Monday, April 4, 2022

Food, food, food - or the lack thereof...


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:

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.

There's more at the link.  He's also developing a famine garden, and is home-canning pork and chicken.  Sounds like he's off to a good start.

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.

That gets it said.

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.




Fredrick said...

I wonder what crops America's great farmland owner, Bill Gates, is planting in order to help out his fellow citizens.

Michael Downing said...

For years people in the liberty/prepper community have repeated: local, local, local and it doesn't get any more local than home. If you haven't started prepping by now it will be a lot more expensive to start now, but get started.

I was stopped by the local Aldi's, Walmart and Food Lion last week and there was no boneless, skinless chicken breast to be had. That is one item along with lean center cut pork loin that we always buy when it is on sale and then break down and vacuum seal meal sized portions for the freezers. The stores had plenty of thighs and drums but no boneless breasts and the few bone in breasts they did have were $4.29 per pound. Seems to me that every chicken has two drums, two thighs and two breasts so if there are plenty of drums and thighs what happened tot eh breasts? Boneless chicken breasts could up until a few weeks ago could be had on slae at one of the three stores for between $1.70 & $1.99. And our county has a very large Tyson chicken processing plant in it. Go figure...

Take Peter's advice and stock up what you can. try to stock up on what you normally would eat if at all possible so if things do not go completely sideways it will not be wasted. Remember FIFO (first in, first out) and rotate your supplies. If you have not had a garden before do it this year while time allows. Freeze what you harvest and do not use and get canning jars and supplies. Back during the Great Depression the majority of the US population was still mostly rural and people knew basic "life"skills and
lived by them. Today the opposite is true and that does not bode well for the general population.

When we were looking for a place to relocate to in the mountains of North Carolina years ago we were talking to one realtor we worked with who had a reputation for working with preppers and asked about how well prepared folks were in the local area. Her reply was that most folks in that area didn't talk about or think about prepping. It was just a way of life and had been for generations.

Do what you can now. It is going to get a lot worse and a lot more expensive to stock up in the future.

Rick said...

That's a fine orderly looking pantry shelf shown. But the foodstuff shouldn't be exposed to light like that, especially when in transparent jars.

I foresee a lot of food going to waste because more people laying in more stores, but many not known proper food storage.

This will be the start of the zombie apocalypse as those who ran out of food eat the spoiled, now diseased, food.
(not entirely sarcastic)

Eric Wilner said...

Yeah. I laid in a goodly supply of fertilizer, and have the option to expand the Victory Garden beyond recognition. Looking at adding some chickens - if nothing else, they convert scraps and easily-grown feed to eggs and fertilizer. I don't think we want to branch out into cows (much fencing needed, big critters, big investment per critter, lots of work, need a really big freezer - also, it seems that raising cattle has somehow become unprofitable).
Someday soon, I need to break out the vacuum sealer and get busy bagging grains and legumes in pound-ish units all safe from bugs and oxidation.
And, gotta look into food dehydrators. The freezer will only hold so much, and the growing season is limited.
We're seeing some shortages here, in both food and farm supplies, but things haven't fallen apart... yet. The biggest shortage seems to be labor.

Living Life in Rural Iowa said...

Thank you for sharing my article, friend! I appreciate it!

Michael Downing said...

We are looking at adding a couple Nubian goats in addition to our 14 Golden Comet hens and 12 Black Australorp hens and two roosters. In a past life when we lived in MI we had a herd of close to 30 dairy goats. Used the milk as well as made cheese, yogurt and ice cream. Nubians" milk is very high in cream content and raw milk despite what the must pasteurize crowd says is not harmful. Of course to freshen your does you at least need access to a buck. Besides milk goat meat is also an option. Goats require much less pasture than cattle as well. If you live in a rural area goats are a better option than cattle/dairy cows.

James said...

I farmed in Michigan for about 20 years and raised some of the top producing goats in the country, we had them on test. The better the genetics of the buck you use, the better the milk production of the bred doe, odd but true. Nubians produce the richest milk, but generally produce the least volume and have the shortest milking season.
I bought another small freezer last week and am filling it up with frozen vegetables and meat. The local Meijers has spiral sliced ham for $.89 cents/lb this week and I am in the process of getting several, one to a customer per trip. Went to Sams Friday and found 0 chicken thighs, the only chicken part I like. There were also some spice items out of stock.Turns out Kroger had the thighs for $.99/lb in the family size package, vacuumed sealed a bunch for the freezer.
There is a local salvage grocery chain that I have used for stocking up before but now they don't get much in and it is priced almost as much as the standard items. Oh well, lots of canned and frozen stuff from there resides in my m basement.
Zero hedge is reporting that German food stores are introducing 20 to 50 percent food price increases as of today. Aldi, a world wide German based chain, has been a constant in my accumulation of preps. Lately they have been experiencing spot outages of various foods, especially some of the canned meat. I checked them out yesterday and their prices on most things seemed to have caught a rocket.
I carried on conversations with the clerks at some of the stores I went to yesterday, and they are experiencing a lot of hostility over food prices already. This can only get worse and it may be a food idea to shop off peak hours.
As Peter has said, most people in this country have no idea how bad it will get when the citizenry gets desperate. I was talking to a friend of mine last week and is worried about the fate of the working poor. I told him that most of what passes for the middle class lives paycheck to paycheck and can't stand what is starting now. I have put away, beans, rice, and pasta, though I can't eat it for the hungry people I know are coming, but how many of the current population would know how to cook such things?
I wish I had bought a home freeze dryer set up a couple of three years ago. I don't think I would get one now as my ground isn't good for gardening, and the price of the raw materials will rise out of sight before any possible payback.
One last thing, around here, the price of beef has come down. I rained on someone's parade who was pleased with this. I explained as an old farmer when the cost of production gets too high, you sell the stock you would have used for breeding, thus driving down the price, temporarily.

Old NFO said...

Yep, things are getting tight. And local is right. Thankfully we have a couple of good local sources for meat.

Jonathan H said...

Don't forget that bird flu is sweeping through flocks around the world and millions of birds are being culled attempting to stop it.
I'd be interested in learning more about the extent of the problem; has anybody else read about it?

Howard Brewi said...

I live in very rural Alaska and have gardened since we bought this property, and since we live at the far end of the supply chain we have always kept a little ahead. But from what I have seen in the way food shortage news has been presented, the powerful want to add starvation to abortion, child killing (Maryland proposed law tto decriminalize a mother killing a baby to 28 days by neglect or whatever), promotion of LGBTQ to reduce the birth rate, etc and war, rioting and other methods to the pate horse. Many have said outright that they want to reduce world population. It’s up to you to take care or your families and your neighbors. Community is the answer to survival in bad times because one family can’t do it all, especially in protecting against roving groups who prepped by laying ammo with the idea of taking what others have. ALSO PAY ATTENTION TO OPSEC!

ruralcounsel said...

Looking at that shelving unit with all the beautiful glass jars ... one hard shake and all of that will be in a sloppy pile on the floor filled with shards of broken glass.

Not to mention the light exposure, that someone else mentioned.

Not how I would store food for emergency use.

Hamsterman said...

Michael, I think they sent the boneless skinless chicken thighs to you and sent me the boneless skinless breasts.

I'm fortunate in that none of the major disruptions have hit my area (yet) but that just means that I am able to maintain my stocks rather than deplete them when an item disappears off the shelf. Although, what's up with crackers (which store a lot better than bread...)?

Michael Downing said...

James we kept 5-6 Sanaan does in our herd for volume producers and one of those, Hildebran, was the largest goat I have ever seen and she was a super producer. To bring in new blood for our herd we flew a buck in from Oregon from champion blood lines. Our farm was called Windy Hollow. The kids showed 4-H and one daughter showed at ADGA shows. There was a good market for goats with good blood lines.

Hamsterman I can go for a few months off the inventory of boneless skinless breasts we vacuum sealed and put away in the freezers but it would be nice to be bale to replace inventory at a reasonable price. That may not happen any time soon.

Michael Downing said...

I am afraid the poultry situation will only get worse and hope we escape its effects here in our little valley in the mountains. From what I read:

"The new cases mean that across the nation, farmers have had to kill about 22 million egg-laying chickens, 1.8 million broiler chickens, 1.9 million pullet and other commercial chickens, and 1.9 million turkeys. Iowa accounts for many of those cases, with operations having to kill more than 18 million chickens and 305,000 turkeys since the outbreaks began a month ago."

As for bread and crackers if you had a couple hundred pounds of flour and such sealed away for long term storage you can make both. Hardtack is simply flour, water and salt and stores for a long time. It is indeed hard but typically gets soaked in soup or stew.

Nick Flandrey said...

Guys, wrt the open shelves that Come and Make It posted, if you read him, or even read the link Peter provided, you'd have seen this- "The doors will have a very secure latch to hold closed in case earthquake. It is all used pallet and packing crate lumber to save on costs. "

His blog is well worth the short time it takes to read because A) the hurt that's coming to the world is starting already in places like Manilla, and the rest of the aspiring third world, and B)he's actually doing the work and getting ready, under very austere conditions, and there are lessons to be learned there, rather than making the mistakes here.

WRT not having the time or resources to prep, or to prep much I think that idea is a disservice to oneself and others. It's very common online and irl to think that prepping is too expensive, or that it fills your space with cr@p you hope you'll never use. Both of those things CAN be true, but are not necessarily true.

Building a pantry to supplement whatever is available is cheap. Rice and flour are still inexpensive (although prices have gone up already). Salt is practically free. Cooking oil (which even if you don't use much now is an item you should stock) is probably the most expensive basic item. Rice and flour are available here for between $0.50 and $1 per pound. 5 gallon food safe buckets are still available at Lowes for $6 with lids. 20# rice, 20# flour, 5# salt, and the buckets to store them in cost $100 worst case, and you are likely to be able to include 2-4 liters of peanut oil as well.

As poor people all over the world can attest, you can live on rice, with anything added to it, or some form of flat bread like tortilla and whatever is available. You're not baking artisanal bread, you are making johnny cakes, hoe cakes, tortilla, naan, or pita bread using as little fuel as possible. Flour, water, salt, and oil. And a couple of those ingredients are optional...

Canned veg is still $1/can or less at my local grocery. 30 cans peas, 30 cans corn, 30 cans carrots, 10 cans beans. Another $100, another 3 months of dinners mixed into rice.

Expand as money permits.

Two 5 gallon buckets, and the 3 flats of cans fit in the bottom of a coat closet. You have space.

For $500 you have 6 MONTHS of supplemental food for a family of 4 and it fits in a space 2ft x 2 ft x 6 ft.

Cambells soup is ~$1 can. Add it to a half cup of rice. Gravy packets are <$1 each and added to a couple of cups of rice will make a tasty dinner.

YES, add canned meat. Then you have something to add to the rice or eat with your bread when there is nothing at all in the store. Canned chicken is the most versatile, imo, but I stock ham, spam, hot dogs, beef, shredded pork, and even some tuna for variety.

If you recoil from the idea of a meal composed of rice, with a can of chicken and a can of peas and carrots added to it, you've got first world problems and are not seeing what's coming.

We will NOT be able to continue as we have been. The changes are already happening. You can meet your fate head on, with preps, or you can be F'd over by the world and become a beggar or refugee.


(there are still bargains in the stores. My local grocery is blowing out USDA PRIME sirloin steak for between $5.99 and $7.99 depending on how it's packaged and trimmed. I bought as much as I could and vac sealed it for the freezer. This isn't a one time deal either, they do it about once a month. I'm sure there are other deals in other places, but you won't know about them unless you are out looking.)

Nick Flandrey said...

As a supplement to my comment, your attitude should not be that you are prepping to continue your current life and lifestyle. That would take double the resources you are spending now. You are prepping to SURVIVE the bad times ahead and get THROUGH it to better times later. Think 1933 to 1943.

You don't need a stocked bunker in a decommed missile silo, you need a stack of five gallon buckets with paint spills all over the outsides stacked in the corner of your garage....


Amahl_Shukup said...

Planting? What if his agenda is to NOT grow anything in his desire to reduce the population?