By the author of The Faithful Prepper and The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications.
I’ve long believed that one should purchase anything gun-related as anonymously as possible, and prepping gear seems to have gradually shifted into that same parameter. But, what about food? You don’t need to buy your food anonymously, do you?
With the incoming famine (“global food shortage”), I’m convinced that if you are going to purchase “larger” quantities of food, survival food buckets, or groupings of food that are commonly associated with prepping (e.g., 20 pounds of rice, 30 pounds of beans, and 10 pounds of dehydrated milk powder – nobody buys all that but preppers), that it is worthwhile to consider making an anonymous purchase.
Consider that it was just in 2020 that the FBI raided and stole a “hoard” of masks from a private individual who had purchased everything he owned lawfully. Consider that the Defense Production Act not only states that badges have the “right” to steal what you’ve “hoarded,” but that they’ll slap you upside the head with a felony for “hoarding” to boot.
It doesn’t matter if you purchased all of that food lawfully. Under the DPA, you’re screwed. Even if the food is from your own garden and you’ve canned it all yourself, the DPA could be used to steal all of what you’ve grown and canned for the good of the collective.
(If you remember A Bug’s Life, this is the grasshoppers enjoying the summer and then robbing the ants so that they can survive the winter.)
While I hope you never have to use this knowledge, it’s better to have it and not need it rather than vice versa.
Here are my thoughts on how to buy food as anonymously as possible. While some of these steps are going to be rather extreme, I will leave to your discretion what steps you feel are right for you and which ones you think you can safely ignore.
Leave your phone at home.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a smartphone or a dumb phone. It’s a tracking device. Your position will be triangulated regardless of what type of phone you use, as your device will constantly be pinging the towers around it as it searches for service.
If you have an iPhone, go into settings and find your ‘Significant Locations.’ You’ll see that there’s a literal database of every location that you’ve ever been, the date you were there, how long you were there, etc.
Even if you leave your phone in the car, there will be a record that you visited the bulk foods store on X day.
If you can’t leave your phone at home, put it in a Faraday cage.
Perhaps you’re hitting the store on your way home from work, and there’s no way that you can’t leave your phone behind. If that’s the case, you need to put your phone into a Faraday cage well before you ever pull into the parking lot.
Mission Darkness makes a number of high-quality faraday cage phone sleeves that you can easily slip your phone into as you head home from work. These will keep any signal from leaving or entering your phone – keeping your phone from giving away your position.
(Be sure to check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to how to starve the beast for more information on how to retain your independence.)
Drive an older vehicle.
If your car has OnStar or any other GPS feature, there’s no reason to think that you wouldn’t be leaving behind digital breadcrumbs. The older your car that you drive, the less chance that there will be computers involved.
Another reason to drive an older vehicle is that many newer vehicles are equipped with tire pressure monitors. These give off a radio frequency that is unique to your tires. Anybody with an RTL-SDR could then harvest this data, knowing exactly who passed by a particular road at any given time.
It would be possible for a log to be collected of every vehicle that ever entered the grocery store parking lot. If your vehicle doesn’t have tire pressure monitors in the tires, this shouldn’t be something you have to worry about.
Check your local laws on this one, but my understanding is that in some locations, you can use farm tags for personal errands. You can also use farm tags to pick up farm goods. If this is the case, not only should you be able to pick up a few bales of straw while you’re out, but you should be able to pick up some apple cider vinegar for your chickens at the grocery store.
In an area where license plate readers are prevalent, this would be a way to ensure that your vehicle is as anonymous as possible while you drive. You can get an idea of whether or not your area has license plate readers by checking out the Atlas of Surveillance.
An RFID-blocking wallet
This one is more of a hypothetical. It’s been said that Bluetooth is used to harvest data from people’s phones in major retailers. Modern chip credit cards emit RFID signals. I see no reason why RFID data couldn’t be harvested off of peoples’ credit cards as well.
While it would be best not to have your credit cards with you at all, if that can’t be avoided, I would recommend an RFID-blocking wallet.
Choose a grocery store that’s outside of town.
Choosing a grocery store that’s the next town over helps you to prevent contact with people who may recognize you. If you’re seen with a grocery cart full of an abnormal amount of rice and other foods, it’s easy to make assumptions.
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Choose smaller grocery stores.
There’s a world of difference in the data harvesting that happens at a small Mexican food grocery store versus your chain supermarket. You’ll still be able to get plenty of rice, beans, and other staples at the mom-and-pop Mexican food store as you would at the chain supermarket.
The difference is that the mom-and-pop likely has a regular security camera system. The supermarket will not only have that but much more as well.
It’s been said that most (if not all) major retailers now use facial recognition extensively throughout their stores in addition to the other means of data harvesting. If you must enter one of these facilities, you then need a way to protect your face.
The only way that I know to do this is by wearing a hat and wearing Reflectacles. A hat prevents a camera from having as many angles to see your face. Reflectacles make it so that should a camera be positioned at face level, it won’t be able to use facial recognition on you.
The eyes are essential to facial recognition, and Reflectacles keep artificial intelligence from being able to see your eyes. Regular sunglasses will not work, as they do not block IR light.
Self-checkout versus a cashier
Cashiers are slowly becoming a thing of the past. They will be replaced by self-checkouts everywhere in the very near future as this gives greater control over who can and cannot make purchases. If you’ll notice, self-checkout stations have a camera that is aimed right at your face the entire time you’re ringing yourself up.
Some cashier-operated stations have this, but I’ve noticed some do not. You’ll likely have greater levels of anonymity by choosing the cashier in these circumstances.
Don’t use membership card services.
If you have to use a membership card to check out at a bulk foods store, you’ve just told the company (and whoever they share their data with) what you’ve purchased. This defeats the whole point.
This should go without saying. Using cash is the only anonymous means of payment that is at your disposal. In some instances, you might be able to pay with crypto, but how many people do you think do this on a daily basis? By using crypto, you’re standing out.
Use small bills as well. If you walk in with a couple of hundred-dollar bills, you’ll have left your fingerprints/DNA on the only $100 bills in the facility. The likelihood that tech would be used against bills is slim, but again, if we’re looking at how to purchase food as anonymously as possible, you’d want to use small, common denominator bills that the store will see plenty of throughout the day.
You have to pay in person.
Online purchases of any kind are out. You will not be able to defeat the digital breadcrumb trail.
Are there other steps that will help with how to buy food anonymously?
If you’re going to make a purchase, to my knowledge, this is the best that you could do. Again, some of this may come across as a bit extreme, but do with the knowledge what you will.
What are your thoughts, though? Is this overkill? Are there other tips for buying food anonymously that you can think of? Let us know in the comments below.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has three published books, The Faithful Prepper, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.