Thursday, June 8, 2023

The food shortages continue...


I'm no longer posting as much about food shortages and other major dangers facing us, partly because many people have simply "tuned out" the subject and don't want to hear any more about it, partly because those who recognize the danger have already at least started to do something to prepare for it.  Nevertheless, it's worth repeating the warning that it's getting worse.

I placed an order with our local butcher last week for a large quantity of brats, made with a South African seasoning recipe.  (His rates for a special order like that are very reasonable, less than two-thirds of his normal retail price.)  This is a butcher with local access to meat, and an extensive operation:  yet, a week after my order, it still isn't complete, because he can't get the right mix of meat in stock to grind it all up and make the brats.  That's partly due to private individuals, like my wife and I, placing orders with his supplier for a quarter, or half, or full cow;  but it's also due to local farmers and ranchers having reduced their herds so sharply over the past year (thanks to drought, and feed and fertilizer costs) that the local slaughterhouse can't get enough meat to handle the demand for it.  That's the first time I've known them to be low on stocks.  It probably won't be the last.  This summer is likely to see much higher prices for beef than before, and pork and other meats are following right along behind them.

Locally sourced vegetables are also in short supply.  That's partly because fertilizer costs are up, and labor costs too;  many people simply don't want the hard physical work involved in raising, harvesting and selling fruit and vegetables.  As a result of these pressures, prices are going up.  We've joined a "community supported agriculture" (CSA) operation, and are paying $20 per week for a mixed box of vegetables and fruit.  I had thought that was a relatively expensive option, but looking at regular vegetable prices in local supermarkets, it no longer appears unreasonable at all.  Most of the latter appear to be sourced from big commercial operations far away, ripened in warehouses and trucked all over the country.  Their quality often leaves something to be desired.

These issues are confirming, yet again, the wisdom of being as prepared as possible for food shortages, whether short- or long-term.  If one can do without the latest, greatest, freshest food, canned or frozen food is a perfectly viable alternative, and may be the only source of supply for some staples.  Other basic needs may also run short, as we've seen all too often over the past couple of years, and deserve attention in our emergency preparations.

As Commander Zero pointed out yesterday, "you can’t control what happens, you can only control your response to what happens".  Go read his words of wisdom.  They're worth your time.



lynn said...

The real shortages are not here yet. Paying $20 for single cabbage will get your eyes opened as in 2029 in the "The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047" book at the beginning of the Great Great Depression.

Dadgumit, somebody moved my top review of the book down to the second review.

Old NFO said...

Yep, preplanning is smart... sigh

Dan said...

Starvation is the easiest and safest method for the criminals in power to cull the herd without risking their own necks. Expect the lack of food to become a major issue in the very near future. What worked for Stalin and Mao is perfectly acceptable to the commies currently in control.

Michael said...

How does the python kill the mighty prey?

One small squeeze at a time, never letting up.

How do you take a well-armed population and reduce them into a divided and mostly suppressed people?

One small squeeze at a time, pause to make them THINK it's getting better (HA!) and never let up.

How do you reduce a once prosperous nation self sufficient in foods and fuels?


How do you create a Holodomor (LOOK IT UP) SEE ABOVE.

Pray for wisdom and ACT ON IT.

wolfwalker said...

"I'm no longer posting as much about food shortages and other major dangers facing us, partly because many people have simply "tuned out" the subject and don't want to hear any more about it, partly because those who recognize the danger have already at least started to do something to prepare for it."

You left out a third group: those who want to do something to prepare, but don't have any money to buy these "emergency supplies" or anywhere to store them.

Aesop said...

Local markets are mostly sold out of canned beef (other than corned) to put by for later, and what there is found is up in price 50% over a year ago, for the pitifully few places that have got any.

It's also getting tough to find larger quantity bags of rice, beans, pasta, etc. Smaller ones, yes, mostly. Larger ones, even at Costco, etc., not so much.

And from the few suppliers I've surveyed, things like #10 cans of Moutain House anything are priced somewhere between Recockulous and OMG.

Things are going to get tighter, and people will start to notice the squeeze more and more.

nick flandrey said...

You left out a third group: those who want to do something to prepare, but don't have any money to buy these "emergency supplies" or anywhere to store them.

-- you don't need to spend the money all at once, although it would have been better to start some time ago, you can still start.

The easiest thing to do is just buy more of the things that you normally buy before you use up the last purchase. Or if you don't normally buy food that can be stored, add a couple of items every time you shop.

Most canned veg or beans cost about $1 to $2 per can. 32 cans will fit in one milk crate. 25 to 30 pounds of rice will fit in a 5 gallon bucket. That is a month of 2 cup servings, and a month of veg or beans for $55. Canned meat is expensive per unit, so buy onsale and freeze more than you eat of fresh meat. Chicken is still available for $1 per pound on sale. Pork loin goes on sale for $2 to $3 per pound.

You have room to store a bucket and a milk crate to be sure you can eat at least one meal a day for a month. Build off that start.

I have more than this but I also have six months worth of food in six buckets and 12 milk crates.

Put the milk crates under a bed. Stack the buckets in the back of the closet 2 x 3. Six months of food disappears into your house.

Pull one bucket and two crates (one veg or beans, one with meat or other protein) every month, eat it, replace it before the end of the month.

Build off of that. Or end up wishing you had.


Anonymous said...

Inventory is expensive. Then it can be much more expensive. Where the subject is food stores, it can be catastrophic.

Smaller units are often better than larger units. Smaller units may store more tighlty, minimizing empty space between units. Spoilage is minimized.

(Where a source has only smaller units for sale, by buying large quantities I have sometimes been able to negotiate significant savings. The threat of walking away empty handed can be a positive negotiation tactic.
I've had success in this at Safeway and WalMart and numerous independant stores.
Yes, these are all retail operations. But knowing how retail works can result in better pricing than wholesale ops.
Retail is formulaic. But there is a lot of arbitrary decision in retail pricing.)

Containerized storage is best. I buy staples in bulk. Then partial that to multiple smaller containers of same dimenions.

Spoilage has always been my highest concern. Inclement weather, swings of ambient temps outside of min/max allowable, container damage/failure is major cause of spoilage. Pests and vermin are much lower concern.


And then there are those - like myself - who have worked assiduously for years trying to gather, and prep, and store not just food but all sorts of other things for when SHTF, and their partner thinks they're insane and undermines them.

My wife (HT @Michael) had her ancestors live through the Kazakh version of the Holodomor*. She, herself, lived through the breakup of the USSR and by her own account there were stretches of time where they didn't know where their next meal was coming from.

And she thinks that I'm insane for wanting to have any kind of food beyond week-to-week need. I think it's denial.

* See the book "The Hungry Steppe"

Anonymous said...

An extra bag of beans when shopping is a minimal expense, maybe $5?
A bag of rice the same.
They keep well with a little extra effort.
A 5 gallon bucket with a sealing lid works for storage and can just sit in a corner.
After a month or so, the bucket is full and can keep you alive with protein and carbs for a good while.
Don't forget to throw a box of salt in .

RCPete said...

I live in Occupied East Oregon where we try to survive the malicious idiots in Salem and Portland. One benefit is that without sales tax, restaurant supply stores are open to the public. (Places like Food4Less that cater to large, sort-of poor families are worth checking, too). I can get 50 pound bags of rice (about $30 right now) and 50 pounds of pinto beans (about $35).

Some of this we donate to the shelter run by the Gospel Mission for both residential and drop-in meals. It takes a bit of load off the local food bank...

For what we keep, we store various ingredients in 5 gallon buckets. Home Desperate used to sell food-grade buckets, but those went away in the great supply chain FUBAR. The restaurant supply has bulk storage buckets in various sizes; we prefer 5 gallons.

Things like white rice keep a long time sealed in buckets. We have to get some exotic flours because both of us can't deal with wheat flour, and most of these will work in a 5 gallon storage container.

Watch out for expiration dates. Things like brown rice won't last as long as the white rice, and bugs can be an issue. If you can, freeze a bag of brown rice for a few days to kill off the weevil eggs. Hasn't been a problem lately, but it caught us once or twice.

James said...

With the right machine, food can be vacuum sealed in Mylar. Sams and Walmart have canned beef for reasonable and the buck and a quarter tree around here and Adli have decent amounts of cheap canned fish. I have been buying cheap hamburger and pork sausage (Jimmy Dean's 3 for 5), cooking them, crumbling them and dehydrating them. Keeps for years sealed in Mylar. Local butcher shop has bulk meat available, still fairly cheap but prices are rising. I have had my staples put away in long term storage for a while. Meat availability is only going to get worse as the winter wheat crop is projected to be short and the 34% of the corn crop is currently in drought. No animal feed equals no animals.
A recent power outage had me rethinking the tool situation, most of my tools are corded so I have been buying cordless ones the last week or so, I can always use the inverter hooked to a battery source of the car to charge the batteries. Adapters are available from Amazon to substitute various brands of lithium tool batteries among various brands of tools. Not a fan of small gas engines and gas storage is a problem for me here.

Anonymous said...

I second the restaurant supply store. They have things in bulk, cheaper than Sams (mostly). 50 lb bags of rice or beans have a surprising amount of calories.
Some time ago we bit the bullet and bought a Harvest Right freeze dryer. At the time a #10 can of hamburger was running over $100 online. The one we bought could make three #10 cans of hamburger in a single run (about a day). We’ve also FD’d eggs, you can get them to powder down and fit 100 egg equivalents in a 1 gallon Mylar bag. And then they keep for decades.
Not everyone can afford them but it have been very useful to us. If you go that route, get the large or extra large. We got large and it has worked out perfectly.


As learned from bitter experience, freeze everything first for at least 48 hours. I had an infestation of meal moths that infested hundreds of pounds of rice before I really even knew it.

Tom Bridgeland said...

50# bags of corn still $12 at your local farm supply store.
Planted 2500 square feet of garden this year, mostly staple foods.