Saskatoon senior amassed $20K in doomsday prep food before her death

A friend of a Saskatoon woman who died in late April is attempting to sell off the $20,000 worth of vacuum-sealed bags full of survival food she accumulated in recent years.

'There's so much of it,' says the executor of Iris Sparrow's estate

The late Iris Sparrow, left, collected a vast supply of freeze-dried goods over the last two years, according to her friend and the executor of her estate, Audrey Wilde. (Audrey Wilde/Guy Quenneville/CBC)

"I have tried the potato soup and it's very good," said Audrey Wilde as she gave a tour Thursday of her late friend Iris Sparrow's generous supply of freeze-dried foods.

Sparrow, 79, died in late April just two days shy of her 80th birthday.

When Wilde, the executor of Sparrow's estate, began cleaning out the basement of Sparrow's small Saskatoon bungalow in preparation for a garage sale, she came upon a curious cache: a room "stacked with this survival food," said Wilde.

'We need scissors to open it,' said Wilde of the vacuum-sealed packets. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Whole eggs, rice, beans, lentil burgers, pasta, cheesy broccoli, strawberries, vanilla pudding — all in vacuum-sealed bags densely packed inside about 50 pails now scattered in piles. And it's for sale.

"Two-hundred servings in a pail and each package serves five people," said Wilde. "There's so much of it."

'There's so much of it,' said Wilde. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Wilde said Sparrow began ordering the food two years ago — the sort of food promoted and sold by companies that tout the need to prepare against a doomsday scenario.

"She was very ill so I don't know why she would have bought it, but I think she would pay several thousand for each pallet and then they'd send her a small donation she could use on her income tax. So I believe she thought she was helping people."

Sparrow died in late April, just a couple days shy of her 80th birthday. (Audrey Wilde)

"She was a very, very kind lady," Wilde added of her friend of 35 years. "She donated to anyone, any organization that would ask her."

Wilde says she doesn't subscribe to end-time beliefs, but some of the people who have bought the food so far do.

 "It's food that they don't particularly care for but they feel they can use it to barter when the end of the world comes."

Wilde is trying to get rid of the food now that Sparrow's home has sold. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

All the foods require is some boiled water. But what if the world's water supply should falter?

"[Sparrow] had equipment where you could take water from a slough or a lake and purify it," Wilde said. "She also had several boxes of electric blankets and kettles you could plug into your car cigarette device and you could cook from your car."

Deep discounts

Sparrow's supply was valued at about $20,000. Using Facebook, Wilde and her daughter Lorelle have sold off about $4,000 of it so far.

Lorelle feels Sparrow was taken advantage of.

"Totally, totally. Shame on them," she said of promoters of doomsday-themed food.

With Sparrow's home now sold, the Wildes are now severely discounting the rest of the food.

"We're down to 15 percent of the original cost," said Wilde. "So we're almost giving it away."

Wilde is now offering the foods at steep discounts. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

All-platform journalist for CBC Saskatoon

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With files from CBC's Ashleigh Mattern


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