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SNAP Card Gourmet: Soup Ammendation

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Published on The Doomstead Diner January 1, 2017

Miso Soup- No Ammedation                     Miso Soup- With Ammendation

Miso-1  Miso-2

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In my last Snap Card Gourmet article, I wrote about Pizza Ammendation, which is the technique of taking a fresh commercially produced Pizza available at the Deli Counters of most major food emporiums, and then adding to it various extra ingredients of your choice to make your own custom pizza, practically as good as the great pizza you remember from the small family owned Italian Pizzerias that were sprinkled around NY Shity in the 1960s & 70s.  My particular favorite from my youth is the Mushroom Pizza, but I have been experimenting with some more exotic ingredients like Hearts of Palm and Smoked Salmon.

Even including the exotic ingredients, the price of a freshly baked Take n' Bake Pizza meal comes in extremely cheap.  For the Pizza, I buy the "medium" size 8" Pizza which comes in at Walmart at $6.  I divide that into 1/4s which I each bake separately for a Pizza meal, so the basic cost is $1.50.  Additional ingredients can cost as much as $1, for expensive stuff like Hearts of Palm.  1 Can of those, usually imported from Brazil generally goes for around $5, but I get usually at least 5 if not 6 pizza meals out of one can, so slightly less than a dollar there.  So for $2.50 or less, I come in with a scrumptious freshly baked pizza slice, which along with some sausage and eggs for breakfast is usually plenty for me to eat in a day.  I stay well under my SNAP Card budget of $5 for the day. For the person still with their own roof and fully equipped kitchen, this is excellent, cheap and quickly prepared food.  It has a big problem though as far as a Homeless person is concerned, which is that you need some form of conventional oven (not microwave) to bake it in.  At least a Toaster Oven for this, but they are electric and homeless people don't usually have accss to electricity, nor can they be toting around a toaster oven even if they can pirate electricity somewhere.  Homeless cooking is generally confined either to small camping stoves with a single burner, or to open pit or trash can fires with a cooking grate over it.

If you are just working with a single burner, you are generally limited to two types of cooking, Boiling or Pan Frying/Sauteeing.  The two main foods of the homeless as a result are cans of soup or vegetables which can be boiled, or eggs and bacon or sausage which can be pan fried.  Rice also can be boiled or steamed, Potatoes boiled and chopped up with an onion for home fries in the pan.  A big combined scramble or omellete also possible to do in one pan, although given I have more burners I don't usually do that.  This is really all the cooking a homeless person needs to do, otherwise you mostly eat prepared foods at fast food joints or if you are the more healthy type of homeless person, fruits, nuts and vegetables which can be consumed raw with no cooking at all.

For today's topic and Recipes, we are going to talk about another type of ammendation, Soup Ammendation.  What soup ammendation does is take a comercially produced packet of soup mix or canned soup, and adds to it more ingredients to make it more hearty and robust as a meal.,320_.jpg The main one I will talk about here is Miso Soup, a favorite of mine from the many Japanese restaurants I have frequented over my life, usually for a sashimi lunch.  With the lunch special, you always got a cup or bowl of Miso Soup, which varied from average to excellent, depending on the restaurant.  The main ingredients in a Miso soup are the Miso (a type of fermented bean curd), Tofu, Seaweed and green onions.  In a good Miso soup, there were a decent amount of all the ingredients in there and a rich broth with plenty of Miso added, in the average ones they were thin on the miso and cheap on the amount of tofu in the soup.  Kinda thin and runny.  Rarely though at a restaurant did I get a truly bad Miso Soup.

In trying to make my own Miso Soup at home back in the day, the best I could find was dried package soup sort of like Lipton's Onion Soup, which is still the main one available although there is one other variety I picked up a while back.  Basically the same though.  In both cases, the Miso Soup you get by adding a cup or so of boiling water to the packet is beneath bad, it's awful.

Not that it tastes bad or anything, it does taste like Miso Soup.  However, it is incredibly thin in texture, and the amount of dried tofu and seaweed that reconstitutes is miniscule.  You can pretty much drink it like you would a cup of tea or coffee, or a cup of beef broth.  It's not a real "soup experience".

So, even back then what I did was to buy a Tofu block and cube up some of it to ammend this soup, along with buying a package of dried seaweed and some fresh green onions to slice into thin disks and add to the soup also.  This filled it out nicely, and was a good facsimile of a Japanese Restaurant Miso Soup. The miso broth though was still kind of thin.  Recently though I found full quart size packages of miso paste in the refrigerated section of Carr's, which is the local variant of the Safeway chain.  One tablespoon of this paste thickens up your home brew miso soup and with all the ingredients added, is now BETTER than any miso soup at even the best Japanese restaurant!

At the top of the page you see Before & After photos of Miso made at home in the digs here.  Which one looks more appetizing to you? In addition to the normal ingredients, I also add some canned mushrooms, which have a great texture and are a terrific addition to the normal recipe.  So, how much does the ammended Miso Soup cost me?

The initial packet of Kikkoman comes in packages of 3 for around $5, so that is $1.66 per serving.

A block of firm tofu comes in around $2.50 average here, and I get about 4 servings from one block when I cube it up.  About $.60 for the tofu.

The seaweed comes in at $1.20 for a small package, which gets about 6 servings. $.20

The Miso Paste comes in at $6 for the quart size, but I get at least 20 servings out of that for $.30.

The green Onion come in at $1 for a bunch of around 6, one per serving for around $.16

Total cost for the Gourmet, Rich and Beefy Miso Soup, slightly under $3.  However, I have now found that I can substitute for the expensive package of dried Miso Soup from Kikkoman the much cheaper generic dried Onion Soup mix similar to Lipton under the store brand.  Utilizing this as base, I take a full dollar off the cost here and the result tastes practically the same and the nutritional value is exactly the same. You get fabulous nutrition out of this soup, tons of protein in the Miso and the Tofu and Vitamins in the seaweed and green onion. Far as the homeless person is concerned, this is all easy to boil up in one small pot (my next Snap Card article will cover lightweight and portable cooking gear) and very amenable to homeless cooking.  However, it does have the refrigeration problem, both the Tofu and the Miso need to be kept refrigerated until you actually use them.  This problem can however be resolved with a Cooler and Ice, if you have a semi-permanent tent arrangement in a Homeless Encampent, aka Obamaville.  If you dispense with the Miso paste and brew up the soup with just the fresh Tofu, then if you share with 3 other homeless people you go through the whole block in one meal, so no refrigeration necessary.  It's unfortunate Miso Paste isn't available in small packets like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, that would get rid of the storage problem you have for a large quantity of Miso paste.

Miso Soup is not my only Soup Ammendation recipe, I have another big favorite which is Southwest Blackbean soup

Now, if you want to make Miso Soup for yourself at home (or homeless), it's not so EZ as just cracking open a can of Campbells Chunky Soup.  There are no canned Miso Soup varieties available here in the FSoA I have ever been able to locate.  There are any number of quite good canned soups coming from both Campbell's and Progresso, although in both cases I have seen deterioration of the quality and "chunkiness" in both brands of soup.  The Clam Chowder in both cases has taken a really big hit. A lot thinner now and less clams and potatoes.  A lot of ammendation is necessary to get a decent bowl of clam chowder now from either company, but not going to cover that ammendation here today, I'll stick to just the Southwestern Black Bean soup for this article. The SBB soup is a very tasty one from the Progresso folks, but like all the Chunky varieties from Campbell's, they aren't so Chunky anymore.  These soups come in around $2/can now up here on the Last Great Frontier, although I usually wait for sales and stock up when they come in at 3 for $5 or so, $1.66 each.  By itself with no ammendation, a single can of this soup is good for 2 meals, in combination with a bagel or a part of a Subway Hero.  Ammendation though makes the soup a meal in itself, and in fact transforms it from a Soup to something more like a Gumbo.

To ammend a can of SBB soup, I usually add 1/2 can of Seasoned Black Beans, which come in at around $1/can.  Then another 1/4 can of sweet corn kernels, coming in around $.90/can.  The soup is now a whole lot thicker and richer, and there is a lot more of it.  I'm not done yet though.

For fresh veggies, I add some chopped up and sauteed green peppers and a diced habanero pepper to make it spicier.  Then I pan fry or BBQ an Italian Sausage or Bratwurst and cut it into thin disks to add to the soup, which adds animal protein and fat to up the calorie content.

The mixture is so thick and rich now that although you can still eat it solo with some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top, what I usually will do at this point is steam up some rice and and ladle it over the rice pile.  Now, instead of 2 meals out of the original can of SBB soup, I have more like 4 meals of Gumbo over Rice.

The original can comes in at an average price of $1.75.

1/2 Can of Seasoned Black Beans, $.45.

1/4 Can of Sweet Corn Kernels, $.25

1/4 Green Pepper, $.50

1 Habanero Pepper, $.50

1 Sausage, $1

Total cost for the base Gumbo, $4.45.  Divided by 4 approximate meals (I usually get more though, like 6), that comes to around $1.11/serving.  This gets ladled over the rice, which costs very little, maybe another $.30.  It's a huge, tasty and filling meal for under $1.50.  Adding some cheese and sour cream to it you might drive the total cost up to $1.50, but no more than that.

As with the Miso Soup, the big problem here for the Homeless person is not in the cooking, but in this case the refrigeration of the leftover soup from the initial preparation.  You have a pot of soup you need to keep refrigerated for at least 4 days, which also means eating the same soup for 4 days straight.  As tasty as it is, by day 3 you are ready for a change but the more days you eat something else, the longer it is leftover in the cooler, and by about the 6th or 7th day, your really don't want to eat it.  It might still be OK biologicaly speaking and not make you sick with Tomane Poisoning, but even so week long leftovers are not very appetizing, even if well refrigerated.

So in this case once again you are best off to work in at least a small GROUP or TRIBE of similar Homeless people, and all share the meals and the costs together.  Then the entire preparation can be consumed in one sitting.  A group of 4-6 people is ideal for this, a family or a few refugee buddies.  However, once you start to cook in bulk for more than just yourself, now you start to need some cooking gear beyond a persoal aluminum or stainless steel mess kit that can handle larger cooking taks for more people.

I will cover the nature of such cooking gear and how it should be used in the next installment of the SNAP Card Gourmet.


SNAP Card Gourmet: PIZZA!

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on October 16, 2016

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I've been writing Snap Card Gourmet articles and recipes for over a year now, with at least 8 articles on the topic of eating well and eating cheap.  As a former Chef, I love to cook, and as an Epicure I used to love to eat too!  My own concoctions and stuff served up by fine restaraunts, whatevah, eating was a great pleasure for me over the years. I was pretty good in terms of controlling my total intake and never got ridiculously obese, although in my trucking years I did load up an extra 40 lbs or so on a relatively small frame, so I was kinda fat then.  Long days behind the wheel with little physical output of energy required, followed by a stop a some truckstop buffet with an all you can eat buffet tends to put on the fat layers, even if the food is not all that good.

I shaved off most of that fat though in the years following the life on the road, and balanced out at a reasonable set point of around 165 lbs.  Not my trim weight of around 145 from my 20s-30s, but not unreasonable either.

In developing the Snap Card Gourmet series, I focused on many of my favorite foods, mostly EZ to cook up recipes created from fresh meats and veggies which shouldn't strain your budget and also have good nutritional value.  I have encountered problems with this menu recently though, due to artifacts of my spinal injury. The main problem here is first off I have little to no appetite most of the time and actually have to FORCE myself to eat these days.  Nothing really "tastes good" to me anymore, I can hardly taste the difference between a Big Mac from Mickey D's or a Prime Cut Fillet Mignon  & Lobster Tail Surf & Turffrom Ruth's Chris or another "Fine Steakhouse".  The main difference is the price, around $5 for the Big Mac and around $100 for the Surf & Turf.  In both cases, I have trouble finishing the whole meal as served, usually the best I do these days is get through about 1/3rd of what is on the plate and the rest comes home as leftovers.  I can't eat a lot all at once, that makes me nauseous.  So normally these days I just eat a few bites of some food in my fridge a few times a day, then I take a vitamin or two or three of different types to make sure I am getting my vitamin requirements fulfilled.

There is a secondary problem to not being able to eat much when you want to buy fresh food, which is the size of the packages of meat, which usually come in the smallest package size of around 1lb.  I never ate a full pound at one sitting exept maybe a few times with a big ass Porter House steak in my teens and twenties when males of just about any size can eat through an entire refrigerator in a day.  Even a "Quarter Pounder" Burger is a lot for me to eat now, usually I eat about half and then the other half as leftovers, or it gets thrown out.  Cooking tiny portions is a complete waste of time, you have all the same prep time and cooking time as with a large meal for 2-4 people, and who wants to bother with that for just yourself, particularly if you are not getting any great enjoyment out of the eating?  So I have this same problem with leftovers whether I cook at home or go out to eat.

What's the solution here to this problem?  I want my food to be cheap & relatively nutritious and I want it in small quantities but relatively fresh when I eat it without long stays in the fridge as leftovers. The small cheap frozen food dishes that Michelina's and Banquet puts out ALMOST fill the bill, they come in about $1 each and are just about the portion size I can eat at one sitting.  The problem with them of course is they are not nutritious in the LEAST.  I do resort to them now periodically though.  I have however come up with some somewhat more nutritious and tasty (insofar as I can taste them anyhow) alternatives to this diet of frozen foods, which not only are tasteless but have the consistency of soggy cardboard.

My first and current favorite are the "Take & Bake" Pizzas on sale near the deli counter of most major food stores these days.  They come in 3 usual varieties, the 5-Cheese pizza, the Pepperoni Pizza and the Supreme Pizza, which has sausage, pepperoni, onions, green peppers and black olives on it.

When I buy such a T&B Pizza, I don't bake the whole thing at once, I cut it into 1/4s and bake each quarter slice on its own in the toaster oven.  The smaller 8" size is big enough and runs around $6, so that is about $1.50/meal for just the pizza, but I do add-ons sometimes. When I was a kid in New York Shity, there was a small Pizzeria on just about every block, wedged into the ground floor Store Space of the typical NY Walk up tenement style building of the 1900s-1930s or so.  These places were all laid out the same, narrow and long.  They had to fit the about 20' wide storefront and they went back probably 100' or so.  There was a door in and a Window/Counter open to the street where you could buy a slice without actually going inside, the Walk-Up version of the Drive Thru windows at all the fast food joints we have today.

Inside the store, there was a counter with full pizzas of various varieties which you could buy by the slice, around 25 cents a slice at the time as I recall.  A narrow aisle spearated this from 3 or 4 two person tables, and then further in the back were a few 4 person tables and the bathrooms.  On the far side of the counter was the Pizza Oven, which in the best old pizzerias were still made of brick or stone at the time, but increasingly replaced by stainless steel electric or gas models.  The Pizza Chef was always out front tossing the dough circles in the air until you were sure the dough would break but never did, always tossed to the perfect consistency of thinness befor breaking. Over time of course these small family owned pizzerias were replaced by chains of Pizza Huts housed in more square buildings and now with a drive up window rather than the sidewalk windows on the streets of NYC.  No Pizza Chefs toss dough circles in these places, they were replaced by fast food workers who got pizza dough shipped in frozen from some dough factory which probably had machines to toss the dough.  Then the Frozen Pizza market exploded, and for half the price or less of a Pizza at Pizza Hut you could pick one of innumerable varieties from innumerable manufacturers of Pizza in the Frozen Food aisle of your local food mega store.  Some of them are actually not too bad, and there are a lot of interesting varieties.

The latest varient of this are pizzas made up in the deli counter area of your food super store, they are not frozen but made up with fresh veggies and other ingredients and when you bake them yourself, almost as good as those great slices of pizza you remember from your youth.  They generally come in only 3 varieties though, the 5-cheese, the pepperoni and the supreme, although sometimes also you see the "Hawaiian" pizzas with pineapple and ham on them which have become quite popular.  These were never available in my youth and I have never developed a taste for them.  Mainly I buy the Supreme Pizzas which have a variety of veggies already on them, plus pepperoni and sausage which gives me some meat protein for the day, and no further prep is necessary other than cutting out a slice and baking it in the toaster oven while I write or surf doom on the internet.  However, my favorite pizza type from my youth was the Mushroom Pizza, which had on top of the tomato sauce and cheese mushroom slices.  So what I do sometimes now since such pizzas are not pre-made in the store is buy a 5 cheese pizza and then add on my own mushrooms sauteed in garlic before baking.  In some respects this is BETTER than the mushroom pizzas of my youth, because I carefully lay on the shrooms so there is a "shroom in every bite".  Sometimes in the pizzerias they were cheap on the amount of shrooms they dropped on or they were poorly distributed around the pizza and if you were unlucky you got a mushroom pizza slice with too few mushrooms to have one in every bite of pizza.

I also can add other things I like, like some sliced black olives or even hearts of palm or artichoke hearts, all of which come conveniently out of the can and keep for weeks in a tupperware container in the fridge.  Addition of materials probably adds another 50 cents to the cost of each slice of the pizza I create this way. Besides the Pizzas, another prepared food I have as part of my main diet now are Subway Heroes.  After you pick your meats and cheese, you can have the fast food worker load it up with lots of different fresh veggies, and in addition nowadays guacamole which drives up the calorie content quite a bit.  Add Mayo or Oil and Vinegar, still more calories.  Get home and add a few more slices of cheese, more calories.  I have the original hero cut into three parts, each of which is enough for me for 1 day, and each part is still pretty good on the third day as long as it is kept in the fridge wrapped up in its plastic bag.  I stay away from stuff like tomatoes which will make the bread soggy if kept in the fridge this way.  If I want tomatoes, I add my own right before consuming that part of the sandwich.

The final prepared food which is part of my main diet are the Rotisserie Chickens available in most food stores running anywhere from $5-$8 depending on the store and size of chicken they offer up.  Cheapest are of course at Walmart.  Such a chicken will last me at least 4 days for the main parts I like to eat by themselves, the breasts and the drumsticks.  Then I take what is leftover from those and the thighs and wings and and chop it up and make a chicken salad which lasts another day or two.  Then I take the stripped carcass and throw it in the slow cooker to make chicken stock, add a can of commercial chicken stock to that and make some Jewish Penicillin out of it, aka Matzoh Ball Soup.  One of these chickens easily gives me a full week of animal protein, fat and vitamins from the fresh carrots that go in the soup as well.,h_416,c_fit,fl_progressive,q_95/v1/img/recipes/15/08/79/pic9F4al0.jpg All in all, this diet pretty much fulfills my needs and is EZ to prepare and quite cheap, pretty much as cheap as buying raw foods and preparing them myself, which these days I really have no inclination to do anymore.  I do still enjoy preparing foods for others to eat, but I don't really have much opportunity to do that anymore.  I do miss the days when I would BBQ up a nice juicy ribeye steak with a dry rub and marinated a day or two in my secret marinade and then slathered with some BBQ sauce to carmelize, but today most of that generally goes to waste and it's just too much trouble to cook it up too.

Even if you don't have a good kitchen to prep in, the single person can still eat relatively well on a low budget here in the FSoA with the Pizzas, the Heroes and the Rotisserie Chickens.  These don't have to be the ONLY things you eat, I also drop in there ocassionally some sausage and eggs, or some canned soup I like, or I buy a garlic bread to toast up in the toaster oven, etc.  The main thing is to reduce the leftovers and the wasteage of food, which absolutely drives me nuts when I have to throw out food and think about all the people out there currently going hungry.  I can't do too much about that, but I can try not to waste so much food for myself.

SNAP Card Gourmet Weekly Menu

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 27, 2015

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Since I began the SNAP Card Gourmet, I have put up quite a few individual recipes that come in under the SNAP Card Budget of average $5/day eating.  However, I haven't yet put up a Weekly Meal Plan that meets the budget and provides good Variety so you don't get bored eating the same stuff every day.  Rice & Beans every day or Spaghetti & Meatballs every day gets OLD very fast.  You can do this for a 3-day stretch if you really have to, but if you plan carefully in what you will buy in any given week and then also have a Fridge of some kind to store the fresh food and the leftovers, there is no reason to be eating this way as long as Da Goobermint is dropping $150/mo on your SNAP Card.

Before going through the Weekly Menu, a few things to note.

First off, I dropped in a different meal for each day and time, breakfast lunch and dinner.  In a normal week, I wouldn't have different meals every day and every time period.  If I make a big batch of Seafood Gumbo for instance, I'll probably have that 3 times during the week, not just once.  Same with stuff like chili or chicken soup.  In the week I make stuff like this, I have it in 2 or 3 meals.  The rest goes in the Freezer to be eaten the following week.

The next important thing to note are the Prices I dropped in, which were all in Whole Numbers of $1, $2 or $3 for a given meal.  I generally overestimated to the Upside on this.  In fact, something like a Ramen Noodle and Peanut Butter Sandwich comes in at more like 70¢, and most of the breakfast meals I list come in under the $1 they are listed at.

The next reality is that I in fact hardly ever eat 3 meals of this size in a day, I usually only have 2 of them, depending when it is that I actually drag myself out of bed.  LOL.  I also don't usually have everything listed as part of the meal either, I'll just have a cup of oatmeal and no banana, or a banana and no oatmeal, etc.

Another reality is that I just about ALWAYS have leftovers, because my appetite is very depressed as a result of my neck injury and lack of mobility.  My Eyes are almost ALWAYS bigger than my Stomach these days, particularly when cruising the meat freezers at 3 Bears.  It's almost impossible for me to resist buying a nicely marbled Rib Eye Steak that is ON SALE,  despite the fact i have plenty of steaks vaccuum sealed in the freezer already.  So if I make a mega-Burger meal, if I can eat half of it that is doing good, and I have the other half for breakfast the next day.  My biggest issue is eating leftovers before they go bad, or finding space in the freezer to keep the leftovers more than a week.

Then I dropped in also some Premium food, like Avocados.  One nice Avocado by itself around here comes in at $2.50 usually, and this is not necessary to use half of for a burger or half for breakfast either.  Dispense with the Avocado, you save $2.50 for that week.

So my weekly menu generally costs less than this, although periodically I buy what I call Super-Premium foods, like Alaska King Crab or Filet Mignon or Rack of Lamb or Camembert Cheese etc, so that brings the weekly cost up some.  Not much though, because even the Super Premium doesnt all get eaten in one week.  If I buy a Rack of Lamb for $15, I'll have it in 3 parts over 3 weeks for 3 meals widely space apart.

All in all, I just about never spend more than $40/week on Food even though I am not on a SNAP Card budget of necessity.  Most weeks it is around $30, and I never have a problem with good variety and tasty meals to eat in a week.  As I mentioned above, the biggest problem is the Leftovers.  I hate throwing away food, it feels sinful to me to do that.  At the same time, I don't always feel like eating the other half of last night's dinner for breakfast the next day, and after 3 days in the fridge I REALLY don't feel like eating it!  lol.  So I am trying to adjust how much I cook up on any given day to just what I will eat that day.  Not so EZ to do, because some things like Gumbos only cook up well in quantity, plus usually the ingredients come packaged in quantities bigger than I will eat in a week.  If you are feeding more people, it becomes a bit easier not to run into the leftovers problem.

With all those caveats in mind, here is a Sample SNAP Card Gourmet meal plan for a week:

  Breakfast Cost Lunch Cost Dinner Cost   Weekly Cost
Mon Bacon Egg Cheese on a Roll 1 Peanut Butter Sandwich & Banana 1 Spaghetti w/ Meatballs & Sausage & Salad 2    
Tue Oatmeal & Banana 1 BLT Sandwich & Cup of Chili 1 Chili w/ Rice & Steamed Veggies 2    
Wed Western Omellete & Home Fries 1 Chicken Salad Sandwich & Cup of Chicken Soup 1 Sausage w/ Peppers & Onions on a French Roll 2    
Thu French Bread w/ Cheese & Orange 1 Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Ramen Noodles 1 Chili-Cheese Dog & Steamed Veggies 2    
Fri Smoked Salmon Omellete 2 Tuna Sandwich & Cup of Fish Chowder 2 Seafood Gumbo 3    
Sat Egg-Potato-Bacon-Cheese Scramble 1 Meatball Marinara Sub 2 Chicken w/ Rice & Beans & Salad 3    
Sun Avocado Half & Boiled Egg 2 Broccol-Cheese Soup and Loaded Baked Potato 2 Cheeseburger w/ Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato 4    
    9   10   18   37

Now, to make these meals in a week, what do you need to buy or have in the fridge or freezer already?  This is where it gets difficult to figure the precise cost of any single meal.

Bacon shows up often in the breakfasts and lunches, but usually I get around 2 weeks out of a 1 lb slab of bacon, which I can usually pick up ON SALE for $4.  So the Bacon cost for a week is $2.  The Chicken which I usually buy pre cooked as a Rotisserie Chicken for $6 also gets me 2 weeks usually, half of it I eat the first week with a Breast/Wing and Leg/Thigh/Wing on 2 days, and the rest of the good meat  from the other half goes into making a chicken salad, then the Carcass goes into the slow cooker to make a Chicken Soup base, which also lasts 2 weeks.  A package of Hot Italian Sausage to use in Spaghetti Sauce and for Sausage Pepper & Onion  Subs also goes 2 weeks at least.. Ground beef for chili, meatballs and hamburrgers only lasts a week, while a package of Hot Dogs for chili-cheese dogs will last a month.

Then there are Staples like Spaghetti and Rice, which I buy in Bulk and last a couple of MONTHS.  The per meal cost of these is pretty negligible, 25¢ or so maybe.  Cooking Oil, Mayonaise, Butter etc also bought rarely, but part of many of these meals.  A gallon bottle of cooking oil will last me 6 months EZ though, so per meal that i use it for cooking it does not amount to more than 10¢ either.

So on my weekly shopping trip, I go in with a $35 Budget, but I don't buy all the items necessary for the Meal Plan in any given week.  A typical basket full of industrial ag food goodies when I get to the checkout counter might look like this:

Food Quantity Price Total
Ground Beef 1 5 5
Hot Sausage 1 4 4
Bacon 1 4 4
Scallops 0.5 12 6
Eggs 1 3 3
Black Beans 2 1 2
Red Beans 2 1 2
French Rolls 2 2 4
Kaiser Rolls 4 0.5 2
    Grand Total 32

In another week, I might leave out the bacon and sausage and buy a rotisserie chicken.  Other weeks I might load up on staples like spaghetti or rice.  I always come in under my $35 budget for a given week by $2-3, because I keep a running tally in my head, always rounding up on the prices.  So by the end of the month there is always extra money to pick up stuff like chili powder or a gallon of cooking oil or pound of butter etc.

Now, lets go through some of the key meals in detail!

Bacon-Egg-Cheese on a Kaiser Roll This is the true NY Deli Breakfast Meal, picked up on the way to school or work before getting on the subway.  The Egg McMuffin is a poor imitation of this delicious morning meal, which in the old days was all cooked on a griddle behind the counter rather than microwaved up.  I usually don't load it up so big as the one at left, I find that one egg, one strip of bacon and a hunk of sharp cheddar cheese sliced off the bar of cheese is plenty for me for breakfast.



Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato Sandwich Classic "BLT"

Shown here on typical Toast, but I modified this to have it on half of a Fench Roll instead of the sliced bread loaf toast. Although they are more expensive, I like the artisan baked breads you find nowadays in the big food superstores that have their own bakeries and kitchens.  Some weeks I may buy a loaf of bread for making peanut butter sandwiches and so forth, but these loves last a while and I only use them for BLTs if I have used up my French Rolls and Kaiser Rolls for other meals.

The BLT forms the base for many other sandwiches and burgers.  Add a hamburger & some cheese to a BLT, and you have a Bacon Cheeseburger.  Add some Smoked Turkey slices and you have a club sandwich.  However, I am partial to just the straight BLT, although again I don't load mine up with quite as much bacon as is on this one.

Chili with Rice I will make up my own batch of Chili from scratch and keep a bunch of it frozen, but I admit to being lazy on this also and just buying Canned Chili, which also comes in quite cheap.  A Can of Napa chile comes in around $1 a can, which you can then spruce up by adding some slices of an Italian Sausage, some green pepper and onions, etc.

The Rice really fills out the meal, and in fact I usually only use the equivalent of half a can of chile with the rice for a meal, so 1 can will make 2 meals.  I rarely will eat it by itself as a bowl f chile.  I'll use the other half of the can for a Chili Dog or Open Face Chili Burger.  This is another change of pace from the Bacon Cheeseburger which adds variety to your menu.


Seafood Gumbo

Around here because everybody fishes, I always have some halibut or salmon in the freezer, I never have to buy these even though I don't fish myself anymore.  Friends are always giving me some fillets or steaks during the fishing season and I vacuum seal them and throw them in the freezer.  So to make a gumbo, I will take one out and cut it up into chunks, and then buy some scallops or shrimp or crab to add as well to the gumbo, and then whatever else I have available gets thrown in the slow cooker.

Like the Chili, Gumbos are best when served with rice to fill them out with some carbs.  Also like the Chili, a batch will last for several meals, so you usually will want to freeze a portion of it, unless there is more than one person in your household in which case you might all consume a batch in one meal.  This is the advantage of cooking for a larger number of people for anything you do in a slow cooker.

There are of course numerous other meals listed in the Weekly Snap Card Plan above, and many others possible also.  Each week you can evaluate what you still have in the fridge as fresh food, what leftovers you have and what you might want to buy in the next week.  Sometimes I have so many leftovers that I need to skip a week of buying new food just to work through the leftovers before they go bad.  Same with fresh produce, lettuce, tomatoes etc.  These weeks off from buying new food also provides the money to buy things like fresh produce, mayonaise and spices you want in the pantry to flavor up the food.

Careful planning and watching your weekly budget makes having a healthy and diverse diet quite possible on a SNAP Card allotment.  Dont waste your money on junk foods like Potato Chips or cans of Soda, and you'll have plenty of good food to eat each month, at least until the supermarket shelves go empty or they stop issuing SNAP Cards out, in which case we will have even bigger problems to concern ourselves with.

Eat Well, Eat Cheap with the SNAP Card Gourmet!






SNAP Card Gourmet Gumbo

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 8, 2015

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What is a Gumbo?

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions.

That's the official definition anyhow.

To me though, a Gumbo is anything you throw in a pot to make a fully nutritious and filling meal.  It should have everything you need to eat for the day in one pot.  Animal Protein, Corbohydrates, Veggies etc.  It should also be spicy and flavorful.  You throw into your pot whatever is available.

Gumbo ingredients should also be CHEAP (relatively speaking of course these days).  So no expensive cuts of meat in there.  In fact, if you can get the meat for free by nailing a squirrel with your slingshot, even better!  Same with the veggies, if you can get them out of your own garden instead of buying the overpriced GMO versions in the food superstore, this also is better. speaking though, the SNAP Card Gourmet Homeless Person or Road Warrior doesn't have these options most of the time.  For this week's edition of SCG, I made two Gumbos utilizing only my Homeless Cooking Apparatus, a portable propane grill and a 2 burner portable propane stove.  The key in both cases is you want to make maximum use of your propane once you start cooking.  When doing my SCG experiments, I try to get a full week out of 2 one liter size cannister of propane.  One cannister goes to run the grill, the other one to run the stove.  They run about $3 each right now here on the Last Great Frontier, and I have dozens of them in the Preps.  You can also refill them with adapters available in the camping department of your local Walmart.

It's cheaper still and more efficient to use a typical 5 gallon Propane tank that most home BBQs work on, but for the Homeless person unless well set up in a  semi-permanent Tent City, such a large cannister is tough to move around, although if you still have car and storage unit, this is the cheaper way to go than the individual cannisters.

The portable Grills and Stoves are also relatively inexpensive, anywhere from $30 to $60 usually.

These are the models I use for SNAP Card Gourmet Cooking

You also want to keep yor cooking utensils to a minimum.  Even if you still have your car, too many pots, pans, knives etc clutters up your valuable private space. I keep my SNAP card utensils to 2 sizes of pots which nest, and 2 sizes of sautee pans that nest.  I also have a small electric slow cooker which is great to use if you have a source of electricity.  Also worthwhile to have is an electric single or double burner to use when electricity is available.  This can save you money on propane and has the bonus you can use them indoors just about anywhere, for instance in a cheap motel room once a week or bi weekly, where you additionally can shower and clean up, hopefully for a Job Interview the following day.  You also do laundry on these motel vacations.  So when you arrive at the job interview, you don't appear to be a smelly homeless person, but rather still a normal member of industrial society.  You will of course need to be able to scrape up the $40-50 necessary for a night in such a Bates Motel.  Motel mini-vacations from the Road Warrior lifestyle should be judiciously chosen when on a limited budget.                         

OK, now that you have all your SCG Cooking apparatus in place and ready, it's time to go SHOPPING! 🙂 mentioned, you want to go with the cheapest cuts of meat available, which is usually chicken or pork.  Chicken is great for the chicken soups and chicken salads you can make, but pork in the form of sausage is better for the gumbos.  Some form of Beef is best for the stews, but beef usually comes in pricier than the chicken and sausage.

For the sausage, I usually get the generic house brand of sausage at the local Kroger, which comes in at around $1/lb less than the Johnsonville National sausage brand.  I like the Hot Italian sausage, but you can also get mild, or Bratwurst, all the same price around $3.75 for a 5-pack, $.75 per sausage around here.  One sausage is enough for your Animal Protein needs for the day, although I usually also have an Egg with a thin slice of breakfast meat and cheese on a roll as breakfast also on SCG experiment days.

The pack of sausages doesn't just go in the Gumbo, I like to have a Sausage, Pepper & Onion Hoagie/Sub/Hero also, a favorite of mine from street vendors  at the Festival of San Gennaro back in Little Italy in NY Shity in my youth.

Fresh Green Peppers, Onions, Potatoes and Carrots are the best choices of veggies for the Road Warrior.  They require little to no refigeration and will stay good for a week at least.  You get some needed roughage and vitamins from them as well.  An EZ one pan morning meal is to chop up some peppers and onions, chop up a leftover potato from a slow cooker stew, then crack a couple of eggs over the whole mess and swish around untile the eggs congeal.  Slide that onto a plastic plate for eating, then just wipe down the pan and the plate with a paper towel!  Pretty EZ Cleanup!  A multi-vitamin with this breakfast is also recommended.

I'll also usually throw one in with some Spaghetti Sauce to have a Spaghetti Sausage Marinara meal, and sometimes use 1/4 of one for breakfast meat on the morning roll, although I like a thin slice of nice smoked ham instead, and I'm not really broke and homeless (yet!).  So you can get a nice variety of meals out of one package of sausages that will last you all week  easily.  Your biggest problem here if truly homeless is the refrigeration problem.  However, at least with the Gumbos and Spaghetti Sauce, the way around that is to Reheat the gumbo the next day to boiling temperature.  Any bacteria that might have got going overight gets killed off.  I have eaten both Gumbos and Sauces 3 days old without refrigeration simply by reheating them each day.  If you do still have a car or van and drive around regularly enough in it to keep the battery charged, you can use a thermoelectric cooler to keep your letovers good for a couple of days usually.

Better still than this method if truly homeless in a Tent City is to work together with other Homeless People.  5 people can be fed pretty well with 1 package of sausages and the rest of the ingredients in your Gumbo, so each Homeless person buys one set of ingredients a week which you all cook and eat together on the day the food is purchased, handed out at a food pantry or shoplifted perhaps.  lol.

OK!  So now it is time to GET COOKING on the porch and imagine my future life as a homeless cripple gourmet chef in a Tent City while Industrial Civilization progresses to Complete Collapse! 🙂

Step 1 is the meat preparation.  As mentioned in prior SCG recipe articles, I prefer my meat cooked over an Open Grill for the nice smoky flavor that it gives it, plus all those tasty carcinogens that get created over the flame.  lol.  I also want to maximize the use of my propane cannister, so I usually do not cook just one package of sausages, but rather fill up the grill space with other meat for other meals, which then gets stored in the refrigerator since I still have one of those and still can afford to pay my electric bill.  In this case, I filled up the rest of the grill with Beef Back Ribs, perhaps the cheapest beef cut you can buy that has some meat on it at around $2.79/lb up here these days.


Right after the initial grilling, I'll eat the best parts of the ribs straight off the grill.  Then what is left on the bones goes in the Slow Cooker with some beef broth and simmers until the meat falls off the bone, and then I use that to make a Grilled Ribs Beef Stew, which I have gone over before in a prior SCG article. the Gumbo with the Sausage, I'm going to go with the single size batch I make, which only takes one or most 2 of these sausage links. You can easily upscale the recipe for a family or other Homeless Compadres.  For this, in good Homeless Person fashion, I use mostly canned goods off the shelf at Kroger.  My current favorite is a "Southwestern" style Gumbo that starts with a Base of a can of  Progresso Soutwestern Black Bean & Vegetable soup.  I usually can pick these up ON SALE for between $1.50-.1.75, current regular retail price is $2.15 up here though.

To me though, the soup by itself doesn't have enough Black Beans or Corn Kernels.  So I add to it a can of generic black beans and a can of generic sweet corn kernels.  $.80 each here for these cans, again ON SALE.

Then I take about 1/4 cup of rice and steam it, and add the steamed rice into the gumbo for the carb component.  No more than $.50 worth of rice here.  Then I dice up some fresh green peppers and onion, not too much maybe another $.50 worth, sautee until soft and carmelized, and dump that in the Southwest Gumbo.  Meat component is the Sausage, which after cooling from the grill I slice into thin disks that come in around 20 in number from a single sausage link.  Each disk fits nicely into one soup spoon dip into the Gumbo.  Finally I splash in some Habanero Pepper Hot Sauce which usually comes in around $3/bottle, but one bottle lasts months even unrefrigerated. $.10 for the seasoning here.

So total cost for this 1 person Gumbo is ~$5-6, and it usually lasts me 2-3 days.  So call it $2/day for this component of my daily sustenance.  The Egg/Cheese/Meat/Bread Breakfast comes in around $1.  Together, this is usually enough food for me in a day.  Days when I eat spaghetti, or leave out the fresh veggies I can get the feeding cost lower than that, and it's still pretty tasty eating.  If you can qualify for a SNAP Card, use Food Pantries and still have a place to do your cooking, at this point here in the FSoA you should not be going hungry yet, and neither should your kids if you have some.  Watch your food budget carefully, buy ON SALE foods of good general quality, balance your meals with protein, fat, carbs and roughage.  You should have enough left over at the end of the month to buy some Multi-Vitamins too, which should be added in because so many of the canned foods and even fresh GMO veggies are rather devoid of vitamins these days

Good eating, on the cheap, here on the SNAP Card Gourmet. 🙂

The SNAP Card Gourmet 004 – Chicken SNAP Alaska RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 23, 2014


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Week 4, the BONUS Week in the SNAP Card Budget has finally ARRIVEDAT LAST I will be able to start varying my meals and doing some more creative cooking!

As opposed to my roughly $25 Budget in the first 3 Weeks of this Adventure, this week I have about $65 to spend on FOOD left on my SNAP Card!  I am feeling positively WEALTHY as I head over to the Food Emporiums with this hefty load of Digital FRNs still left on the Card!

I start by cruising for BARGAINS on items I could not afford earlier while I made sure I had enough calories and basics in the larder to make it through the first 3 weeks.  I am in better shape now with a decent amount of basics, plus leftovers from the first 3 weeks.  I’m not gonna go hungry here in the next 10 days no matter what I buy.  However, I am still not going to be stupid and buy super expensive meat cuts quite yet for full on gourmet.  I’m looking for bargain fixin’s to make quality meals with.


Even though they are not Prime, these steaks are well marbled with FAT and will cook up well on the Grill.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn the Meat Dept, I find On Sale Organic Chicken Breasts, thin cut for $6.  That is a BUY!  Also an odd cut of beef ribs that sold at $2.50/lb, also a BUY for another Stew.  Finally in the Meat Dept, I found a Twin Pack of New York Strip Steaks for around $6, a little thinner than I usually like for BBQ, but with a high flame and quick cook, should be OK.  These steaks are small enough I will not have leftovers and they just are single meal jobs.  They will both be Grilled, because given the choice, I ALWAYS grill steaks rather than do pan or broiler cooking with them.  However, the rest of the prep will differ some so not exactly the same meal.  I am thinking I will have one or two Premium Steak & Eggs Breakfasts, and another Steak Dinner with Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes and Mushrooms.

Altogether here on the Meat End, I am around $15, now I need to fill out the meals here with the remaining $50.

I head first to the Fresh Veggies produce dept of the Food Emporium, as so far I have not had any fresh veggies in my meals and I MISS them.  Besides, they are healthy for you to eat.


Some of this week’s Veggies! Note the colorful Organic Carrots! Mostly I Steam Veggies if they are not cooked in a stew. Zucchini I like sauteed in butter or bacon fat with some garlic.

I get a Crown of Broccoli for $3, 1 Pt Mushrooms for $2.50, 1/2 lb of Brussel Sprouts for a bit over $1, Spinach for $3, Zucchini $2 and an Avocado for $2.50.  I also still have carrots and onions and potatoes leftover from earlier purchases.  Total on the Fresh Veggies here, around $14.  So now up to $29 Spent, around $35 left.

Given the stuff I have just purchased, plus what is left from before, I now plan in my head my meals, and have to buy some premium stuff I do not have.

I need some spice, Tarragon for $3.  I need cooking sherry and marsala cooking wine, ON SALE for $4.59 each.  Two cans of Seasoned Black Beans, $2.  The Beans are to go with Rice in the larder as one of the Carb choices of the week besides the Spaghetti and the Potatoes. I have plenty of dried beans in my Preps, but canned beans are WAY easier to prepare and they aren’t very expensive. Unlike many other veggies also, canned beans don’t have much different texture than if you prepare them from dried beans.  I absolutely cannot stand anything like Canned Asparagus or Green Beans though.  Yuck Mush and tasteless, never buy them on ANY budget!. Total here another $15 or so, down to $20 left.

With the remaining, I buy some Staples, Sour Cream to go with my Baked Potatoes, $2.50, Hot Sauce $3 , 1 lb Ground Beef, $5, Spaghetti Sauce $3, Peanut Butter $2, Loaf Oatbread  ON SALE $3.

10 Day Plan as it evolves during the Shopping Expedition is this:

2 Nights Steak Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes

3 Nights Chicken Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes

2 Nights Stew Dinners

1 Night Gourmet Hamburger Dinner

1 Night Leftover Chili Dinner

1 Night ALL LEFTOVERS Dinner.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor the Stew this week, besides the riblets, it gets potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, some onion soup mix for broth and a little BBQ sauce.  Main difference from normal stew is that prior to dropping the meat into the Slow Cooker, I seared it on the Grill, which adds some nice smokey flavor.  You could just eat these off the grill, but this meat is a little tough even though there is plenty of fat.  Added benefit of doing a quick grilling first is that you render off some of the copious fat in this cut, which would be way too much in your stew.  Even so, I will probably have to cool it and skim some fat off after the slow cook, although in a real starvation scenario you would never do this.  In terms of calories, the more fat the better in your meal.  You have to balance this against having so much fat in there you clog up your arteries and die from Cardiac Arrest instead of starvation.  Overall though, on a Paleo type diet you can leave most fat in as long as you don’t overdo total consumption.

For the Chicken Dishes, my plan was to make two from the package of thin sliced organic chicken breasts, my own recipe of Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, and a typical Chicken Marsala.  However, I ended up just making the one Chicken Alaska since I didn’t have time and just did all 4 Chicken Breasts the same way. The Preps are not too much different for Marsala, and mostly the cooking is the same although you do have to bake Chicken RE a little in the oven to melt the cheese, which you do not have to do for Chicken Marsala.  For Chicken Marsala, you can go to Emeril or the Food Network for a recipe and cooking method, I won’t do that one here.

Now, I have to make an admission here, the recipes I am including do NOT include some spices that I have in my Preps that I could add to flavor these meals up a bit more.  They are still pretty tasty without the additional spices, and equally nutritious either way.  If you have some available spices, don’t hesitate to add them to make the recipe even BETTER!    For the Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, I suggest Tarragon and Sage in the saute phase.  Tarragon is a real good spice to use with Chicken, and the Sage accentuates the aroma.

Chicken SNAP Alaska RE Recipe


1 lb thin sliced Chicken Breasts

2 Tomatoes

1 Avocado

Cheddar Cheese

6 cloves Garlic

1/4 cup Flour

Cooking Oil


Pound chicken breasts thin, flour both sides.  Add chopped garlic to hot cooking oil, sear the breasts 2-3 minutes each side, remove from flame.  Add Sliced Tomatoes to the Hot Oil/Garlic, fry each side about 1-2 minutes.  Lay Tomato slices over chicken on skillet or baking dish.  Lay cheese slices over chicken & tomatoes.  Bake in Oven @ 350 F for around 10 minutes until the cheese melts nicely.  Lay Avocado Slices over the cheese and Serve.  Serves 4 people, or four meals for one person.  Approximate cost: $3-4 per serving.

This brings us to another issue, Cooking after TSHTF, or Cooking from just what you can Grow or Raise on your Doomstead.

Tons of things you drop into a Recipe are only available while JIT Shipping is still up and running to some extent.   Who grows Peppercorns on their Doomstead?  Can you get Avocados?  Paprika?  Cooking Sherry?  Lemons?  Probably not on many things, so your meals will not have such flavorings in them, even if you have access to Fish, Chicken, Moose, Potatoes, Carrots etc. actual ability to “cook” also gets limited down, while I can pound chicken breasts and flour them, you can’t do this if you are homeless, or at least it is real difficult.  Once you are homeless, your either boiling stuff or roasting it over a flame if you are working with anything fresh, but mostly you are not and just heating up canned food or microwaving in a convenience store. Homeless people do not have lots of cooking utensils, cast iron pans which are heavy to carry around etc.  Cooking with NO Utensils at all is just either open flame roasting or burying the food wrapped in leaves with hot rocks for a slow cook.

In fact “cooking” as we know it today really did not begin until Metallurgy was pretty well developed to make Pots, Pans, Griddles, Dutch Ovens etc.  Cookware in the old days was very valuable and handed down from generation to generation, along with things like Silverware and Fine China dishware.  With the Industrial Era though, mass produced cooking and eating utensils got very cheap and everyone takes these things for granted now.  Once out on the street though as a Homeless person, most of these things are baggage you just can’t carry around with you.  Most of what you eat off of and with is disposable paper and plasticware.  I have a couple of Stoneware sets, but I almost never use them.  Paper Plates!  Yes, I know it is wasteful.  However, I save on the energy used to wash the dishes! ends the first month, and what it does demonstrate is that you most certainly can survive on a SNAP card allotment, at least as long as you are not yet Homeless.  In fact you can do way better than I did this month by accessing Food Pantries if you qualify, and next month I will figure into the equation what is possible with food issued out to low income people and the elderly at a Food Pantry like the one I Volunteer at.  If you add in this stuff, at least twice a week you can eat premium foods if you watch the total budget and your consumption and food type distribution.

As long as both the SNAP Cards are issued out AND the Food Pantries continue to operate, any real “Food Riots” here in the FSoA such as you see already in MENA are unlikely.  If you are starving here in the FSoA right now, it’s either because you are already Homeless or do not have knowledge enough to be able to access the Food Assistance that is available in most neighborhoods, or you simply do not know how to Budget and spend your SNAP allotment on stupid things.  Like a Bag of Potato Chips that runs $4! Soda and high fructose corn syrup “Juices”!  Drink WATER from the Tap on a SNAP Budget!  For many people though, they simply don’t think about this and spend the whole $140 on junk which is gone in a week or two,  which is sad.

At the moment, the problem Economically for most of the population is not a Food Problem, there is plenty and it is getting distributed out for the most part, although you definitely have instances of people being poorly nourished due to their own ignorance and the poor choices in food available they make.  That food plenty will probably not last in perpetuity of course, but neither do I think it will drop off the map here in the FSoA that rapidly either.

Finally for today, in the next month I am not going to delineate the weekly purchases from here on in, but rather do an Estimated Cost Per Meal, since the accumulation of stuff over time means you do not always buy new stuff every month.  For instance, one quart of cooking oil lasts me at least 2 months.  Same with a pound of butter.  There are always leftovers to every meal, so you cannot make an absolute on exactly what you need to buy in any given month once you get going on this.

Generally speaking, most meals will come in between $2-$5.  Daily expenditures will mostly stay under $5, but after a few days of CHEAP EATING, a Gourmet Meal that might run $10 or even $20 might be cooked up here on the Diner Stove.  You cannot do many of those though and stay under a total monthly budget of $140.  However, I will do one SUPER PREMIUM meal each month and still stay under Budget.

Besides looking at what you get in a monthly box from the food pantry, I’ll also look more at how a Homeless person might use his SNAP Card and try to stay under budget with just Canned and Microwaveable foods in the next month.  Then we’ll examine the total economics of living on Poverty level income.

Until next week then, Eat Well and Stay Healthy!



The SNAP Card Gourmet 003: Eggs Toba Flambe

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 16, 2014

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As we move into Week 3 of the First Month on the SNAP Card budget, I’m doing quite well with some decent amount of leftovers here in terms of Eggs, Potatoes and even some Chili and Spaghetti in containers.  So for Week 3 Purchases, I am going to get even CHEAPER, and just buy some Stew Meat to make a simple stew, along with Flour, Butter, Cooking Oil and Cheese so I can make Cheese Omelletes this week for breakfast, in addition to the Eggs Toba Flambe Video Special of the Week you see above.  BE CAREFUL when you make this breakfast!  You don’t want to burn down your Doomstead!  LoL.

Note: I did have to CHEAT for the Flambe with the SECRET INGREDIENT for a spectacular Egg Skillet dish.  This really perks up your Eggs! (Hint: This Recipe was Illegal from 1920 to 1933 in the FSoA) 🙂

So this week’s expenditures are

1 lb Stew meat $5

5 lbs Flour $2.50

2 lbs Cheddar Cheese $7

1 qt Cooking Oil $3

1 lb Butter $5

Dry Onion Soup Mix $2

The Cheese, Flour, Oil and Butter will last quite some time since you don’t use too much of this stuff usually for most things you whip up.  Total for the week here around $24.50.  So for the first 3 weeks, this will be a total of around $77, which leaves me $63 to finish out the month until JP Morgan Chase Recharges my SNAP Card.

A few issues were raised in SCG002 regarding just how cheap you can go here in what you buy.  For instance, my friend and fellow Gourmet Stucky pointed out that you can make Pasta cheaper than you can buy it, but the savings are pretty inconsequential here.  I only spent $2 on Pasta to begin with even buying the premade stuff.  Similarly, you can buy  Beans and some various other Staples very cheap, especially in Bulk, but if you try to live on JUST these mostly empty calories (though beans have good protein content too), the diet is ridiculously bland, not to mention totally lacking in vitamins. runs up the cost is getting variety in the diet, and all the less cheap foods you need to fill it out and be able to do some decent cooking with.  So far, the “recipes” here are super basic, and really this is mainly “Bachelor Cooking 101”, at least it used to be.  Nowadays the typical Bachelor doesn’t even do this much cooking, because you can buy Frozen Foods to microwave up just about as cheap as doing most of these type of preparations.  I’ll go through the economics of that in another episode.  Besides that, if you are still employed and making a decent paycheck, most bachelors don’t cook breakfast for instance, they just stop in at Taco Bell on the way to work and buy a Breakfast Burrito. Lunch comes in the form of a Subway Sandwich. On the way home you stop at the Hot Counter of the Deli section of your local Food Emporium and buy some General Tso’s Chicken and Fried Rice.  You spend $20/day on food this way, it’s not real healthy, but it is well within the budget of most people employed in jobz above the Min Wage.

The other criticism came in the Meat department, with the idea you can get cheaper meats to eat that are not usual in the Amerikan diet, Liver, Tripe, Pigs Feet & Neck Bones yadda yadda.  The thing is, in Food Emporiums in this neighborhood, they aren’t that available usually, and they are not much cheaper either, if at all cheaper.  You’ll still pay $3/lb for most of them, even freaking Soup Bones with no meat at all on them!  On the other hand, I can about always find some cut of Boneless Pork for the same price.  The most I would save in a Week if my Meat consumption is 1-2lb/week is maybe $2 most by buying a cheap cut or some gizzard.  It just does not make a big difference to the total budget, which gets consumed elsewhere.

These 3 Vine Ripened Tomatoes cost $2 on SALE!

These 3 Vine Ripened Tomatoes cost $2 on SALE!

Besides spices, the main area that consumes your budget is if you start buying a lot of Fresh Veggies.  Another criticism came in is that instead of buying Canned Tomato Sauce, I should make my OWN Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes!  Issue here is a 1 qt  Can of Tomato Sauce comes as cheap as $1.25 on sale, to make this much tomato sauce with Fresh Tomatoes would cost $10 EZ.  If you are growing your own Tomatoes, this obviously is the way to go, but not if you are buying them.  Another thing to remember with the commercial tomatoes is that they usually are ethylene ripened and are not much more vitamin filled than the canned ones.  If you go and buy hothouse on the vine tomatoes, you can double your cost again here.  You’re ot gonna make much Tomato Sauce on a SNAP Card budget if you try to do it with Fresh Tomatoes, unless you are growing them yourself.

OK, that covers the critique from the last episode of SCG, now let’s get on with this week!  Since I am just making Stew and the only Main Ingredient I am currently missing is Stew Meat ( I have Carrots, Onions, Potatoes and Garlic still left from my Week 1 purchase), the fun part of this week is SHOPPING for the Meat!

I have 4 basic choices for buying Commercial Meat around here, Carr’s (a Safeway Chain store), Fred Meyer (a Kroger Chain store), 3 Bears (a discount Food Warehouse) and Matanuska Meats, a local place that will prepare your hunting and fishing meat as well as providing meat for sale from the local farms.


I am fortunate all of these places are on my route to and from work more or less, I don’t have to go much out of the way to check in on them for what is available.  3 Bears has BY FAR the largest selection, and usually the lowest prices, but Carr’s comes in pretty low also sometimes, relatively speaking of course.  The meat fridge you see above at 3 Bears is only one of several, others have whole sides of beef, lamb etc in them.  With the MASS QUANTITIES of meat present in these freezers every day, it’s hard to imagine the day they will all be empty.  Until that day arrives though, plenty to choose from, and so far the prices aren’t too bad yet.

Fred Meyer overall for meat is not usually a good choice, although they come in cheapest on other stuff often enough.  Matanuska Meats has the highest Quality and is my usual choice if I am being Meat Picky, even though the price is usually a bit higher.

 photo matvally-1.gifFor Stew Meat, the difference is between paying $5/lb at Carr’s or $6/lb at Matanuska Meats, and just choosing here I would go with MM for a lousy $1 difference.  However, I am also torn in what cut I want to use, there are some real nice Ox Tails also on the rack at Fred Meyer.  This would make a much RICHER stew with more FAT in it than typical lean stew meat.  They want $7/lb for the Ox Tails.  This week, I decide to go medium with the Stew Meat from Matanuska Meats.  I’ll save doing an Ox Tail Stew for when I have more in the way of spices to make it super duper.

Some of Francois’ dried meat selection.  He gives classes in preparing your meats as well.  Old School stuff.

I’m not going to video making Stew, because it is brain dead easy, and besides I am out of time here if I want to have the article ready for Sunday Brunch.

Much like the Spaghetti Sauce, the first proceedure is browning the meat in a pan before slow cooking, so it has nice color.  With the cubed meat though, I roll it around in some flour before browning it.  This adds calories and also will help thicken the stew.  Later you can add more flour to thicken more if you like.  I’m using whole grain flour for this.  A bag of flour is a great way to add in some extra cheap calories to any meal, even without making pasta from it.

Once browned up, you just chuck it in the slow cooker with the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, and make the broth from the Onion Soup mix.  OK, I am cheating again here and adding some Marsala Wine to flavor up the cooking broth some more.  It was a cheap bottle though and I only used 1/2 a cup.  Whisk in a little more Flour if you want it thicker.  Feel free to dump in your favorite spices if you have some also.  A Bay leaf definitely helps here.

3-4 hours later, ladle it out over some rice and Give Thanks to Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase for another day of Industrial Food Living on your SNAP Card!

After 3 weeks here of “just getting by” on the SNAP Card Budget, in Week 4  I am FINALLY going to be able to start doing some REAL COOKING with REAL RECIPES!  I have $63 to spend for the final week or so here in the month, so I can buy some more expensive spices and ingredients.  Also, I’ll stock up on some staples like cooking oil, butter, sour cream etc to have available to make next month’s dishes perkier.

What I will go for at this time is dependent on what I see On Sale in the markets, but probably will include Last Great Frontier Fish Chowder RE and a Chicken dish, maybe Chicken Marsala, Chicken Paprikash or Chicken Parmesian.  Chicken is always relatively cheap animal protein, so a good meat choice.  Just have to watch out for the GMO fed chickens, which tend to be stringy in texture.

We also have Thanksgiving coming up, so we probably need to do something special for that.  No way I will do a Turkey though for just me, I’d be eating the leftovers for MONTHS, even with a small Turkey.

Until then eat well and watch those shelves for disappearing products!



The SNAP Card Gourmet: 002

Off the keyboard & camera of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 9, 2014


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kuroda-laughingIn this week where the Japanese have gone FULL RETARD in their Monetary Policy and Vlad the Impaler gave a Speech which actually made some political sense, making our local Politicians look like the hacks they are, it’s tempting to use my Sunday Brunch space once again to look at the Big Picture, but I also want to follow up on my first SNAP Card Gourmet episode and get rolling on the great experiment of eating on a SNAP Card budget.  So for a while here, the Sunday Brunch offering on the Diner will be all Food Related, and I’ll save ranting and analyzing the ongoing Geopolitical and Economic Clusterfuck for other dishes served up during the week.

Getting rolling on the SNAP Card Budget isn’t easy, particularly for the individual.  It’s a bit easier for a family, because you can buy more Bulk purchases, which drive down the cost quite a bit.

Eggs are an EZ example here.  If I buy eggs by the Dozen (about as much as I will usually eat of eggs in a week), around here they come in around $3/Dozen right now.  However, if I buy 5 Dozen, I get them for $2/Dozen, a HUGE 50% savings! The same is true for a 5lb bag of Potatoes vs a 20lb bag, etc. So you want to buy in bulk as much as possible, especially for Staples that have a long Shelf Life.

In order to get started on this as an Individual, my first week I am going to focus on buying Staples in medium bulk, which will insure I won’t go the least bit hungry the first couple of weeks, but it will be a mighty limited Diet overall, eating pretty close to the same damn things every day which gets very boring.  Boring is not the only problem though, you don’t want to eat the same stuff every day because to capture all the vitamins you need, variety is important.  However, for 2 weeks you can eat the same stuff over and over again and not die from Scurvy or some other vitamin deficiency. The important Criteria for Week 1-2 is to have plenty of food for the period, keep the price down below $25  to save for better foods and more variety, and begin some storage of longer lasting foods to improve variety as time goes by.

DAY 1: JP Morgan Chase just dropped $140 on my Newly Issued SNAP Card!  I recently lost my job as a NASA Engineer after they shut down our SETI program.  I have applied for a job with Richard Branson at Virgin Galactic to develop Space Tourism for the 1%, but haven’t heard anything yet on my Resume.  At least I can EAT this month though! Thank you Jamie Dimon!

My Future Job with Virgin Galactic

Until Richard gets back to me, my Food Purchases for the next 2 weeks are…

5 Dozen Eggs- $10

5 lbs Alaska Potatoes- $6

2  Green Peppers- $2

2 lbs Onions- $2

4 Heads Garlic- $2

2 lbs Spaghetti- $4

2 lbs Rice- $3

1 pckg Breakfast Sausages (14)- $2.25

2 Jars Spaghetti Sauce: $2.50

1 pckg Hot Sausage: $6

1 lb Ground Beef $5

1 Container Italian breadcrumbs- $2

2 Pkgs Bear Creek Chili- $6

For the next 2 weeks, I will be eating 2 meals a day, a Breakfast with Eggs, Meat, Potatoes & Onions, and Dinner of Spaghetti with Meatballs and Sausage or Chili with Rice.  The only real variety will be in how I prepare the Breakfasts, it is going to be very boring 2 weeks of eating.  However, it is only costing me $52 out of a $70 Budget, and I should have plenty of Potatoes and Eggs left at least, and possibly other leftovers as well.  So $18 will be conserved in this initial period.

If hungry between the Breakfast and Dinner, I will simply eat a couple more eggs or some leftover Spaghetti.

So now, let’s have some COOKING FUN with this simple set of ingredients!  I’ll start with the eggs, since there are a lot of ways to prepare them and even if you don’t have a lot of variety here in ingredients, at least you can make things different from day to day with some different preparations.

 photo PICT0600_zpsed9e854f.jpgMy personal favorite for the Morning Breakfast is very traditional, 2 Eggs Over Easy, Breakfast Meat of some type and Hash Browns.  If you can’t get hold of breakfast sausage, you could always substitute Squirrel or Earthworms for Breakfast Meat of course. For the Hash Browns, you use leftover Baked or Boiled potatoes usually, but you can also just Nuke a Potato in the microwave and then throw it on the skillet with some onions, garlic and peppers. Usually to have some potatoes available for hash browns,  I let the potatoes and garlic slow cook for 3 hours along with a couple of soy sauce packages and a ketchup package all scarfed up for free and in the larder here.  I’m not using any of my preps I BOUGHT, but I will use freebies I have collected at the beginning to add some flavor to this stuff until I can afford some decent spices.

I like Over Easy because you can thicken up the Yolk to make it like a nice Sauce if you don’t break the yolk in the cooking, which of course is something of a challenge depending on your cooking utensils.  When I first started cooking Over Easy Eggs, I would drop both in the pan, cook over medium flame until the egg white firmed up, then split them with the spatula and flip each half individually.  Here is a demonstration of this basic method, which is very Low Class overall as cooking technique goes.  lol.

After a few months of making my own breakfasts though when I was a kid, I decided I should get COOL and flip both eggs in the pan without a Spatula like I saw the Pros doing on TV.  Needless to say, I messed up numerous times doing this, and even now it is still a bit of a challenge to catch the eggs just right so the yolks don’t break on you when you do it.  However, if you really want to impress your girlfriend with how good a cook you are, if you pull this off flawlessly its just about as good for getting laid as playing the Electric Guitar. LOL. Thank God I am Left Handed, because with my now Semi-Paralyzed Right Arm, I couldn’t flip an egg with that one to save my life, and impressing Babes with cooking technique is the least of my concerns these days. LOL.

Obviously, there are many other ways to prepare your eggs, scrambled, omelletes, soft or hard boiled etc, but right now I’m limited on both type and amount of ingredients inside the SNAP budget, so you can’t do too much here.  I’m looking forward to buying some Cheese, but I want to buy in bulk for this so I am saving up for it.  In next week’s episode, I will have some more interesting egg breakfast preparations than just Eggs Over EZ.

The two main Lunch/Dinner meals are equally simple and basic, though with the Spaghetti and Meatballs/Sausage there are a couple of tricks to extend out your limited meat supply.  I’m taking 2/3 of the 1 lb of ground beef to make Meatballs, and the other 1/3 I will brown with onions and garlic to go in the Chili.

To extend the number of Meatballs I can make from 2/3rds of a pound, I smush in 2 raw eggs and some seasoned breadcrumbs, about 1/2 a cup.  This also makes the meatballs more flavorful and they have a nicer texture.  The first order of bizness is to brown all the meat in a skillet, and then drain off and conserve the fat.  Here’s that proceedure:

After you have browned and drained the fat off the meat, set it aside and then saute up whatever veggies you have to put in to the Sauce and Chili.  Veggies up here are fairly pricey, although I often get them free from friends who do gardening.  However, since many SNAP card recipients don’t have access to fresh veggies friends grow, I am not going to use those in the accounting here and just stick to what I can afford on the SNAP card budget.

Once the meat and veggies have been initially prepared, all that is left to do is throw everything into the slow cooker and let simmer around 3-4 hours.  If you do have some spices in the larder, add your favorites here!  Oregano, or Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme!

Just one Word here…PLASTICS!

Once you have your Spaghetti Sauce and Chili cooked up, you transfer it to a container and drop it in the fridge.  Each day all you cook up the rest of the week is some Rice or Spaghetti, ladle out a helping into a small pot to heat it up and then pour it over the carbs.  Alternatively, you can cook all the spaghetti and rice at once also, and then make portions for each day in Microwaveable containers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis gets us through Week 1 & 2, and there should be leftovers of some things at the end of the 2 weeks, we’ll see how much.  In Week 3, I’ll buy some more bulk goods and try to stay under $30.  With the $52 spent in weeks 1&2, that is total $82, leaving me around $58 to finish out the month with.  I should be able to put together some nicer meals in Week 4 with the savings.  What they might be depends very much on what I see On Sale in my visits to the Food Emporiums, so I can’t predict at this point. final note as far as Doom is concerned.  Obviously, this paradigm assumes a kind of Bizness as Usual, with food available at markets and money that functions to buy it.  I am NOT here developing cuisine and recipes to live on if you cannot get hold of any food at all this way.  The objective here is to simply see how little you can spend each week on food in the BAU paradigm currently operating to help keep your overall expenses down.  it is also applicable only in 1st World countries, much of the stuff you might currently still buy simply is not available in 3rd World countries.

There are many other things you want to do to reduce total expenses also, such as moving into smaller living spaces, carpooling with friends and neighbors and limiting and consolidating trips you take that require Gasoline to accomplish.

Probably the most important way to reduce expenses is to get together with others and pool resources, such as moving in with friends or relatives, or creating buying cooperatives amongst people who live separately.

My current goal with this project is to see if I can reduce my total monthly expenses to what a Minimum Wage worker earns each month, around $1200, for a yearly income gross around $14,400.  Hopefully I can get under that so I can have Savings besides.  I will be including my monthly communications bill in this total, for my phone and internet connection, because really it is not possible to live in this economy without these things and have a semi-normal existence.  Without good communications connections, if you are a laid off IT worker for instance from NASA SETI, you can’t post your Resume on the net or have a cell phone for Richard Branson to call you at.  These are basics in the society we live in now, if you fall so far off the cliff you lose access to this, your downhill spin to homelessness will be very rapid.

As you can see from the Videos & Pics, my package of ground beef made 9 Meatballs, and I divided the sausages into 3 parts each, for a total of 15 sausage sections.  Total of 24 Meat servings, which I divided into 3 pieces each serving.  Each meal comes in around 1000 calories, and the breakfasts similarly at 1000 calories for 2000 calories/day.  Both meals are very filling, and more than I really need, so actually I end up with some leftovers. other main Dinner meal for the 2 week initial period is very EZ, and is good for storage too, the Bear Creek Chili is dried food requiring no refrigeration.  I ended up just using one of the packages, so the other package will be used next week and reduce my expenses for week 3.  All you do to prepare this is add water to the mix and throw it in the slow cooker, brown the remaining ground beef in a skillet with onions and garlic and add that to the mixture with a can of tomato paste, then ladle it over rice to serve.  Hopefully you know how to make rice.  You boil it or steam it.  Duh.  Make as much as you need to fill out your calorie requirement for the day.

With my leftovers, all I am going to buy for next week is some stew meat $6, a large block of cheddar cheese $7 so I can make cheese omelletes, baked potatoes with cheese etc, butter $4 sour cream $2.50, flour $2.50 and cooking oil $2.  $24 total.  Together with the $52 from the first 2 weeks, that is $76, leaving me $64 to finish out the month.  I will make my first “gourmet” meal during this week, and buy more staples to fill out the larder and make more variety possible in month 2.

It is worthwhile to note this is much harder to get going for a single person than for 2 people living together.  You can get to more variety quicker with 2 people.  Also worth noting is that you can supplement a lot from Food Pantries if you qualify, but in the first month I am not considering that part of it.  Since I do not qualify for food pantry assistance in reality, I can’t get one of these boxes of food, but I know what goes in them since I volunteer at a Food Pantry.  So next month I will also buy what goes in a Pantry Box but not include what I spend on it in the food budget.

In SNAP Card Gourmet 003 next week, we will make a simple Stew and Cheese Omelettes, and maybe a Surprise Meal as well.  See you then!


The SNAP Card Gourmet 001

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 31, 2014SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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A while back I wrote an article called The Starvin’ Diner Cookbook, which I intended on becoming a series with Recipes for meals you can cook up on the cheap, but it’s one of those ideas that got lost with all the rest of the stuff going on in Doom, along with all the other projects we are always undertaking on the Diner to get the message out about the Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Podcasts, Vidcasts, yadda yadda.  These days, just Blogging Text doesn’t reach enough people, because they simply do not READ.  You have to use the whole panoply of media to capture an audience.

However, I recently moved to New Digs, and took the opportunity last weekend to do some Home Cookin’, which I rarely do anymore since it is much easier to just buy prepared foods or microwaveables, and I’m not really on a SNAP Card budget, although I don’t usually spend too much more than the SNAP allotment each week on food anyhow.

With some 47 Million People in the FSoA now living on a SNAP Card budget, developing good recipes with the current food available that you can access either low priced at Food Superstores or sometimes free at Food Pantries is very important.  So over the next few months, I will be keeping my Food Purchases under the typical SNAP Card allotment for the individual of around $140/mo, $35/wk or for simplicity sake here $5/day.  File this under the idea that even if you are currently flush, it’s a decent idea to learn how to live CHEAP BEFORE you actually are faced down with the challenge for real.  Not the $2/day many folks in the 3rd World live on, but the economy here is different and making it on $5/day in food is something of a challenge in the FSoA.

FoodDonationsIn order to be better connected to the people who actually are currently in this situation and to become more active Locally, I have begun Volunteering at one of the local Food Pantries that serve the folks around here who have already fallen off the Economic Cliff, people for whom Collapse is  not a “Someday it Might Come” thing anymore, Collapse is already here for them.  I hope over time to be able to develop connections between my friends who own Local Farms and who are Commercial Fishermen and the folks already off the cliff or soon to be in need of sustenance to develop a comprehensive food distribution system ready to drop in place when JIT shipping and the Dollar fail.  I am in a unique position to do this for many reasons, and it is probably the most “real” way I can be of service, beyond writing on the Internet.  While I still believe it is important to try and work on the Grand Scale of the Global Internet and Blog the Collapse, I also realize that most solutions will need to be local, so ya can’t just Blog on this stuff, you gotta do something in your neighborhood too.

I decided to change the name of the Series from “The Starvin’ Diner Cookbook” to “The SNAP Card Gourmet” for a few reasons.  One is to highlight how large a segment of the population is already in the situation of needing Food Security Assistance here in the FSoA.  The other reason is it is an Homage to my favorite TV Chef from my youth, Graham Kerr, The Galloping GourmetWAY better than Julia Child! 😀

If you watched about the first 2 minutes of this, you should be able to tell Graham generally did his Cooking Show 3 Sheets to the Wind, and often enough would consume an entire bottle of wine in recording the show.  LOL.  He had a ton of fun doing Galloping Gourmet, and it was hilarious because it was all impromptu.  I’ll be trying to do my Doomstead Diner Cooking Show in the same tradition. 🙂

I’m not going to try recording 20 minute shows yet, this biz will take some practice.  However, I will include a few clips along with the recipes and an accounting of the costs and cooking means, which I am going to adapt for Doom.

For this Week’s Episode, the two Dishes are Grilled Peppered Steak RE and Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs & Alaska Veggies RE.


Now the first thing you are probably going to say is “RE!  There is NO WAY you could afford to make meals like this on $5/Day!  That Steak BY ITSELF cost $23!!!!” would be right also, if you tried to eat this stuff EVERY day, and if you consumed all of it in one day at a single sitting like the typical patron of an All You Can Eat Buffet like Golden Corral.  You also can’t buy such stuff the FIRST week you start eating on a SNAP Card budget, you have to work your way into it by eating cheaper than $5/day for a couple of weeks, then use the savings to start buying some Premium Foods to sprinkle into your diet later.  I’ll demonstrate how to do this in succeeding episodes of The SNAP Card Gourmet, here on the Doomstead Diner.

Let’s begin here with the Pepper encrusted USDA Prime Ribeye, which is a very typical BBQ preparation utilizing a Dry Rub, a little BBQ Sauce, a couple of days marinating and about 20 minutes on the Grill.

The reason the price comes in so high here for this piece of beef is that it is USDA Prime, which generally you only get in Fine Dining Restaurants that serve the 1%, or in Gourmet Markets serving the same crowd.  However, here on the Last Great Frontier, at 3 Bears Food Warehouse, they occasionally get USDA Prime in their huge meat section, and this one looked so perfectly marbled and the right thickness for a good grilling I just HAD to buy it in Celebration of my move to the new Digs, which I chronicled recently in The Great Moving Adventure I & II.

Here is what the Steak looked like after a couple of days of marinating, but before being seared on the portable propane fired BBQ.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOriginally I was going to go the full 9 yards with this and fire it up on a traditional Charcoal BBQ with a soaked Hickory Plank, but I got lazy and besides I have so many canisters of Propane in my preps I might as well use them.  Overall the improvement in flavor doing it this way is marginal, and it’s a pain in the ass so I just screwed in a canister and AWAY we go!

As you can see, this piece of beef is Picture Perfect with just the right amount of Fat Marbling, which is what gets it that USDA Prime designation.  If you scope out the Meat racks regularly though, you can often find USDA Choice cuts that are just about as nice, at about half the price of Prime.  I just about always buy Choice cuts for the BBQ, this was just a Special Celebration so I splurged on the Prime Beef.  NEVER buy Select Cuts for the BBQ, unless you really like chewing a lot.  Select is only good for the slow cooker.

Far as Spicing it up goes, here you do need to rely on Preps because some stuff like Peppercorns are going to be hard to come by when JIT fails, so you need a good supply of Spices laid in here.  Fortunately, Spices are one of those Preps that last a long time without Refrigeration, and as long as you Vaccuum seal them they will be good for years.  Salt will be good FOREVER.  Your main spices are Salt & Pepper of course, this I am good for 5 years at least.  Garlic after that is pretty easy to grow, and then many other spices like Rosemary, Thyme etc can be grown indoors hydroponically, so you can have a continuing source of those. need for this right now though, I just used some of my copious prep supply of McCormick Old Monterrey Spice, one of my favorite meat spice mixtures.  Basted on a little hickory flavored BBQ sauce and let it sit a couple of days so the flavor penetrates into the meat and doesn’t just sit on the outside surface.

As you can see from the Cooked Picture above, the Ribeye is pretty well Blackened, so you might think it is burnt.  No, this is how I like BBQ meat, it’s called “Pittsburgh Rare“.  Black on the Outside, Still MOOING on the inside.  I came pretty close to perfect on it, just maybe 2-3 minutes longer than I should have had it on the grill to be perfect for me.  If you like a less black outside and pink inside, use a lower flame or move the grill surface higher off the flames.  Here’s the Taste Test of this BBQ:

In terms of Meals out of this Steak, I got 4 of them.  I can’t eat a Steak this size with all that FAT at one sitting anymore, I ate about 1/3rd of it right off the Grill and the rest went into Steak Sandwiches I had for lunch the rest of the week.  You can do all sorts of things to make them their own Gourmet meals, to one I added herb infused Brie I picked up on sale, to another I added some grilled onions and mushrooms, etc.  Still beyond the daily budget of $5, but not by too much, and within it if you buy a more economically priced Choice Cut.

OK, on to Dish #2, Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs & Alaska Veggies!

As you can see in the background of the Steak Taste Test Vid, there’s a bunch of Batteries, a Slow Cooker, rechargeable Diode Lights and a Power Inverter (converts 12V DC to 120 V AC).  This is my “Battery Corner” with stored Power for short 1-2 Day power outtages, generally coming from weather related phenomena these days, but in the future possibly coming fro Rationed Electricity and Rolling Blackouts.  The main battery storage here on the counter is a 12V Lawn Tractor Battery, and one of the Battery Packs from my EWz Electric Scooter, which runs on 36V but is actually 3 12V deep cycle batteries in series which can be separated to work with a 12V Inverter.  Not necessary for this experiment, the Lawn Tractor Battery was sufficient.  Besides these batteries, I also have a much larger Deep Cycle battery in the Bugout Machine and its starter battery, and of course the starter batteries that are in my 2 Carz, a 1983 Mazda MPV and a 2003 Ford Explorer, and the other 36 Volt battery pack that is aboard the EWz.  Altogether, without recharging this is enough electric juice for a couple of weeks well rationed easily.

Why was a small 12V Lawn Tractor Battery sufficient in this case?  Because Slow Cookers have a VERY low power draw overall, not much more than an incandescent Lightbulb.  You can’t run an 1100 Watt Microwave Oven off a small SLA battery like this, but it will do a Slow Cooker no problemo.

Slow cooking is great for numerous reasons besides the fact it is low power draw.  Overall it retains the Vitamin content of the food better than when you cook rapidly at high heat.  It also blends flavors better, plus the broth you end up with makes fabulous and very nourishing Soup as well.  Besides that, you are by no means limited to doing it off your stored battery power, you can quite easily do the same thing by digging a hole in the back yard, burning some charcoal or wood and heating some rocks, then cover with some dirt, drop the Crock in on top of that and cover up the whole thing with more dirt.  Dig it out after 5 or 6 hours, same result as using the electrics. another way to do the same thing is to drop the crock into a Solar Oven.  Even here in Alaska, for most of the year if you do this on a sunny day, if you drop your Crock in the Cooker in at 10AM, the food is ready by 4PM.

The only downside of Slow Cooking is that except for stews and such, it doesn’t present all that well, so in this case with the Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs, I threw them on the grill for a few minutes after the slow cook to caramalize the sauce and blacken the meat a bit.  This is tricky because the meat is pretty much falling off the bone at this point.  On the upside though, the veggies you cook along with the meat absorb all the flavors, and are as good or better than the meat itself!  They also really fill out the meal with both Calories and Vitamins.

Anyhow, without further ado and explanation here is the Taste Test on the Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs and Alaska Veggies RE dish:

For those of you wishing to try this dish on your own Doomstead, here’s the Ingredients:

1/2 Slab Baby Back Ribs

1/2 a Large White Onion

4-6 Large Cloves of Garlic

Enough Carrots and Potatoes to fill the rest of the Crock Pot (1.5-2 Quart size)

2 Soy Sauce Packets (I save these so I never buy Soy Sauce)

1/4 Cup Teriyaki Marinade (you can substitute other marinades, whatever you got on the shelf)

1/2 Can of BEER! 🙂 (drink the other half while loading the Crock)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

Cut the slab up to size to fit the Crock.

Chop the onion into about 1/2″ size pieces

If the Potatoes are Large, cut to around 2″ cubes.  I use small potatoes though even though they are a little more pricey

Use Baby Carrots or cut the carrots into 2″ long sections

Throw in the whole cloves of Garlic or chop them up, your choice.

Throw everything into the Slow Cooker and go Surf the Net looking for Doom Storiez for 5-6 hours

Fish out everything with a Strainer Spoon, and take the Ribs over to the Grill for about 3 minutes on each side to caramalize.  Do it carefully or the ribs will fall apart and through the grill and you’ll lose some tasty meat.

Conserve the remaining Broth to make Onion Soup with Stale Bread and some Swiss or Gruyere Cheese.  Another meal there.


Now, as mentioned, you can’t start off on your SNAP Card Budget with these kind of meals, you have to get very BASIC at the beginning.  Your nourishment for the first couple of weeks on the SNAP Card Budget is going to be pretty dull if you don’t have at least a few spices and other basics in the cubbard when Da Goobermint courtesy of JP Morgan Chase issues you your first month’s SNAP Card.  Obviously I have a ton of stuff to perk up meals stored, but for the purposes of demonstration here I won’t use them as we begin this exercise.

Next Week here on the SNAP Card Gourmet, we’ll start with the basics, and work our way up the Culinary Ladder from there.  By the end of the month, I should have enough saved up for at least 2 meals worthy of a $100 Ticket at a 1% Restaurant.  Not sure what I will go for with this yet, first I gotta see what I can conserve and what ingredients I can find on sale over the course of the month.

In the mean time, eat well, enjoy the Plenty while you can.  This is bound to get more difficult as time goes by.


The SNAP of Doom

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Famine, as visualized by sculptor Rowan Gillespie on Custom House Quay in Dublin, Ireland. Famine is what the food stamp program prevents. And the food stamp program is showing signs of breaking down. (Photo by William Murphy/Flickr)

Published on The Daily Impact on June 10, 2015


There are stories that confirm our worries that the whole industrial system is about to come apart; and then there are stories that scare the crap out of us because they indicate that the collapse is ongoing and accelerating. This is one of those latter stories, one of those pre-apocalyptic cracks of doom that, like thunder, tell you it’s time to get ready. A Google search this morning finds no mention of this story in the industrial media, but it rages in the alternative sources (many of whom are weaving it into their previously established conspiracy theories as a deliberate act, not another triumph of  ineptitude).

The story? All over the country, especially since June 1, the SNAP card system, which is how we get food stamps to people now, is failing. Curiously, the failures seem to be selective, not blacking out areas-or states or regions, but cherry-picking individuals all over the country. Hundreds of people all over the country so far this month, and thousands this year, are experiencing late funding of their SNAP cards — some people are still waiting for funds that were supposed to be available on June 1. Many hundreds more are finding their SNAP cards won’t work at all.

According to a website that tracks these things, people are reporting problems at a rate that for parts of the day exceed 200 per hour. Fifty million individuals, including one out of every five American children, receive food stamps. If you know any families who rely on them — personally I mean, not through the viewpoint of the snarling “get-a-job” trolls who populate every online discussion of this subject (including, amazingly, the website designed to collect reports of problems in the system) — you know that the last few days before the stipend comes through are often hungry days. (The trolls sneer at that, but would you really be unaffected by a one or two week delay in your paycheck?)

But you do not have to be a bleeding-heart liberal to find this problem appalling. The SNAP, or EBT, card is how we deliver food assistance to people who otherwise would be in line at some government agency, lines whose size and desperation would dwarf anything seen in the Great Depression. There is virtually no margin for error here before people start to starve. (What’s that you say? A huge government computer system with no margin for error? What could possibly go wrong?)

And if you have no pity for the starving (because obviously if they had good character they would be successful like you), consider this:before they starve they are going to burn your country down around your hard of hearing ears.

People who have not read history and who have no empathy and are childishly simplistic in their comprehension of the world — you know, people like Donald Trump — have no idea what has happened in the past (“Let them eat cake!”), what is happening right now (People are dying in massive riots around empty grocery stores in Venezuela.) or what could happen any minute if another lit match is thrown into that tinder box (“Drug test them!” “Reduce and restrict benefits!” “Make ‘em work for it!”)

So move the second hand on the doomsday clock a little closer to midnight, and pray that the government that designed and built a computer system for the FBI that had to be scrapped entirely on opening day — the government that designed and built the original Obamacare website — can fix this problem before….

Oh, never mind. I gotta find my bugout bag.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Is China a House of Cards?

Xi Jinpenggc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Xi Jinpeng

Originally published in Sputnik on May 17, 2016


Let’s start by examining what the Dragon himself – President Xi Jinping – has to say about China being largely derided in influential Beltway circles as a House of Cards.

Xi has forcefully dismissed the notion that a House of Cards power struggle has been raging at the rarified heights of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Yet at the same time he’s adamant; “conspirators”, “careerists”, “cabals” and “cliques” are attempting to undermine the CCP from within.

Thus, with ironic/poetic justice, a 42-part series on corruption in China – titled In the Name of the People and financed by the Middle Kingdom’s top law enforcement agency – is bound to go live before the end of 2016, featuring a CCP stalwart as the bad guy (that’s a first). Call him the Chinese Frank Underwood.

This means that what Xi is saying – and acting — live will be mirrored on hundreds of millions of Chinese screens, pitting conflicting factions within the 88 million-member CCP. Xi’s war on corruption has produced a rash of severely disgruntled CCP officials – to put it mildly.

Xi not only is the Commander-in-Chief in the fight against corruption; he’s now Commander-in-Chief of China’s joint battle command center as well. He monitors a [Central Military Commission] Chairman Responsibility System as well as the central guard corps, which monitors the security of all other CCP heavyweights.

Add to these Xi’s status as CCP’s general secretary, chairman of the Central Military Commission, president of the national security commission and head of the top group for reform of the Chinese system, and a Harvard academic who refers to him as “the chairman of everything” does not seem to be that far off the mark. 

Yet even this awesome concentration of power does not mean that Xi is an unassailable deity. On the key drama – the state of the economy – it has emerged that in a recent interview by the People’s Daily with an anonymous “authoritative person”, printed on the front page and exposing deep economic divergence among the CCP leadership, the “authoritative person” in question was none other than Xi. 

He had to take to the key media read by anyone who’s anyone in China to press his point on how to fix China’s debt-ridden economy; low growth is OK, and the new normal; as for blind credit expansion/monetary easing, that’s not OK. Xi, once again, is adamant; it’s now or never to start a painful restructuring of the Chinese system.   

Beware the “nests of foreign spies”

Xi Jinping does wield astonishing power. There can’t be any other way. Imagine the man on top of a civilization-state of 5,000 years who needs, among myriad other crucial issues, to; tweak/manage an economic system that was successful for over 30 years but now needs to be upgraded; shift the system from export-led demand to domestic consumption; manage the aspirations – and broken dreams – of a vast working class including millions of newly unemployed; reorganize monster state-owned enterprises (SOEs); find ways to get rid of Himalayas of bad bank loans and “nonperforming” investments; downsize and at the same time vitally upgrade the Chinese military.

And if that was not enough, Beijing has to be fully alert 24/7 about all those non-stop Pentagon provocations – actual and rhetorical – centered in the South China Sea. 

Two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors are launched during a successful intercept test.


You’ve got to be alert. Full time. All the time. And be alert at “foreign hostile forces” or, more plainly, “nests of foreign spies” who want you to be mired in chaos. Thus the new law on NGOs operating in China. There are too many — over 7,000. And the (hidden) agenda for quite a few – from NED to the Soros gang — is to try to promote pure, unadulterated color revolution, as difficult as that may be in ultra-regimented China.

Yet it worked in Brazil – a BRICS weak link. The CCP leadership has carefully – and silently – understood the Brazilian lesson, and is fully aware that Exceptionalistan would stop at nothing to slow down China’s already spectacular global reach. So if you’re a NGO operating in China, from now on you need to find an official Chinese sponsor and register with local police. 

Back to the Chinese economy, the mantra across multiple, powerful Beltway factions is that a crash is imminent. Once again; the House of Cards theme. 

China’s total debt is now a whopping 280% of GDP. That includes the 115% that apply to SOEs’ debts; in Japan, for instance, that SOE figure is only 31%. Yet what really matters is that only a maximum of 25% of Chinese SOEs’ debts will need to be restructured. 

Xi’s strategy is that the Goddess of the Market will turbo-charge those SOEs, not kill them. So forget about the CPP handing out control of the Chinese economy to companies that the CCP itself does not control. No wonder what’s left for US Big Capital’s spokespersons is to carp about a House of Cards.

All eyes on 2021

It’s never enough to remind everyone that absolutely everything that’s happening in China now is subordinated to Xi’s official target of achieving “a moderately prosperous society” (xiaokang shehui) by the 100th anniversary of the CCP’s founding, in 2021.

That’s a mere five years from now. More long term, 2049, is the target of achieving a “socialist modernized society” (shehuizhuyi xiandaihua shehui) with a $30,000 GDP per capita; that should tie in with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 

Chinese People's Liberation Army cadets shout as they take part in a bayonet drills at the PLA's Armoured Forces Engineering Academy Base, on the outskirts of Beijing, China, July 22, 2014

Beijing’s army of planners estimate that this overwhelming target is achievable if the Middle Kingdom is able to produce over 30% of global GDP by 2049; for comparison, that’s about 1 and ½ times more than the proportion currently produced by the US (and considering that the US does not manufacture much apart from weapons and infotech.) 

As breathtaking as this vision may be, it’s always reduced by the same old catastrophist Western “experts” to variations of Xi being the new Mao Zedong. That’s so pedestrian. The men – and the historical contexts – are radically diverse. Mao decided on a few core issues by himself – and left the rest to his underlings. The Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping was a man of consensus. Xi decides by himself on virtually everything – but he does pay attention to some selected advisers. Examples include the Ministry of Trade, which first came up with the concept that developed into the New Silk Roads, and Liu He, the advisor who conceptualized Xi’s current economic strategy. 

The fact that Xi is now designated as the “core” (hexin) of the Beijing leadership is not such a big (Maoist) deal. The word in Beijing is that an assembly line of editors is now compiling a book of Xi thought (sixiang) that would make him as crucial as Mao as a contributor to Sino-Marxist theory. So what? Xi is a man in a rush, on a roll and with a mission – and 2021 is just around the corner. House of Cards? No; this looks more like a case of Xi landing a Full House on the table.  

PepePepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).and "Empire of Chaos" (Nimble Books, 2014). His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015. He currently lives between Paris and Bangkok. Follow him on Facebook:

TV Dinners and Population Control

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on February 25, 2018

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When I first returned from Brasil in the late 1960's, the first TV Dinners had hit the market here in the FSoA.  According to Google, they were first produced by Swanson in 1953, a few years before I was born.  I don't recall having one in my earliest years, although I probably did consume them in those years, my mom wasn't much into cooking.  These meals were all pre-cooked then frozen, and all you needed to do was throw them in the oven for about 30 minutes, and you had an instant dinner to throw on the folding table in front of the TV to have your dinner.  There were no Microwave ovens back then to heat them up in 5 minutes or less.

Image result for eating tv dinner on tray table in front of tv There wasn't much variety in these meals back in the day, as I recall there were only 3 I ate with any regularity, the Fried Chicken, the Turkey and the Salisbury "Steak" which was really hamburger with gravy over it.  Fried Chicken was by far my favorite, which came with mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes and an Apple Cobbler for desert.  The TV Dinner era coincided with the beginning of the dissolution of family life in Amerika, as your nightly dinner was no longer a family affair.  No prep time necessary, and each person could just throw one in the oven when they returned from work or school.  Instead of being "housewives", women were moving into the workforce to try and raise more money for the family.   Divorces also increased in prevalence during this period, and my family was one of those so mom HAD to go out and work to supplement her alimony payments.  So she didn't cook many dinners in this period, and I did begin to cook for myself quite often, but I also resorted to the EZ TV Dinner as my nightly meal as I watched the latest in the Vietnam War maelstrom on NBC with Chet Huntley & David Brinkley, or on CBS with Walter Cronkite.

Image result for swanson hungry man salisbury steak As time went by, TV Dinners of various types and sizes were produced, Swanson came out with the "Hungry Man" version of their stuff, a full 16 oz (1 pound, .45 kilos) of industrially grown, cooked, frozen and shipped to your local grocery store.  MOAR FOOD!  But basically the same food and the same recipes there.

Then the Microwave Era arrived, and the frozen pre-prepared food market simply EXPLODED. Today, if you walk (or drive a cripple cart like I do), there isn't a dish you could order in a restaurant that hasn't already been prepared, frozen and packaged for sale in one of the freezers at your local food superstore.  You in the mood for Chicken Tikka Masala from Indian Cuisine?  NO PROBLEM!  What kind of Mexican Burrito do you want to Microwave tonight?  Or maybe you would prefer a Chimichanga?  How about General Tso's Chicken, if you don't want to buy it already heated up at the Deli Counter?  LOL.

I'm not even touching the tip of the iceberg here in terms of the variety of the Frozen Foods available in the aisles of my local food superstores, and I live in Alaska in a low population zone.  Regardless of that, I can drive my Cripple Cart down about 3-4 aisles of refrigerators and freezers PACKED with every kind of food prep you can imagine.  Hot Wings from Friday's?  No problem, got 'em. Sliders from White Castle?  Got 'em.  Family size 5 Cheese Lasagna from Stouffers too!  Or you can buy the generic Great Values brand from Walmart which is exactly the same shit but about 30-40% cheaper.

Image result for stouffers family size lasagna Far as the Lasagna is concerned, it's actually not bad as frozen foods go, and lasagna is a major pain in the ass to prepare yourself.  You gotta boil all the noodles first, layer them out in a baking pan, spread on the ricotta, add whatever other ingredients you wanna throw in, etc.  By the time you buy all the ingredients it costs way more than a Stouffer's (or Great Value) Lasagna and you can't taste much difference.  If you are invited to a Pot Luck (Potlatch) Dinner and don't have a lot of time to fix a dish, these are a great choice.  I've even had compliments about how good "my" lasagna was at these gatherings.  lol.  Just nod and thank them for the compliment.  What they don't know won't hurt them (in this case).

The thing I can't figure out is HTF all these different frozen concotions are being bought by the population size around here?  There are hundreds if not thousands of different items. I can't imagine any but the smallest percentage of the population buys most of them.  It's not just the frozen foods either, its all the canned foods too.  All these foods have expiration dates on them, how much do they throw out?  Inquiring minds want to know?  It is in fact plenty of course, as Dumpster Divers around the nation know.  The trick of course is to get to these dumpsters without getting caught and before the food being disposed of goes REALLY bad.  The food stores don't give the stuff away because it would depress the prices they could get for stuff still on the shelf.

Like almost every other Konsumer item these days, food is WAY over-produced in some places where it can be sold to people somewhere else who still have credit flowing in from the system in general.  Alaska still is one such place.  So despite the fact most of it is currently imported, Alaskans can afford to buy the stuff because of both the residual Oil money flowing in as well as of course ever expanding DEBT.  There are however an ever expanding number of Alaskans relying on SNAP Cards to buy this cornucopia of industrially produced food, so how long this all lasts up here is an open question.

Image result for snap card There is a tremendous lack of understanding here in Amerika about the relative cost of food to various populations around the world.  Even for a relatively poor person in Amerika, food comes in as a relatively cheap part of your monthly budget, plus if you are super-poor you get the SNAP Cards to allow you to buy the frozen foods and pretty much whatever else is on the shelves at the local food superstore, including prepared foods from the Deli Counter.  Of course if you do that because the markup on these foods is so high, you'll probably burn up your SNAP Card allotment in the first week, which a decent number of the folks receiving this benny do and I don't have a lot of sympathy for that.  As I have demonstrated numerous times with my SNAP Card Gourmet series of recipes, if you are receiving the typical SNAP Card bennies most states offer, you can easily meet your total nutritional requirements for the month.  Add to that the food boxes numerous charities will hand out and right now here in the FSoA you should be able to stay fed.  If you live out in a rural area with no access to a car for transportation, this can make it difficult even if you have a SNAP Card.  Also, not everyone who applies gets one, and it can take a while to get approved.

This state of affairs is NOT true in most of the world however, and in many places people have to subsist on $2/day, which includes not just their food but a shelter of some kind to sleep under.  They may be raising children also.  As cheap as I can go with creating nutritious meals, there is no way I could feed a family of 4 on $2/day!  Countries in this situation (and there are many, mostly in Africa and Asia) are in constant turmoil and politically unstable for the basic reason the population simply does not have enough to eat!  So you ask, WTF do they keep procreating and having MORE kids if they can't feed the ones they already GOT?

Image result for trojan condoms The reasons here are many.  First off, any form of birth control, even simple condoms are not that accessible, nor are they free.  So if your budget is already stretched just to buy food, there's not a whole lot left over to buy trojans.  Also, many people just don't like wearing a raincoat while they have sex.  More complex forms of birth control like vasectomies and tubal ligation are even more expensive.  They also take trained doctors to do them, and the idea they are always reversible is a canard.  Sometimes reversing it works, other times not.  It all costs MONEY in any event, which is in short supply in most of the world.

Then there is the issue of Old Age security.  In most of the countries with high birth rates, they don't have a state sponsored pension system like Social Security, their children are their only form of security in their dotage years.  The children also have a relatively high mortality rate, if you have 8 of them you ar lucky if 3 survive to adulthood.  So you have as many as possible as an insurance policy, statistically speaking.

Then there is the factor of simple boredom without a whole lot to entertain you other than fucking.  What else do you really have to do that is so appealing?  It's not like you can jump in your car for a drive around town or even go to the movies if you live on $2/day.  So people fuck, and babies are born as a result.  This is not rocket science.

Is there a SOLUTION here?  Of COURSE there is, but it doesn't come at the Birth end of the Birth-Death equation in population expansion.  The problem is not that people are being born too quickly, it's that they are not dying fast enough!

Image result for virus particle Going back in history to the pre-Agricultural, Hunter-Gatherer era, there were NO forms of birth control available, yet the population of Homo Saps did not increase very rapidly.  Why not?  Because the average lifespan was shorter, child mortality was higher and there were other predators out there who kept our numbers in check.  These checks and balances to population size have been removed as time passed, and in the last century the development of various forms of antibiotics even kept in check the smallest of predators of Homo Sap, the bacteria and viruses.  At the same time, there was an explosion in the amount of food available with the "Green Revolution", which used fossil fuels and high-energy fertilizers to increase the agricultural productivity of a given plot of land.  The combined effect of this was to vastly increase the total population size as more people were born and fewer died young.

Now, this problem is self-resolving of course because at some point in the not too distant future the four horsemen of the apocalypse will come in to ride herd on humanity and knock off a significant percentage of the population quite rapidly.  Famine can do this in quite short order, if for instance a disease hit the monoculture crops of soy beans and corn grown through industrial farming in the breadbasket of the midwest FSoA.  Or a still more virulent and antibiotic resistant disease mutates out of the numerous ones floating around out there these days.  I don't see worrying about Homo Sap population as skyrocketing further to 10M or more as a worthwhile concern, it's unlikely to go that far.  There will be a discontinuity in this exponential increase in population, just it is difficult to pinpoint precisely WHEN that discontinuity will occur?

Image result for 4 horsemen of the apocalypse

Now, of course nobody wants to see a Black Death situation with thousands of corpses piling up in the streets and the smell of death all around you.  Can't you smell that smell?  We're getting there with the Opioid Epidemic.

However, trying to dish out death in a slower, more controlled fashion has its own set of intractable problems.  To begin with, who gets to decide who lives and who dies?  Then, what criteria do you use to dish out the death?  Age?  Wealth? Race? IQ?

After that, are the people targeted for Death going to happily show up at the Soylent Green recycling center to be "put to sleep" as they say in the Veterinarian bizness?  In general probably not, so then you have to start forcibly rounding them up.  This was what the Nazis tried to do.  It was a complete mess and didn't work.

So in the end here, you more or less have to reconcile yourself to the way Population Control will come to Homo Saps is the traditional way, through Famine, Disease and War.  It's also likely to come on fairly rapidly as well, Seneca Cliff style.  Precisely when this knockdown of the human population will arrive remains an open question, and how fast "fairly rapidly" means is a relative thing.  It's not going to happen overnight or in a week or even in a year.  But compared to all the centuries it took to climb up this hill, it will be a lot faster skiing down it.

In the meantime, I suggest avoiding the TV Dinners and rather cook your own fresh meats and veggies.  It's not as convenient, but it's healthier and tastier and you'll live longer!  Or if you want to reduce the population size starting with yourself, eat LOTS of TV Dinners!

Eat it Raw

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 17, 2017

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As regular readers of the Diner know, I have numerous health issues stemming from my spinal injury.  Among these issues for me is an almost total loss of appetite and difficulty eating more than just a few bites of food at any time.  Also a reduced ability to actually taste the food I eat. I was thrilled down in Seattle when I actually managed to eat about 3/4s of a Tuna Sandwich at the Museum of Flight.  It was a very good Tuna Sandwich too, consistency wise.  For someone who was as big a Foody as I was, this is perhaps the most depressing aspect of my injury, even worse than the issues with walking.  The only upside to it is I am not getting fat despite my lack of exercise, in fact I am steadily losing weight. At home in order to get some nutrition down my pie hole, I have experimented with numerous gimmicks and enthusiasms of various foods I can tolerate eating a little at a time.  For a while it was Soups.  I would heat a can of one of my favorite Progresso or Campbells Chunky Soup, and then spend a couple of days eating it by the spoonful right out of the pot on the stove.  I would reheat as necessary, and add a little water to replace the water that boiled off during each reheat.  However, I got tired of this and bored with it and 2 days on the stove turned into 3, then 4.  I started having to put the soup in a tupperware and refrigerate it to keep it from going bad.  Then this leftover soup started sitting in the fridge for a week or two and going bad anyhow.  I stopped opening cans of soup at this point. My next enthusiasm was Salads, mostly augmented Greek-Style Tomato salads.  I could buy just 2 or 3 Roma Tomatoes in the produce aisle, a block of Feta Cheese, a Red Onion and Kalamatta Olives in a jar and this formed the basis for my salad.  The only thing perishable in there that doesn't last that long in the fridge are the tomatoes, everything else will last a month and more with a vinagarette dressing of some type.  Keep your block of Feta wrapped up tight in plastic, that lasts a couple of months easy.  Kalamatta Olives in the Jar?  Probably last a year in the fridge even after you open the jar.  Further augmentation came from canned gourmet veggies like marinated artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, straw mushrooms etc.  These salads lasted easily a week in the fridge a few bites at a time, but I became bored with them too.

Then I went on a Fresh Fruit & Cheese enthusiasm. Clementine Oranges (the small ones, didn't they used to call these tangerines?), Bananas. Cubed Watermelon & Seedless Grapes mostly for the fruit; Brie (and other soft cheeses), Havarti, Gouda, Gorgonzola and really whatever appealed to me in the Gourmet Cheese display at Fred Meyer or was on a half-price sale.  The Bananas don't last long, you have to eat all of them inside a week or so or they start to turn black and get mushy inside.  Grapes and Clementines last pretty long in the fridge, but they start dehydrating and after about 3-4 days are not so juicy.  Cubed Watermelon lasts a surprisingly long time in a tupperware container in its own juices, up to a couple of weeks it is still pretty crunchy, sweet and juicy.  The cheeses you have to remember to wrap well in plastic after you cut off a hunk for a meal, and always use a nice clean knife rinsed with hot water to remove bacteria on the knife.  Not a bad idea to hold the blade over the stove fire either to further sterilize it.  This also important later for the meat and fish cutting.  If you do all that, your wedge or block of cheese should last in the fridge at least a month before you start seeing Green Mold growing on it.  You can often just cut this off, because it is only growing on the outside surface, the interior is still fine.  In fact, you can eat the part with the mold on it too, that won't kill you and it doesn't change the taste that much.  Just looks a little gross.

This brings us to my current enthusiasm, RAW ANIMAL PROTEIN.

I moved to this enthusiasm for a couple of reasons.  First was the EXTREME Edema (swelling due to fluid retention) condition I have in my legs, which on top of the spinal injury and general loss of strength from that has brought it to the point I can't even stand up if I don't have hand holds and bracing to do it with. The Nurse Practioner I was seeing as my Primary Care Provider before I ditched her for a Physician's Assistant who is equally clueless suggested that the Edema problem might stem from a lack of protein in my diet.  I am fully aware of this nutrition problem, however she did not have a good suggestion on how to SOLVE it since I can't hardly eat anything at all.  I pitched the idea of a feeding tube, but she informed me Medicare won't pay for that unless you are on your death bed in hospital.  So I have to get the right foods down my own gullet myself, somehow. So, OK, on the assumption a lack of protein is the proximal problem causing the edema, how can I increase my protein intake?  Well, I have always liked Fish, and even got into eating Raw Fish in the form of Sushi & Sashimi in my college years when I started haunting Japanese Restaurants around NY Shity.  Today, there are Sushi Bars in the major Food Superstores which provide a pre-rolled Sushi plate for anywhere from $8-$15 depending on the type of fish and the size of the plate.  So I started with this.

Of course, due to my low appetite, I can't finish a typical Sushi Lunch plate from Fred Meyer, which usually has about 2 rolls worth of some decorative Sushi concoction that appeals to the Amerikan palate.  Around here, this is mainly Tuna Rolls, Salmon,and California Rolls which have the fake Crab Meat in them with some avocado and cream cheese.  Thing is, while the fish inside is still good the second day, the rice starts to dry out very fast and the texture isn't as nice. Still edible even after 3 days, but really only good the 1st day. Besides that, these rolls are MOSTLY rice, the amount of fish in them is pretty small.  I am interested in JUST THE FISH, not all the decorations or the rice either.

This vid is the shorter one which doesn't show half what gets pitched out when sectioning up a Salmon for Sashimi.  I figured I would spare you watching the head, spine and skin getting pitched out also.  Waste, Waste, Waste.

Back in Edo Japan, I suspect Sushi was what the Peasants ate, while Sashimi which is JUST THE FISH is what the Samurai ate.  The fish was the expensive part of the meal, the rice was filler and calories so the Peasants would have enough energy to work and feed the Samurai.  Samurai needed the fish protein to develop big strong muscles to wield swords with which they could behead the peasants.  The Sashimi JUST THE FISH meal is made even MORE expensive by the fact that in preparing sashimi, only the very BEST parts of the fish are used.  You can't believe the amount of WASTE when a Sashimi artist goes about filleting and slicing up a fish to lay out on a decorative plate.  In modern restaurants, I suspect most of the parts discarded by the Sashimi artist go in the trash, not even composted.  However, going back to Edo Japan, I suspect these parts were collected to make Fish Broth, which again the peasants got to use to make soups and supplement their protein intake above the pitiful amount of fish usually contained in a Sushi Roll. The only platters that have a little more fish on them in the plastic containers at Fred Meyer are the Nigiri Sushi, which is basically a slice of raw fish on top of a pile of rice.  You only get 8 pieces total though, again up here usually Ahi Tuna and Salmon.  The box costs you $12, and I suspect there is no more than 1/4 lb of fish there.  That is working out to $48/lb!  They don't serve a straight Sashimi plate at Freddie's, for that you have to go to the Sushi Bar at our local Japanese Restaurant, Tokyo.  Here you will pay around $25 now for around 12 pieces of fish, usually Ahi Tuna, Salmon, Yellowtail and Octopus.  Maybe about 1/3rd lb total here.

So, I decided that instead of shopping for my Sashimi at the Sushi counter, I would go straight to the Fresh Fish counter!  Bring it home and slice it up myself!  This cut the cost for JUST THE FISH by at least half.  There are pluses and minuses here with doing this. Some fish like the Tuna is really EZ to slice up into nice bite size pieces to dip in your Wasabi-Soy Sauce dipping mixture and eat with a bit of pickled ginger.  You do now have the added cost of buying the wasabi and soy and pickled ginger, which all comes included on the pre made Sushi plate, so this reduces your savings, plus you have the work of slicing the fish so the savings aren't quite as much as you hoped for overall.

Salmon is much harder to slice into nice Sashimi size chunks.  It tends to fall apart as you slice, plus you have to get the skin off the back side of the fillet.   They also use larger salmon at sushi bars than you normally find at the fish counter or would buy just to feed yourself.  There is no way I can get the size chunks of salmon equal to the size of the tuna with the salmon I have bought for this so far.

Octopus is usually not available at the fish counter here, and neither is Yellowtail.  So recently I tried Sea Scallops, which I never had in a Japanese restaurant as part of a Sashimi plate.  Had them cooked as an appetizer Scallops Bata Yaki which is quite good, but not raw. I didn't like the texture raw too much, they are a little too soft eaten raw for me.  I am now sticking to cooking the scallops in butter and garlic which is pretty fast and EZ to do.  Finally, I am trying Rockfish (Striped Bass), but it is still in the freezer so I can't report on that one yet. Speaking of Freezing, this is a significant aspect of eating all raw meats and fishies, unless you catch them yourself right out of the water or hunt it down and eat the meat right after the kill.  Raw fish and Raw meat can contain bacteria and parasites which can be quite harmful and even cause death.  Most of the time they don't, and in my long history of eating this stuff raw, I have never had so much as an upset stomach, whereas I got Tomaine Poisoning twice off of cooked meat which practically killed me.  Only in recent years have I taken to the practice of freezing and thawing raw meats before eating.

The reason is this.  If there are parasites and bacteria inhabiting your fillet, if you freeze to -4F for about 4 days, this will kill them as effectively as cooking does, and it doesn't destroy the flavor or texture like cooking does.  So as an additional security/health measure here, I do the Freeze/Thaw before slicing up my Sashimi.  In fact, just about all the "fresh" fish you buy at the fish store nowadays has already gone through one or more of these cycles.  The fish are collected up on large industrial fish processing ships where they do the fillet work, vacuum seal them and throw them in a Liquid Nitrogen Bath which flash freezes them down to something like -321F (-196C).  Then they go through a series of transports generally finally ending up on a Reefer truck where the temp inside the box maybe is around 20F, depending how hot it is outside.  When they get to the Food Superstore, they go in another Freezer, this one down to maybe -10F until they are ready to sell it.  Then it thaws slowly in a refrigerator set around 35F over a couple of days and is put out in the refrigerated display counter for sale.  Pretty much no bacteria or parasites live through this, and your fish is generally quite safe to eat raw right out of the counter, assuming the minimum wage paid fish mongers working behind the counter clean as they are supposed to every night on closing.  I basically took to doing an additional Freeze-Thaw cycle after buying just to add a little insurance here, but at least for Freddie's Fish, I would eat it raw straight out of the counter. This brings us to the next RAW counter down at Freddie's, the MEAT counter.  I actually took to eating raw meat quite a bit before I got into eating raw fish in my college years as the Japanese restaurants proliferated around NY Shity.  After returning from Brazil in my late preteen years, I missed the Churascaria's we often ate at there, where the meat was brought to you on the spit at your table and sliced off right onto your plate.  So I took to BBQing meat myself on a little cast iron Hibachi in the small back yard we had in our NY Shity Queens McMansion which mom got as part of the divorce settlement.  I started with Hamburgers of course, and quickly discovered that a really JUICY burger should have a nice pink inside.  For me, pink turned to RED after a while, although for anyone else I was cooking a burger for I kept it to pink or even well done if they asked for that.  I could never understand that though, well done dries the meat out and it's like eating leather, albeit in the case of burgers its ground up leather.  A well done steak though is like eating the soles off a Cowboy Boot.

Once I realized I liked my meat on the BBQ "Pittburgh Rare" (charred on the outside, still mooing on the inside) I started experimenting with eating the meat RAW right out of the package immediately after I brought it home from the grocery store when it was still nice and bright red straight out of the grinder.  Just ground beef for hamburgers at first on this, and it was DELICIOUS!  Just a pinch or two at a time at first also.  I didn't get sick, even though I had already heard about all the dangers of eating raw meat.  Then I read about "official" gourmet meals like Steak Tartare which featured raw meat, and I decided it was OK to eat this stuff.  After all, carnivores in nature who don't have control of fire eat their meat raw all the time.  I suspect by eating it a small amount at a time for a while I built up my gut so it could digest the stuff well without my getting sick. With the beef, I tried some other cuts  besides hamburger raw, but really unless it is ground up the only one that is any good for raw eating is Fillet Mignon, which is fairly expensive.  Around here these days it comes in aroun $16/lb.  Good ground sirloin though you can get for $4/lb on sale, and the taste and texture are pretty close to the same as Fillet Mignon.  I do occasionally buy the Fillets though, because when you slice them up they LOOK a lot nicer and the visual component of eating is part of the pleasure, one of the parts I can still enjoy.  Up at the top of the page here you see one of my Steak Fillets sliced up Sashimi style, with some Au Jus dipping sauce.

It's the dipping sauces that throw a fly in the ointment as far as keeping your costs down when going with the raw eating, both with fish and with meat.  These days, if you mosey on down the sauces and marinades aisle in the Food Superstore, the choices are endless and these bottles go from anywhere from around $2/bottle if you catch a sale to $8/bottle.  You don't really NEED a dipping sauce of course, and some of the time I will do without a dip to just enjoy the flavor of the RAW MEAT by itself.  However, many of these sauces are REALLY good and enhance the raw eating experience. On the upside to this, once you buy a bottle of a particular kind of sauce it lasts a long time.  You only need about a tablespoon worth for a whole fillet for dipping as you go.  My current methodology on this is to pick one sauce I haven't tried yet each time I shop and buy a bottle of that, hopefully ON SALE.  One that came in very cheap recently was Dumpling dipping sauce and it's my current favorite.  Thai Peanut sauce is also very good, and of course Teriyaki sauce.  I've had a few failures too, I thought Chinese Hot Mustard might be good, but it was too overpowering for the meat.  The choices are pretty endless here particularly in the Asian Foods aisle, just find your own favorites.

While I am comfortable with both Beef and Fish raw, I don't eat either Pork or Chicken raw.  With pork, I have been told too many stories about Trichonosis and never could bring myself to trying it.  On the BBQ, I always cooked it through until there was no pink showing in the middle, still trying to keep it juicy though.  Similarly with chicken, a few times early on I under-cooked my chicken on the BBQ and it was still gooey and slimy on the inside when I bit into it.  This grossed me out and I always make sure my chicken is cooked through now, however I prepare it.

Now that I have given a not so brief history of how I developed a taste for eating RAW animal protein, I'm going to tie it into collapse issues.  As with my prior post on Luggage, it might not be immediately clear how my diet relates to collapse.  It doesn't really HAVE to relate, since the Diner is both a Collapse Blog and my personal blog, but in this case there is a connection.

One thing for me personally is that these days I am more consumed with my own personal issues of Health Collapse than the collapse of the society at large around me.  When you have the Grim Reaper stalking you all the time it's tough to fix your mind on anything else but fending him off for another day.  However, there are many issues with the food consumption here which apply more generally in the World of Collapse. The first issue is one of COST.  The fact here is that despite not being a very rich Amerikan (in fact a pretty poor one by measures here), I CAN afford to buy what are some of the most expensive cuts of meat and fish on the market to try and up my protein intake.  That's partly because I don't buy much of them because my appetite is so depressed, but much more it is because producing this food is so heavily subsidized in Amerika, and relative to income food is a pretty small part of your daily living expenses, even if you are fairly poor.  If you are SUPER poor and qualify for a SNAP Card, you can STILL afford these foods if you are wise about how you spend your monthly food budget.  I have demonstrated that on numeros occasions in the SNAP Card Gourmet series.  For the vast majority of the world though, these foods are out of the question, they have daily food budgets in the $2/day range (and even less!).  In all probability these foods aren't even available in the markets to buy, even if you had the money.  I doubt sashimi quality Ahi Tuna steaks are available at the markets in Rio, for instance.

The next issue is the cost to the environment.  As most of us Kollapsniks are aware, cattle ranching is extremely water intensive and overall pretty destructive to the local ecosystems.  The space the cows take up and the land used to grow their feed is land taken away from all the other creatures that might be living there.  Over in Brazil, square miles of rainforest are burned every day to make room for more cattle ranching. This argument is often made by vegans who want to get the whole human population to swear off eating meat. Here in Amerika though, this leads you to a major Economic problem if Amerikans actually did this.  Meat is the staple food of the Fast Food industry, from Burgers to Tacos.  Every Mickey Ds and Taco Bell would have to shut down.  Those places are among the few still employing people!  I doubt you could convert them over to selling fast food Bean Sprouts and Soy Burgers either, the consumers would riot.  "What?  No BEEF?  It's What's for Dinner!"

Not only do you lose the fast food workers, you lose all those people employed in the Feedlots and Slaughterhouses as well, not to mention the folks doing the local butchery and packaging up the meat into scrumptios looking foam & plasic containers!  While many of them might be re-employed growing bean sprouts, this will take a while in transition.  Shifting the Food Economy here off its focus on Meat is not something you could do overnight, anymore than you can shift the Carz & Trux economy back to Oxen drawn carts.

Finally in terms of the Collapse Blogosphere, this brings up an old debate I had with Gail Tverberg, and one which in fact led to my quitting her website and quit cross posting her blogs.

Gail is a pretty good actuary, and she had some good insights early on to the direction things were going.  However, she also fancies herself to be an Anthropologist and she is a believer in Near Term Human Extinction as well, although she doesn't explicitly admit that in her blogs.  You can read it in the subtext though of the commentary on Our Finite World.

Gail has a theory that because Homo Saps have evolved Small Jaws, we have to cook our food and thus require fire to survive.  So in her opinion, once we can't access fossil fuels anymore, Homo Saps will burn down all the remaining forests on earth in order to cook their food and heat their homes.  This is just nonsense.  Homo Saps will die off much too fast to burn down all the forests, and where most of the remaining forests are is where most Homo Saps are NOT.  Mountainous regions, regions with no available ground water, etc.  No way to transport the wood from where it is growing to the places people live for them to burn it. The fact is of course, small jaws or big jaws, you don't need to cook most foods for them to be digestible by a current Homo Sap.  My current diet is just about ALL raw foods, or fermented ones.  Besides the Raw Meat & Fish, the fruits I eat are all raw and the cheeses are all fermented.  I don't eat grains that need to be cooked.  My diet is basic Paleo, Fat and Protein.  I don't think I turned my stove on once in the last month, and I am not starving (although granted I am losing weight).  If my appetite was better though and could eat more, I would have no problem existing withough cooking my food, and in fact without most most of my teeth either!

The need to heat your home is also a pathetic argument.  Inuit and Aleuts up here had almost no fuel to work with, they simply lived in small dwellings where their own body heat kept the domicile warm enough through the winter to survive.  Gail is so thoroughly middle class she can't even imagine that, I doubt she has ever been winter camping a day in her whole life.  So to her, when she can't get heating oil for her McMansion, she will go Extinct one winter as she freezes to death.

In order to live on this kind of diet though, those foods you can eat raw do need to be available for you to access.  So if you are going to survive on raw fish, you do need to live near the coast and have a boat to go out and collect fish with.  If you are going to eat raw meat, you either need to be raising it yourself or live in a neighborhood where there is wild game sill roaming around.  If you are going to eat fermented cheeses, you need to be raising Goats or Cows that provide the milk for this.  If you are going to live on fresh fruits, you need to live in a warm climate where these things grow on trees reasonably rapidly.  Finding ONE spot where you can get them ALL is pretty tough of course.

Also true is that currently there are too many people walking the earth to live this way.  That however will NOT be true moving into the future.  A significant percentage of the population is bound to die off.  As more people go to the Great Beyond, there will be more food resource for the remaining population.  Unclear at the moment is precisely how big a percentage of the population needs to buy the farm before this becomes feasible, but I suspect a 99% Dieoff would do it.  That would still leave 75M Homo Saps walking the Earth, which is a long way from Extinction.

Meanwhile, for myself it is a challenge every day to find stuff I can eat to keep this meat package motoring along for another day while I chronicle Doom on the internet.  The RAW MEAT is the current leader of the pack here for me these days, in some tasty dipping sauce.  YUM!

Boondocking the Last Great Frontier 4

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 6, 2017

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I was going to do all 7 Days of the Last Great Frontier Boondocking Adventure in detail for every day, but I think after 3 days the techniques have been pretty well elucidated.  So I will tidy up this series with a recap of the last 4 days of the adventure.

Day 4– I determined not to spend ANY money, either on food or a campsite.  My choice for this day/night was the Mickey D's which is right across the street from the Wasilla Lake Park.  It was another beautiful day on the Last Great Frontier, and I spent most of it in the Park, scarfing up one of the nicer Picnic Tables for my Outdoor Diner Office and Command & Control Center.  My food for the afternoon was the last 1/3rd of the Subway Spicy Italian Hero I bought at the beginning of the week.  It was a little soggy by this point, you really should try to finish one of these in 2-3 days, not 4.  But it still tasted OK and didn't give me Tomane poisoning.

The park has a bare bones Toilet with no sink, just the Throne.  I used it once during the day.  Otherwise, the afternoon was spent surfing doom on the net, arguing on the Diner and writing for the most part.  Shooting a few pics as well.

One interesting thing was in the middle of the day a Food Truck providing FREE meals for kids showed up.  These charitable sources of food are a BIG help if you are Homeless living in a vehicle with a family to feed.  You can cut a lot out of your daily food budget on the SNAP Card if you use them.  Besides such food trucks, there are also Food Pantries around run by charitable organizations, where usually they give you 1 Food Box a week with size dependent on family size.  I volunteered at one of these in my neighborhood for a while, and the Single person food box was more than I could eat in a week by itself, forget using the SNAP Card if I was low enough income to qualify for one of those.  Choices of foods are not that great, but neither are the choices in the grocery store either for the most part.  If you really wanted to, you could actually hit more than one of these places in a week if you are mobile in a Stealth Van, simply by going to different towns in the area.  Don't do that though to scarf up more free food than you really need this way, leave the stuff for other people who need it more than you.

If you do supplement your weekly food supply this way, then what you do with your SNAP Card is buy long lasting foods like Rice, Dried Beans and Beef Jerky that store well with no refrigeration and keep them in your Storage Unit for hard times when the Food Pantries are out of Food and the Repugnants in CONgress cut or cancel the SNAP Card program.  You should always try to have at least 2-3 months of stored food of some type for temporary disruptions of JIT delivery in your neighborhood.

As dusk fell I headed over to the Alaska Club for a quick sauna & steam and exercised my legs on a couple of the machines.  Then I drove back to the Mickey D's to park for the night.  This McDonalds is 24/7, so there is always somebody parked in the lot and you don't stick out or get noticed unless you do it too often.  My storyline if I ever did get my door knocked on by the Gestapo or Mickey D's employees is that I was just tired after a long drive and catching a nap prior to going in for a McMuffin.  However, as of yet no knocks on the door.

The Mickey D's is great overnight parking because you get FREE Wi-Fi, which you can pick up from the parking lot.  You can increase the sensitivity if you get a USB Antenna for Wi-Fi, but I haven't found this necessary as of yet.  If you do buy one, they are only around $50.  You also of course can use their bathroom overnight if you get the Call of Nature.  Also great for this are 24/7 Convenience Stores & 24/7 Walmarts.  In Convenience Stores though they tend to notice you if you park in the lot too long because the lots are small, so are not good for overnighting.  Small lots are not good Boondocking locations.  You want to look for a Convenience Store that is next to some kind of strip mall to actually park in for the night.  Also scope out the lot you will park in beforehand to see how many carz stay there overnight, the more the better.

Once parked and on the Wi-Fi, I watched a few Music Videos since I wasn't worried about bandwidth, then hit the bunk for a good night's sleep.  Another day of Boondocking tomorrow.

Day 5–  I got up pretty early around 6AM and went into Mickey Ds to wash my face and wake up some, and then bought an Egg McMuffin for $3, not so much because I was hungry or wanted to eat one of these disgusting pieces of shit, more just as gratitude to the McDonald's Corporation for giving me a place to sleep overnight.  I determined to again do another FREE night of parking, this time 1/2 done at the local Hospital/Medical Center and the other half done at a Commuter Parking lot right nearby it.  The hospital has great services, it is open all night, super clean bathrooms and FREE Wi-Fi.  I could stay there all night, but I don't want to push my luck with the hospital and get noticed.  It's too good a parking spot to risk if I don't have to, and I don't.  I don't usually sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch anyhow, so moving parking spots in the middle of the night really isn't too much of a pain in the ass.  Security DOES patrol these parking lots, and staying under the radar is important for Stealth Boondocking.

As opposed to the Hospital, the Commuter Parking lot is as bare bones as you get.  No toilets, no picnic tables, no fire ring and you can't even set up your own stuff in the lot.  It's just park and sleep for the most part in such a lot.  At 2AM though when you arrive, there really isn't much to do anyhow besides sleep, and then you leave by 6AM.  If you do get the Call of Nature during this period, you excrete your waste into the bucket inside the Van without getting out.  I did not have such a call at this time on this night.

Day 6– Leaving the parking lot in the early morning of Day 6, I drove over to another FREE parking spot by the river to make breakfast, again a FREE spot.  Same big breakfast as before, 2 large Scrambled Eggs, Breakfast Sausage and Homefries.  While consuming this meal and surfing the net over the 4G network, I decide what I will do with the day.  One task I haven't yet done is go to the Laundromat to do some wash.  I don't really have much wash to do at this point, just some underwear and socks mainly and normally for me when OTR wash day only came every 2 weeks or so.  However, this is a task you have to schedule in when you live OTR, so I felt I should do it at least once during the week.

The Laundromat I choose is in the same general strip mall parking lot that Kahladi Brothers Coffee and Safeway are in, both of which have FREE Wi-Fi.  The laundromat itself also has grid connected electric outlets as well of course, so I can drop a Batt onto one of them for charging while my wash is running.  I still do not really need to do this though, I have been driving around enough to keep everything charged up enough off the van alternator.  I go to another park to hang out for a while, then go over to Lowe's and Home Depot to do some window shopping for preps scooting around on one of their electric shopping carts for Cripples.  I love the hardware stores more than Walmart nowadays for Prep Window shopping.  I don't buy anything though, I just make notes on prices in my head for future purchases while the FRNs still work and the shelves are still stocked.

I have been on an Austerity Budget for the last day and decide to SPLURGE for dinner, and go over to my favorite Asian Cuisine restaraunt in the neighborhood, ordering a small Miso Soup (cheapest thing on the menu at $3) and a Scallops Batayaki appetizer at $10.  I am able to finish the Miso Soup, but only eat half the scallops, the other half go in the cooler for breakfast tomorrow.  I reloaded the cooler with new ice from Safeway earlier in the day.

For tonight's Boondocking, it's back to the FREE spot by the river and I entertain myself for the evening designing and drawing plans for a Geodesic Gazebo to add living space to SaVANnah for longer stays in bucolic locations OTR like the Grand Canyon or Lolo National Forest, site of my Pi-Fi Collapse Novel, How I Survived Collapse.  I make a few posts to the Diner and get back into a long running argument with one of the Diners who lives in the Tropical Rain Forest over whether you should kill or let live Pythons that are crawling about your property.  This remains a disputed question. lol.

Day 7–  This will be my Final Day Boondocking for this trial run.  I am going to finish off IN SPLENDOR, buying a For Pay campsite with electricity, water & sewer at a private campground for $40.  This is a HUGE expenditure and totally unnecessary, but I am doing it just to get some pics of how the "other half" of the Van Dwelling community lives, the RICH ones.  This is relative of course, they may not be rich compared to others of their age group, and they are usually Baby Boomers.  They are the ones who own the Big Ass Diesel Pushers that are the size of Tour Buses or monster 5th Wheel arrangements pulled by monster pickup trucks.  Or in some cases, they actually yank around Tiny Homes.  I have seen rigs being pulled by full blown Kenworths and Freightliners. lol.

I am a dwarf in this crowd of behemoths, and I don't need the sewer hookup at all since SaVANnah doesn't have a plumbing system.  The running water also unnecessary, and in this case the electricity unnecessary also since my batts are all topped off.  If I was actually OTR right now, I NEVER would have bought this campsite.  Total waste of money.  However, I will count it in to my expenses for this week anyway.

When you do buy such a campsite, besides all the hookups you do get other ammenties also.  There is a laundromat on site, so I could have used this laundry instead of the one I used the day before.  There are showers also, and down in the lower 48 such places will have Pools also for the kids to swim in, just like any fairly decent Bates Motel.  Ice making machine to fill your cooler too.  So you do get some value back for this expenditure, but for me it's all a waste of money.

I can never see pulling around a rig this size if you don't have at least 4 people in it.  They seriously limit places you can go because of the turning radius to begin with.  They also hit about ZERO on the stealth scale, and they are whopping good targets for thieves.  Why don't you advertize a little bigger how RICH you are?  Not to mention of course the fuel consumption of such a large rig.  The smaller the rig you can get away with for full-time living, the better. brings us round to the BIGGEST controversy this debate engendered on the Diner, which is whether or not you can live the Gypsy lifestyle with KIDS in tow.  Just about everyone agreed it is possible to Van Dwell as a Single Male, and perhaps even as a couple with the gender partner of your choice.  However, opinions were expressed it was IMPOSSIBLE to live this way if you have children, and/or nobody would do it unless absolutely forced to.  Are these postulates true?  IMHO, no they are not true. of all, Yachties choose this lifestyle on a reasonably regular basis, just they do it over water rather than over land.  A rig arrangement on land is really just a a land yacht.  If you have a family on a Yacht, you're NOT going to be able to get away with a 30 footer.  You're going to need something in the 45' range.  Similarly, on land you are NOT going to be able to bring kids along with just a Van or Pickup Truck/Camper, you're going to need a Trailer for that.

Increasing the size of your rig increases the cost, but of course raising kids always increases cost.  In this case, it still increases costs less than scaling up in McMansion size as you go along that trail.  It also decreases your ability to do Stealth, if you drop in at Mickey D's in the middle of the night with your 4 year old who needs to use the toilet, the staff will probably notice this and call the local Gestapo.  So you're going to have to stick to the FREE Public Use sites for the most part to stay under the radar.

You do have an advantage when working with a Partner, one of you can leave the Boondocking site and get some Gig Work for the day to cover your costs, which you are keeping rock bottom cheap.  You're living even cheaper than the folks who live in Trailer Parks do at this point.  Which of course means you are even below the level of "Trailer Trash" on the economic scale, and most people find being so identified as a mark of failure in their lives.  But is it really?  Again, IMHO, no it is not.

First of all, you are going to be spending a LOT more time out of doors experiencing the Nature we still have left.  Next, you are tons more FREE & MOBILE, to go wherever there is work you can find to support your lifestyle.  In contrast to living with other relatives, you have more independence and freedom from dealing with them.  You are making so little money that you have no TAXES to pay into the Military-Industrial-Complex. So you are making trade-offs here for sure, but it's not impossible and is just a matter of your priorities and whether you can put together enough money to get into a decent size rig for the number of people you are pulling OTR.

I lived a long time OTR, so this type of living is second nature to me, for most people it is not.  Certainly not impossible though, Gypsies have been doing it for centuries.  On land, today, it's going to require you to have enough MONEY to buy the gas to move the rig down the road from place to place.  This however is not a huge amount of money.  My final costs for the week of Boondocking came to $242.  My fuel cost came to $34.  I spent a lot more money than I had to on Premium Campsites, Premium Food and Restaraunts.  Even so, on a wage of just $10/hr, I could have afforded this week working just 25 hours serving up Frappucinos at Starbucks.  The cost for having kids along would not have been much greater, since I could get all the food for them for FREE from the SNAP Card and the Food Pantries.  All the For Pay campsites would have cost exactly the same.  I would just have a larger fuel cost pulling a trailer, perhaps 20-30% more the most depending on the length, weight and type of trailer.  So most this brings up the fuel cost is from $34 to maybe $50/week.

I don't want to try and make the case this form of living is for everyone.  It's not.  You have to have a Nomadic Soul to be happy with it, and you have to be comfortable living in small spaces, although you can creatively increase your living space, which I will be doing on I Spy Doom videos building a Geodesic Gazebo as an Add-On room for SaVANnah when parked for longer periods of Boondocking a given location. You also have to be an unconventional thinker, and not bought into the Matrix Meme of a Double Wide Trailer as your Dream Home.  Most people will buy into this, and become trapped by it.  That is sad, but you cannot help people who are trapped in this mindset.

Next up on the Boondocking Level is the trip down to the Lower 48 for THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼, which I will view from the PATH OF TOTALITY in Idaho in a Rental Stealth Van.  COMING SOON TO A LAPTOP NEAR YOU ON THE DOOMSTEAD DINER.

Dimming Bulb 3: Collapse has ARRIVED!

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Published on The Doomstead Diner June 4, 2017

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Read also: The Dimming Bulb, The Dimming Bulb 2

Due to my High & Mighty position as a Global Collapse Pundit, I am often asked the question of when precisely will Collapse arrive?  The people who ask me this question all come from 1st World countries.  They are also all reasonably well off with a computer, an internet connection, running water and enough food to eat.  While a few of us are relatively poor retirees, even none of us wants for the basics as of yet.  The Diner doesn't get many readers from the underclass even here in Amerika, much less from the Global Underclass in places like Nigeria, Somalia,Sudan and Yemen.

The fact is, that for more than half the world population, Collapse is in full swing and well underway.  Two key bellweathers of where collapse is now are the areas of Electricity and Food. In his seminal 1996 paper The Olduvai Theory: Sliding Towards a Post-Industrial Stone Age, Richard Duncan mapped out the trajectory of where we would be as the years passed and fossil fuels became more difficult and expensive to mine up.  Besides powering all our cars and trucks for Happy Motoring and Just-in-Time delivery, the main thing our 1st World lifestyle requires is Electricity, and lots of it on demand, 24/7.  Although electricity can be produced in some "renewable" ways that don't depend on a lot of fossil fuel energy at least directly, most of the global supply of electric power comes from Coal and Natural Gas.  Of the two, NG is slightly cleaner, but either way when you burn them, CO2 goes up in the atmosphere.  This of course is a problem climatically, but you have an even bigger problem socially and politically if you aren't burning them.  Everything in the society as it has been constructed since Edison invented the Light Bulb in 1879 has depended on electricity to function.

Now, if all the toys like lights, refrigerators big screen TVs etc had been kept to just a few small countries and the rest of the world lived a simple subsistence farming lifestyle, the lucky few with the toys probably could have kept the juice flowing a lot longer.  Unfortunately however, once exposed to all the great toys, EVERYBODY wanted them.  The industrialists also salivated over all the profit to be made selling the toys to everyone.  So, everybody everywhere needed a grid, which the industrialists and their associated banksters extended Credit for "backward" Nation-States all over the globe to build their own power plants and string their own wires.  Now everybody in the country could have a lightbulb to see by and a fridge to keep the food cold.  More than that, the electricity also went to power water pumping stations and sewage treatment plants, so you could pack the Big Shities with even more people who use still more electricity.

This went on all over the globe, until today there isn't a major city or even a medium size town anywhere on the globe that isn't wired for electricity, although many places that are now no longer have enough money to keep the juice flowing.

Where is the electricity going off first?  Obviously, in the poorest and most war torn countries across the Middle East and Africa.  These days, from Egypt to Tunisia, if they get 2 hours of electricity a day they are doing good.

The Lights Are Going Out in the Middle East

The world’s most volatile region faces a challenge that doesn’t involve guns, militias, or bloodshed, yet is also destroying societies. Public fury over rampant outages has sparked protests. In January, in one of the largest demonstrations since Hamas took control in Gaza a decade ago, ten thousand Palestinians, angered by the lack of power during a frigid winter, hurled stones and set tires ablaze outside the electricity company. Iraq has the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves, but, during the past two years, repeated anti-government demonstrations have erupted over blackouts that are rarely announced in advance and are of indefinite duration. It’s one issue that unites fractious Sunnis in the west, Shiites in the arid south, and Kurds in the mountainous north. In the midst of Yemen’s complex war, hundreds dared to take to the streets of Aden in February to protest prolonged outages. In Syria, supporters of President Bashar al-Assad in Latakia, the dynasty’s main stronghold, who had remained loyal for six years of civil war, drew the line over electricity. They staged a protest in January over a cutback to only one hour of power a day.

Over the past eight months, I’ve been struck by people talking less about the prospects of peace, the dangers of ISIS, or President Trump’s intentions in the Middle East than their own exhaustion from the trials of daily life. Families recounted groggily getting up in the middle of the night when power abruptly comes on in order to do laundry, carry out business transactions on computers, charge phones, or just bathe and flush toilets, until electricity, just as unpredictably, goes off again. Some families have stopped taking elevators; their terrified children have been stuck too often between floors. Students complained of freezing classrooms in winter, trying to study or write papers without computers, and reading at night by candlelight. The challenges will soon increase with the demands for power—and air-conditioning—surge, as summer temperatures reach a hundred and twenty-five degrees.

The reasons for these outages vary. With the exception of the Gulf states, infrastructure is old or inadequate in many of the twenty-three Arab countries. The region’s disparate wars, past and present, have damaged or destroyed electrical grids. Some governments, even in Iraq, can’t afford the cost of fuelling plants around the clock. Epic corruption has compounded physical challenges. Politicians have delayed or prevented solutions if their cronies don’t get contracts to fuel, maintain, or build power plants.

Now you'll note that at the end of the third paragraph there, the journalist implies that a big part of the problem is "political corruption", but it's really not.  It's simply a lack of money.  These countries at one time were all Oil Exporters, although not on the scale of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.  As their own supplies of oil have depleted they have become oil importers, except they neither have a sufficient mercantilist model running to bring in enough FOREX to buy oil, and they can't get credit from the international banking cartel to keep buying.  3rd World countries are being cut off from the Credit Lifeline, unlike the core countries at the center of credit creation like Britain, Germany and the FSoA.  All these 1st World countries are in just as bad fiscal deficit as the MENA countries, the only difference is they still can get credit and run the deficits even higher.  This works until it doesn't anymore.

Beyond the credit issue is the War problem.  As the countries run out of money, more people become unemployed, biznesses go bankrupt, tax collection drops off the map and goobermint employees are laid off too.  It's the classic deflationary spiral which printing more money doesn't solve, since the notes become increasingly worthless.  For them to be worth anything in FOREX, somebody has to buy their Goobermint Bonds, and that is precisely what is not happening.  So as the society becomes increasingly impoverished, it descends into internecine warfare between factions trying to hold on to or increase their share of the ever shrinking pie.

The warfare ongoing in these nations has knock on effects for the 1st World Nations still trying to extract energy from some of these places.  To keep the oil flowing outward, they have to run very expensive military operations to at least maintain enough order that oil pipelines aren't sabotaged on a daily basis.  The cost of the operations keeps going up, but the amount of money they can charge the customers for the oil inside their own countries does not keep going up.  Right now they have hit a ceiling around $50/bbl for what they can charge for the oil, and for the most part this is not a profit making price.  So all the corporations involved in Exploration & Production these days are surviving on further extensions of credit from the TBTF banks while at the same time cutting back on their capital expenditures.  This also is a paradigm that can't last.

The other major problem now surfacing is the Food Distribution problem, and again this is hitting the African countries first and hardest.  It's a combination problem of climate change, population overshoot and the warfare which results from those issues.

Currently, the UN lists 4 countries in extreme danger of famine in the coming year, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.  They estimate currently there are 20M people at extreme risk, and I would bet the numbers are a good deal higher than that.


somalia-famine.jpg World faces four famines as Trump administration plans to slash foreign aid budget

'Biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II' about to engulf 20 million people, UN says, as governments only donate 10 per cent of funds needed for essential aid






The world is facing a humanitarian crisis bigger than any in living memory, the UN has said, as four countries teeter on the brink of famine.

Twenty million people are at risk of starvation and facing water shortages in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, while parts of South Sudan are already officially suffering from famine.  

While the UN said in February that at least $4.4 billion (£3.5 bn) was needed by the end of March to avert a hunger catastrophe across the four nations, the end of the month is fast approaching, and only 10 per cent of the necessary funds have been received from donor governments so far.

It doesn't look too promising that the UN will be able to raise the $4B they say is necessary to feed all those hungry mouths, and none of the 1st World countries is too predisposed to handing out food aid when they all currently have problems with their own social welfare programs for food distribution.  Here in the FSoA, there are currently around 45M people on SNAP Cards at a current cost around $71B.  The Repugnants in charge of CONgress will no doubt try to cut this number in order to better fund the Pentagon, but they are not likely to send more money to Somalia.

Far as compassion for all the starving people globally goes in the general population, this also appears to be decreasing, although I don't have statistics to back that up. It is just a general sense I get as I read the collapse blogosphere, in the commentariats generally.  The general attitude is, "It's their own fault for being so stupid and not using Birth Control.  If they were never born, they wouldn't have to die of starvation."  Since they are mostly Black Africans currently starving, this is another reason a large swath of the white population here doesn't care much about the problem.

There are all sorts of social and economic reasons why this problem spiralled out of control, having mainly to do with the production of cheap food through Industrial Agriculture and Endless Greed centered on the idea of Endless Growth, which is not possible on a Finite Planet.

More places on Earth were wired up with each passing year, and more people were bred up with each passing year.  The dependency on fossil fuels to keep this supposedly endless cycle of growth going became ever greater each year, all while this resource was being depleted more each year.  Eventually, an inflexion point had to be hit, and we have hit it. thing is, for the relatively comfortable readers of the Doomstead Diner in the 1st World BAU seems to be continuing onward, even if you are a bit poorer than you were last year. 24/7 electricity is still available from the grid with only occassional interruptions.  Gas is still available at the pump, and if you are employed you probably can afford to buy it, although you need to be more careful about how much you drive around unless you are a 1%er.  The Rich are still lining up to buy EVs from Elon Musk, even though having a grid to support all electric transportation is out of the question.  The current grid can't be maintained, and upgrading to handle that much throughput would take much thicker cables all across the network.  People carry on though as though this will all go on forever and Scientists & Engineers will solve all the problems with some magical new device.  IOW, they believe in Skittle Shitting Unicorns.

That's not going to happen though, so you're back to the question of how long will it take your neighborhood in the UK or Germany or the FSoA to look like say Egypt does today?  Well, if you go back in time a decade to Egypt in 2007, things were still looking pretty Peachy over there, especially in Tourist Traps like Cairo.  Terrorism wasn't too huge a problem and Da Goobermint of Hoser Mubarak appeared stable.  A decade later today, Egypt is basically a failed state only doing marginally better than places like Somalia and Sudan.  The only reason they're doing as well as they are is because they are in an important strategic location on the Suez Canal and as such get support from the FSoA military.

So a good WAG here for how long it will take for the Collapse Level in 1st World countries to reach the level Egypt is at today is about a decade.  It could be a little shorter, it could be longer.  By then of course, Egypt will be in even WORSE shape, and who might still be left alive in Somalia is an open question.  Highly unlikely to be very many people though.  Over the next decade, the famines will spread and people will die, in numbers far exceeding the 20M to occur over the next year.  After a while, it's unlikely we will get much newz about this, and people here won't care much about what they do hear.  They will have their own problems.

The Endless Salad

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Published on The Doomstead Diner May 14, 2017

Tortellini-Kalamata Olive-Hearts of Palm Salad

Discuss this article at the Pantry inside the Diner


Today we had our first Community Potlatch (Potluck) Dinner here in the RE Community. 🙂

Our new Property Managers, a Husband & Wife team organized this meal as a way to introduce themselves and to discuss some important issues we have here, including our water quality ( we have our own micro water treatment plant now), maintenance and safety not to mention of course the Dog Poop, the Cigarette butts, and the Domestic Arguments and other yelling which penetrates the walls.  I personally have a schizophrenic upstairs from me who is decompensating all the time.  She's not dangerous, but she is very loud and very vulgar, usually in the wee hours of the morning.  She can go super fast, like Tourette's on Steroids, and pitch out 100 Fucks and 100 Shits and 100 Cocksuckers & Mother Fuckers  in no more than 5 minutes of one of these episodes, which sometimes go up to an hour in length before I suppose her vocal chords are exhausted or maybe the voices in her head get tired of her yelling at them.  Next door to her upstairs, there is a couple with young kids, and they don't understand biological psych problems like this, they just hear all the cursing and so do their kids.  They are not happy about this problem.

Anyhow, I will go into more about the meeting that followed the Potlatch Meal in a future article, for today I will just talk about the FOOD end of it! 🙂  It dovetails nicely with an article I wrote a couple of months ago but haven't had opportunity to publish, with a lot of other shit going down in the world of Doom these days.  The article is about feeding yourself a healthy diet with Salads, focusing on homeless people who get their nutritional allowance from the SNAP Card program administered by JP Morgan Chase here in the FSoA, at a tidy profit for JPMC.  By sheer chance (or the Finger of God), our building of the 10 or so in the complex was assigned Salads.  Since I have been experimenting with Salad recipes for the last couple of months, I was able to whip up my current favorite, a Tortelloni-Pomodore salad with a variety of veggies cooked Al Dente.  The Salad at the top of the page here is similar, just without the pasta.  I forgot to shoot a picture of it before it got devoured.  It was about 3X the size, came in around $12 and served about 15 people at the meal. Quite a few got left out if they were too late lining up at the buffet.  However, there was plenty standard Potato Salad and of course the Burgers and Hot Dogs so nobody went hungry.

Anyhow, lets now go into the principles of the Endless Salad in a little more detail.


The task of feeding oneself on a limited budget and with limited cooking ability that is typical for the Homeless Person is the main focus of the SNAP Card Gourmet Series. In the early stages of Homelessness, the victim of this aspect of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization these days probably resorts to eating mostly from fast food outlets, where you can get convenient and calorie laden foods with no cooking ability at all. The price these days for a fast food meal isn't all that cheap though, even a 1/4 Pounder, Fries and a Coke meal from Mickey D's comes in at over $5, which is the daily limit for the SNAP Card Gourmet budget. Obviously, nutritional value of this meal is quite low as well, and it doesn't even taste all that good either!  So it's a pretty big waste of your limited budget for nourishing yourself.

RE Preps his Chicken Soup

Once the budget drops down sufficiently far, the next step for the Homeless Person is to go to Canned goods like Chili and Soups, which can be purchased at the grocery store for between $1-2 a can and then heated up either over an open flame in a homeless encampment, over  single burner propane camping stove or in a Microwave at the nearest Convenience Store.  This reduces cost, but it's not much tastier and not very nutritious either.  The whole commercial canning process removes or destroys most of the nutritional value in any of the veggies or meat items dropped into a commercial soup or can of chili. It will keep you alive though, it is within budget and if you supplement with some also commercially produced vitamin tablets, you probably won't get scurvy or some other vitamin deficiency relted disease.

Can the Homeless person do better than this and have a really nutritious diet at a price affordable on the SNAP Card Budget of $5/Day in the FSoA?  Yes he/she CAN!

One of my current solutions to this problem is what I now call the "Endless Salad".  I started with the endless salad a few months ago after dropping into one of the local Food Superstores (Carr's, the Safeway affiliate up here on the Last Great Frontier) and passing by their deli section, which had one of those "make it yourself" salad bars.  Lots of nice choices of fresh veggies to include in your sald at this bar, although coming in pretty pricy at around $9/lb.  Depending what stuff you drop in the salad, 1 lb is probably enough nutrition for the day, but $9 is almost double the SNAP Card Gourmet Budget.

The Food Goodies at the Salad Bar at Safeway that day were quite a nice selection, they had a Greek Style Tomato Salad with Olives and Feta Cheese, a Pasta salad with Cheese Torteloni and chunks of Ham, fresh Green Peas, Cottage Cheese and numerous other possible selections for your fully loaded plastic container of your finished Salad mix.  For the Homeless person, this is a great and healthy way to eat, as it requires no cooking whatsoever and is coming in slightly cheaper than Fast Food meals, although still above the Snap Card budget of $5/day. The thing is, all the INGREDIENTS in that salad are much cheaper than $9/lb, for the most part.  Tomatoes for example which formed the bulk of the weight in this particular salad I composed can be purchased as cheap as $2/lb for Roma tomatoes from Mexico, and I can often get hothouse organic Tomatoes-on-the-Vine for around $3/lb. So as I ate through about half the salad that day, I went out and bought some tomatoes and refilled the container with them,and also some Hearts of Palm from a can which I really like for nostalgic reasons, they were a favorite of mine when I was a kid in Brasil.  Then as this started to run out, I bought a small avocado for $1, and this now refilled the container.  I had to add now a bit more salad dressing to the mix, as the original salad dressing was mostly being digested in my alimentary canal, somewhere along the path out the door anyhow. lol.

Now, many of the contents of your salad can be consumed raw, but some cannot be at least if you want to make a salad that will really provide you with all the nutrition you need in a day.  The pasta is the main one here, that requires boiling some water in a small pot and throwing some frozen cheese tortellini into it for 5-10 minutes, depending how al dente you like it.  You want this pasta in there for carb energy and protein and fat from the cheese.  This is EZ Homeless cooking, no harder than heating up a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup.  You can pick up a 1 lb package of frozen cheese tortellini around here for around $3.50, and actually when cooked it close to doubles its weight because of the water it absorbs.  So the original tortellinis I paid $9/lb for get replaced by the same tortellinis that cost me only $1.75/lb when cooked up.

The problem here for the Homeless person now is the storage of the forzen tortellini prior to cooking it and throwing it in your new salad.  Not a problem for me because I am not homeless and do have a refrigerator, so I think about these issues when composing up my meals and feeding myself.  For quite a few months after my injury, there was a decent chance I would end up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska, so my mind became preoccupied with solving this problem in advance just in case it came to pass, which thankfully it did not.,1&wid=296&hei=296 Far as the tortellini goes, you don't actually need to keep it FROZEN until you use it, at least if that is within a couple of weeks.  Refrigeration is enough, I experimented with this to make sure.  So you could keep your 1lb bag of formerly frozen but now just cold tortellini in your cooler with a block of ice in your Stealth Van.  Similarly, you do need to keep your leftover salad cold from day to day in some sort of refrigeration, so a Cooler is pretty much an indespensible item for the Homeless Person.  If you are so far off the cliff you are pushing around a shopping cart, this is pretty much impossible, so you need to be up at the next level of homelessnes minimum, where you at least have a car with a trunk you can store your cooler in or a Storage Unit runs around $40/month for the smallest ones which are more than sufficient for keeping your cooler and and all your gear like tents and sleeping bags and food safe while you hang out all day at the library or an internet cafe and run your Homeless Cripple Guy Blog & Forum over the free WiFi. lol.

Now, in terms of "recipes" and what you actually will drop in your salad, this is in large part up to you and what stuff you like, but there are some limitations here, at least if you are not consuming the whole salad same day and storing it in your cooler overnight as leftovers to eat the next day.

Traditional Amerikan Salad Food like Lettuce is really bad.  It gets wilty and brown overnight, even if refrigerated.  It also doesn't have all that much nutritional value for the price, its main value is in fiber and roughage to scrub out your colon. lol.  I don't include Lettuce in my salads, for Green Leafy Veggies I use Baby Spinach leaves usually, which are quite good and tasty even when soggy and a great source of vitamins and minerals, particularly high in iron which is good for your blood cells.  Although usually I dispense with the leafies altogether and use other green veggies like asparagus or zucchini. Baby Spinach doesn't brown very quickly though, particularly when coated with a dressing that has some vinegar in it, which tends to keep everything in the salad better looking and does some preservation as well. So if you like some leafy in there, it's a good choice.The whole salad is often better the second or thrid day after composition after marinating in the dressing, as opposed to most leftovers which deteriorate in quality over a few days. Also bad if you are keeping the salad around for a few days are Avocados.  They also quickly get brown and ugly even if coated with a dressing that is acidic.  However, they do have good nutritional value unlike lettuce, particularly in the area of adding vegetable fat to your diet, and I like them for their texture whether a little stiff in chunks or smushed up to make Gaucamole.  So if I do feel Avocado inclined on a given day for my salad, I buy a small one for around $1 and add that to the salad mix for the day.

As with most Food preparation and consumption, you do a lot better if you work in small groups rather than as an individual.  In this case, you can usually consume everything in one sitting with no leftovers, so no storage problems.  Food packaging also tends to come in sizes good for 4-6 people to eat at one sitting.  For a single person, given the food storage of leftover problem, you often will do better with individual portion microwavebales, although nutrititon & taste quality is low.  However, you can buy Michelina's Frozen Dinners at around $1 each, and 3 of those plus a vitamin is enough for me in a day.

To finish up this SNAP Card Gourmet installment, I will list some ingredients which work very well and last several days nicely as you keep adding new ingrediends to make your Salad and Endless one. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are my #1 Ingredient in a Salad.  High in Vitamin C and Vitamin A, good roughage, nice texture and very tasty!  They also keep well for several days when marinated in the salad dressing of your choice.  They are the base component of all my salads.  The best are the hothouse organics and now recently available are Heirloom Tomatoes as well.  The small grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are nice, but overpriced coming in double the cost of Roma Tomatoes, which are my choice if I am going cheapy. Olives

Along with the Tomatoes, Olives are an essential for my salads.  They provide a nice counterpoint to the Tomatoes.  Here it depends on your own taste as to which olives to use.  To me, the typical Green Olives are a little too salty.  Black Olives a little too bland.  My favorites to use are Kalamata Olives, which are a bit more expensive but JUST RIGHT!  Sometimes I do mix in some Green and Black Olives though to fill it out and keep the overall cost down. Cheese

You want some cheese in there for taste, texture and fat and protein nutrition.  I generally use crumbled Feta Cheese and crumbled Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola.  Sometimes shredded Parmesan, and occassionally I will chunk up a block of Sharp Cheddar or Swiss Cheese.  If you are using either Feta or Gorgonzola, buy it in block form and crumble it yourself.  It's a better value that way and it keeps better in the fridge too. Asparagus, Green Beans, Eggplant etc

I like to add these veggies, but you do have to do some preparation before adding to the salad.  I do a fast steam or sautee with them to soften them up just a bit, when raw they are too crunchy for me with my limited set of teeth. lol.  If you sautee also, you can add some chopped up garlic to the mix which adds flavor and nutrients. This is especially good with the Zucchini and Eggplant, which absorb the garlic flavor during the sautee.  Not so good with asparagus or green beens, here steaming is better. Hearts of Palm, Artichoke Hearts, Baby Corn, Bamboo Shoots

These are "Premium Items" which come canned.  A can of Hearts of Palm around here usually comes in around $5 by itself, but you don't use the whole can in one salad. I recently found them on sale for $3 though, and stocked up with several cans. I usually get 5 salads out of one can, for $1 cost per salad.  You can pick the exotic ingredient of your choice for any given salad.  You will need refrigeration and tupperware though to keep the ingredient good for more salads after cracking the can.  By themselves, Hearts of Palm are really good with just a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil sprinled over them.  Fabulous texture. Beans

I don't usually include these, since if I am in the mood for beans I usually have them in a Black Bean soup or ladled over a pile of rice as tradition Brazilian style Feijon, sprinkled with "Pimiento", aka HOT Sauce!  I'll meat that up with an Italian Hot Sausage or a Brat that I usually can pick up for around 70 cents each in a 1 lb pack of 5 for $3.50.  Sliced into discs, I usually get 16-20 of them, enough for almost a meat bite in every scoop of soup!  One sausage is plenty of meat protein and fat for the day, the only issue is with refrigeration, you have to finish the whole package within a week or so, and I can't always do this so ending up throwing out some of this food.  Kills me when I have to do this.  If you work in larger groups though, this should not be a problem.  4 people is about right for meals for a day for typically sized food packaging with no leftovers.  For single person meals, sadly if you do not want the leftovers problem generally you need to go with the Frozen Michelinas dishes and Canned Soups as your main sustenance. In my last few years in the working world, that is what I lived on, along with vitamins.

Including the beans in the salad though they keep as well as everything else, and pretty much any canned beans are good for this and they are CHEAP!  A can of beans goes for $1, and you use no more than 1/2 can for any salad of 1 lb size.  Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Garbanzo Beans or Black Eyed Peas all work well here and provide protein and carbs to your salad.  "3 Bean" salads are pretty popular because of this, but I still prefer beans hot in soups or gumbos. Tofu

Tofu is an ingredient not to everyone's taste, it's pretty bland on its own.  It is however a great ABSORBER of flavors (mainly the dressing you use in this case), as well as a great source of protein.  Like with some of the veggies above though, you need refrigeration of some sort to store it for a week or so.  Cubed up for your salad, you use no more than 1/4 of a block of Tofu for a given salad, and to keep the remaining Tofu good, it needs to be refrigerated for the next salad construction.

Meat & Animal Protein

All in all, this gives you a pretty comprehensive and nutritious meal, but for me something is missing, which is ANIMAL PROTEIN! I'm not a Vegan Vegietarian type.  There is some animal protein in there coming from the Cheeses and Tofu, but I like some MEAT in my meals!

There are a few ways to do this.  You can buy a cheap canned ham and cube it up as one choice, or do similar with a hard salami. You can fry up some Bacon and crumble it into the salad.  You can dice/cube up a chicken to add to the salad.  The choices here are endless, but I don't usually add the meat directly into the salad, what I do is have a Meat Side Dish that goes with the salad instead.  Below are a few of my favorite El Cheapos. 1- Deviled Eggs – I make these with my own special Deviling recipe, and two deviled eggs plus half a pound of the super salad is about as much as I can consume in a day.  There are endless ingredients you can drop into a deviled eggs recipe, traditional is to drop in pickle relish but I am not a big fan of that.  I like to spiice mine up with some Wasabi or Hoseradish. I don't decorate them when just making for myself, but if you are contributing to a Potlatch, doing decoration is a nice touch. 2- Canned Tuna or Salmon–  A can of Fancy White Albacore goes around $2 up here usually these days, but this is enough animal protein for me for 2 days, so adding this to the salad meal is only about $1 extra. If you buy the large size cans you save a lot of money, but you need sdeveral people to finish it quickly. I also jazz it up with Mayo, chopped onion, lemon juice and whatever else I have hanging around in the cubbards, although of course the Homeless Person does not have the extensive cubbard I do to get real creative with this.  However, Canned Tuna + Mayo is enough to add all the animal protein you need or want in a day plus fat from the Mayo.  Canned Salmon is better mixed up as a dip with cream cheese & sour cream, then add some fresh dill and green onions to that.  Whether it is Tuna or Salmon, you place an ice cream scoop size lump in the middle of your salad for a nice presentation for yourself.   Or you can just put it in a separate tupperware container and eat together with your salad. 3- Anchovies

Not usually too popular with most people, because they are so salty.  However, once dropped into the salad with all the dressing and tomato liquid, the salt disperses and they are a nice counterpoint to the tomatoes along with the olives.  Anchovies also come in small cans and one is just right for your 1 lb salad mixture, plus you get the olive oil they were packed with for more good vegetable fat.  The main issue is one of price here, at $1.75 a can for only one salad, this is expensive. 4- Smoked Oysters

This is on the pricy end of canned fish products, although if you spread it out over 2 salads not too bad.  It might be a nice variation to throw in for your animal protein once in a while.  I haven't actually dropped these in a salad though.  If I buy a can of smoked oysters, I just usually have them plain or on a piece of french bread.  Used to be on a cracker, but with my limited dentition, crackers are mostly out these days. lol 5- Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie Chickens cooked for you in the supermarket are a great value even if you have an oven and home to cook a raw chicken which comes in around half the price of a cooked one.  It's great convenience, they are marinated and spiced nicely usually in a few varieties, and around here they still come in at only around $7 each.  Right out of the rotisserie they are great to eat just by themselves with no prep at all and the second day pretty good just microwaved.  I'll usually eat about half the chicken this way, The Breast and a Leg on day 1 and the Thigh and both Wings on Day 2.  The other half of the chicken then gets chopped up into small cubes to make a chicken salad, good for at least 3 days added to the rest of your salad.  Preparation is basically the same as with canned tuna, although with the chicken I prefer to add Tarragon and/or Paprika for spicing it up.  Major bonus here also is that once you have got most of the good meat off the bones, you throw the stripped carcass into a slow cooker to make chicken broth for use in Matzoh Ball or Wonton Soup which will feed you for still another 2 days.  There is plenty of meat still left on the bones and after stewing a few hours it all falls off the bones into the broth, and then you just sieve it and pick out the bones.  You easily get all the animal protein you need for a full week out of 1 Rotisserie Chicken, so that comes out to $1 day, well inside the SNAP Card Gourmet Budget of $5/day.  The only downside of these chickens is they are all industrially raised and fed on GMO crap and injected full of hormones and antibiotics too, and sometimes the meat can be stringy.  You have to shop around at your local stores to find the best of the lot here, I have 4 different places to go, Carr's (Safeway), Fred Meyer (Kroger), Walmart and 3 Bears.  Although the cheapest, Walmart's are the worst. Carr's has the best ones and most expensive, and Freddie and 3 Bears about the same.  Because 3 Bears is right next to me, those are the ones I usually buy when in a chicken kind of mood. lol.


Steak is a great animal protein addition to your salad, and what I like best of all here is to buy fresh Fillet Mignon and slice it thin raw and add it to the salad as Steak Tartare.  This is however very expensive by the pound, about the best I can get on sale for Fillet Mignon is $15/lb. I only will use maybe 1/4 pound most for a given salad, but that is closing in on $4 for that ingredient alone, which is getting way over normal SNAP Card Gourmet pricing.  More commonly if I want to add Steak as the animal protein component to the salad, I will buy Ribeye or New York Strip cut, Barbecue them Pittsburgh Rare (black on the outside, still mooing on the inside) then slice thin like the Fillet.  These cuts I can often find on sale for $6/lb, and recently 3 Bears had Ribeyes on sale for $4.59/lb, and astonishingly low price since usually that is the price for ground beef around here.  Even at $6/lb though, 1/4 lb of this thinly sliced into your salad is only a $1.50 addition, so still well within budget.

Note: Photo at left is my Valentines Day Ribeyes from 2015 charing over the BBQ. 🙂


The easiest thing to do with eggs is simply to hard boil them, then chop up and add to the salad.  2 eggs is plenty for the 1 lb salad mixture and they come in super cheap, around $2.50 a dozen around here, so call it 20 cents an egg for 40 cents to add your animal protein to the salad.  You may however prefer to make an Egg Salad, mixing up with Mayo and other ingredients of your choice and have on the side like you would a Tuna or Chicken salad. A particular favorite of mine these days is to make Deviled Eggs out of them (as detailed above), and then have 2-3 Half-Eggs along with the salad.  I add Horseradish Sauce, Stone Ground Mustard and Wasabi alog with the Mayo to make the Deviled mixture out of the yolks to refill the White half egg container, but you can choose whatever Deviling ingredients you like for this.  Many people like various types of Pickle Relish for this.  Besides adding flavor and variety, this also adds calories from the mayo as well so gives you a bit more nutrition for each egg.

The possibilities for stuff you can add to your Endless Salad are of course themselves endless, at least right now while the cornucopia of food is present on the shelves of your local food superstore and you have a working debit card or SNAP card to buy the stuff with.  You can also make it cheaper if you grow your own tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, bean sprouts etc to add to the salad.  Raise your own chickens, you can now add your own chicken meat and eggs to this too!  You probably could cut your costs down to $1/lb this way and be more self-sufficient, but of course not if you are homeless, you need a Doomstead to do all that.

Eat smart, eat tasty, eat cheap & eat healthy with the SNAP Card Gourmet! 🙂


Holy Guacamole! My Excellent Mexican CHEAP Dinner Recipes

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on April 23, 2017

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The general focus of the SNAP Card Gourmet series is to find ways to feed yourself with "relatively" healthy food at a price you can afford on a SNAP Card budget, which generally comes in the neighborhood in the FSoA right now of $140 per person, or somewhere around $5/day.  So whenever I write one of these SNAP Card Gourmet posts, I try to stay inside this parameter of $5/day for your nutrition needs.  This meal goes a bit over the target price, but it's a huge meal and you could shrink it some to stay inside the $5 target.

In this episode of TSCG, we're going to discover how to make a fabulous Mexican style meal for 4 people, coming in around $6/per person.  There's very little in the way of "real cooking" in this recipe, it mostly uses off the shelf frozen or canned foods, along with some fresh veggies, like Avocados for your Guacamole.  You can of course make it somewhat healthier if you make your Burritos and Chimichangas from scratch, but it won't be any cheaper.  In fact it will probably be more expensive that way.  So this falls under the category of cheap and filling calories, but not too high on the Nutrition scale.  It also falls under the category of EZ to prepare, you only need a Microwave and a couple of pots on a double burner electric hotplate.  So if you are wedged into a Section 8 one room Bates Motel with your wife (or husband) and 2 kids, you can probably cook up this meal and save a lot of money off the cost of the same thing at a Taco Bell, Chipotle or Qdoba, where it will cost you around $12-16.

The meal starts with the main entree of either two Burritos, Chimichangas, or Enchiladas your choice there.  They come in packages of 8 from El Monterey for around $5.00 around here, probably somewhat cheaper in the lower 48.

To these frozen delights, prior to microwaving you spruce them up with slices of cheddar cheese, around $4.00 for an 8 oz package which you lay over the top of them so it melts over the Burrito.  You might want to use Pepper Jack cheese instead, your choice. You further add calories to this by serving with a dollop of Sour Cream, a pint of which comes in around $3.00.

The real piece de resistance is your Guacamole, which you make from 2 avocados mashed up and a package of Guacamole mix so you don't have to buy all the separate spices like cilantro and lime, etc.  $4.00 for the Avocados, $1 for the mix, total $5.00 for the guacamole.  You can sometimes get avocados cheaper than this on sale.

A bottle of Salsa, another $3.  You'll probably have left over Salsa to use in another meal, but we'll count the whole cost of the bottle here.

Your final addition to the meal can be either refried beans at $1/can, 2 cans probably enough but if you have big eaters maybe 3 cans.  Other choice would be Black Beans & Rice, which comes in around the same price of $3.

Total cost for the meal per person is $6, which is over the SNAP Card benchmark of $5, but for a once a week Mega Meal, not too far over and you can easily make up for it through the rest of the week with some days of cheaper eating, like making spaghetti or peanut butter sandwiches, etc.  To be honest for myself, this would be 2-3 days of meals for me, not one.  I am perennially eating more leftovers than I do freshly cooked meals these days.

Since the meal is pretty heavy on the Calories but thin on the Vitamins, you're also going to want to be sure to take a multi-vitamin with it, which adds maybe 50 cents to each serving depending on the quality of vitamins you buy and the size of the container.  Vitamins always need to be accounted for in your total SNAP card budget for the month, and one should always try to buy the largest size and have it last a few months than buying smaller sizes every month, it comes in cheaper that way.  Vitamins keep a long time, you don't need to worry about them going bad.

In the next episode of the SNAP Card Gourmet, we'll look at a much HEALTHIER style of eating and which takes no cooking whatsoever.  It's also one of the few meal types you can put together for a single person without ending up with tons of leftovers you need to eat every day for a week so you can work through it all.  I call this the "Endless Salad".

Until then, Bon Apetite Diners!

Roadmap to Currency Collapse

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 7, 2016


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One of the main questions those of us who have been observing collapse since the 2008 Financial Crisis have always tried to answer is just how a banking collapse would play itself out?  Lately, there have been ever more clues on the shape it will take as it moves around the globe.

The first indication came with Cypress and the "bail-in" of the depositors there, and Greece shutting it's ATMs down and then only allowing small daily withdrawals of cash.  In the last month, we've seen India declare all it's old "large" denomination Rupee notes declared void, issuing out new Rupees to take their place.  Ahead of us, we have the imminent failure of the Italian banks on the horizon along with the possible failure of Germany largest bank, Deutchbank.  Coming at some point even IF somebody loans more money to the Italian Goobermint to bail out Monte dei Paschi di Siena over the weekend.


A bail-in is rescuing a financial institution on the brink of failure by making its creditors and depositors take a loss on their holdings. A bail-in is the opposite of a bail-out, which involves the rescue of a financial institution by external parties, typically governments using taxpayers money. Typically, bail-outs have been far more common than bail-ins, but in recent years after massive bail-outs some governements now require the investors and depositors in the bank to take a loss before taxpayers. Now, in the 2008 crisis in the aftermath of Lehman, the solution was a "bail-out" of the banks by pulling out Hank "the Skank" Paulson's "Big Bazooka" and charging it all up to the Taxpayers, as opposed to bank depositors in a Bail-in.  Of course, none of the taxpayers are too happy about that, so at least in Eurotrashland rules were set in place to do bail-ins.

Once you deposit your money in a bank, you have made an UNSECURED loan to the bank.  They're supposed to pay you back on demand, but of course if they go belly up and don't have the money and can't borrow it from someone else, your money essentially vanishes to the same place it came from, thin air.  Obviously, depositors who have this occur to them will be even more pissed off than the taxpayers, since your tax bill is spread out incrementally over time.  You don't instantly lose everything overnight, you just go broke more or less gradually as your taxes keep going up.

What bail-ins also do though besides pissing off a lot of depositors is they take a whole lot of money out of circulation, which of course is highly deflationary. Similarly, the exchange of the Rupee notes also is highly deflationary, because Da Goobermint is planning on taxing or confiscating the money that is deemed "suspicious".  That means the Indian whose money was taken no longer has it to spend on goods and services in the economy. So rather than the inflation so feared by folks like John Williams and Speedy Gonzalo Lira back in 2008, it now is looking more like an end game of deflation as both banks and goobermints confiscate money in order to try and balance their unbalanceable books.  Even if they confiscated all the money in circulation and on deposit in digibits though, the whole system is still net negative due to the interest charges that have accrued and there are so many NPLs (non-performing loans) out there.  Italy is in the worst shape there, with something like 20% NPLs, which is why their banking system is likely to topple first.

The problem after that becomes one of CONTAGION, because the Italian Banks are indebted to mainly the German banks, so if they go belly up the assets held by German banks are no longer assets, and they also become instantly insolvent.  Well'they're already insolvent, but at this point it becomes undisguisable with fraud and accounting rule changes.

If the ECB won't print fresh Euros to recapitalize the Italian banks, where's the money going to come from for this?  "Investors" (aka other TBTF banks) aren't going to buy $5B worth of equity and bonds, because they have already lost $BILLIONS$ down that rat hole.  So will there be an 11th hour Stick Save by the ECB to bail OUT again these banks, which generally puts the bill for it on the backs of the German taxpayer?  That's not very politically acceptable in Germany these days, they'd rather see the Italians go down the toilet, not really grasping they will follow the Italians shortly thereafter, possibly within nano-seconds. Anyhow, given this rather deflationary trend and the likelihood that "your" money currently in your checking and savings account will get confiscated in a bail-in, it's pretty hard to see why any typical Italians right NOW at least are keeping any Euros in the banks in Italy.  The Italians also currently have the very real threat that once Beppe Grillo's  5 Star Movement (M5S) gets into power, they have vowed to return to the Lira.  If you have Euros in an Italian bank, POOF, overnight they magically convert to Liras, and then quickly devalue against the Euro and Dollar, while those currencies are still standing anyhow.  The ew Lira currency would be close to worthless for buying anything from outside of Italy, most importantly imported energy.  I would bet on a 50% devaluation within a month, and maybe 10 cents on the Lira in a year.

So as logical as it seems to take your money and run now, this is not so EZ for the typical Italian.  Setting up an account in another country is tough even if you are a Eurozone member, and then making your daily withdrawals and deposits not so EZ either.  If you are a small biz owner and have payroll accounts and such, using a foreign bank is also impractical.

On a small enough level of savings, say a few 1000 Euros, for the individual stuffing this in your mattress seems like a safer idea than leaving it in the bank at this point, but as the Indian example shows your paper Euros could be made worthless overnight and you would need to exchange them for "New Euros".  However, you still have the issue that it is not practical to pay many of your monthly bills in cash, around here they won't even TAKE cash at the power company.  They also won't take cash for my rent either.  All these payments MUST be done through the banking system. So where does this leave you with trying to protect "your" wealth in a serious banking crash and sovereign debt crisis?  For this, many people believe Gold is the safest way to store your wealth, particularly "Possessible" gold like collectible coins and tiny 10 gram slips.  "Paper Gold" is not looked on much better than Fiat Money since it is essentially the same kind of Ponzi scheme.

The problems this has are very similar to your paper money though.  First off, it's not very good for currently paying your bills.  I couldn't go over to the leasing office and pay my rent in Gold Coins any more than I could go in and pay in cash.  If I was running a small business, I couldn't pay my employees in Gold either.  You then also have the problem that every time you exchange Gold for some cash to go buy food at Safeway, you first have to stop in at a coin dealer and you have to pay a transaction fee of some amount.  Finally, your coin dealer himself actually has to have the cash to give you in return for the Maple Leaf or teensy-weensy Gold Chip. There is a further critical problem with using gold as money, which is that over the millenia it has become highly centralized.  It began as deposits sprinkled out all over the earth and was gradually mined up, for ornamental jewelry and then used for coinage.  Over time, generally by some form of theft like the Spanish Conquistadores ripping off the Aztecs, all this gold got hoarded up and ended up going right back where it came from, in a hole in the ground.  Now though, the gold was "owned" by a few people, in the olden days a few Monarchs and a few Banksters.  Nowadays it's Sovereign Wealth Funds, TBTF Banks and a few filthy rich Hedge Fund managers who are also Gold Bugs.  Then you have another small cadre of people who have gold in the form of coin collections, and some with jewelry.  Most of the population though has no gold whatsoever.  So if you want to use it as money, what is the mechanism for getting it out of the hoarded piles and back into circulation for the population at large?

The answer to this dilemma often proposed is that the Banks then issue Notes on the gold, which would then be used as money.  The problem there is that unless the gold is redeemable for the note, the note is not really "gold-backed", thus you are right back to the fiat money problem.  In such a system, banksters ALWAYS print more notes than they actually have in gold bars in the safe.  That's the principle behind fractional reserve lending and also modern rehypothecation, where the same pile of gold is used as collateral for layers of loans on top of it. At some point these Ponzis based on gold always collapse, and a few people get gold back for their notes and the rest are left with a piece of paper.  In general, the ones who end up with the gold are the guys with the combination to the vault.  Back in the mining towns of the Old West, this happened all the time.  The miners would go and have their gold assayed, then deposit it in the local bank where it was supposed to be safer than keeping it in your mining shack or carrying it in a pouch on your belt.  In return, you would get notes from the bank that you could use to go buy a haircut and a bath, a nice steak and bottle of whiskey at the saloon and spend the night in Miss Kitty's Cat House.  Then one morning you wake up and the local bankster has skipped town with the gold, and all you got left in your pocket are worthless notes.

All in all, this makes a system utilizing gold proxied by paper notes no better than the fiat system.  Unless you actually are using the coins themselves as currency, then all the same problems of bankster dishonesty remain.  If you do hoard your own gold at home and carry it around as currency, then you are vulnerable to theft from the other end of the spectrum, the highwaymen.

This is just your issues at the consumer level though, the much bigger issues come at the wholesale level, because once the banking lockup hits, stores can't pay their suppliers, suppliers can't pay the shippers etc, so whether you have either Cash or Gold, the products simply don't make it to the shelves to buy with money of any type.  If the problem goes on for any length of time, people start to get desperate, as has occured already in India as people raid warehouses for food.  That's only a one time solution though, because once the warehouse is emptied, it won't get resupplied until some new system is dropped into place.  Anything more than a week long "Bank Holiday", and you are in the Deep Doo-Doo..

Most places in the world still highly dependent on cash are hard pressed to get any kind of new currency regime going, again India is the Canary in the Coal Mine for this. To get a complete exchange done takes a month at least, and meanwhile tons of people have no money whatsoever to work with.  Farmers can't get seed, truckers can't get diesel, electric companies can't buy coal, etc.

Here in the FSoA where most exchange is all digital now and most people have some kind of plastic card, debit, credit or a SNAP card, as long as it was pre-planned and ready, an alternate regime could be dropped in place overnight.  What this might entail would be a nation-wide bail-in of all depositors, taking 50% of everyone's savings and then using that to recapitalize the banks.  This of course is also highly deflationary.  It also would be EXTREMELY unpopular and you would be sure to see the Pitchforks and Torches surrounding Trumpty-Dumpty at the White House. Besides that though, it wouldn't really solve the problem, because in fact even after doing this these banks would still be insolvent.  Since the people just had half of their money stolen, now they don't have this money to pay their car loan and mortgage which means more NPLs and less assets for the bank.  Real Estate prices drop precipitously as people no longer have the money to buy the McMansions and more people go into foreclosure.  Rinse and Repeat.

The only advantage to this type of solution is it might allow the economy to function a while longer without complete breakdown that a paper system has to deal with on a virtually immedite basis.  So rather than complete havoc occuring within a week or two it might take a few months. Maybe.

Returning to the individual, what can you do here to in some way prepare for this eventuality to occur?  Well, as always you should be Prepped up with enough food to last through what hopefully is a temporary disruption of a few weeks to a couple of months.  You should have a reasonable amount of cash, again a couple of months worth of your bills, and hopefully they will take your cash at the gas company office if the banking system is down.  If you have enough money left over after this and think Gold is a good store of your wealth, go ahead and buy some.  Personally, I would not start buying Gold as a Hedge until I had at least 6 months in Cash and Food Preps, but 2 months is a minimum here.

Far as your digibit money in the banks is concerned, Credit Unions are probably somewhat safer than banks, but not by much.  Definitely keep the money in Federally Insured account and don't have more in any account than the insurance limit, which I think is around $250,000.  That's a lot and most people do not have near so much, in fact most people are lucky if they have one month of bills in savings.  Also, splitting up your savings to a couple of different banks might be a wise precaution.  How well the FDIC progam will work in a systemic crash is open to question of course, but it's better than nothing. The other digimoney many people support as a way to store your wealth are the Crypto-Currencies like bitcoin.  I don't recommend those at all.  In a systemic banking crisis I think those digibits will be worthless and not exchangeable for whatever the new currency regime is in your neghborhood.  Besides that, in all likelihood after a month of disruption, the Internet will go Dark and none of your cryptomoney will be available.

Now, if you are really loaded, there are only 3 other places you might try to preserve your hoarded wealth, the traditional investment vehicles of Stocks, Bonds and Real Estate.  In this type of deflationary crash, it's hard to imagine how any of the paper investments would hold much value, and they also generally suffer from the problem of being extremely illiquid.  It would be hard to sell them to get any new cash being offered up by Da Goobermint, certainly you could not unload them fast enough to use the proceeds for hopping at Walmart for more Preps..

Real Estate presents probably the best of these investments for the well-to-do, but you definitely don't want to be buying it with credit on a mortgage.  In a deflationary crash, it's likely to be underwater rapidly and you probably will lose your job and be unable to pay the mortgage.  So you need to have enough money to buy the property in cash, and few people have enough to do that, at least no more than a few acres of raw land in a cheap area of the country anyhow.

To wrap it up here, there aren't any real fullproof solutions to preserving all that much wealth in a systemic monetary crash, particularly one which goes global.  This crash will come at some point, the system has been patched together with spit, duct tape and bailing wire for almost a decade and it is teetering on the edge of the precipice.  Keep your fingers crossed that the "Smartest Guys in the Room" have a Plan B here to keep things running a while.  If not, we'll see the End of Industrial Civilization occur over a very short period of time.

Finally, why do you think this problem devolves FIRST to Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the OLDEST bank there is in this system, chartered even before Columbus discovered invaded Amerika in 1492?  Monte dei Paschi start date 20 yers earlier.  Buehler?


If nobody comes up with a good rationale on this, I will pitch mine out.  To me, it is obvious, but do not know how others see this.  So I ask for some speculation here.

Amerikan Brexit: Coalitions of the Ignorant

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on November 10, 2016

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The election of 2016 is over, and the mood in the country is that the People Have Spoken. A majority of voters have soundly rejected Business As Usual, as personified by Hillary Clinton, and voted for what they perceive as Change, with a Capital T, as in Trump.

The truth is that there was never a better poster child for crony capitalism and corruption than Clinton. The thousands of leaked emails and the revelations about shady deals with foreign despots funneling money to her through her non-profit front disgusted anybody who took the trouble to read during the election cycle….and for those (most Americans) who don't bother to read, Mr. Trump was happy to Tweet about it and call her a criminal day after day on the campaign trail.

I expected Ms. Clinton to win, not because she was a good candidate, but because she was a very savvy politician with a well-established constituency among the black and brown urban poor and the educated liberal elites, and because the Big Money was behind her. She knew how to play the game, as it has always been played.

But this election threw a monkey wrench into the gears of electoral politics. For the first time in history we have seen an election shaped by social media. Mr. Trump, himself a TV personality with lots of name recognition, was able to shape the election by saying things that most political observers would have called political suicide, and he made it work to deliver the Presidency of the United States.

For the past several years, Republican candidates had courted the same people who turned out to vote Mr. Trump into office, with some success. But they never delivered on their promises, and this time that group, the high school educated working class whites, showed their dissatisfaction by abandoning the Republican Establishment in the primary, and further demonstrating their anger and frustration with BAU by sweeping Trump into the White House.

I don't think Trump will deliver the goods either, because declining energy resources dictate that the pie will keep getting smaller, and because the ship carrying the US industrial economy set sail for China long ago now, and it won't be coming back. Never mind the widespread effects of global climate change, which Mr. Trump and most of his base don't believe is even real.

Mr. Trump will have to depend on his bombast and charisma to keep his support. The figure he most reminds me of in recent history, is Hugo Chavez. Poor Venezuelans still love Chavez, even though he threw their country into total economic chaos. I'm sure Trump will be able to keep some of his base behind him for the next four years, or longer. But it won't be because he was able to make America great again.

I think it would be good to examine Mr.Trump's coalition of support, and Ms. Clinton's, because even though she lost the election, her base still exists, and  it is outgrowing Mr. Trump's support base over the long haul. In other words, they will be back with a new candidate, who might appear in four years to completely dismantle whatever Mr. Trump creates. They might even come back with a vengeance. Time is on their side, as long as the country can rock along without a complete systemic collapse.

It's easy to understand Clinton's support. At the bottom are the extremely entrenched have-nots in our society. They can't get along without a SNAP card and Medicaid. There is a very large group of Blacks and Hispanics (and a even a few whites) who have, for nearly three generations, benefited from free food and free medical insurance and subsidized rent. They are motivated to AVOID making much money in the mainstream economy, and they are motivated to AVOID being legally married,  to qualify for the benefits they depend on. These benefits are almost always restricted to being doled out to single mothers with children. Families have to avoid the appearance of being a family when social workers come around, and any significant income has to come from the black market economy.

The black and brown Americans who pull themselves up above poverty still identify politically with this group, and largely vote with them, although some of the most successful do abandon ship and turn conservative. The black working class remains firmly behind the Democratic Party, which always gives lip service to taking care of "the unfortunate". The Hispanic component favors open borders and free immigration, because a large number of them are from immigrant families, many of whom arrived here illegally.

To that bloc (which is growing by leaps and bounds because of the Hispanic component with their Catholic religion and large family size), the Democrats add a much different demographic group,which are the liberal whites, who have been brought up to believe in policies of racial and gender equality, and who feel sorry for those at the bottom. These whites are not all rich, but they are,as a group, well educated, and they have jobs in government, education, and technology that allow them to achieve a measure of financial success. Enough to keep them from being angry, and make them in favor of a diverse society, which they've been taught to value anyway.

The Trump constituency, examined in hindsight of the election, appears to be a coalition too. The base is the white working class, the people who once constituted the bedrock of American society, not college educated, but who managed to make decent livings in our industrial manufacturing sector. Union workers and unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. At one time a man could make a reasonable living in this country if he was just willing to get up in the morning and go to work and give a reasonable effort. Jobs were plentiful, and if one didn't work out you could always get another one.

These people are now strongly  anti-immigration, because they perceive that new arrivals take away employment that is their birthright. It is a little more complicated than that, but they don't see the fine detail of how technology just eliminates the need for so many working stiffs.

They  accuse the Democratic party of bringing in more and more immigrants in order to build the liberal welfare state political base, and that makes them angry too. They happen to be right about that one.

The other part of the coalition, which includes some of the above group, and some other, better educated white people, is the Religious Right, the very same people who brought you the likes of Ted Cruz and even Marco Rubio  (who wasted no time last night in giving all the credit for his re-election to Jesus Christ his personal savior. I don't know if Jesus was listening, but the Evangelicals were, and gave Rubio a huge round of applause when he said it. Little Marco knows which side his bread is buttered on.)

This group is motivated by their shared agenda of ending abortion in any form for any reason, making birth control difficult, and bringing public prayer (Christian prayer, that is) back to public schools.  Ending sex education is another issue. They want kids raised like mushrooms, kept in the dark, and fed on a diet of horse shit. They are people who have been conditioned to believe that our society's decline is due to moral decay, and who see nothing wrong with making America into a Conservative Christian theocracy.

The working white poor, as a demographic group, are in decline, but the Religious Right keeps growing. Their churches have turned into huge mega-arenas that put thousands under one roof on Sunday morning, where preachers skilled in hypnosis techniques drive home the message. The Religious Right doesn't love Trump, but they were willing to hold their noses and vote for him in droves, because he comes from a Catholic family background and has been careful to (at least in recent years) give lip service to the Christian Conservative agenda.

Both the Democratic base and the Republican base are motivated primarily by emotion, and neither one is willing to understand that the decline of our country and Western Civilization has to do resource depletion, overpopulation, and climate change.

They cling to their own particular emotional lifeboats, and have no interest in hearing that all of us are going to be living on less energy, less money, and less complexity in the near future, and that many of us will simply not be living at all, as our ability to use technology to produce more and more food and labor from less and less effort, goes away forever.

They deny climate change, because they don't live on waterfront property. Or if they do, they'd like to flip their house before it becomes worthless. The city just needs to build more storm drains and do a little more backfill. All those storms are just normal climate variation. Floods and droughts have always happened. Watch your step, there, don't get your feet wet.

That's my view. Pardon me if I'm not excited by the wave of change sweeping the country. I see another kind of wave coming, one that will give both of these groups of willfully ignorant Americans a reality check they aren't looking for.

Collapsing Civilization and its Blogging Discontents

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on August 14, 2016

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For those of you with some passing knowledge of "Great Works" of literature, non-fiction and history, you will no doubt recognize that the title of this blog is a play on the title of a book published in 1929 by Sigmund Freud (yes, that Freud), Civilization and its Discontents.  It's one of those "must read" books they pitch out at you in college courses that track the history and development of Western Civilization.  There are many others in this list of "must reads", The Prince by Nicoli Machiavelli, City of God by St. Augustine and Adam Smith's On the Wealth of Nations to name a few.  You can get all these books in nicely bound leather volumes now published by Harvard Classics for the low, low price every day on Ebay of anywhere from around $50 for a full 23 Volume set ($2.50 a book including shipping!) on up into the hundreds, depending how good an Online Shopper you are.  If you are really clever you can get all of those and thousands more as e-books for even less money or even for free.  I love freebies on the net! 🙂

Many if not most of these books were written in the 16th-19th Century, although the examples I gave like Freud's tome came in the early 1900s and Augustine's take on civilization came in the 5th century, around the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire.  All taken together though, they pretty much represent the way Western thought evolved after the Romans lost their hold on the world and as a new civilization in the west rose to replace it over the course of a full millenia of time.

In Freud's book, he postulates that general "unhappiness" that many people immersed in a "civilized" society comes from conflicts between the needs & desires of the individual, which get restricted and legislated by the competing needs and organization of the society as a whole.  Being more or less obsessed with sexual issues, Freud focuses down on the insatiable desire for sexual gratification Homo Saps appears to have, versus all the laws, taboos and restrictions societies generate to keep this bizness under control.  Since Freud himself was immersed in the western culture of the time, his viewpoint is obviously skewed by this, but there is still a lot of validity to the observations anyhow.  They also do generalize to other areas BESIDES sex, like money, wealth, fame etc, but since Freud was so sexually obsessed himself, it permeates his writing and you just can't get away from it.  Once you get past his sexual obsessions though, Freud has a lot of interesting observations on society, civilization and the individual.  Carl Jung had similar sexual obsession issues, but Carl was a bit more cagey about it than Siggy was in his writings. lol. This seems to be a ubiquitous problem amongst people who gravitate toward Psycholgy as a profession.  I don't think I ever talked with any psychologist who was not absolutely consumed with sex as a motivator.

OK, so that gives us a little history and background to get started with this discussion, which is focused on a more narrow slice of the civilzation pie through history, specifically what is going on RIGHT NOW in the world at large and then also in our own little slice of a slice of history, the collapse blogosphere.  By no means of course am I Sigmund Freud, and by no means do I expect this blog to make it onto the Harvard Classics reading list, but on the upside here it is all available for FREE on the internet! So, since nobody except me has to pay for this, let me get rolling here!

On the gross scale of society in general, discontent is manifest all over the place these days.  Terrorists are obviously not very content people and neither are crazed Psychos and Lone Shooters hitting various Malls, Bars, Restaurants and College Campuses either.  There simply is NO WAY blowing away dozens or hundreds of innocent people demonstrates much contentment, if anyone can make a case for that one I am all ears.  The Black Underclass is none too content these days in the FSoA, despite the fact they mostly are still getting fed on the SNAP Card program issued by JP Morgan Chase. See Ferguson, see Baltimore, see BLM for a snaphot of the discontent in this group.   The Muslim underclass in Europe is none too happy either, nor are the longer term paleface residents of this neighborhood getting inundated each day with still more "rapefugees".  Muslim women in France are discontented because "Burqinis" have been outlawed on the beaches of Cannes.

Burqini                      vs                            Bikini

You may indicate your preference on Female Beachwear in the comments

Our POTUS Candidates here in the FSoA don't seem too content with ANYTHING, even though they have absolutely ZERO in the way of reasonable ideas that could do a damn thing to assuage this discontent.  Julian Assange obviously is not very content trapped inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last 4 years, although granted this is likely a much better prison to be caged in than GITMO.  About the only people I can think of who might be somewhat content these days are folks like Lloyd Blankfein, doing God's Work as he runs Goldman Sachs or Elon Musk as he borrows endless amounts of funny money on the taxpayer dime to build space rocket toys and gigafactories in the middle of the Nevada desert.

Discontent is also on display every day in the collapse blogosphere as factions fight it out, Extinction vs Renewables, Economic vs Climate Collapse, Hyperinflation vs Deflation, Nuke Pro vs Con, Rich vs Poor…there's no shortage of disagreements.  There is however a serious shortage of workable solutions to all these problems, thus the discontent.

On top of this problem is that by now everyone who writes on these topics has carved out his or her own space and acquired his or her ow commentariat, which tends to be a reflection of whatever the spin of the main blogger is for the site.  Fed up with contrarians and trolls taking opposing viewpoints on their websites, these viewpoints are simply disappeared by the site owner, and eventually all opposing viewpoints are squashed out as these folks quit in frustration or just get outright banned.

By no means is the Diner immune to the problem here either.  I've had at least a half dozen Diners quit over the years because they were discontent that their spin was not well received, and about 4 I have had to silence because of the constant stream of insults and ad hom argument coming off their keyboards.  At a certain point "Free Speech" gets squashed simply because people can't be polite to each other when they are so discontented.  They don't feel other people are paying enough attention to their spin on the "truth", and so they begin to lash out and good clean debate gets flushed down the toilet.

If it weren't for the fact I run the Doomstead Diner, I would be effectively cut off from just about every major blog commentariat concerned with issues of collapse.  Dmitry Orlov, Guy McPherson, Gail Tverberg, John Michael Greer & Jim Kunstler all eliminate my posting nowadays.  Ugo Bardi still approves my posts, but it's not a very active commentariat over there on Cassandra's Legacy.  I can still post on r/collapse, but that is more of a news ticker than a blog.

My discontent with this situation is that the whole collapse blogosphere has become extremely polarized.  When I originally began the Diner my hope was to unify all the people writing about collapse, so that together we might have a stronger voice and get more attention than by each of us playing in our own little sandboxes.  The eact opposite has occured, and now each little sandbox has its own insular Group Think and the divisions between them greater than ever. I doubt you could bring Dmitry Orlov and Guy McPherson to the same conference and not have a fistfight break out. lol.

The biggest problem is with the blogs pitching the spin that the situation is Hopeless, both the ecosphere and the Human Race are irrevocably Doomed.  First off, this provides a fabulous excuse for inaction which then turns the idea into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The second major problem is the commentariat of these blogs provides a home for fanatics who reinforce each other, while at the same time flaming anyone who does not toe the party line.  You see this most clearly on Nature Bats Last and Our Finite World.  Forget about participating in those commentariats, I don't even bother reading them anymore because you know precisely what everyone is going to say in every thread.

So, in ths Sea of Discontent what is the future?  It looks like a One-to-the-Many break up, much like we see Europe breaking up these days on the geopolitical level.  The heyday of what cooperation there was between the collapse bloggers probably came somewhere between 2006 and 2014 or so, and we have now passed Peak Cooperation and are moving toward Peak Isolation.  Everyone has their own part of the Collapse Elephant they are examining and coming up with different descriptions of what the Elephant actually looks like.  About the best the reader can do is surf between the sites and try to put together his or her own composite picture of the Elephant.  If you are the chatty type, pick your favorite site with the spin most closely matching your own, believe whatever it is that makes you happy, and chat with other True Believers rather than be discontented all the time.

National Shoot-a-Cop Day

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on July 17, 2016


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Well, now I am backed up 2 deep on Sunday Brunch articles getting pushed back because of breaking current events.  I have articles intended to be published over the last 2 weeks on the European Union History and on the Collapse of the Education system, but both are going on ice again now because of the Cop Massacre in Dallas.

Now, this event should not be a surprise to anyone who has followed the Newz over the last few years, from the Trayvon Martin killing through Ferguson and Baltimore.  There is a whole website now devoted to the subject of Killed by Cop, compiling statistics on the number of people who are killed by cops each year which as you might expect is heavily weighted toward black people.

Many reasons for that racial divide in statistics.  In the FSoA, Blacks are the long term underclass, beginning with slavery of course.  The Civil War and Honest Abe Lincoln "Emancipated" them and tossed them out legislative "Freedom", but that didn't translate into reality too well for them.  The post Civil War years saw segregation and the same good jobs available to whites were not available to blacks.  They moved to cities during the Industrialization of the post Civil War years, and they got the scut work of the society at the lowest wages.  Their underclass status persisted under this economic system.

Police-BadgeThe underclass of any society always has more systemic violence ongoing than the upper classes.  They are always at the edge, in an existential battle for survival.  Often the only opportunities for them are in illegal enterprises, drug dealing, gambling and prostitution.  They form gangs for self-protection and to try to capture territory from rival gangs.  For the upper classes, they hire Police Forces to try and keep this violence from leaving the community of Black People and disturbing the Wa of White People.  In almost all of the places where you have this simmering warfare ongoing you get the locals shooting each other and cops shooting the locals, and occassionally as in the case of Dallas, locals shooting the cops.  That has not occurred that often in the past, but if you go by the last couple of days, it seems more likely to occur in the future.

The end of the Civil War and the end of Slavery did not bring equality to Black People by any stretch of the imagination, serious inequality persisted right through WWI & WWII.  When the World Wars came, they were Free to be conscripted into those Wars just as Whites were.  That is the Freedom they got. The freedom to Die for their Country, generally in segregated units at the time which were often sacrificial lambs in any battle.

In the post WWII period during the vast expansion of the Consumer Economy, Blacks were left seriously behind, and then in the 1950s and 1960s that all blew up pretty magnificently, with a Million Blacks Marching on Washington behind the voice of Martin Luther King.  They won this battle of the time, and they got Lyndon Baines Johnson to sign off on the "Great Society", a welfare and equal rights bill designed to bring them to equality with whites.  It worked for a while too, while the credit and money flowed fast and furious and there was enough money around for EVERYTHING, including a massively money losing proposition like the Vietnam War.

Sadly however, just dishing out welfare payments and food stamps and providing section 8 housing to the underclass is not exactly bringing equality in here.  They still lived in Ghettos with poor education and a lot of internal violence ongoing all the time.  Yes, a few of them got catapulted to the head of the class through Affirmative Action, which pissed off a lot of better "qualified" white applicants to various Universities, but even that was just a Drop in the Bucket compared to the actual population size you are considering here.  So the underclass kept GROWING, and the costs to keep their Welfare Checks and SNAP cards filled up keeps growing too!

Meanwhile in the white working class, their taxes keep going up and their paychecks keep going down.  They are not too happy about supporting the Black underclass, even though a lot more of their tax money goes to supporting the Wars and the .01% running the show here.  So now you got not only a racial divide but an economic one as well, and as the credit runs thin to keep everyone happy EXCEPT the .01%, you have a tinderbox just ready to BLOW.

It has been building now and escalating rapidly for the last 2 years, although if you were perceptive enough you probably saw the germs of this years ago. The violence has been on a steady increase in all these comunities, and for the mostly White cops, they feel like they are in a War Zone every day on the job.  It doesn't help that the type of personality attracted to this job is generally a control freak who enjoys the sense of power he has and carrying a gun.

For the Blacks, they are just fucking TIRED of being stomped on on a daily basis and seeing one after another of their brothers gunned down with absolutely ZERO accountability far as the cops are concerned. About the WORST thing that happens to a cop in a shooting incident and investigation is he gets a slap on the wrist and loses his job.  They virtually never get prison time, and NEVER get the Death Penalty.  OTOH, a Black person who shoots a cop will DEFINITELY get prison time and most likely the Death Penalty too!  So there is once again a serious inequality in consequences for what essentially are the same actions between the White Cops on the one hand, and the Black Citizens on the other.  This doesn't sit well with the blacks, so they are now ready to STRIKE OUT.

The first indication of this readiness came in Ferguson, and then it came again in Baltimore.  None of the underlying problems were addressed, and as usual none of the cops involved in the killings got anything more than a slap on the wrist.  No Retribution, no admission of guilt, nada.

Then, in the last few days you get not one but TWO instances of exactly the same thing.  Two black men mowed down by white cops.  The circumstances were different, in one case the dead black guy might have been a pot seller rather than a CD seller and in the other the dead black guy was carrying a legal pistol that he had license for, but in both cases the black guy ended up DEAD! As usual.

So everyone is SAD about this, and the Demonstrations come up again.  But some folks are more than just SAD, they are ANGRY.  They want some PAYBACK for this shit, and it is not coming from the Judicial System.  They also have access to GUNZ like all Amerikans do, whether you are a good upstanding citizen who goes about getting one legally or a less than upstanding one who buys the weapon out of the trunk of a Ford Escort.

So now what you got is a cohort of individual "psychos" not related to each other, not in contact with each other, not creating a "conspiracy" cell of people, but enough of them out there at any given time that it becomes almost certain that in any large demonstration one of them will POP UP and do a shoot-em-up.  Such was Orlando of course.

The main difference between Orlando and Dallas were the Bullet Targets.  In Orlando it was Gays at a Nightclub.  Overall, not a lot of sympathy in Amerikans for either Gays or Nightclub Rats.  The targeting of COPS though raises much more besides just eyebrows.  Cops are supposed to be the enforcers of Justice, so if your target is cops and not queers, you're not attacking sexual preference what you are attacking is the Justice system itself.  Amerikans for the most part have a lot of FAITH in Cops.  They are just Civil Servants trying to survive their shift, right?  People NEED Cops in this society, if your house gets robbed or your child gets raped, who else will you call to get some Justice here?  So the BELIEF structure is very strong that Cops are there to Protect & Serve the Good People and capture and punish the Bad People.  Sadly, this is not how it actually works in practice.

Police really are mainly an enforcement arm for the property owners in the society and as such have a heavy bias against the underclass, pretty much regardless of race but in the FSoA most of the underclass is Black, so it is basically synonymous.  If you went to France, the bias would be against Muslims, often not Black but rather of Caucasian Middle East extraction.  If you went to China, it would be against Ughurs, since the Police are defending the Han, and mostly are selected from Han Chinese.

So what can we expect here as time goes by?  Well quite obviously, there are more and more terrifically unhappy people in the society, and most of them are members of the underclass in their given societies.  More of them each day become so upset at what they see around them and their own experience they become more willing to take extreme actions.  As of yet in the FSoA, there does not appear to be any coordinated action amongst these people, they are all individual "Psychos".  Trying to create any type of organized group is very difficult withour it becoming infiltrated, as soon as you go public in any way you will be tracked on the net.  So what you get from this are Lone Wolves, afraid to talk to anyone about their plans for mayhem to anyone else. Long as said LWs ar rare, not too big a problem, but if they become common, BIG PROBLEM.

Imagine the RNC with a HUGE demonstration by Black Lives Matter against the Trump Libertaritards.  Said demonstration is a STRANGE ATTRACTOR for innumerable "psychos" with Gunz.  They do not need to be working together, there does not need to be a conspiracy, they just all need to be in the same general location at the same time, and all HELL breaks loose when the live ammo starts flying.

The conventions next month look ripe now for this type of violence to assert itself.  How exactly TPTB will squash it remains an open question, dependent on how big the Numbers are out on the street.

My best WAG is the RNC amd DNC will be melees that make the conventions in 1968 look like a Sunday Picnic.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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