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For Costco, apocalypse preparedness is big business

KIRO Radio

Think you'll be prepared when disaster hits? Costco wants to make sure of it. In fact, the company will sell you enough freeze-dried and dehydrated food to keep you going for a whole year.

For a paltry $799.99, you can get 5,011 servings of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat, or at least "textured vegetable protein" meat substitute, complete with rehydration instructions and recipes.

"The food stores for sometimes up to 20 years on the shelf in sealed cans," said Andrew Hawf, customer service manager for Shelf Reliance, the Utah-based company that makes the "Thrive" line of food storage products.

So is anyone buying this? Costco buyer Mike Dorpat told KIRO-FM sales are in the millions of dollars since the product hit the company's website a year ago.

"You can call it survivalism, you can call it prepping, being a good boy scout, thinking ahead," said Kurt Wilson, who hosts an internet radio show called the "Armchair Survivalist." "In an emergency situation, if everyone is warned, and they take it for real, you have 3 to 4 hours before the stores are out of supplies," Wilson said.

So is a year's worth of food overkill? King County's department of emergency management recommends a 3-day stockpile of non-perishable food, said spokeswoman Lynn Miller.

"That's not enough," said Wilson. "I recommend you have a 3-day supply in the trunk of your car."

But not everyone who buys the kit thinks the end of days is coming. According to Hawf, in these trying economic times, some people just want to be able to feed the family if they lose their jobs. "I know a lot of our customers have that very much in mind as they're planning for the unknown," he said.

And for the unrelenting optimist, "I know a lot of our customers just really love it as snack food," Hawf said.

Follow Alex Silverman on twitter @alexsilverman

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