How To Buy Food as Anonymously as Possible

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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.

how to buy food anonymously

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.

Farm tags

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.

Anti-facial recognition

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.

Use cash.

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.

About Aden

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.

How To Buy Food as Anonymously as Possible
Aden Tate

Aden Tate

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    • I should add that Healthy Traditions has amazing quality grains and many other staple items that last a long time and they have 5 gallon life latch pails as well.

      • You still gave them your information, address, etc. So, that is why the author stated no online ordering of any kind.

  • Farmer’s Markets have almost zero surveillance/security features. Pay cash, and stock up on fresh, as well as jarred things like honey, Besides, it doesn’t hurt to know the local farm families.

  • Leave the phone at home?
    Do it all the time, unintentionally! Drives the wife nutz!
    And, when not in use, I leave it next to the radio. Some data center is getting its share of music and those stupid insurance commercials.

    Neither vehicles are GPS enabled. But in the future, that might not be an option.

    RFID blocking wallet. Have one for years now.

    Using cash? There is a $0.10 difference between using the card at the pump, and paying cash inside. I think a lot of Americans are going to use cash out of necessity to save money at the pump. Read an article that gas prices are up 3% this week alone.

  • I guess I understand the value in all of this if I bought massive quantities at one time. But buying a lot at once would contradict the “gray man” principle that I have learned about here. If I only spend $10-20 extra in my regular shopping trips why would I need to hide what I was doing? Thanks for the food for thought.

    • That is exactly what I do. I also use cash and shop at my locally owned food store. Costs more than Walmart, but I do not care.

    • Living in a smaller town has it’s advantages simply b/c there are NO big bulk item store in them. No SAM’S CLUB, NO COSTCO, NO BJ’S WAREHOUSE, NOT EVEN A BEST BUY OR A CIRCUIT CITY. WE HAVE NO OLIVE GARDEN, RED LOBSTER, APPLEBEES, OR CRACKER BARREL, NO OUTBACK STEAK HOUSES AND NO TEXAS ROADHOUSE GRILLS either. SOO that might not be a big deal but the smaller towns just do not have enough people to support them and my town has less than 5 k. We actually still have Mom and Pop cafes and businesses. That’s positive.

  • What is fascinating is how hard it already is to make anonymous purchases. I’ve given this some thought too. Realized pretty quickly how Costco membership and so many other small details undermine me, even if I use cash and leave my phone at home. I also have little choice about online orders for my location for some items.
    I plan to avoid buying much bulk moving forward, other than to replace what we consume. Hopefully that won’t trigger anything.
    My other thought is to conceal at least part of our long-term food store to keep it safe in the event of a home raid/invasion. It is good to consider now and at least have a plan, and start to get that location set up.

    • Anyone from the public can walk into a Costco and get a gift card with cash. You then use the gift card to get in and pay for your items.

    • Honestly I have NEVER purchased anything at all online, NOTHING, ZIP, ZERO !!! I don’t seriously believe that we can avoid every surveillance, so I just do the best I can without going crazy…I don’t have room for storage anyway and I don’t buy bulk…Used to years ago but NOT anymore and not for many years now.

  • Thanks for the information. I recently bought a bucket of eggs and a 20# bag of freeze dried onions with 24 cans of spam off Amazon not thinking about the info being out there. Also got some auguson Farms items and ghee too. No more card usage for me. That’s the last bit of buying I’m doing on the internet

    • DIANNE F. they say knowledge is power! The more you know and the better you are protected the better off you most likely will be. NEVER stop learning and always remember that someone is watching and wants you info…Everything it seems today is tracked. This is NOT the trust all, good old days any longer unfortunately.

  • Now consider how much of this privacy strategy goes into the dumper once cash is forcibly replaced by digital money only [accessible only via your injected digital ID] where central planning tyrants can instantly limit or completely block your purchases or sales of anything.

    –Lewis

  • If you’re going to buy things like beans, rice, and flour in bulk, go to a store that caters to restaurant owners. No one will bat an eye if you buy 50lb (or more) bags of dry goods in these places. Spread your purchases out as well. That way, store employees and scanners will know you’re there every month to pick up X-pounds of this and that, and when the “panic buying” happens, you’ll just be there to top off your already sufficient supplies…

    Your phone; there are still phones out there with replaceable (read: REMOVABLE) batteries. Most “dumb phones” have replaceable batteries. There are still a few “Smartphones” out there with replaceable batteries. I’m using one; the Samsung Xcover Pro. For what it’s worth, it’s serving me really well, both for work and personal use. Shutting off you phone does nothing. It’s actually still on for certain functions. Pulling the battery completely disables it. NOTE: if you put your phone into a Faraday bag, make sure you shut it off! If the phone can’t get a signal it will boost its transmit power to try and ping a cell. This will not only use up the battery REALLY FAST, it will cause excessive power drain on the battery which will make the phone REALLY, REALLY HOT! Its being in a bag will make things even worse! Nothing attracts attention like a fire!!!

  • This very well may not be extreme whatsoever in coming months and/or years as the pre-planned global food shortages (i.e. pre-planned starvation of millions of people) accelerate and people become very desperate for the food they need to survive.

  • In the semi-post pandemic world in the “fairly safe” area of Maryland where the primary residence is located, I still see lots of people with their Covid masks on in grocery and other stores. Food for thought. (pardon the pun).

    • Me too but WHY do they continue to wear MASK when the pandemic is now OVER????? Are they now just addicted to them? I wonder.

    • Bill in Houston,
      Initially, your comment made me chuckle.
      Then I got to thinking about it, empty shelves, seeing what people are buying at the grocery store.
      It is not just preppers who are buying in bulk. Inflation has hit dang near everyone. A recent NBC poll found 65% falling behind in the cost of living aka inflation. 28% are staying about even. And 6% saying they are getting ahead.
      If 65% of the American population are buying now in bulk to avoid future inflationary prices, does it really matter to buy anonymously?
      Are they really going to be able to come for your stash?
      Look at what is going on in Sri Lanka.

  • Amish grocery store/dry goods.

    Cash only. No computers. No facial recognition except from the owners. No self checkout. Many staples are in bulk and the products are superior (especially the extra wide egg noodles for chicken and pastries. Customer service is exceptional and there is never a big crowd to look in my shopping buggy to notice the 25# bag of artisan bred flour.

    The dry goods store is the same. The last two sales I made I bought a pair of dryshod barn boots for the wife and I and a pair of redwing loggers for me along with 3 pairs each of insulated leather and deerskin work glove. Even though I never throw boots away I have a thing for high quality boots, so now I’m well shod and hands are covered for at least the next three years. (BTW, buy socks and footwear now. New boots, socks and gloves are going to be very hard to come by soon.) owner sees me come in, smiles, fits me, checks me out. Aside from the weather I never get a question.

  • I need my phone to call a cab when I’m done, but I do turn off Location Services. Also as another commenter has noted, I don’t buy in those quantities. I buy in smaller quantities and when it’s on sale, a few extras again. I really think that paying a $500 grocery bill in cash raises more brows than using my debit card however; who doesn’t buy groceries? As for the theft issue, they can simply go door to door and take it. All power flows from the barrel of a gun after all. Above all things: keep your mouth shut about your pantry! OPSEC above all.

  • All this makes me wonder if subscribing to this and other prepper sites is a good idea, you know? Just being associated might be enough to trigger people showing up at the door.

    • So throw em off the scent by getting a throw-away subscription to Left Wing Drones Gazette or Bill Gates 2030 Fan Club or whatever. But balance your thoughts & deeds so you don’t hide under a mental rock of fear or the (fill in the blanks) will have won in your life. That’s what counts both individually here on Earth and when multiplied by 7 billion people.

  • Not mentioned was store loyalty cards. I have several. I have no idea what info I put down when I got them. Picked them up in person. Never asked for ID.
    Actually one “high end” grocery wanted to scan my DL for the loyalty card. Not happening. Never shopped there.
    I use Walmart gift cards, but buy them off-site with cash. Same for others.
    Some churches sell them and receive a small percentage from the company. Worthwhile.
    Carry a phone? LOL. When travelling I have one in the vehicle for emergancies in a faraday cage. When 3G end permanently I might not even bother replacing it,
    Pay cash? Anytime it’s possible. Been doing that for decades. Nothing new there.
    Rarely use self checkup, unless absolutely necessary. When anyone asks, I just tell them I prefer to interact with real people.
    Like the idea of Reflectacles. Have to check them out.

  • I’m only able to print this document in landscape mode. HP told me that it didn’t have anything to do with my printer and that it was the Organic Prepper website that’s causing me to print in landscape mode only. I don’t have this problem with other websites.

  • “It’s been said that most (if not all) major retailers now use facial recognition”

    asked a local grocer what they were doing about the increase in shoplifting. showed me their facial recognition system – camera 60 feet back from the entrance, able to recognize anyone banned from their stores because of previous shoplifting, sends an alert to his phone so he can intercept them immediately.

  • I linked to one of your pdf books and tried to buy it but received a cart item at a much higher price. The reduced price starts this weekend which I thought was today, Friday 5-20-2022. Details: The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications. This weekend we’re offering the PDF book for $9.49 – on Sunday at midnight the price goes up. So, how can I buy it?

  • the problems the new Windows based cars cause is incredible,, I am fairly paranoid, and worked in an industry that supported the vending machines that you use to inflate your tires,,, I was worried when they started to use technology instead of motivated customers to “monitor” the use rate of the machines, but, when the company started putting credit card readers on them to “Boost sales”. I retired,,, I never considered tire pressure monitors as any more than a poorly functioning gimmick that cost a lot to maintain… it make perfect cents that the 5 transmitters in your tires that each have a specific frequency so that your car will know A) if you have a low tire or ,B} if your tires are not in the place they are supposed to be, ( think spare installed by non service center personnel or rotated at home to save the “Free Service” at the dealer)…
    could be used to determine how many cars are in a lot or in extreme cases when a certain vehicle is coming, perhaps being driven by someone with no phone…

  • I still haven’t figured out why people post family pictures standing in front of their food stash… it seems like quite an invitation…
    Ref: buying bulk . NOTHING is anonymous anymore….if someone ..govt or private wants your stuff , unless you live under a rock, you’re exposed.

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