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'Self-reliance' parties become popular preparation events

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EAST TEXAS (KYTX) - If some type of disaster were to happen tomorrow -would you and your family be prepared?

It's a question people are asking themselves more often these days.

It's the reason "self-reliance" parties are becoming more popular.

CBS 19's Courtney Friedman went to one of these get-togethers to get the scoop on what they're all about and how they're helping people prepare for the worst.

Self-reliance parties are a lot like Tupperware, or pampered chef parties -- except what's for sale is everything from freeze dried foods to solar ovens.

Everything you'll need to get through a major disaster or even the apocalypse.

"A biological terrorist attack, for an earthquake, for a series of F-5 tornadoes"

You've seen it on your TV and at the movie theater.

People prepping -- for disaster.

"I am of the mind that something will happen. I just don't know exactly how bad it will get," Krystal Windham said.

Krystal Windham is an independent consultant for a company called "shelf reliance". It helps its customers prepare for emergencies of any kind.

"A lot of them are preparing for natural disasters. We have hurricanes and tornadoes and there's a lot of that going on," Windham said. "My family has actually been through a tornado --- we've been through job loss."

When windham asks her customers what they're preparing for -- surprisingly, a natural disaster is not the number one answer."

"The political issues that were going on and are still going on today are probably the biggest push behind people preparing ... civil war," Windham said.

When it comes to preppers, the company's specialty -- is food storage.

"This is not your average food storage. It's healthy, it tastes great and its so easy and quick to prepare, she said.

She uses the increasingly popular "self reliance parties" -- hosted at homes throughout East Texas -- to showcase the freeze dried foods.

"The best thing about our foods is their shelf life. Unopened, they're good 25-30 years. After you open them, 6 months to 2 years before they go bad," Windham said.

The shelf life is what made former Marine, Mark Beck, attend a recent self reliance party in Bullard.

"If there's ever a huge disaster, if our nation's ever attacked, the economy goes to nothing, all the food supplies are gone, then you'll have your storage and your family can survive," Beck said.

Ashley Burnett hosted this self reliance party

"I just realize that anything can happen and if it comes down to it I want to be able to prepare my family," Burnett said.

So she invited a bunch of friends to join her in finding out what emergency prep is all about.

Some people are skeptical about freeze dried foods - about how they taste and what they're like, and that's really the point of these parties, is to try the food. and I'm a fruit buff so I'm going to try some of the strawberries here. You can see inside, they're just like dried fruits, and there's an array of vegetables and fruits, and I'm going to take one right now -- and it is actually pretty tasty! and the experts here at these parties say an important thing to do is try the food - even if you're going to be saving it for a disaster, to know how to prepare the food and what it tastes like.

The parties are growing in popularity -- as more people begin to use the freeze dried food on a daily basis -- for convenience and to save money.

"They make it to where you can do that, you can eat it every day as well as using it for storage," Burnett said.

Party-goers -- impressed by the items that could keep them alive during a disaster.

"I try to tell people, you never know what's going to happen tomorrow. As best today prepare for what is to come," Windham said.

Beck says it could very well be the apocalypse he's preparing for... Bottom line, he's not ruling anything out.

"It could happen so I think this is a good way to prepare for it," Beck said.

When preparing for disaster -- food storage usually comes first -- but there are other popular items people buy at these parties.

After stocking up on freeze dried food -- a lot of people buy a water purifier.

Shelf reliance and other companies like it, sell multiple brands -- and of course tons of other items you could use in an emergency.

A one person year supply of freeze dried food from shelf reliance -- runs from $1,300 to $1,700.

Windham says through surveys, she's found that is much less than what families usually spend at the grocery store.

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