What Causes Riots (how to insulate yourself)

This is a special mid-week article by backyard food growing expert, Marjorie Wildcraft, that I know you’re going to enjoy.

Over the years I’ve watched in amazement at the lack of response as the bureaucrats of all persuasions passed laws that reduced personal liberty, violated the Constitution, or blatantly transferred more wealth to the already wealthy.

At first I naively thought, “wow, this is surely going to cause a riot”. But no, nothing really ever happened. Maybe some protests or a bit of debate by the talking heads on t.v., but nothing really.

I continue to watch as more and rights are eroded away, more and more money printed, and the US Gov’t continues to get bigger and more powerful.

I figure Alex Jones is a prime candidate for a heart attack (and most likely it will be on the air) as he communicates atrocity after atrocity.

Surely people must be outraged?

The Tea Party and the Occupy movement have some spunk, but nothing really in comparison to the magnitude of the crimes. The powers that be seem to be able to do anything they like and people just continue to roll over and no one really cares.

I often wondered – just what does it take to make people really revolt?

What does it take to get the attention of the average Joe on the street?

What is the tipping point that will really bring this whole thing to a head?

The answer to that question is stunningly simple, and profoundly prophetic. I am sure the children born into royalty are taught this very simple principle in kindergarten. World leaders certainly understand it. And CEO’s of large multi- nationals figure it out early on in their careers.

The answer came to me one day when I stumbled across an article published by MIT’s Technology Review where researchers at the Institute of Complex Systems published their results on the question; what is the cause of riots? The study was headed up by Marco Lagi and his associates. Lagi thought the answer to the question of what was the cause of riots would be, well, complex. It turned out the cause boils down to one thing.

The price of food.

Learn How To Grow your Own Groceries < Click for shortcuts, tips, and tricks

Note that the price of food is not necessarily the reason for the riots – but it does create the conditions when rioting will break out.

It makes a lot of sense. The average Joe is only going to get upset when he is hungry. When Joe is working as hard as he can and he can’t feed himself or his family, and there is no other recourse… Well violence will erupt.

Lagi and his group created a model based on food prices and plotted that against outbreaks of rioting. The model is surprisingly direct. And they got pretty good at predicting when trouble would come. In December of 2010 the model indicated that, based on increases in food prices, there would be uprisings in the Middle East. Lagi and his group tried to contact the US Gov’t to warn of the dire preidictions, but well, just who do you contact in the US Gov’t? So their letters went unheeded. Within a week of when the model predicted, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia in protest at government policies. And a series of revolutions followed suit.

Turns out the United Nations also knows this. As food prices increased in 2008, the UN publicly warned that rioting and unrest would increase throughout the world. The UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) tracks and graphs world food prices, which by the way, is a much better indicator of costs than the overly- manipulated CPI (consumer price index). Currently, the UN FAO price index is trending down slightly, but is still very near the 2008 peak.

As you know, the cost of food is steadily increasing. And the increase is going up faster than the usual few percentage points we’ve all come to accept. The most profound thing about Lagi’s work is that he plotted out the current trends in food prices and his model predicts that by August 2013, if food prices continue to rise at the pace we’ve seen in recent years, the entire world will be in civil unrest. That means that within a little more than a year, even here in the United States, prices will have crossed the threshold and Joe is going to be very, very upset.

So if you are like me and you’ve been wondering what would trigger this egregious situation we live in to come to a head, you don’t need to go any further than your grocery store to get an idea of when it is coming.

Many people have asked me why I am so passionate about backyard food production and helping people to grow their own groceries. There are so many areas to work on once you decide to start getting prepared: defense, medicine, communications, transportation… And while I certainly encourage you to get some basics in all of it, (yes, I love my Glock, herbal remedies, and my bicycle) I always was driven to work on the problem of how an individual can feed themselves and their family.

I intuitively knew food would become very important as time went forward. But I really had no idea that food would likely be the linchpin to the revolution.

Don’t get caught up in a falsh mob, a FEMA camp, or a soup line. Learn how to grow your own food today by going to > Grow Your Own Groceries <

Questions?  Comments?  Feedback?  Share them by commenting below.

God bless & stay safe,

David Morris

About David Morris

David Morris is the creator of the Survive In Place Urban Survival Course, the Fastest Way To Prepare Course, Urban Survival Playing Cards, Tactical Firearms Training Secrets, and other books, courses, and articles on preparedness, survival, firearms, and other tactical topics. He lives with his wife, 2 boys, and 2 dogs.


  1. It’s been said; “The masses are predictable, the individual is not” and even “good people” can turn “bad” fast, if their back’s against the wall. Think about how families can turn on each other after a family death. Add money or property to that equation and it can spin out of contol very quickly. A lot of really good, thought provoking comments to ponder upon and add to our prep knowledge.
    Hodge, I like the three legged stool image. To prevent being overwhelmed by the what-if’s or burdened down with stuff you won’t have time to use in a crisis situation, keep it simple and pared down to the bare basics…. Thanks to everyone for sharing and filling in some blanks for me. I always learn from your comments.

  2. Here in Alabama FOOD is taxed which of course makes it more expensive for the poor and the WATER is almost all Municipal supplied even in fairly rural areas.( Surface mining ,underground mining and pollution of shallow wells). When it comes down to a collapse scenario life will be tough for many in any place where food and drink are scarce or government controlled.

  3. Dr. Mercola article (8/23/12) on purifying water – extract: “When researchers added lime juice or lime slurry to water that had been contaminated with various types of bacteria and viruses, then exposed it to sunlight, levels of both E. coli and MS2 bacteriophage virus were significantly lower than when compared to solar disinfection alone.2 Kellogg Schwab, PhD, MS, senior author of the study, said:
    “The preliminary results of this study show solar disinfection of water combined with citrus could be effective at greatly reducing E. coli levels in just 30 minutes, a treatment time on par with boiling and other household water treatment methods. In addition, the 30 milliliters of juice per 2 liters of water amounts to about one-half Persian lime per bottle, a quantity that will likely not be prohibitively expensive or create an unpleasant flavor.”
    Noroviruses in the drinking water were not significantly reduced using the lime juice/sunlight technique, so unfortunately it is not a perfect solution”
    Also posting on 8/17/12 Illegal water thread.
    articles. mercola .com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/23/natural-water-filter-system.aspx?e_cid=20120823_DNL_artNew_1

  4. Good stuff David.

  5. For additional reading/research – “The Resilient Gardner” by Carol Deppe and “How to Grow Move Vegetables, (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and other crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine” (2007 ed.) by John Jeavons (hey give the man a break on the title, this is the7th ed. w/ the original from ’74 – now used in 140+ countries w/ maybe 10 languages).

  6. Sue the Frugal Survivalist says:

    Most people underestimate how much food they can grow in their suburban yard. If they have grass and other plants now, there is no reason they can’t grow fruits and vegetables. They have to water the yard anyway, why not eat what you’re paying to water ? Yes, there will be a learning curve, but with the internet, gardening books, and advice from gardening friends and neighbors, growing your own fruits and vegetables is very possible.

    Many years ago, I realized that factory farms would one day control the nation’s agriculture. Corporate executives would then decide how much we would pay for our food. Small farmers would be slowly pushed out of business, and we would have to pay whatever price was set because we had no alternatives. Because of this fear, I decided to grow a year-round garden in my 0.22 of an acre yard. It’s worked beautifully. The yard is lush, and every month we have some fruits and/or vegetables to harvest . Right now it’s peaches, tomatoes, peppers, and grapes. Last week we made enough peach preserves to last this year and gave fresh peaches to everyone we know. My daughter stops by weekly to pick produce to share with co-workers. It’s amazing how much your yard will produce if you give it a chance.

    We don’t have to be under the thumb of corporate farms if we can grow our own food. I’m cheap and I refuse to pay their outrageous prices for fresh fruit in season. Thanks to my home garden, I don’t have to !

    P.S. : The front yard is traditionally landscaped, the back yard is our little Garden of Eden

    • Nancy 97526 says:

      I would love to be able to do what you are doing, but I have a yard that only a pick-ax would dent. I’m 80 and am limited in what I am able to do. Other than this, my heart is in the right place. I don’t know where to go from here.
      Any suggestions would be appreciated

      • Survival Diva says:


        If the cash flow is there, you could hire someone to prepare a gardening area, or if you have family nearby, they might be able to pitch in. Another approach would be to check to see if your area has a gardening group willing to help you start a garden. It’s possible “angels” in the form of a neighbor or a community might surprise you! Do you have a family member who you could stay with who already has a garden?

        This is a perfect example of why we should be thinking of banding together to help one-another! Families who set up for hard times, together, strengthen one-another and are able to share resources, so costs are manageable. This approach also shares the workload, which will be heavy during an ongoing crisis.

        Your age offers wisdom. You have a lot to offer…beginning with convincing family members to combine efforts ( :

  7. The reason that there are (so far) no riots is that the “average Joe” has finally realized that the Government is NOT POWERFULL…. They are increasingly irrelevant because they have NO IDEA what “The People” are focused on. Unless the government is planning on putting some fool right next to me, (holding a gun to me head) I’m NOT working / paying taxes to the CLOWNS in Washington. Let the economy FAIL…. Yes it will be tough on the working class, but when the dollar bills are worth LESS than toilet paper Washington will be Out Of Business. Unable to borrow they will be the clueless and skill-less people begging for whatever they can get. The military will not be fighting American Citizens without getting PAID to do so…. And I think the ability and ingenuity of the American working class will be a HUGE surprise to all the educated MORONS running Washington these days. They are making the same error the British made back in the 1750’s and 60’s….. They are underestimating the PEOPLE. OUR Federal government serves by the CONSENT of the governed. I am withdrawing my consent. They can kill me if they try hard enough, but my name is PATRIOT and like those dandelions I will crop up where they least expect me.
    Those arrogant fools who fail to LEARN from history are doomed to REPEAT it, and as was written during our First Revolution…. “Occaisionally the Tree of Liberty must be refreshed with the blood of tyrants.”. Keep your powder dry & always have a bolt-hole!!

  8. It’s great advice: “grow your own food”, but HOW are the majority of urban dwellers going to do that? Especially without a source of water that won’t fail/can’t be shut off and is affordable? How do we “survive in place”?

    We live in a SFH, with a fairly large-for-city lot; however, the yard isn’t exactly “tillable”. A lot of it is “hardscape”, about half the back yard is a fairly steep hill, and there are large trees creating a lot of shade. The front yard is facing a busy street, with a few local not-so-little hooligans that think it’s fun/cool/clever to destroy plants and whatever else they can reach as they saunter by on their way to the 7-11 and Jack-in-the-Box.

    Alkaline, clay soil, so we have built raised beds where there isn’t too much shade, lots of stuff in pots on the cement areas… drought conditions for the past 10 or so years. They haven’t actually shut the water off (yet), but the last water bill was almost $200 (it’s about $80 in the winter), and that’s just enough watering to keep things from dying, not enough for bountiful crops. No basement nor attic for storage; shed gets too hot (and too many rats) to store anything besides tools and such.

    However– we have it “easy” re: “growing our own”, compared to the majority of urbanites. A lot of city dwellers live in apartments, or in developments with nearly no backyard and with HOA regulations that restrict what is planted in front. They possibly can grow a tomato plant on their balcony or next to a sunny window, but the food produced is a token amount at best. What are THEY to do? And even if gifted with a large amount of produce– where would they put it that is secure and accessible? Not enough freezer space in an apt ref/freezer, not all that much cupboard space, only so much fits under the beds or behind the couch…. It’s unlikely that they could afford the space for a hydroponics set up, even if their rental agreement would allow it… and buying the necessary equipment is likely to get their door kicked down by DEA agents and/or the local “drug lord” looking for something other than salad greens and string beans.

  9. John Flaherty says:

    I will admit to being fairly disappointed with this column. Though this site intends to help people prepare for disasters and accuses the US government of great ineptitude–an accurate charge, sadly–I find that the frame of mind here does not always reflect a thorough understanding of the political situation or morals. I think you’re looking for riots much too quickly.

    Keep in mind, stating that “This will surely cause a riot” most accurately presents a frame of mind that various..um..civil agitators..have proffered. I know very well that Spike Lee, with one of his movies, insisted that various attitudes from white America would surely spawn bloodshed. Oddly, it never happened quite that way.

    No, in spite of the howls about bigotry, hate, and heaven-knows-what that’ve run rampant about the nation, I find that riots due to this or that are USUALLY much less likely PRECISELY because, in spite of the screams from various prominent people, most Americans tend to be exceedingly tolerant of all manner of nonsense.
    Rodney King, OJ, violence after athletic events, all these came about mostly as flash points amongst long standing tensions, general stupidity, a fair proportion of drunken and disorderliness, and general ne’er-do-wells looking for trouble.

    It makes perfect sense that food and gas supplies might cause riots because those directly relate to every person’s life. If you can’t eat, you may starve within two weeks; your belly will complain bitterly long before then. If you have no water, you likely will die within a week; your body will give you all manner of warning signs before then, from headaches to fatigue to no-kidding heat stroke. . If you can’t drive, you may not be able to acquire food or water in enough time to remain living.

    One of the key risks that we’ve inflicted on ourselves has been the tendency to become so interdependent on each other that, as a nation, if ANYTHING goes wrong, entire portions of society may be at serious risk within hours.

    I think it good that we attempt to keep ourselves prepared.
    I think it less good that we assume that preparedness will always make a difference.

    I think this site does a good job of attempting to maintain a balance between the madness of complete dependence on others and the madness of trying to be wholly independent.
    We won’t help ourselves much if we demolish other people in our desperate attempts to maintain society.

  10. Rev..J.M.Chance says:

    Macon Ga. has utilized the “Guns for Toys” program around Christmas for a couple of years. I believe gun confiscation will begin with a “Guns for Food” program. Whoever controls the food, controls the population. My family and neighbors garden and share in the harvesting and canning responsibilities. A co-worker was really surprised to learn Today that grocery stores only have enough food for area residents to last 3 days.
    Thank You Marjorie for sharing this and David for all You have done to teach my family.

    • Rev. Chance is correct. Local grocery stores turn-over and replace the vast majority of their stock 2-3 times a week. Grocery warehouses which supply those local stores have only 30 days stock on hand. Kroeger for example has only 17 warehouses in the whole USA.

      This raises the VULNERABILITY from our Just-In-Time-Delivery model. It’s great for starting and running businesses. As long as EVERYTHING is going smoothly. Even relatively minor interruptions can be a significant problem. Picture a regional/local situation where you have a 2-week labor strike followed by a 2-week blizzard. No EMP, Pandemic, War, hurricane, etc. but a big problem for the affected communities. The topic is riots caused by lack of food, basic needs, etc. Look at the big picture in the USA, 310 MM rats in a cage w/ enough food, water, and goods distributed from widely separated points all over the cage. Interrupt distribution even just for days and what do you have? And maybe 5-7% have done any preparing.

      But I’m independent, prepared, and self-sufficient you say. Okay. Humor me and make a list of everything – and I do mean everything – you use each day for a week. If you turn on a light, you used electricity and some sort of lightbulb. If you used a machine (car, refrig, water heater, pump, latern, etc.), you also used the fuel to power it and parts that keep it running. I don’t expect you to list those parts but where would you get them (junkyard, Detroit, Japan?) and could you install them. If you walked, you used at least shoes, socks, and other things determined by modesty/climate. Alright you made a list (pins, needles, that aspirin tablet, Strawberry Ice Cream, and so forth). Now go down that list and ask where you get – on a continuing basis – each of those items. For each check closest distance that applies: 1) your property/home; 2) w/in 10 miles (if you’re walking/carrying, that’s a lot); 3) w/in 100 miles; and 4) further. Now go through the list again and ask do I, can I MGR (Make, Grow, or Raise)? BTW did you include salt or coffee? Do you have a plan to get things outside of the mythical 100-mile circle – or a substitute?

      “Making The Best Of Basics” by James Talmage Stevens is a big help here. It even allows you to calculate yearly usage per individual (by age category) and gives shelf lifes. BTW theat mass of stuff you consume is a big disadvantage to evacuating or bugging out. How much can you carry/transport? That said you MUST have a Bug-Out Plan. Thus endeth the Rant.

  11. There are many lakes and streams unless you are in the middle of the Mohave desert, but be sure and get a large tank(s) and acquire a filtration system to get all the bugs and critters out. A 1000 gallon tank can last quite a while, you might smell but you’ll be alive. If you have a 10k gallon tank you can use the 1k gallon tank to get water. Thomas Jefferson had three 5k gallon “tanks” on his property back in Virginia and those lasted the entire dry season giving water to all the folks.

  12. rabenfels says:

    the Romans already knew what kept the “folks” happy and in line: Bread and Games. Nobody really went hungry and they had games. They all had bread (Italian bread and pizza dough) and the Gladiator games were the real blood and guts deal. The more violence the happier the folks. Later the Christians were simply slaughtered, burnt or maimed and eaten by wild beasts for the blood and guts entertainment. Still the folks were happy. Any similarity to our present times? Sport is the number 1 entertainment and then there is reality TV and the “bloody” movies with gory details shown. All made to de-sensitize the people. Foodstamps and government help is at an all time high which equates to the bread situation in the old Roman days. Let it be said again: History repeats itself – we just have to learn our lessons but “… when will they (we) ever learn – when will they (we) ever learn.”

  13. David.
    I would like you to address ” finding local sources of water”.
    If the municipal supply of waters get’s cut off and you need to survive in place, where should we look in your local area for free flowing water to capture.

    Thanks Don.

    • I would start with roof catchment. Gutters, downspouts, and a cistern or other storage capacity to hold your water. If you live in Seattle, WA you have it made. If you live in Ridgecrest, CA you have a bit of a problem but everyone gets some rain. I have lived and worked on roof catchment systems for over fifty years and they are pretty simple.

  14. Patriot Dave says:

    This does not explain the riots after OJ trial. Rodney King, or all the riots in the U.S. and Canada after championship wins. Then there are the riots at soccer games in several countries. OWS are greedy spoiled rotten kids whose idea of “I’m Starving” is when they have wait to eat lunch an hour late. In contrast, in Japan, there were no riots, even after the grocery stores were bare.
    The answer is only partially correct. One of several – many factors that can lead to riots. It may be a major factor. but not the sole one. People in mobs act differently than they would if alone. I.e. Black Friday free for alls.

    • David Morris says:

      Hey Dave. Good points, but to a large extent, it’s a matter of defining your terms. The “riots” after the OJ trial, Rodney King, or championship wins are minor league, at most, riots. Black Friday “riots” are an even lower level of riots…both in intensity and in size. The word, “riot” is used in all 3 cases, but the meaning and scope is incredibly different. The riots that Marjorie is talking about are the regime changing riots that we’ve been seeing in the Middle East and in countries around the globe where the death counts are as high or higher per day than the daily death counts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      • Dave, please keep hammering away on this point. Ignorance on this level makes one a real danger.
        If you don’t know how, learn it, well enough to teach another. If you know, share it with someone who wants to learn. When we find that person who wants to learn, we expand our own knowledge.
        By any stretch of the imagination, needs and wants are not the same, are they?

  15. While all of this is true. You can’t ignore the criminal opportunist who will exploit any perceived wrong in order to riot and loot. Just look at the Rodney King riots. They looted, killed and burned their own. And Katrina was simply the non existance of law and order.

  16. Doug Kasel says:

    Growing your own food is a great concept. However, you first need to think of a way of protecting what you are growing. Hungry people will think nothing of going into your garden and taking what they want. Food storage is the same thing. Desperate will find a way to take what you have if the conditions are desperate enough. So learn to keep your mouth shut as you are making your preparations.

    • Priority One – water, food (preferably including production of), and security. Like a three-legged stool you have some bare bones stability. W/out all three, Bad Things.

Speak Your Mind