grow it by yourself, taking advantage of your knowledge of seeding and harvesting. But you have to deal with urban pollution, a serious problem in almost all the countries in Europe.
- Being a Union Doesn’t Always Mean Being United
I surely don’t want to sound polemic, but way before the strike of COVID-19, the European Union didn’t create less control for individual states and a common currency. With the catastrophic advent of this virus, the breaking off between the Countries seems to be been marked, leaving no chance to a real, unique plan on how to deal with the pandemic. Every Country faces it in her own way, and so do the European Communities of Preppers. There is no unique strategy, as cultural differences prevail on a common intent. By saying that, it is more than crystal clear that being a Prepper in the Old Continent can’t be more distant from being a Prepper in the United States. The discrepancies above mentioned have always been untreatable, especially if we look at them in the specific perspective of “surviving together”. For these specific reasons a lot of European Preppers (me included) opted for a solitary idea of being Preppers, extending the sharing of preparedness, teachings and skills only inside the family. Which seems to be the only possible way to go.