Gold vs. Food–Which to buy first

by David Morris on February 18, 2010

A very common question for people who are getting started with preparedness and changing to a more self-reliant lifestyle goes something like this…I’ve only got $X.  I know that I need to stock up on food, and I should probably have some gold & silver on hand, but what should I get first?

It’s a great question and most people screw this one up massively.  (I did)  I’ve found it effective to look at buying survival/preparedness supplies like Maslov’s heirarchy of needs.  If you satisfy a high level need like love before you satisfy hunger and thirst, you’re not going to last long.

Similarly, there is a heirarchy of survival needs.

Hierarchy Of Survival Needs (What to buy first)

With Limited funds, this will help you determine what to buy first.

It’s a work in progress and if you have any thoughts, comments, or refinements, please comment below.  Right now, though, we’re going to address food, and precious metals.

I’ll start by saying that gold and silver are a great way to store/transport wealth and to protect yourself against the devaluation of the dollar (inflation).  But the key phrase here is “store wealth.”  In order to store wealth, you’ve got to have “wealth” in the first place.

If we check in with Webster, we see that the definition of wealth is “The abundance of valuable material posessions or resources” or “abundant supply”.

It would stand to reason that you probably don’t have “wealth” to store until you have an abundance of basic survival items on hand…particularly food and water.

What I mean is that if you don’t have food on hand to last for an extended period of time, why would you buy silver or gold?  Fast forward with me for a second and picture yourself in a survival situation.

You’ve stored up lots of silver and gold…now what?  You can’t eat it.  You can’t start a fire with it.  You can’t drink it.  You can only use it to trade for other goods, and to do that you have to find someone with excess food and disclose the fact that you have gold/silver to trade.

Everyone that you approach about a possible trade is going to remember you as the person who has gold/silver.  This is obviously not good from an OpSec perspective.

The longer you go without food or water, the more of your gold and silver you’re going to be willing to give up.  People will instinctually understand your desperate situation and realize just how much leverage they have over you.

The fact is, you can use your food storage to trade for other goods just like you can with gold or silver…but if you need to, you can always consume it.  Put another way, in a survival situation, you will NEED food, but you won’t NEED silver or gold.

There’s a common joke among people who don’t like gold.  They say that gold won’t be useful because when you’re hungry, you won’t be able to find anyone with 1000 loaves of bread to trade for your ounce of gold.  This is true…and it makes my point.  If the person with the gold had prepared differently, they would have enough food and the gold would simply be a way to store their excess wealth.

Now this all gets much more complicated if you have to bug out and space/weight are a big issue.  In this case, you may want to take a few ounces of gold/silver instead of several additional pounds of food, but you still have to find someone with EXTRA food who actually WANTS your silver or gold in order to make it worth carrying.

So, am I against precious metals?  Absolutely not.  I fully support buying gold and silver…just at the right time.

So when should you start buying gold and silver?

There is no hard and fast answer, and the answer is going to depend on a number of factors, including your mobility, storage space, number of caches set up, the size/maturity of your mutual aid group, and more.  Everyone is going to have a different guideline, but I will suggest this…I wouldn’t buy gold and silver until you have food, water, fire, shelter, medications, trauma gear, and tools for self defense sufficient to survive a breakdown in civil order lasting a month or more.  Even then, I would suggest spending most of your money on core survival items and a portion on gold and silver.

What are your thoughts on this?  Let me know by posting your comments below. update!  We got our most recent shipment of cards in on Thursday and they are SWEET.  About 1/2 of them are getting shipped out today to people who back-ordered them, but that means that we have just over 500 decks available.  If they don’t sell out by the end of the weekend, we MAY even be able to start fulfilling wholesale requests.  If you’re interested in selling the cards in a retail location, or at gun shows, send an email to and we’ll get you information on pricing and quantities.

To find out more about the cards and to get yours, please visit

Ever get an email forwarded to you about guns or pending regulation that seems to be written specifically to make you angry?  Ever question if the content is even true?  Well, after getting literally hundreds of false emails forwarded to me on fake firearms laws, impending imaginary liberal legislation, and declaring guns on your 2010 tax return, I decided to start posting them (and whether or not they’re true) on the forum so that you would have an easy place to go to fact check them.  I just posted the first one…on removing “In God We Trust” from our coinage.  You can read about it and comment by going here:

Until next week, God Bless!

David Morris

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Vote -1 Vote +1Marsha
February 19, 2010 at 8:43 am

I love being prepared & I have started accumulating things for survival from 72 hours or longer if not urban. I enjoy your newsletters and also love watching different Youtube videos teaching various survival skills. I mentioned this to my daughter who decided I am mental and is concerned for me. I think it’s my duty to at least tell my children about being prepared for emegencies, I don’t do it in fear. It would break my heart if anything happened to the kids and grandkids if and when something happens. I can’t take care of them all, just me and my husband. We are in our 60’s. What do you suggest? I don’t want to sound like I am ready for a “home.” Thanks


Vote -1 Vote +1phil elliott
February 19, 2010 at 9:06 am

A better item to keep than gold or silver in my estimation would be .22 ammo over and above your needs. Fairly easy to obtain in the present time frame, and able to trade for all manor of other goods including food. Ammo is heavy but then so is gold. . 22’s are easier to disburse than gold, :ie 5 for a hamburger, than trying to shave gold. You would have to carry a scale around. Comments?


Vote -1 Vote +1Bill
February 19, 2010 at 9:08 am

Should self defense be right above food and shelter?


Vote -1 Vote +1Mike
February 19, 2010 at 9:12 am

Regarding buying Gold and Silver, I agree that the first priority should be food and basic necessities to last a month or longer (I prefer 3-6 months). From there, I would prioritize it differently. My belief is that a total societal collapse, where a barter economy would be active, is much less likely in the short term than an environment of hyperinflation. If inflation is at 10%, then food storage is basically giving you a return of 10%, which is a good investment. Any barter goods you have would also be returning about 10%. However, those barter goods require that you are plugged in to a system where you can actually find people that want to trade things that you need. The experience in Argentina following their collapse in 2001/2002 is that the “barter clubs” didn’t thrive very long for this reason. For this reason, my opinion is that precious metals are the best hedge and the most liquid.


Vote -1 Vote +1Jeff
February 19, 2010 at 9:17 am

David — your hierarchy of survival needs is very helpful, thanks! I do notice that “skills” are not on it and are necessary both for a positive mental attitude and to maximize benefits of gear and to your group. Some might be foundational like First Aid and some could later like Ham Technician’s license. And certain skills are required to maintain level 4 of the pyramid (primitive living). All that said, your hierarchy is still very clear and helpful for prioritizing $$$.


Vote -1 Vote +1Phil Smith
February 19, 2010 at 9:42 am

Your newsletters never cease to amaze me! The information you provide is very educational and invaluable. Keep the newsletters coming. Typically I drop everything I am doing and read your newsletter the moment it is received.


Vote -1 Vote +1MJ
February 19, 2010 at 9:49 am

Food first. Knowledge next.

Knowledge will supply the keeping and preserving whatever else is needed.


Vote -1 Vote +1Daryl Salley
February 19, 2010 at 10:36 am

Hi, David,
First, let me say that I am so pleased with your Survive In Place Course. The program has really put us on a more secure footing in our Disaster Preparednes Plan. We’ve gotten our food and water supply on hand, our Bug Out Bags set up, and redundant heat source in place. We are adding to our food supply as we go about our normal shopping, a little at a time. We are set for 72 hrs. and will continue to add as we can afford it. It is a lot more expensive than I thought to be adequately prepared, so we’ve done it on a slow pace as we could afford it. Slow is good, as we are acquiring what we might need as we can pay for it. NO CREDIT! As for gold and silver. We converted some of our retirement acounts to physical gold numismatic coins, and pre-1936 silver fitfy cent pieces.These are not as subject to government confiscation as ETF gold stocks. The smaller denomination silver is more easily exchanged than the gold. Since we have a gun safe, storage is not a problem. All of this preparation has taken close to a year to complete, and has diverted some of our limited income ( we are retired), but the peace of mind is well worth the sacrifice. Thanks again for a great program.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Mary Ann Moon
February 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

You are talking what this 80 year old woman has heard for a good long time.. you can’t eat money.. and rotate your stock.. When you live way out in the boonies and in cold coutry, what you are teacxhing now is what we learned from the git go.. I am certainly glad to see it put before the young now who have not learned to live this way! Blessings.. moth


Vote -1 Vote +1James T. Collins
February 19, 2010 at 10:59 am

If I remember the psychological heiarchy of needs that Maslov put out, Food was first, shelter was second, sex was third. Don’t remember the rest but that sounds logical to me and explains a lot of the problems we have with well fed, sheltered adolescents.


Vote -1 Vote +1Tom Banks
February 19, 2010 at 11:19 am

My old boss was practicing preparedness for many years. He purchased 90% silver dimes by the bag. These are still available, @$20/oz..

I have mixed feelings about this. It is likely that, in an extreme situation, some people would remember when coins were silver. On the other hand, they may still see a silver dime as just a 10 cent piece. The fact that they are still legal tend to prove that they are actually 90% silver.

But you cannot eat silver! Having a supply of non-perishable foodsuffs may be more cost effective. A 1 lb. bag of silver coins is going for about $320. You could buy quite a lot of rice and beans for that much.

Perhaps the best choice is having some of both. Also, a few bricks of .22 LR ammo would be good for barter. Nearly every home has at least 1 .22 cal. firearm.


Vote -1 Vote +1JR
February 19, 2010 at 11:54 am

Food is pretty easy just get a few 50lbs bags of rice costing about 20 bucks a bag, should have a long shelf life if stored properly. Like someone else suggested stock up on 22 shells they will be great for bartering, hunting and killing undesirables. Their cheep to buy and don’t take up much room and just about everyone has a 22. I’m more worried about medications. I’m taking thyroid medication and have a daughter that’s diabetic, and needs insulation. Most doctors will only prescribe a 3 month supply. Does anyone have any suggestions to getting medications ??


Vote -1 Vote +1charvel
September 2, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Hey J.R.
I too am on thyroid meds, it might comfort you to know you could live a long time without meds. And yes, there’ll be a very slow decline in weight and energy, among others. Of interest, I’d be willing to offer—–we if were all out doing the things to help us survive, many meds could be just dropped. Just saying——– charvel


Vote -1 Vote +1andrea
September 6, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I too am on thyroid medication. I decided to try and reduce my dosage and get off of thyroid hormone if possible because of worsening conditions and the possibility of the breakdown of our way of life. I am hoping not to be dependent on meds if at all possible. A relative who I trust told me about Dr Chistpher’s website. He is an herbalist and is well known in natural medicine. I have put into practice the things he as reccomended on his free website and am having good results! So far I have been able to go off Nexium, a very expensive drug for GERD, and my ant- anxiety med. Between Dr. Christopher & David Morris, I am feeling healthier and more secure. Just look at the Dr.s website,and an open mind!


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1D. Logan Lundberg
August 20, 2010 at 12:33 am

Dave: just a note from those of us who have studied maslov’s theory as it pertains to the world in which we now live…your list by Maslov places security in an upper level…thats ok if you are alone and no one or nothing is around… BUT maslov was wrong about alot of things and to be honest, the theory above leaves me just a little nervous…please let me explain..

Man has survived in nearly every extreme that he has placed himself in. Man has made almost every mistake possible and survived against all odds, even when totally unprepared. Man has also died when he had skills, tools, food and water, and been trained in all aspect of preparedness…granted, your maslov heirarchy is a great guideline for those who are learning basics. I just hope that many of you will consider a simplier rule that many teach and live by…just remember that these rules and other peoples theories are not etched in stone tablets, brought down from a mountain by a man with a white beard and caring a big stick.

Even the rules which I follow are simply guidelines that make the mental and emotional exercises more bareable. I hope that you would consider placing security where it truly belongs…for as I believe and have been taught, you can live 3 months without GOOD company before you start to talking too and ANSWERING yourself, you can live 3 weeks without FOOD, but don’t count the days, you may find that 3 weeks is just a good start, you can live 3 days without water before things get fuzzy, but never, never give up, I have personally gone 6 days without water (after properly hydrating myself) and body parts did not begin to fall off…you can survive about 3 hours without shelter in a hostile environment (extreme heat or cold) but man’s will to live has conquered even the most hostile extremes and he has survived for days in these conditions… you can survive 3 minutes without oxygen, but tell that to the survivors who have been under cold water for what seemed like eternity…and finally, but to me the most important…it only takes someone about 3 seconds to decide if what you have is more important to them, than it is to you.

Believe me, when someone is chasing you with a shotgun, or stalking you with a rifle, food, water, shelter, sex, love and personal fulfillment will be of little value…Only when we are secure in our homes, neighborhood, city, state and nation can we truly enjoy the blessing of FOOD, WATER, SHELTER, GOOD companionship, and all the other benifits of society….not only should security be on the first level, but it should be the first item on that level…
Many of us who have served this nation know the meaning of being secure…living in fear tends to make one very alive… in that they can go for long periods without any of Maslovs ingredients. And if we are to survive the dark days ahead, security must be the first and most important aspect of preparedness. I have heard every argument that could possibly be made against security, but when the smoke and mirrors are washed away, our nation and our freedom to enjoy even the food water and all other basic necessities of life are there because we are secure.

Thank you for your website and for all you do for those who are willing to learn and to be part of the solution to the difficult days that lie ahead, and for this opportunity to express my beliefs.


Vote -1 Vote +1charvel
September 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm

As a Rn, I have studied, at length, Maslov and most other theories—-I very much agree with you. Security—-if you are not willing to secure what you have, all the other stuff doesn’t matter. Even without the BIG event, there is always someone that is willing to take what you have. So in our current society, it’s a good time to start practicing what we preach. Hang on to your stuff.


Vote -1 Vote +1charvel
September 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I’d be interested what you folks think is the “ultimate” survival weapon would be. Given factors such as—–expense, amno and piece, virsatility, availiability, lethality and so forth. The .22 has been mentioned by several post. With a some skill, I’m thinking the rifle would be tops in the above. This round can take meat, small and large(deer). Amno is easy to hoard and purchase. I had an friend who routinely would bring down deer—-a single shot rifle, “long rifle. Comments?


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Don
September 3, 2010 at 9:50 am

I’d be interested what you folks think is the “ultimate” survival weapon would be

charvel, I think the best survival weapon that you could have, is the one that you are carrying. This might sound trite or simplistic, but realistically many of the big/heavy weapons will be left at the house, leaving you with….nothing.

I would suggest having a rifle, and a pistol, in commonly available, or military calibers, and a knife. Your suggestion of a .22 cal rifle/pistol is excellent, but I would consider having a larger caliber as a backup. Many times you are going to need a stopper. To illustrate, there was a joke we told when I worked in Alaska……If you shoot a bear, and he dies 30 feet behind you, after he’s done with you, does it matter that you killed him? Probably not. Many times the need is to have a stopper(ie something that will stop them immediately) the killing is secondary as long as you are safe.

As far as the weapon being heavy, practice and familiarity will help. I can guarantee that if you are forced to shoot, you will not notice the weight, recoil, or the noise, until after the fact. Then you will notice that your ears are ringing, and your shoulder hurts…..but you will still be FEELING. Another thing, be prepared for the adrenaline crash. All of the adrenaline that your body produced to enable you to do what you did will be used up by your body, and you will be tired and shakey.

I personally carry a Colt semi auto pistol in .45 cal, and a FAL in 7.62×51(military version of 308 winchester), I also have a .22 semi auto rifle. Well….. I talk to much, hope this helps.


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