I tell you, folks, the food supply situation is starting to get seriously scary. Just in the past few weeks, we've seen the initial impact of the removal of Russian and Ukrainian wheat and other crops from the world food market. It's already having a drastic effect on the Middle East and North Africa, and beginning to impact nations in the Indian and Pacific Ocean areas as well. A few recent headlines:
- How war in Ukraine is affecting food supply in Africa and the Middle East
- The Threat Of A Global Food Crisis Is Growing
- The Middle East's Food Crisis Spells Disaster
- Canada planning for global food emergency, as Ukraine attack risks wheat supply
- Cucumber crisis: surging energy prices leave British glasshouses empty
- UK experts forecast food security crisis, British govt likely to raise food prices
- Korea: The Brown Fields Of Doom
- East Africa faces worst hunger crisis in decades
- The Geopolitics of Food
All of those issues are going to affect the USA as well, partly because so many countries rely on food exports from America to feed themselves (and will find it difficult to get and/or afford them in the face of increased competition from other hungry nations to buy what's available); and partly because the ongoing drought, fuel costs and supply chain issues complicate the production and distribution of food by and from American farmers. If we're short of food, we won't be exporting as much. Q.E.D.
I'm already seeing this affecting our family directly in many ways. Any one of them might be just a small inconvenience, but put them all together and they add up fast. Here are a few examples from the past couple of weeks:
- On Friday I went to Sams Club to shop for a few items. I often pick up a rotisserie chicken there, but that day there were none to be had, and a notice on the rack that normally holds them advised that there were no chickens available. The manager of the butchery could not tell me when he'd be able to get them again. That particular Sams club used to sell hundreds every day - but not any more, it seems, at least for now.
- There have been few to no genuine Nabisco Saltine crackers to be had in any local supermarket for almost a month now, and longer for some. There are some store brands available, but not as nice as the original. The same goes for many brand-name products; one often has to settle for what's available, rather than one's preferred brand or manufacturer. I'd say that's happening every week with up to a third of the products I routinely buy. I either have to wait for them to be re-stocked, or buy an alternative item, or order by mail from a vendor that has them (usually at a significantly higher price than I'd pay locally).
- A premium brand of drip-filter coffee enjoyed by Miss D. and myself has gone up from $12.99 per pound, to $16.99, to $19.99, in only eight months. We've just learned it'll rise to $22.99 this month, meaning a price increase of 77% in less than a year. The way coffee prices are going, it's likely to go up even more soon. I guess that's one item that's now off our shopping list.
- I keep a number of cans of Augason Farms freeze-dried vegetables in our emergency reserves, to have on hand in case we can't get fresh or frozen or canned vegetables. I wanted to add a couple more, so I went online to shop for them yesterday. If you remember, on October 7 last year, Augason announced they were shutting down for 90 days due to "supply line disruption". It's been a lot longer than 90 days since then, and they're apparently producing goods once more, but they still haven't reopened their own Web store. Instead, they're supplying only a few resellers; and the bigger stores such as Walmart or Sams Club, from whom I used to buy their products, no longer have much in stock at all. That sounds to me as if Augason can't get enough raw materials to produce their usual quantities, so they're rationing their output to distributors. Furthermore, the prices asked for their products by some online resellers have doubled or tripled in price since the last time I bought them. #10 cans for which I would have expected to pay $15-$20 are now available only at $39-$69 apiece from a few online vendors. Guess what I won't be buying?
Michael Yon, a very experienced international correspondent and military SF veteran who knows what he's talking about, continues to talk about the triple threat of PANFAWAR (Pandemic, Famine and War). On Friday he put up an article titled "Spain Rationing", and on Sunday one titled "Please keep buying a LOT of food. Prices will explode even more." In the latter, he warned grimly: "Many people around the world will starve to death during coming years. Prices will explode. If you are able, plant a garden. Get on it now. Listen to me. Just do it." He goes so far as to predict "massive global rioting before Halloween". Like me, he's seen food shortages (and actual famines) in different parts of the world: and, like me, he's paying attention to what's going on, and he's seriously worried at what lies ahead for all of us. Listen carefully to his warnings.
I've noted in the past that I try to keep a "deep pantry" of two to three months' normal food consumption, meaning we could continue to eat without major difficulties for that long. I also keep an extra couple of months' worth of rice, beans and other staples, so that even if a normal diet was no longer possible, we could at least survive until food was once more available. The way things are going, I'm in the process of putting even more into our food reserves; not a lot (we don't have enough money for that, and besides, we've nowhere to store it) but enough to take our long-term emergency reserve (the rice-and-beans variety) out to six months, plus some flavorings, seasonings, etc. to make it more palatable. I hope and pray we never need it - but the way things are going, that's no longer a remote possibility.
The American blogger at Come And Make It, who lives in the Philippines, is doing his own due diligence, and preparing accordingly. Here's part of his "apocalypse famine pantry". Click the image for a larger view.
In his article, he notes:
It is a heavy burden to know these things are coming. On the other hand the burden is less as my personal lifeboat/spaceship is being stocked up.
I really hope y'all out there are taking care of you and yours. As the long time readers have seen, this has not happened overnight, nor with huge amounts of money.
As time goes on it will cost a lot more money to get to the same level compared to have started earlier.
Friends, please take this seriously. All the warning flags are flying, and the food skies are turning dark and threatening - but far too many Americans are carrying on blithely, either unconscious of the danger or ignoring it. We're going to feel the pinch, just as the rest of the world will feel it. We may be somewhat protected from it by living in a major food producing nation, but the drought we're currently experiencing will greatly reduce crop yields this year. Over and above Mother Nature, our economic problems may make food not only scarce, but unaffordable for many. That may lead to greater government controls as it tries to get food to the populations most affected by shortages (a.k.a. inner-city residents and "disadvantaged minorities"). If so, that in turn will lead to the rest of us experiencing even greater shortages. Anytime the bureaucrats get involved, things get complicated, fast - as Ronald Reagan warned us:
Time is growing very short to brace for impact.
A prepper writing at "Living Life in Rural Iowa" advises:
Home is your place. Your place of calm. Your place of refuge. Your place of sanity in an insane world.
Home is the one place you can control.
. . .
Now, more than ever, you should be concentrating your prepping efforts on what you can do at home. Your home should be your castle in essence. You should be able to keep it stocked, defended, and ready for whatever battle is coming your way. You should know what needs to be done and be willing to do it even in times of difficulty. You should have plans ready for any emergency. You should be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Does that seem overwhelming? Maybe it is, but that is what the world is coming to now. You can’t control what is happening in the world. Your voice is one of many screaming, but those in power aren’t listening. You can be online all day, every day, posting about what the government needs to do, but what you are doing?
That’s right. I said it. What are you doing? What are you doing at home to be prepared?
Do you have a cash fund at home if your bank accounts are frozen?
Do you have a month’s worth of food or more if you aren’t able to purchase groceries?
Do you have extra water stored if the power goes out for an extended period of time?
Do you have the means to defend yourself and your home?
Do you have a way to heat your home if the power goes out?
Do you have extra gas on hand for your generator and your vehicle?
Do you have a plan to become more self-sufficient and are actively executing that plan?
You may not be able to answer all these questions. You may think I am overexaggerating and being all dramatic. Whatever. I don’t care because I am more concerned about what I am doing in my home to be prepared. I want everyone to be prepared at home. Not at their bugout location or their cabin, but at home. The place where you lay your head every night. That place.
If you already have those areas covered, good for you. However, how can you improve them? How can you do better?
. . .
Concentrate your efforts at home to be sure you are prepared for whatever may come.
EDITED TO ADD: As if to reinforce her point, this meme just popped up on MeWe.
She asks very good questions. Each of us should answer them honestly to ourselves - and then start doing something about them. Admittedly, most of us don't have time or resources to do much. Nevertheless, even if we've ignored or neglected this before, let's start now, and stop procrastinating. As Theodore Roosevelt famously said:
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Every day we try, we'll get a little more done, and be just that little bit more prepared for the hard times that are undoubtedly almost upon us.