Food

Bye, Bye Pastrami on Rye

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Published on The Doomstead Diner January 22, 2017

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On New Year's Eve of 2016, the Carnegie Delicatessen in NY Shity closed it's doors for the final time.  There will be no more Hot Pastrami sandwiches on Rye Bread served at the Carnegie anymore. 🙁

http://1j0kaab4se21i4i6y1k7omz1.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Stages-Deli-Greython-Construction-Foxwoods4-3-300x167.jpg Back in 2012 when the Doomstead Diner first opened its doors, the Stage Delicatessen closed down.  In 2004, the other main iconic Jewish Deli of NY Shity Ratner's on Delancey Street closed its doors.  I frequented all these Jewish Delicatessens in my years living in NY Shity, and the Carnegie closing marks the last of the truly great ones I know of. OK, wait, Katz's is still open for bizness, but their Pastrami was not as good as Carnegie or Stage.

There were many other lesser known ones, in fact right by my old High School of Stuyvesant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan there was a small one I often had lunch at, which served up a GREAT Potato Knish for about 50 cents at the time if I recall.  Their Pastrami wasn't near as good as the Pastrami you got at the Stage or the Carnegie though.

There were many other Jewish Delis sprinkled around NY Shity in those years as well, mainly in the various Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.  There were some good ones in Forest Hills as I recall, though I can't remember their names anymore.  Usually they were just named after the founder of the Deli, like "Feynman's Delicatessen" or "Murray's Delicatessen" etc.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/87/9c/8a/879c8ae18cbcba197cfbc989a864ef16.jpg

My TOP 10 favorite Jewish Foods from the era were: (more or less in order)

1- Hot Pastrami on Rye Bread
2- Matzoh Ball Soup
3- Bagel shmeared with Cream Cheese and Lox
4- Matzoh Meal Latkes (Pancakes)
5- Potato Knish
6- Chicken Liver Pate
7- Beef Tongue Sandwich on Rye
8- Kosher Hot Dog
9- Whole Smoked Whitefish Chubs
10- Potato Latkes (Pancakes)

Fortunately for me since I know how to cook quite well, I can reproduce most of these dishes fairly well to this day, but I don't do it because my appetite is so depressed and you have to make them in large quantities.  To make a good Pastrami, you need to smoke up a full brisket of beef, and I couldn't eat that much meat in a month these days, by which time it goes bad unless frozen, and after freezing a lot of the flavor is lost.  You really want to eat this stuff RIGHT after you finish cooking it, which is why Delis developed to begin with.  While one person or even a small family can't finish a whole beef brisket in one meal (except for total PIGS!), if you have even just 20 or 30 people stop in your Deli for Lunch, you can easily go through a few briskets for the day.  Dropping into a Deli for a Lunch of Matzoh Ball Soup and a Hot Pastrami on Rye was an EXTREME culinary pleasure, and at the time not all that expensive although more expensive than a Slice of Mushroom Pizza at the local Storefront Italian Pizzeria.  There you could get a slice of freshly baked Pizza for around 25 cents and a Minestrone Soup for another 25 cents.  In my neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, during my years there from age 10 to 16 there were 3 main groups of 1st or 2nd generation Immigrants, Italians, Jews and Irish.  The Italians and the Jews served up the FOOD, the Irish ran all the BARS and served up the BOOZE. lol.  In the later years the Chinese and various other Asian groups began arriving, and lots of Chinese Take Out restaraunts popped up.

http://cdn.luxuo.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Smith-and-Wollensky-steak-house.jpg Jewish Delis aren't the only restaraunts I frequented in NY Shity during my salad years there in the 70s and 80s now Outta Biz, even some top end Steakhouses like Smith & Wollensky are gone to the Great Beyond.  They bit the dust in 2016.  This is in NY Shity, home to Wall Street with some traders and executives still taking home outrageous salaries and big bonuses.  Why can't a high end restaraunt like this make a go of it in that market?

Well, you gotta understand the restaurant biz to begin with here, it always depends on VOLUME.  You need to keep all your tables filled all the time, and there also needs to be a quite large difference between the cost of the food you cook up and what you charge to the customers in order to meet all the overhead, which is quite large especially in NY Shity.  The restaurant bizness is extremely labor intensive, and labor costs are high even if you pay all the workers Min Wage.  You can't pay decent chefs Min Wage though, so the better the food, the higher the costs get driven up.

NY Shity commercial rents have shot through the ROOF in the last decade to begin with.  Then the cost of the food ingredients also went up rapidly.  Then, despite the fact there are a FEW Banksters making gobs of money, MOST of the population doesn't have all that much to spend on Lunch.  So the efffect is the restaurant keeps raising it's prices in order to meet the overhead which drives away more of their regular customers then making it uneconomic to cook up a half dozen beef briskets each day to make Pastrami out of.  Not selling enough Pastrami then, said Deli ends up going outta biz.

http://media.olivegarden.com/en_us/images/marketing/italian-family-restaurant-olive-garden-g6-r1x1.jpg The same thing is true for a high end steakhouse like Smith & Wollensky, and really the only types of restaraunts currently surviving are either Fast Food (FF acronym, like the Fossil Fuels they are made from) which operate with low quality food served at high volume and low prices, or medium level chains like say Olive Garden which serve medium quality food at medium prices and ALSO have access to DEBT money to subsidize losing money operations.  Small independents from either end of the spectrum are squashed out because they don't have access to the debt that allows a large chain to keep going even when it also is losing money.

It's a sorry state of affairs of course, and the fact that the typical Lunch menu for a worker has devolved from a nice juicy Hot Pastrami sandwich to a Big Mac is a very depressing state of affairs, although also a good symbol for the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

Great Pastrami came at the PINNACLE of Industrial Civilization, probably around the mid 1960s to 1970s.  There was certainly good pastrami around before that though, going back to the 1920s probably.  The Good Pastrami also lasted until the early 2000s, when it started to disappear.  Fabulous Pastrami at Great Jewish Delis had about an 80 year lifespan available to the average J6P around NY Shity, basically tracing the Age of Oil.

http://www.seriouseats.com/assets_c/2014/05/20140529-pastrami-smoked-meat-11-thumb-610x406-403666.jpg The Death of Great Pastrami came due to the economics of producing it and serving it up in Delis.  At the beginning, the rents in NY Shity were cheap for a small deli operator, but over the years they rose into the stratosphere.  While a few Wall Street Pigmen make gobs of money, except for a very few high end restaurants you can't base your bizness on them.  There's just not enough of them who will buy a Hot Pastrami Sandwich for lunch on a daily basis.

As the rents skyrocketed, so did the cost of buying a Pastrami Sandwich at places like the Stage & Carnegie Delicatessens.  Even when I left NY Shity back in the 90s, a lunch at one of those places was coming in around $10, maybe a bit more.  This was no longer a meal for the average J6P.  I don't know what the Final Price on the menu was for a Pastrami on Rye when the Carnegie Delicatessen closed its doors for the last time on Dec 31st, 2016, but I suspect it was in the $20 range.

With these kind of prices, where the average J6P in NYC goes for lunch is not to a Jewish Deli for Pastrami, but to Mickey D's for a Big Mac, Fries & a Coke, a meal which itself is coming in close to $10 these days!  It also obviously lacks the terrific flavor and texture of well prepared Pastrami, and all the workers in that FF joint are being paid minimum wage.  The whole category of a well paid chef is ELIMINATED!  In fact, the push is on to eliminate even the low paid cooks who dutifully drop the frozen french fries into the deep fryer with robots that can do the job more reliably 24/7 with no coffee breaks!

https://www.mcdonalds.com.ph/userfiles/images/ourfood/main/BigMac435X320%20(1).png Nobody seems to know where the folks who BUY Lunch from the Robots will get the money to do this though, as they are automated out of a job.  There are suggestions out there of a guaranteed "Universal Basic Income", sort of Welfare on Steroids, but nobody knows how to implement such a thing without it destroying incentive to work at all or without creating an endless cycle of price inflation.  The folks who have the monopoly over Money Creation are also unlikely to just give the money away to anybody except other members of their own club as they currently do all the time, so a Universal Basic Income seems an unlikely outcome here.  Whatever that nominal amount of money is, it most certainly would not buy a nice thick and juicy Pastrami on Rye sandwich, and probably not even a Big Mac, Fries and a Coke!  Maybe the money will buy some thin gruel poured over a slice of Wonder Bread?

I will leave you for this episode of Dayz of Our Kollapse Lives with a song parody.  Sing to the Tune of "American Pie" by Don Maclean.

 

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

I can't remember if I cried
When I read the Carnegie Deli died
But something touched me deep inside
The day the Pastrami Died


So bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die


Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Now do you believe in latkes and gefilte fish?
Can Bagels save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to eat real slow?

Well, I know that you're in love with Bagels
Cause I saw you eating them at the tables
You shmeared on the creame cheese and lox
and danced on the table in just your socks

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the Pastrami Died

[Chorus:]
I started singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die


Now for 5 years we've been watching doom
Diners observing all the oncoming gloom
But that's not how it used to be
Until JFK rode in the limousine
Next to Jackie the pill cap Queen
Promising the death of the Land of the Free

Oh, and while JFK was looking down
LBJ stole his thorny crown
Vietnam was escalated
While bigger lies were being created

And while Liddy hit the Watergate
Nixon pitched the gold out of the gate
And we sang dirges for our fate
The day the money died

[Chorus:]
We were singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

[Verse 3]
Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off to a Doomer Shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The Diners tried for a forward pass
With RE on the sidelines in a cast

Now the halftime air was sweet perfume
While the Diners played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

Cause the Diners tried to take the field
The Illuminati refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the Pastrami Died?

[Chorus:]
We started singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

[Verse 4]
Oh, and there we were all in the Diner
Eating Doom meals that couldn't be finer
With no time left to start again
So come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
Cause fire is the devil's only friend

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that RE spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw RE laughing with delight
The day the Pastrami Died

[Chorus:]
He started singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

[Outro]
I met a Troll who made page views
And he pitched out all his happy news
But it was bullshit and he was sent away
I went down to the convenience store
Where I bought my gas for years before
But the clerk told me there was no gas left today

And in the streets, the Zombies screamed
The Doomers cried and the Cornucopians dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The internet was all broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the Pastrami Died

[Chorus:]
And they were singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

[Chorus:]
They were singing,  bye, bye Pastrami on Rye
Drove my Chevy to the Deli but the Deli was Fried
And them good ole boys were eating a Big Mac & Fries
And singin' this'll be the day that I die

Zombie Apocalypse

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Published on Peak Surfer on September 18, 2016

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"The scary thing about multiple expansions is that they are reliably mean-reverting — if they run too far, the market always takes it back, sometimes with a vengeance."

   Every time we catch a malodorous whiff of this year’s US Presidential elections, we involuntarily shudder, because regardless of winners or losers, it recalls September 14, 1930, when German voters, abused by post-war sanctions and put upon by financial depression, went to the polls and handed 107 Reichstag seats to the National Socialist Party. It’s useful to notice that the Nazis did not win that — they came in second. It hardly mattered.

Does this history sound familiar?

Hitler began each speech in low, hesitating tones, gradually raising the pitch and volume of his voice then exploding in a climax of frenzied indignation. He combined this with carefully rehearsed hand gestures for maximum effect. He skillfully played on the emotions of the audience bringing the level of excitement higher and higher until the people wound up a wide-eyed, screaming, frenzied mass that surrendered to his will and looked upon him with pseudo-religious adoration.

Reporters compete for Trump's attention  AP Photo/EcanVucci

Hitler offered something to everyone: work to the unemployed; prosperity to failed business people; profits to industry; expansion to the Army; social harmony and an end of class distinctions to idealistic young students; and restoration of German glory to those in despair. He promised to bring order amid chaos; a feeling of unity to all and the chance to belong. He would make Germany strong again; end payment of war reparations to the Allies; tear up the treaty of Versailles; stamp out corruption; keep down Marxism; and deal harshly with the Jews.

 


 

 

 


It helps to plan ahead. That was the main advice we gave in our Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook in 2006 and Financial Collapse Survival Guide and Cookbook in 2012, and it still holds.

We did not imagine when we wrote those books that collapse would take as long coming as it has, but it is well underway now, just not evenly distributed. Zero Hedge reports:

 

While nobody here …  is saying that a crash is imminent (and there’s no law that says stocks cannot become even more expensive), we continue to maintain our bias against U.S. stocks. We will also take this end-of-summer moment to point out the yawning disconnect between fundamentals (of the U.S. economy and even corporate America) and their stocks. It really is a tale of two cities, one of mediocre fundamentals versus a meteoric rise in markets.

Which brings us back to the Shiller P/E. Much of the run-up over the past few years has been primarily about multiple expansions. And the scary thing about multiple expansions is that they are reliably mean-reverting—if they run too far, the market always takes it back, sometimes with a vengeance. And we are currently almost 70% too far.

Dmitry Orlov’s classic work The Five Stages of Collapse  gives a roadmap to what lies ahead:

Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost.


Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost.


Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost.


Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost.


Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in “the goodness of humanity” is lost.


What Orlov points out is that what is lost is not so much material resources, although those are inexorably diminishing, but confidence (“with faith-ness”) that affects everyone — quality of goods and services, roads and bridges, individual/household health, social well-being and sense of security. Prison and military budgets and recruitment swell to keep pressure off unemployment. Hate crimes escalate. Political correctness becomes State-dictated, tribe-enforced, thought police. The mass psychology is viral. The fear grows contagious and flows from a deeply-seated, existential angst.

Charles Hugh Smith points out:

General trends manifest in different ways in each community/region.  For example, the city and county of San Francisco is booming, with strong growth of population (866,000 residents), jobs, rents, housing valuations and tax revenues. Yet even as the city and county of San Francisco’s annual budget swells to an incomprehensible $9.6 billion—larger than the budgets of many U.S. state governments, and four times the annual budget of the city and county of Honolulu, with 998,000 residents—the homeless problem in San Francisco becomes ever more intractable, intrusive and disruptive, despite tens of millions of dollars devoted specifically to improving the options available to the homeless.


Living in an ecovillage in Tennessee its easy to get complacent. We can eat well from our garden and get most other needs from The Farm Store or our Amish and Mennonite neighbors within bicycle distance. We sit on a good water supply and recycle our own biowastes. After staying here a while, the need to ‘go to town’ diminishes, to maybe once every couple of weeks, then once in some months.

Despite the wacky plot-line in Shameless, Season 6, when Sherilyn Fenn’s character lures William H. Macy’s character back to her free-love, poppy growing "ecovillage," utopian living is very real, not inaccessible, but it's a choice few USAnians have made. There are more Chinese living in ecovillages than USAnians. More Senegalese. More Sinhalese. 

In the real world, not some HBO fantasy, ecovillages are built by earnest people, not welf government housing authorities, real estate developers or banks. Our ecovillage was something that took 40 years to build, with residents sacrificing to live on little more than $1 per day, per capita, for the first 10 or 15 years, in order to make land payments and pay taxes while building roads, water systems, clinics and schools.

People who visit us today see the sculpted roads, water towers, handsome horses, pro disk golf course, and large solar arrays and might mistake it for some kind of trendy, master-planned gated community gridded down onto a chunk of rolling Tennessee real estate. It is easy to not grasp that it was all higgledypiggledy cobbled together (or cobbed together) bit by bit, on the sweat of longhaired hippies in patched bibtops and homespun, one bent nail in oak plank at a time.

On those occasions we do go out further than easily-biked distance, we cross into what Jan Lundberg calls The Paved Precincts of Amerika. Our heart swells with compassion for its victims — not the skinny street urchins of Mumbai but the ever-increasingly obese mall-crawlers and cubicle rats making payments on outsized land-yachts and rat infested rental housing, popping prescription pills and swilling tasteless beer or high-fructose corn syrup beverages from a plastic cup while starving the dog to pay the cable bill. Welcome to the Teflon Trump Country.

Last year James Howard Kunstler told Chris Martenson:

 

The hidden (or ignored) truth of this quandary expresses itself inevitably in the degenerate culture of the day, the freak show of pornified criminal avarice that the USA has become. It only shows how demoralizing our recent history has been that the collective national attention is focused on such vulgar stupidities as twerking, or the Kanye-Kardashian porno romance, the doings of the Duck Dynasty, and the partying wolves of Wall Street.
Duck Dynasty lends its star power to the Republican Convention
By slow increments since about the time John F. Kennedy was shot in the head, we’ve become a land where anything goes and nothing matters. The political blame for that can be distributed equally between Boomer progressives (e.g., inventors of political correctness) and the knuckle-dragging “free-market” conservatives (e.g., money is free speech). The catch is, some things do matter, for instance whether the human race can continue to be civilized in some fashion when the techno-industrial orgy draws to a close.

Last week Kunstler opined:

 

Idiocy and mendacity are a bad combo in the affairs of nations, especially in elections. The present case in the USA displays both qualities to near-perfection: on one side, a boorish pseudo-savior in zero command of ideas; on the other side, a wannabe racketeer-in-chief in full command of her instinctive deceit. Trump offers incoherent rhetoric in opposition to the current dismal order of things; Clinton offers empty, pandering rhetoric in defense of that order. Both represent an epic national drive toward political suicide.

The idiocy and mendacity extend to the broad voting public and the discredited elites pretending to run the life of the nation. The American public has never been this badly educated and more distracted by manufactured trivia. They know next to nothing. Even college seniors can’t name the Secretary of State or find Switzerland on a map. They don’t know in what century the Civil War took place. They couldn’t tell you whether a hypotenuse is an animal, a vegetable, or a mineral. Their right to vote is a danger to themselves.


Cognitive recognition of the average USAnian towards the plight of a Syrian refugee in a Calais cul-de-sac or a Greenlander having to relocate their ancestral village to firmer ground is virtually nil, but in many ways they are closer in plight than they know. Each are only one culture shock away from personal extinction.

It is difficult for us to conceive how rural Walmart shoppers pushing carts through parking deserts under the hot summer sun would cope with the sudden loss of A/C, never mind whatever they might have backing their debit cards.

The Farm may be antifragile in a multitude of ways, but like a small nation that discovers oil or gold and is ill-equipped to defend itself, we are as likely to experience the Zombie Apocalypse as any urbanite suddenly discovering that her corner store had only a 3-day supply of food and it was gone last evening, along with her power and water. 

And if you think financial collapse or peak everything makes you more irritable, just wait until you see what 10 or 20 degree warmer overnight temperatures do.

So, do we begin making lances and training horses and riders in cavalry maneuvers? Unlikely.

More likely we will do the unthinkable and welcome the zombies in, give them a hot bath and square meal, a cot to sleep on, a health check and some meaningful work in the garden. There are limits to that kind of generosity, as we learned the hard way in the past, but in a crisis, making yourself indispensable is really your best defense.  The rural South is no place to try to exchange gunfire with an angry mob.

Umair Haque writes:

At the personal level, the end of the world is already here. This is the first generation in modern history that’s going to suffer worse living standards than their parents.
 
The question is: how much worse? Very badly worse. With stagnant incomes, no savings, this generation will never retire, vacation, advance, enjoy, or own. Their relationships, health, and productivity will suffer as a result. The quality of their lives is going to be long, bleak, and pointless. Worked to the grave to make a dwindling number of dynasties wealthy, largely by serving them hand and foot, not really enhancing human life.
 
That’s not healthy, because it’s neither freedom, possibility, nor prosperity. It is a bad trade for humanity. And in that sense the end of the world of liberal capitalism, followed by the void of institutional chaos and disorder, is likely to be an ugly and grim time Unless. You and I make it a better one. Now you know the problems. The path. The story of the future. And because you know it, you can change it.


Or at least learn to feed yourself. 

The Myth of Self Reliance

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Published on the Toby Hemway Blog on August 1, 2011

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A mass emailing went out a while back from a prominent permaculturist looking for “projects where people are fully self sufficient in providing for their own food, clothing, shelter, energy and community needs. . .” There it was, the myth of “fully self sufficient,” coming from one of the best-known permaculturists in the world. In most US permaculture circles, the idea that anyone could be self sufficient at anything past a very primitive level was abandoned a while ago, and the softer term “self reliant” replaced it. But even self-reliance is barely possible, and, other than as way of expressing a desire to throw off the shackles of corporate consumerism, I don’t think it’s desirable.

I took a Googling cruise around the internet and found that “self sufficient” shows up as a desirable goal on several top permaculture websites. I’d like to hammer a few coffin nails into that phrase. My dictionary says that self sufficient means being “able to maintain oneself without outside aid.” Who lives without outside aid? No one. Let’s unpack that a bit further. The meaning of “self sufficient in food” is something most of us can agree on: supplying 100% of your food needs from your own land and efforts. I have never met anyone who has done this. I’m sure there are a few people doing it, but even subsistence farmers usually raise, alongside their food, a cash crop to buy the foods that are impractical for them to grow.

I hear people say they are growing 30%, 50%, even 70% of their own food. What they usually mean is that they are growing fruits and vegetables that make up some percentage of the total cost or weight—but not calories—of their food. Vegetables are high in wet weight, but low in calories. If you are growing 100% of your own vegetables, they provide about 15-20% of your daily calories, unless you are living mostly on potatoes or other starchy veggies. Most daily calories come from grains, meat, or dairy products. So if you’re not raising large-scale grains or animals, it’s unlikely that you are growing more than one-quarter of your own food, measured honestly by nutritional content. In that case, it’s not accurate to claim you are “70% food self-sufficient.” If you are getting most of your calories from your land, you’re almost certainly a full-time farmer, and I salute you for your hard work. Now we begin to see how difficult, and even undesirable, self sufficiency is. You won’t have time for much else if you are truly food self-sufficient, even in a permaculture system.

But even if you grow all your own food, can you claim you are self sufficient if you don’t grow all your own seeds? Provide all your fertility? Where do your farm tools and fuel come from? Permaculturists understand as well as anyone how interconnected life is. At what point do you claim to be disconnected from the broad human community in anything? Is there really a way to be “fully self sufficient” in food?

Let’s take a quick pass at clothing, shelter and energy. Even if you sew all your clothes, do you grow the cotton, raise the sheep? If you milled all the lumber or dug the stone for your home, did you forge the glass, fabricate the wiring? In the off-the-grid house, what complex community of engineers and factories assembled the solar panels? We’re reliant on all of that.

Claiming self sufficiency in almost anything insults and ignores the mountain of shoulders we all stand on. US permaculturists are a pretty politically correct crew, and it became obvious to some of us that “self sufficient” was not just impossible, but was a slap in the face to all those whose sweat provides for us, and was another perpetuation of the cowboy ethic that puts the individual at the center of the universe. So the term morphed into “self reliance,” to show that we know we are interdependent, but are choosing to be less reliant on others. At its best, self reliance means developing skills to provide for basic needs, so we can stop supporting unethical and destructive industries. But I see much less need for self-reliant people who can do everything themselves, and much more need for self-reliant communities, where not everyone knows how to weave or farm, but there is clothing and food for all.

There is still a deep prejudice in permaculture, as websites and emails show, that doing it all ourselves, and on our own land, is the most noble path. And insofar as our skills make us less dependent on corporate monopolies, developing the abilities that we think of as self-reliant is worth doing. However, the more we limit our lives to what we can do ourselves, the fewer our opportunities are. Each connection outside ourselves enriches us. When we create a web of interdependencies, we grow richer, stronger, safer, and wiser. Why would you not want to rely on others? To fully probe that would take us down a psychological rabbit-hole, but some of it is grounded in a belief that others are unreliable or unethical, and that we weaken ourselves by interdependencies. But the old saying “if you want a job done well, do it yourself” simply shows poor management skills.

If you’re still skeptical, I’ll resort to scripture: a quote from the Book of Mollison, Introduction to Permaculture, page two: “We can also begin to take some part in food production. This doesn’t mean that we all need to grow our own potatoes, but it may mean that we will buy them directly from a person who is already growing potatoes responsibly. In fact, one would probably do better to organize a farmer-purchasing group in the neighborhood than to grow potatoes.”

As veteran permaculture designer Larry Santoyo says, go to the highest generalization to fill your needs. Thinking “I must grow my food” is painfully limited. Thinking “I must satisfy food needs responsibly” opens up a vast array of possibilities, from which you can choose the most stable and appropriate. Individual efforts are often less stable and resilient than community enterprises. And they’re bad design: self-reliance means that a critical function is supported in only one way. If you grow all your food and get hurt, you are now injured, hungry, and watching your crops wither from your wheelchair. That won’t happen in a community farm. And for those worried about an impending collapse of society, the roving turnip-bandits are much more likely to raid your lonely plot while you sleep exhausted from a hard day of spadework, and less likely to attack a garden protected by a crew of strong, pitchfork-wielding farmers who can guard it round the clock.

Creating community reliance gives us yet another application of permacultural zones: Zone zero in this sense is our home and land. Zone one is our connection to other individuals and families, zone two to local commerce and activities in our neighborhood, zone three to regional businesses and organizations, zone four to larger and more distant enterprises. Why would we limit ourselves to staying only in zone zero? We can organize our lives so that our need for zone-four excursions—say, to buy petroleum or metal products—is very limited, while our interactions with the local farmers’ market and restaurants are frequent. This builds a strong community.

Self reliance fails to grow social capital, a truly regenerative resource that can only increase by being used. Why would I not want to connect to my community in every way that I can? If we don’t help fill our community’s needs, there’s more chance that our neighbors will shop at big-box stores. An unexamined belief in self reliance is a destructive myth that hands opportunity to those who are taking our community away from us.

If you love being a farmer, then yes, grow all your own food. And sell the rest for the other things you need, in a way that supports your community. But is there really a difference between a farmer exchanging the product of her labor—food—for goods and money, and me selling the product of my labor—education—for goods and money? We both are trading our life energy within a system that supports us, and I’d like to think that we are both making wise ethical choices.

A good permaculture design is one that provides for the inhabitants’ needs in a responsible and ecologically sound manner. But there’s nothing in permaculture that says that it’s important for all yields to come from the owner’s site! If I can accomplish one thing in this essay, it is to smash that myth. Permaculture design simply says that our needs and products need to be taken care of responsibly in our design, not on our own land. That design can—and must—include off-site connections. If you are an acupuncturist whose income is provided by your community and you are getting most of your needs met from mostly local sources you believe to be ethical, then that’s excellent permaculture design. Your design will be stronger if your needs and products are connected to many off-site elements and systems.

It’s very permacultural to develop skills that will connect you more deeply to land, home, and community. And sometimes the skills that we gained in search of self reliance are the same ones we need to be more community-reliant. But self reliance, as a goal in itself, is a tired old myth that needs to die. It’s unpermacultural.

The Paris Gravity Well 1

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Published on Peak Surfer on January 17, 2016

PeakSurfer

Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner

"The idling of rail, barge, ship and pipeline traffic is the biggest change of its kind in 30 years."

 

   The World Bank Guys talked about rates of return and the burden on investors and the unacceptable cost of the doubling of the price of a kilowatt hour. Everyone there had said all of this before, with the same lack of communication and absence of concrete results.

Charlie saw that the meeting was useless. He thought of Joe, over at the daycare. He had never stayed there long enough even to see what they did all day long. Guilt stuck him like a sliver. In a crowd of strangers, 14 hours a day.

The bank guy was going on about differential costs. "And that's why its going to be oil for the next 20, 30 and maybe even 50 years," he concluded. "None of the alternatives are competitive." Charlie's pencil tip snapped.

"Competitive for what?" he demanded. He had not spoken until that point and now the edge in his voice stopped the discussion. Everyone was staring at him.

He stared back at the World Bank guys. "Damage from carbon dioxide emission costs about $35 per ton. But in your model, no-one pays it. The carbon that British Petroleum burns per year by sale and by operation runs up a damage bill of $50 billion dollars. BP reported a profit of $20 billion so actually its $30 billion in the red, every year.

"Shell reported a profit of $23 billion but if you added the damage cost it would be $8 billion in the red. These companies should be bankrupt. You support their exteriorizing of costs so your accounting is bullshit. You are helping to bring on the biggest catastrophe in human history.

"If the oil companies burn the 500 gigatons of carbon that you are describing as inevitable, because of your financial shell games, then two-thirds of the species on the planet will be endangered, including humans. But you keep talking about fiscal discipline and competitive edges and profit differentials. It's the stupidest head-in-the-sand response possible."

The World Bank guys flinched at this. "Well, we don't see it that way."

 

— Kim Stanley Robinson, Sixty Days and Counting: Science in the Capitol (2007).

 While the story coming out of the White House Press Room this week was phrased as a temporary moratorium on new coal mining leases on federal lands, the bigger story was in the details of the review that the President had ordered. Like Robinson's character in Sixty Days, the White House recognized that the real cost of coal is not currently accounted for in its price, so the new review will tally the environmental impacts, including destruction of public lands from air and water pollution from strip mining and failed mine reclamation, public health impacts from transporting and burning coal, damage from ash spills, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. It will set a price on future leases based on this thoroughgoing review that brings the cost of coal in line with the reality of the actual costs.

If this had to be run through Congress, powerful coal-state Senators like Mitch McConnell would derail it before it got out of committee. As merely Bureau of Land Management regulatory policy, it falls under the Executive Branch, where the President's is the only opinion that counts.

Tomorrow senior politicians, digiratti activists and Hollywood stars ski into the Swiss resort of Davos for the annual World Economic Forum. The theme was to have been the 4th Industrial Revolution – robots, AI and the  biotechno singularity — but the buzz is all about the latest crash of the world economy.

The trigger for all this change may have been what happened in Paris but could not stay in Paris. In December we reported from the United Nations climate meeting where many of these same characters — John Kerry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel — were on stage. We described then how an amazing role reversal was in progress and how it had transformed COP-21, midway through the second week of deadlocked negotiations.

The roles that switched were between the dominants, like Exxon-Mobil, Shell and BP, and the submissives — the entire renewables industry. Renewables are largely a digital world, enjoying advancements in crystal structure, solid state controllers, neodymium and other rare earth metallurgy that follow the proscribed arc of Moore's law, doubling in efficiency and halving in cost at close intervals, driving exponential adoption and dissemination.

Fossils, in contrast, are an analog industry, trying to wring the last drops of intoxicating elixir from the carpet of the pub after closing time. In 2015 those two curves crossed, and renewables are now cheaper (even free at some hours for select consumers in certain markets) while coal, oil and gas are queuing up outside bankruptcy court.
 

Salvaging beer from the bar floor after last rounds

The US Department of Energy reported this week:
 

The Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) released on January 12 forecasts that Brent crude oil prices will average $40 per barrel (b) in 2016 and $50/b in 2017. This is the first STEO to include forecasts for 2017. Forecast West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices average $2/b lower than Brent in 2016 and $3/b lower in 2017. However, the current values of futures and options contracts continue to suggest high uncertainty in the price outlook. For example, EIA's forecast for the average WTI price in April 2016 of $37/b should be considered in the context of recent contract values for April 2016 delivery, suggesting that the market expects WTI prices to range from $25/b to $56/b (at the 95% confidence interval).

The decline in oil price is too little, too late. It cannot keep pace with the price decline we are seeing in the clean tech revolution. Consequently, more people now work in the US solar industry than in oil and gas at the wellhead. In 2015, for the third straight year, the solar workforce grew 20 percent. Clean tech employs far more women than fossil, and 5 percent of the workforce is African American, 11 percent Latino, and 9 percent Asian/Pacific Islander.

At the same time, rear-guard action by the Coal-Baron-selected legislatures in Arizona and Nevada —  states that could be leading the nation in solar power production — have led to layoffs in the renewables sector. The pushback over solar and wind fees by grid owners, punitive taxes, and net metering promise to keep those states in the Dark Ages, as they did the United States for the past four decades.

In a famous L'il Abner cartoon, Pappy Yokum tells L'il Abner, "Any fool can knock down a barn, it takes a carpenter to build one." To which L'il Abner replies, "Any fool? Let me try!"

Listening to the Republican presidential candidates debate is like watching a Fox-den full of L'il Abners.
 

US Solar Power 2010-2015

So it is not surprising that at the stroke of a pen, three Republican appointees on the Nevada Power Utility Commission decided the fates of millions of ratepayers when they killed solar feed-in-tariffs in that state. It was not unlike Michigan governor Rick Snyder deciding to kill and maim thousands of Detroit residents by switching their water to a polluted source and then covering up the damage. You might say no-one gets killed or maimed from solar energy, and that's closer to true, but plenty more get poisoned every year from the fossil alternative.

The numbers being parsed in Davos will be puzzling to many attending that meeting. From a peak in January 2015 to last October, movements of crude by rail declined more than a fifth. The research group Genscape said rail deliveries to US Atlantic coast terminals continued to drop to the end of the year and the spot market for crude delivered by rail from North Dakota’s Bakken region “is at a near standstill.”

Just 5 years ago investors clamored for more tank cars to pick up the slack from overwhelmed pipeline capacity. Now those cars sit idle on sidings and no one is ordering more. Pipelines are idle too, as refineries on the coasts have found that it is cheaper to buy crude of higher quality than shale oil, shipped by ocean tanker from Canada, Nigeria and Azerbaijan.
 

Junk bond sales are all that supports
the fracked gas Ponzi scheme.

A Congress desperate to please its oil masters in an election year abolished four-decade-old restrictions on exporting domestic crude. While some tankers now take crude from the Gulf Coast to refineries in Venezuela, where the heavy sludges and half-formed keragens can be more economically processed because of fewer environmental restrictions, the US then imports back the finished products at a hefty mark-up.

The idling of rail, barge, ship and pipeline traffic is the biggest change of its kind in 30 years. And while the shift away from coal-powered energy, the long recession, and the petering out of the fracking and shale Ponzi real estate play would obviously lead to fewer tons, barrels and cubic feet being moved, it doesn't explain the full depth of the stoppage. The rail and barge slowdown is now spreading to more consumer-oriented segments. Intermodal carloads typically related to consumer goods fell 1.7 percent in the final quarter of last year.

"We believe rail data may be signaling a warning for the broader economy," the recent note from Bank of America says.
 

"Carloads have declined more than 5 percent in each of the past 11 weeks on a year-over-year basis. While one-off volume declines occur occasionally, they are generally followed by a recovery shortly thereafter. The current period of substantial and sustained weakness, including last week’s -10.1 percent decline, has not occurred since 2009."


“When people get hungry, governments fall” — Stuart Scott, Through A Dark Portal, Radio Ecoshock, January 13, 2016

If you can read the tea leaves, or even if you can't, we are now in the long slide. We will examine the financial road ahead, and the Paris Effect on that, in greater detail next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portable Electric Cooking Preps

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 17, 2016

electric-hot-plate

Discuss this article at the Diner Pantry inside the Diner

When discussing emergency preparedness for cooking, often ignored by preppers are electric cooking devices.  Usually you will find discussion of either Propane or Kerosene fired cooking gear used for camping as the main emergency cooking prep.  The reason they tend to be ignored is that one of the main scenarios that preppers are concerned with is a "grid down" emergency, where electricity is unavailable everywhere in your neighborhood.  In that case, electric cooking gear is pretty much worthless, although if you have a generator or a large battery system and inverter you can still use them.  Still, in that situation it is a pretty inefficient means of using your fuel.  You're better off just to siphon some of the gas and use that for a cooking fuel directly.

However, there are many other types of situations to prep for where the electric cooking gear is actually superior to the propane and kerosene fired gear.  The main one is personal economic collapse, where you lose your job and your McHovel gets foreclosed on and you move into your van to do Stealth Van living.  You still need a source of electricity of course to be able to use the apparatus, and with a powerful enough inverter most any cooking apparatus can be run while your car engine is running.  Again though, this is a relatively inefficient use of fuel overall.

'What you need to do is find sources of electricity you can access while parked.  The easiest and legal methods are to park in a campsite that has electric outlets, or to stay in a motel for a night, where as part of your fee you get all the electricity you want.  If you have friends in the neighborhood you are Van Dwelling who will let you plug into a garage outlet while you visit with them, you can charge up your auxiliary battery system this way,  A couple of hours pulling down 20 Amps or so @ 120V (2400W) to charge your Deep Cycle batteries will cost less than a dollar on their monthly electric bill, typically a kilowatt/hour costs around 15¢.  So 2 hours plugged in here runs around 80¢ or so maybe.

https://www.polartrec.com/files/members/cheri-hamilton/images/img1881.jpgAnother method that is "quasi-legal" here in Alaska is to park in places that have external outlets for block heaters.  Block heaters keep your engine warm on the sub-zero days and make starting up the engine much easier.  On a diesel, you can't live without them in sub-zero temps.  Many restaurants have these external plugs by the parking spots, and many motels do also.  However, if you aren't actually patronizing the restaurant or staying in the motel, then it's not really legal to be plugging in to their juice.  Also, the juice may only be on during the winter, so it's not going to work during the rest of the year if the establishment shuts down the outlets.

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/3/18/1395161639328/Power-cables-in-Rocinha-009.jpg?w=620&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&s=5a4427ec6f69e3cb0a332c9e8fcf16d6The illegal method is to pirate electricity that runs to street lights in any community. In the 3rd World countries this is common in the slums. This is NOT RECOMMENDED!  Besides the legal problems you will run into if caught doing this, you better know your shit as far as wiring and splicing goes.  Quite EZ to electrocute yourself or start an electrical fire when you tap juice from a street light or straight off the electrical conduit serving a residential area.  DEFINITELY do not try to tap long range High Voltage lines!!!!!!!  Unless you are a fully licensed electrician with a ton of experience, you have a DEATH WISH if you fuck with long distance high voltage lines.

OK, with all that in mind, in ths article we're going to look at the FULLY LEGAL methods of Campsites with electric power and Motels.

First is the question of what apparatus you need/want?

The most basic and necessary is the single electric burner, featured at the top of the page here.  These burners come single or double, from around 750W draw to 1500W.  On just the single burner, you can heat your soups, steam your rice, stir fry your veggies in a Wok, fry bacon & eggs, etc.  In other words, there really is nothing else you absolutely NEED other than the single burner.  These burners are lightweight, small and CHEAP.  $15 will get you one at Walmart.

However, for more variety in cooking methods, there are some other portable electric cooking devices you might want to add to the prep arsenal, depending how much room in your Stealth Van you wish to allocate to this type of cooking apparatus.

http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/productImages/300/aa/aaf7adf0-e8f3-4a9f-baf2-fc1aae92b546_300.jpgThe first thing you probably want to go for is a double burner instead of a single burner.  This speeds up your cooking a lot and allows for more complex dishes to be prepared.  On one burner you can have your rice steaming, while on the other you are doing a stir-fry in your Wok for a Chinese-style dinner, or you can be heating some Oatmeal on one burner while your fry bacon & eggs on the other one for breakfast.  In both cases, you use up about 15 min worth of juice @ around 1000W, which doesn't draw down your batt set too much.

The next device you might want to add is an electric slow cooker.  These have the advantage of drawing very low power, a typical slow cooker draws about as much power as a 100W lightbulb on the low setting.  If you have some kind of Solar PV system, you may be able to run such a slow cooker when the sun is shining without drawing down your batt storage at all!  Of course, if you are in a motel room, no issues here at all, slow cook up your favorite stew or gumbo or chowder and then package in some tupperware and store in your cooler to eat during the week after short reheating over a kerosene stove or the like.  Or you can even eat it cold if you are a tough guy.  lol.

http://sites.ecovillage.org/sites/default/files/cooker.jpgOther possibilities for reheating while not connected to a power outlet include using a Solar Oven.  These can be constructed from a cardboard box, aluminum foil and saran wrap at the real basic level, but you'll do better with a more robust and well insulated arrangement.  If the sunlight is available on a given day for heating up your food, why use precious electricity stored in your Batt Set or propane or kerosene?  Use what is available for FREE first here, and conserve your other power/heat sources only for when the free sources are not available!  If you are traveling around in a Stealth Van in a neighborhood with a lot of trees, there' probably enough fallen deadwood around to cook or reheat over a wood fire.  Use that before you go to your stash of proane or kerosene.

http://www.gehousewares.com/products/169014%20rotisserie%20large_1098902701653.pngAfter the burners and the slow cooker, the next device you might want to add to your electric cooking emergency apparatus is a Toaster/Oven/Broiler.  these go from super basic to pretty complex, anywhere from $30 to $100 can be spent on one of these.  Some even have built in Rotisseries if you buy a chicken or leg of lamb, have access to juice and want to do your own Rotisserie instead of buy an already rotisseried chicken at the food superstore.  You'll save a bit of money this way as long as you're not paying for the cooking juice.  Generally speaking though, it's just easier to buy the chicken already rotisseried and not too much more expensive overall.  I find that generally 1 Rotisserie Chicken a week purchased at the food superstore provides all the animal protein I need in a week at a cost of around $6 pre-cooked on the hot rack.  I can buy a similar uncooked chicken for $4, but then I have to do the cooking, use the energy, do the cleanup etc.  Not much savings for the week to buy the raw chicken, not worth the trouble either in normal circumstances.  However, if you are getting your electricity as part of your motel bill and you have the time to do the rotisserie yourself, you'll save about $2/chicken you rotisserie this way.  You pay off the investment in the rotisserie oven after maybe 10 chickens the most.  So it's worth spending a little extra for this option.  How you use the chicken over the week is the key here in REAL SAVINGS, and I will be writing a new SNAP Card Gourmet article on the Incredible, Edible Chicken in the near future. 🙂

http://73j7e1utrow1c3hha1rfv18d.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/05/egg-sandwich_02_dougyoung-550x410.jpgBesides the chickens though, your Toaster/Oven/Broiler comes in handy for many other things, not the least of which is making Toast!  After a couple of days, whatever bread you are using is starting to go stale even if you keep it well wrapped up.  Toasting up the bread you use in your sandwiches makes them much more tasty!  You also can melt some cheese on the bread while toasting, great for making Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a Kaiser Roll breakfasts, and Cheeseburger Lunches & Dinners. You can Bake Lasagna in your toaster over too, so as long as you have enough juice to run it, you et a huge variety of possible foods to cook up you could not do with just the hot plates or slow cooker.

https://www.cuisinart.com/share/images/products/full/1291/ceg-980t.jpgThe final recommended device in the electric cooking arsenal is an Electric Grill.  I like my steaks, burgers etc cooked over an open heat source where the fat drips sown and then smokes up the meat some, giving it the classic BBQ flavor.  While ideally you want to do this over charcoal with perhaps some mesquite wood chips, in fact you can get most of the same flavor with a propane fired grill or an electric one.  Not the George Forman type of grill where the grill surface itself is heated, but one where the heating element is below the meat, heats up some glass rocks or a metal radiator and then the fat drips down onto that during the BBQing.  You don't want to use these things indoors though, since they produce too much SMOKE.  However, long as you have a source of electric power and can place the device outside, it's a great and EZ way to do a BBQ.

There are of course innumerable other specific devices such as electric steamers and electric skillets that are available, but the hot plate will do what they do as long as you have the right pots and pans.  For instance I have a Lodge Logic Cast Iron Skillet I can use over a campfire, but it will also drop right on top of either my 2 burner electric hotplate or my 2 burner propane stove.  Why do I need a separate electric skillet here?  I don't need a dedicated electric Wok or dedicated electric steamer either.  So the basic 4 devices are all you really need here, and total cost can be kept under $200 if you shop wisely for Low, Low Prices Every Day at Walmart.  LOL.

How do you use the Electric Cooking devices in the Campsite/Motel Van Dwelling Paradigm?

http://www.remodelingcalculator.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Foreclosure-pic.jpg

http://resources1.news.com.au/images/2009/03/29/1225697/711409-family.jpgNow that you have all your devices stashed in the Van ready for your Bugout when the Sheriff arrives to foreclose on your McMansion, how are you going to live and do your cooking, and how much is this going to cost you a month?  First off let's stipulate this is for the single person, or at most a couple.  If you have kids, the Van Dwelling paradigm becomes much less plausible, although to be sure there are plenty of examples of families living in their cars.

At the time you purchased the McMansion, you were a successful network engineer making $80K/year.  You had a $2000/mo mortgage, utility bills of $300/mo, insurance etc.  You were pretty good with your money, not buying a new car every year, and your 4 year old Mercedes is almost paid of.  You also have your prize Harley you rode on summer weekends, it's paid for.  Since you were also a Doomer prior to getting your pink slip, you ALSO have your Bugout Machine, a 10 year old Chevy passenger van and a 15' enclosed Utility trailer.

http://i0.wp.com/images.cheaprvliving.com/choice-me.jpg

You're hopeful for a couple of months, sending out the resumes and meeting your bills out of your savings, but they are depleting quickly with your high monthly bills.  At the end of the 2nd month you still can't find any job at close to your old salary, but you have landed a part time low wage job as an Asst. Manager at Safeway.  You make $12/hr to start and get 20 hours/week for a $200/week paycheck after taxes and SS are taken out.  At the end of month before you completely deplete your savings you implement your Emergency Plan.

http://www.all-secure-self-storage.com/theme/allsecure/img/galleries/100_1156.JPGYou sell your Mercedes and after paying off the remaining debt on the car loan actually come out $2000 ahead.  You get $3000 for your Harley, less than the $5000 you bought it for but it was purchased for cash.  You have a yard sale and get rid of what you can of your furniture and old clothes and other junk, and raise a few hundred ths way as well.  The few things you want to keep go in a Storage Unit you contract for $50/mo.  For an extra $30/mo, you can park your utility trailer on the storage unit property also.  This is your new "rent" bill of $80/mo.

On the 1st of the month, you send in the Jingle Mail.  Since you were a Doomer before buying the McMansion, you made sure to get a non-recourse mortgage so as soon as you send in the Keys and the Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, you are out from under all the debt there, even though the McMansion was underwater.  You also have eleiminated all your utility bills, home insurance etc.  You no longer have a car payment.

https://groceryoutlet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Mark-and-Stephanie-Stocking.jpg

"I'm just happy to have a job"

How do you now budget your $200/week, $800/mo income?  $20/week is already gone to your storage unit rental, and you have a $40/week SNAP Card Gourmet  food budget, still have $160/week left here.  You get a gym membership for $60/mo, $15/week to shower daily and stay in shape, now down to $145 left.  Your smart phone with internet costs you $80/mo, $20/wk, now down to $105 week. Your insurance on the van costs $40/mo, $10/wk, now down to $95.

You now develop a circuit of sleeping spots around town not too far from your job at Safeway, keeping your gas costs down quite low, you drive no more than about 10 miles a day at most, usually much less.  Gas costs you $1/day, $10/week with some bonus driving on weekends.  Now down to $85.

For the most part just this small amount of driving each day will keep your deep cycle marine battery pretty well topped off to do typical reheating type cooking.  You can bring your slow cooker into work with you and plug it in to have a nice hot stew ready by the time you finish your 4 hour shift.  You can quickly fry up some bacon and eggs for breakfast on your hot plate.  If not connected to external power you only use your hot plate for maybe 15 minutes a day off the deep cycle marine battery.

Once a week you get either Camping spot with electricity or a motel room $20 for the camping spot or $50 for the motel room (Tom Burdett will leave the Light on for you at Motel 6).  You check in at 4PM after work and check out is noon the following day,  During this 20 hours you do laundry, you shower, you plug in your deep cycle marine battery to top it off for the week and you cook up a big batch of chili in the slow cooker and bake a lasagna in your toaster oven.  After stuffing yourself with the freshly cooked food, you take the rest  (most of it) and package into individual servings which go into your cooler with ice you get from the motel ice machine.  If you're a regular at the motel they'l probably be OK with you stopping in during the week to refresh your ice, but even if not worse case scenario you buy block ice for $2 once a week.  Winter when it is below freezing you won't need to buy ice at all, just leave a bottle under the van to freeze up and put that in the cooler.

RE-EwzYou can of course scarf up additional electricity on visits with friends as mentioned earlier, and you can even develop a portable battset/charger arrangement to charge up in places like internet coffee shops and laundromats.  I have 3 10AH SLA batteries wired in series for 36V which run my Ewz scooter.  Together with the 36V 2A charger, they fit inside a Briefcase (a HEAVY briefcase though! lol).  From almost dead to full charge takes about 5 hours, but rarely do I discharge that far down.  If I ever really had a need for it, I could disconnect the batteries, connect up one of the 12V batts to a 500W Inverter and run a hot plate long enough to fry an egg or something short like that.  However, between your daily driving and your weekly motel visits for charging and full scale cooking, you're unlikely to need such a supplement.

Does this mean you need to go ALL electric with your daily cooking while van dwelling?  Of course not, in fact most of the time when not connected to an external power source you'll probably use your propane or kerosene fired stove instead, or if out in a park that allows BBQing or even provides outdoor BBQs, you will throw in some charcoal and grill an nice juicy rib-eye for dinner instead.  Besides that, your workplace or a convenience store probably has a microwave you can use as well, providing another way for you to get some hot food each day without using your own electricity or fuel.

http://cdn.tegna-tv.com/-mm-/bf36b4c6941ee8531d0aa6cc129086fad95ded7c/r=x404&c=534x401/http/www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/29d215570eaa3c21f8299595dadea3fd20738899/c=95-0-1527-1077/local/-/media/2014/12/11/KXTV/KXTV/635538576530020263-shelter-church.jpgThe advantages to having portable electric cooking apparatus are many though.  You can use them in places that otherwise might not permit you to use a propane or kerosene stove, a public Storm Shelter for instance.  If you have to leave your McMansion due to a flood and go seek shelter at the local HS gymnasium, you'll probably have access inside the gym to a power outlet to run your hot plate.  Having  hot cup of soup to eat while the hurrican blows through town can make all the difference between being glum and depressed or feeling safe and warm and relatively happy to be alive.

Eventually when the grid goes down for good, your protable electric cooking devices will be all but useless, unless you have access to a mega large Solar PV array, but that day is probably still quite a ways off for the FSoA.  Temporary power outages and brownouts become more likely as time goes by, but a complete & permanent electrical grid collapse is ultimately a Mad Max scenario in places currently wired up and dependent on this power.  As long as there is some BAU going on, there will be electricity to be had somewhere.  For this period, portable electric cooking apparatus is a must-have prep.

Of course, the scenario I painted above does presuppose the former Network Engineer is able to find at least a part time job at a low wage for some monthly income in order not to be draining savings.  However, even if not, it's going to make what savings he does have last a whole lot longer.  He also won't even appear homeless at all if he is careful.  He'll be clean and presentable every day at work with his daily workout and shower at the gym before going in to work.  He'll be readily accessible to receive job interview phone calls and emails.  He'll be eating well on a budget he can afford, without having to buy expensve restaurant meals.  With luck after a few months or even a year of living this way, he will finally get a full time job again in IT, although probably not at the old wage and be able to afford a regular apartment again, smaller than the old McMansion but bigger and a bit more comfortable than the time spent living in the Van.

Having such an "off the cliff" economic plan to tide you over an extended period of unemployment can be the difference between being able to climb back out of the chasm, or falling completely off and plunging to the valley below in the final crash of your life.  It doesn't take a lot of money to create such a plan, for a single adult.  A good used van can be had on Craig's list for $3000, a trailer for another $1500.  Another $2000 in equipment you otherwise don't already have probably will fit it out OK to begin with.  It's an Insurance Plan you dont want to be without, if you can afford to put it together.

Coming Soon on Diner You Tube: Van Dweller Part 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Peak Italian Food

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Published on the Cassandra's Legacy on January 15, 2016

 

Post-peak Italian food: a lunch with organ meats, bread, and a glass of red wine. The beauty of life is in its small pleasures. 

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If you are not a Florentine, you may be under the impression that the food of Florence is mostly a sophisticated combination of such things as "Carpaccio" and pasta with truffle. But, as it is often the case, reality is in the eye of the beholder. Depending on who you are and what you are doing in Florence, your culinary experience may considerably vary.

In particular, given the economic situations, for most local people there is no money left for fancy food. So, the past few years have seen a considerable renaissance of a traditional Florentine food: organ meats sold at roadside stalls.  You can see an example of this kind of food in the snapshot above, taken today.

This is is a kind of lunch not directed to the average tourist (who is not prevented from trying it, either!). It is popular both with blue collar workers and office workers, both categories having been badly hit by the crisis. In comparison to the classic hamburger from a fast food outlet, it is tastier and you see what you are eating. Also, I am reasonably sure that the meat doesn't come from very far away. Whether it is also a healthy lunch, it is, of course, debatable, but I can personally attest of never having suffered ill effects to my digestive system from this kind of food. But, in the end, its fundamental characteristics is of being very inexpensive: it is what makes it "post peak food."

Of course, it remains to be seen how organ meat stalls will survive such things as a possible global collapse of the kind I call "Seneca Collapse." But, for the time being, it is one of those small things in life that you can still enjoy.

Below, a picture of yours truly, Ugo Bardi, drinking his wine with his lunch, today. Sorry for looking like a jailbird or something, it was in the open and it was kind of cold. Also, behind me, you can see a glimpse of the architecture of the place; obviously nothing like the majestic Renaissance architecture of downtown!

Note 1. See also some musings of mine on ancient Florentine cuisine from the "Chimeras" blog.

Note 2: Several commenters noted the plastic containers. Yes, they are unsustainable and let me tell you more: after finishing your lunch, you are supposed to throw everything, plastics and food scraps (and glass or aluminum if you ordered a beer) into a single container. Not even a feeble attempt at separating the waste in its different components. I asked the sellers why they don't separate the waste, and they looked at me as if I were a nerd (which I am, after all) and then answered me by asking why should they bother. Which I think is significant. We'll use plastic and throw it away as long as we can have it, and then move to something else, as long as we can have it. But recycling plastics? Well, it is for nerds. 

 

 

 

Antifragile Food Systems

permaculturegc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Albert Bates

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Published on Peak Surfer on January 10, 2016

PeakSurfer

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"The alpha person at a gathering of "high status" persons is usually the waiter. "

 

  In the film, No Escape, Owen Wilson and Lake Bell's characters play a stereotypical USAnian couple, Jack and Annie Dwyer, cast abroad like fishes out of water. He is a corporate engineer in charge of putting a water plant into a fictional Southeast Asian country. She is the dutiful wife, bringing along to the temporary assignment two young children and their favorite kitchen appliances.

 

 

 

When civil war suddenly erupts before they have even gotten past jet-lag and they find themselves in an urban killing field, hunted by machete-wielding guerillas who are really angry about the way Jack's corporation has stolen and monetized their water rights, they must run for their lives, which they do for the next hour or more of screen time.

 

 

 

That's the plot, but the film is less about why the couple got into their predicament or why this small country has decided to murder all its foreign tourists than how Jack and Annie and their children absorb the changed circumstances, adapt to their precarious situation, and do what it takes to survive. Theater audiences are rooting for them, despite their complete lack of preparation.

 

 

 

In Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb distinguishes antifragile from words like robust or resilient by saying that when something is antifragile, it benefits when things go bad. Taleb is a recovering Wall Street quant trader. He understands hedges and shorts, and indeed, wrote the textbook on dynamic hedging in 1997. His subsequent books, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (2001) and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007) redefined at how traders look at risk and how people should think about risk in life choices.

 

 

 

If Jack and Annie had read either Fooled by Randomness or The Black Swan, they would not have been thrown into such profound stupor when the country they had landed in suddenly dissolved into anarchy and savage brutality. These things, or equally unpredictable things, are to be expected, even predicted.

 

 

 

Antifragile goes a step beyond and asks how one can be prepared to benefit from Black Swan events. Taleb gives the example of biological and economic systems. Efficiency and optimization are the final stages of succession — a mature ecology. They are also fragile. Inefficient redundancy is robust. Degeneracy is antifragile. The early sere following some disturbance is filled with fast-growing, thick-stemmed "weeds" that require few soil nutrients or supporting microbial diversity. If there is not much sun, too much wind or rain, poorly suited pioneers will fall aside and those better selected will dominate.

 

 

 

Fragile systems hate mistakes. Antifragile systems love them. Postmodern thinking, almost completely divorced from nature, is built on a scaffold of prior delusions. Medieval Europe, grounded in a theological storyline that is unwavering (like hard-core Evangelical Christianity or Sunni Islam) is more robust. But the pre-European Mediterranean seafaring cultures — pantheistic, surrounded by random dangers and ubiquitous risk (pirates, police states, conscription, volcanoes) and utterly free enterprise, was antifragile. People in that time exchanged rites and gods the way we do ethnic foods. Like Silicon Valley, ideas and gods failed fast, failed often, but occasionally winners emerged.

 

 

 

Taleb casts this into mathematical metaphors: the fewer the gods the greater the dogma and higher the risk of conflict and loss. For atheists n=0; Sunni purists n=1; monophysites n=1-2; Greek Orthodoxy n=3-12; pagans, wiccans and most native peoples n=infinite. Whose religion is more fragile and likely to occasion bad things happening?

 

 

 

Jack and Annie Dwyer are in the fragile, corporate employment class. They are pampered. They did well in school. They don't need to know a word of the language of the country they have been sent to. They complain if there is no a/c in the room or the limo doesn't arrive on time. They are intellectual tourists. Their antifragile counterpart is a slacker — fläneur is the word Taleb uses — the creative loafer with a large library or an X-box. Taleb says the alpha person at a gathering of "high status" persons is usually the waiter.

 

 

 

Engineering and corporate middle management are fragile professions. Financially robust professions in the run-up to ponzicollapse would be dentists, dermatologists, or minimum wage niche workers. Antifragile jobs in the overtopping and onset of decline are payday check cashing tellers, taxi drivers and nomadic fishermen. The Roma, living parasitically at the urban edges of European cities, are antifragile, but have vulnerability to travel restrictions. When Sweden closed its border crossings and started doing screening of incoming migrants, Denmark had to follow or risk being swamped with migrants denied entry to Sweden. Holland, Germany and France did the same. This is not a good thing for gypsies, but they are resilient enough to make do with one country at a time and antifragile enough to exploit weaknesses in border security and even turn that into new opportunities and enterprises.

 

 

 

What is an antifragile food system? This becomes especially important as we enter an era of rapid climate change and civil disintegration. A decade ago in "From Foraging to Farming, Explaining the Neolithic Revolution" (J Econ. Surveys 19:4:561-586, 2005), Jacob Weisdorf at the University of Copenhagen reviewed the main theories about the prehistoric shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. The transition, also known as the Neolithic Revolution, was necessary precursor for capitalism, industrialization and the monotheistic religion of economic growth. Hunting and foraging societies were egalitarian and communal. Farming and herding societies are vested, competitive and hierarchical.

 

 

 

The Neolithic Revolution augured slavery, which began as agricultural serfdom and abides today as the "jobs" system. Taleb opines that in the days of Suetonius, 60 percent of prominent educators (grammarians) were slaves. Today the ratio is 97.1 percent and growing.

 

 

 

Charles Darwin in The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication (1868) said:

 

The savage inhabitants of each land, having found out by many and hard trials what plants where useful … would after a time take the first step in cultivation by planting them near their usual abodes…. The next step in cultivation, and this would require but little forethought, would be to sow the seeds of useful plants.

 

 

 

Did it really take several million years for our upright hominid ancestors to get the idea they could domesticate plants and animals, or had they known that much longer and invariably decided it was a bad idea?

 

 

 

One hypothesis is that the extinction of large herding animals by Paleolithic hunters led to farming. This is discounted by the fact that the loss of the former did not coincide with the gain of the latter, either geographically or chronologically. Another theory is that we were forced into farming by population pressure, but that is countered by the fact that the first domestications took place in resource-abundant societies. Moreover, dietary stress would have marked the skeletons of foragers and studies have failed to show any nutritional stress immediately prior to plant domestication.

 

 

 

Another theory is that the rise of agriculture came from ‘competitive feasting;’ the idea that culinary diversity conferred social status and therefore resulted in competition to create delicacies. Let's call this gourmetgenesis. Unfortunately for foodie anthropologists, it appears that early domestication unambiguously consisted of a small number of important staples rather than appetizers, pastries and confections.

 

 

 

Those who study the evolution of consciousness suggest that the shift may have occurred, with or without sacred plant intervention, about 10 millennia ago when the brain had a hundredth monkey moment and, like Kubrick's apes before the shiny monolith, transformed bone shillelaghs into plows and space stations.

 

 

 

More recent work suggests that climate shifts not only contributed to the Paleolithic large mammal extinctions and may have caused psychedelic mushrooms, vines and cacti to extend their ranges and abundancies, but also permitted more reliable predictions about weather, which allowed crops to be grown more consistently.

 

 

 

Some ancient Greeks thought that this process was cyclical, and that eventually good weather would lapse and we would return to hunting and foraging. Medieval Christianity embedded the meme that the process is linear, an inexorable progression of human civilization from brutality to refinement.

 

 

 

Weisdorf notes:

 

Farming [is] still assumed to have been clearly preferable to foraging. But, in the 1960s, this perception was to be turned upside down. Evidence started to appear which suggested that early agriculture had cost farmers more trouble than it saved. Studies of present-day primitive societies indicated that farming was in fact backbreaking, time consuming, and labor intensive.

 

 

 

In the 1960s, "a picture began to emerge that showed that foraging communities were able to remain in equilibrium at carrying capacity when undisturbed." Where the ratio of population to productive land area is favorable, foraging generally provides greater return on labor invested than tilling and herding. Once the ratio becomes unfavorable, tilling and herding are not only more effective, but necessary. To any foraging society, therefore, two disciplines are required. They must regenerate land resource and restrain population growth. Soil fertility sí, human fertility no.

 

 

 

In Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems in a Changing Climate (New Society 2015), Laura Lengnick gives her take on the progression from foraging to pastoralism to agriculture:

 

Foraging and the early farming systems that followed it propose very different solutions to the same basic question facing all animals: How best to allocate the available time and resources to acquire food? All things being equal, animals (including humans) tend to solve this effort-allocation problem by maximizing the capture of calories, protein and other desired foods in a way that yields the most return with the greatest certainty in the least time for the least effort. Moderate, reliable returns are usually preferred over fluctuating high returns. It turns out that, for a long time, foraging was a good solution to the effort-allocation problem facing early humans. But climate change changed everything.

 

Lengnick, Resilience Design Criteria for Agroecosystems
Lengnick describes the strategies employed by native peoples of North America. They foraged and hunted, sustainably used irrigation, amended with fish scraps and animal manures as fertilizers, rotated grain and legume crops and selected and improved their seeds. She looks at the Mohawk, Cherokee, Mandan and Hohokam as representative of the North American Northeast, Southeast, Northern Great Plains and Southwest. She then turns to the practices brought by European colonists, before and after the arrival of petroleum, modern machines and chemicals. Regional specialization continues today, based more on industrial infrastructure than soils or suitability, but climate has thrown in a monkey wrench, much the way it did 8-12,000 years ago.
 
From the summer of 2013 through late winter 2014, Lengnick interviewed 25 award-winning sustainable producers from across the United States. All had been farming in the same location for at least 20 years, many for 30 and some for 40 years or more. Many expressed concerns about the path the food system has taken over the last 50 years and their frustrations with scientific, economic and regulatory policy. Listening to their stories is like sitting around a campfire with two dozen Joel Salatins.

 

At the Happy Cow Creamery, artisanal dairyman Tom Trantham told Lengnick,

 

Really, we see some drought and hot temperatures every year. This year (2013) is the first year that we haven’t really had a drought. This year it has been really wet. We had the rain, but we also didn’t have the sun, so we had two big problems. I’m 72 years old, and I’ve never seen as much rain in a year in my life, anywhere. It really affected my crops. Our hay was 9 percent protein. It would normally have been 18 or 20. Like I say, never in my life have I endured that much rain.

 

 

 

Lengnick, Resilience Design Criteria for Agroecosystems
Lengnick's distillation of their advice is sage. Produce food as part of an ecosystem. Adapt by going back to letting nature do what nature does best. Lengnick calls this "adaptive management," but what she is speaking of is what the UN has been calling "eco-agriculture, and it contains a suite of tools and practices that not only provide greater food security but can, scaled quickly enough, undo the worst of the Fossil Age's climate karma.

 

 

 

For Lengnick,

 

Functional diversity and response diversity describe the capacity of the agroecosystem to maintain healthy function of the four farming system processes (energy, water, mineral, community dynamics) and other ecosystem services. Functional diversity describes the number of different species or assemblages of species that participate in agroecosystem processes to produce ecosystem services. Response diversity describes the diversity of responses to changing conditions among the group of species or species assemblages that contribute to the same ecosystem function. Agroecosystems designed with high functional and response diversity have the capacity to produce ecosystem services over a wide range of environmental conditions.

 

 

 

Like Taleb, Lengnick identifies the fragility of monocultural, industrial farming practices:

 

 

 

Appropriately connected agroecosystems will build relationships that enhance functional and response diversity. Many weak (i.e., not critical to function) connections are favored over a few strong (i.e., critical to function) connections. Agroecosystems that rely on a few strong connections for critical resources reduce their resilience to events that disrupt those connections; in contrast, many weak connections enhance response capacity.

 

 

 

In permaculture, we speak of harmony and stress and some see those as opposites, but in a more tantric Buddhist interpretation they can be viewed as a symbiotic pair. Stress is the bending of a system away from its natural pattern, making it fragile. Harmony is the restoration of balance and connections, inherently antifragile. Natural succession is a cycle of disturbance, experimentation, and equilibrium. There is no steady state, there is only the constancy of change.

 

 

 

In another month we leave for Belize to teach the 11th annual Permaculture Design Course at Maya Mountain Research Farm (seats still available here). Personally, it will be our 50th time instructing the standard 72-hour Design Course. We often say, when we teach in such places, it is not the people that are the instructors there, it is the land. In this case it is land that has been refined, articulated, complexed and restored to if not the Paleolithic model, then to a Neolithic transitional stage, where both domestic and wild systems co-exist in a riot of cascading productivity.

 

 

 

If the Dwyer family had taken this workshop, or read Lengnick's book, they would not have been caught by surprise when their world of modern illusions suddenly dissolved. They would probably never have gotten into that situation to begin with.

 

 

 

 

Resilience Testing Week

Blackout-NJgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 3, 2016

http://www.diepos.co.za/photo/files/59590/900/900/o_1a1nj81jmdplrlj14gqd016nia.jpg

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This week was notable on the Last Great Frontier for not 1, but 2 critical infrastructure failures.  Neither one lasted all that long, but both gave me the opportunity to see how prepped and ready I am for intermittent failures of the 3 basics you often take for granted, running water, central heating and electricity on demand.

http://i0.wp.com/savethewater.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/drought-6.jpgPrior to full on SHTF where this stuff goes off and never comes back on, there is likely to be a period where such outages become more frequent, and run for longer periods of time.  This is the way it is already in the 3rd World countries that have such ammenties in their larger cities, actually it's always been that way and never really got a whole lot better.  When I was living in Brazil back in the 60s, we had a power blackout at least once a month.  Nowadays in Sao Paolo, with water rationing the taps go dry either for a few hours each day or for a few days each week, so everyone still stuck living there has to adapt by storing water and conserving what is stored.

As crucial as water is in your preps, for me it was one of the last things I developed a full plan for.  While I was on my early prepping frenzy in 2008-9, I worked up a good 2 year food supply, but my water supply on hand was limited to about a dozen quart size water containers, which were old Cranberry Juice bottles I rinsed out and filled with tap water.  Far as just drinking and cooking goes, this probably would last a week, but if you add in stuff like flushing the toilet, washing dishes, taking showers etc you probably would use it up in a day or two the most.

http://www.pooresttourist.com/uploads/1/2/4/5/1245765/2884998_orig.jpgSo upon moving to my new digs, I developed a more comprehensive water plan.  I now have 3 large 20 gallon water containers, 2 1 Gallon Water containers for water transportation, 10 1 gallon containers of Distilled Water, along with the original dozen quart bottles.

2 of the 20 Gallon containers are for drinkable water, the 3rd is for "gray water" used for toilet flushing.  After doing a task like washing dishes or taking a Sponge Bath (no showers during water shortage time, even if you have a portable shower system!), you store the leftover water in your gray water container for later use again as toilet flushing water.  Also keep your toilet flushes to one/day if possible.  If several people are using the same toilet though, this may not be possible.

The other means I have for keeping the gray water container filled s a stream that runs nearby my digs. That is what the 2 1 gallon jugs are for.  I can take a trip over to the stream on the Ewz, fill the two jugs then return to the digs and dump this water into the gray water container to keep it topped off with plenty of toilet flushing water.  The only time this is problematic is if the creek is frozen solid, but it usually is not these days.  Of course, not everyone has a creek running nearby them, so not everyone can use this method.

If your water problem is just local to you, like your well ran dry but there is still running water nearby you like in convenience store bathrooms, that is what the quart containers are for.  You drop one or two in a backpack and when you hit a convenience store, you use the bathroom and fill them up with FREE water.  When you return home, you dump this water into your drinking water 20 gal containers and keep them topped off.  Similarly, you can do this at work if you still have a job, and your kids can bring one to school each day and fill from the school tap water.  If everyone brings home a quart of water each day, you should all stay well hydrated unless sweating heavily because it is hot, in which case you will need to double this possibly.

If the problem is systemic like in Sao Paolo, this is not going to last forever.  Eventually no convenience store will have running water, no school and no workplace.  Guess what?  Time to either move out of Sao Paolo or roll over and die!  It's no longer fit for human habitation.

So your Water Plan is not a solution to a permanent drought, and neither is the Electric Plan following a solution to permanent grid down scenarios.  The plans are just designed to get you through disruptions to normal infrastructure supply that lasts for a defined period of time.  How long that time is depends on how much of anything it is you store, but IMHO a minimum standard is 1 week.  1 week is about how long on average it will take to get all neighborhoods back on grid power and running water after a typical decent Snow or Ice Storm or a Flooding event.  Really bad ones, 2 weeks and stuff like a Hurricane or F5 Tornado passed through your town, it could be several months.  In my case, I estimate I can go 3 months completely off grid, no running water, utilizing gas from my cars and Bugout Machine for my generator after the first week or so.

This water plan is very inexpensive, less than $100 for the cost of the containers.  Now onto the Electric plan.

http://www.wnybatteries.com/images/ibs_HD24-DP.jpgThis was one of my earliest preps, but I have expanded on it as time goes by, adding solar PV panels as well as a gas powered generator.  Mainly however it is a storage plan for grid power for the occassions when you lose electricity for a few days.  The core of the plan requires only 3 things, all of which can fit on a shelf in the garage or a corner of a closet, Battery Storage capacity, an AC/DC trickle charger for the battery and an Inverter for converting stored juice back from DC/AC when the power goes out.  One of each can suffice for most critical purposes for a while but I recommend a bit larger system for this.  Here is how it played out today in my Grid Down Resilience Test for electricity.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41yf0CmxNTL._SX300_.jpgIn the case of my power outage, besides running the laptop and light for a while, the Deep Cycle Marine Battery also fully charged the laptop and the cell phone, so even after it fully discharged there would have been hours of time left on their independent batteries.  However, the DCMB was barely touched here on this, and I now think it would run at least 24-48 hours full time without a charge on just this drain.  It is now plugged back in on the trickle charger and collecting juice for the next outage.

With this knowledge, I can now recommend a Minimal System for short term electric outages.

3 DCMB @ $100 each
1 1000W Modified Sine Wave Inverter $100
1 500W Modified Sine Wave Inverter $75
6 Amp DC Automotive Battery Charger $50

Total Cost Basic System: $525

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51kphrsrCNL._SX300_.jpgThe 1000W inverter is dedicated to your Fridge.  Typical fridge draws 500-750 Watts, but not all the time, only when the compressor runs, and that depends on ambient temp in your digs.  One DCMB is dedicated to keeping the food cold as well during an outage.  You also don't need to use it for the first day or so long as you don't open the fridge or freezer too often.  Keep your freezer PACKED.  If it's not packed up with meat, fill the empty spaces with tupperware filled with frozen water.  Only fill the tupperware about 80% full before freezing, because the water expands on freezing.

The 500W inverter is sufficient for your laptop and a couple of lights, and will also keep you portable rechargeable electronics fully charged. Another DCMB is dedicated to this Inverter.  The 3rd DCMB is a backup for either of those if they fail or run out of juice.

By itself, this sytem will probably get you a week of time if you are careful about electricity usage.  Like dont leave your laptop on 24/7.  lol.

A simple Upgrade to this is to add a 2000W Generator and have say 10 gallons of gas in 2 5 gallon jugs.  Use this to recharge your DCMBs as they run down.  This probably brings you up to a month of resilience time with enough juice for the basics.  That is going to cover any outage other than true SHTF stuff.  If your neighborhood electric company cannot restore power inside a month, it is Mad Max time.

This addition to your electric resilience costs

2000 Watt Generator: $300
10 Gallons Gas: $25
2 5 Gallon Gas Containers: $40

Total Options Cost: $365

After that, you can invest in solar panels or RV Wind Turbines to get a little more trickle charge going in some locations depending on Sun & Wind resource.  Also remember if that if necessary, you can repurpose your SUV battery for additional storage.

So, IMHO, there is no reason the typical McMansion owner cannot Prep for power outages lasting upwards of a month.  the whole package comes in less than $1000, a one time cost which is CHEAP insurance.  It's also highly portable and can be taken on the road with you if you have to abandon your digs (wildfire, flooding, earthquake, volcanic eruption, war breaks out etc).

If you have extra FRNs, you might want to go with Li-I batts which will shrink and lighten the load in the SUV for the bugout scenario, as well as give more discharge cycles.  However, they are pricy, and will probably triple the Batt investment cost in this type of insurance.

After Water & Electricity, the final part of your Short Term Disruption Preparedness plan (besides the food of course, which every prepper starts with usually) is having enough HEAT in your place so you dont freeze and the pipes don't freeze during the disruption.  This is only an issue in the winter in places where the temps go below freezing, but that can be the case most anywhere these days except equatorial regions.

In most setups these days, if you lose your electricity you lose your heat also, even if the heat is NG or Diesel fired furnaces.  They have electronic controls and will shut down without electricity.  If there is no manual overide to this, you are without heat as well as electricity, even if you still have fuel.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51twT-QR71L._SY300_.jpgAs long as your digs are well insulated, lack of heat is probably not going to be a problem the first day.  In my case over a few hours the internal temps only dropped a couple of degrees from the 60F I keep the place at in the winter.  Not enough to even drop on a second sweatshirt.  Your primary preparation for heat disruption is having good winter gear to throw on as the temperatures drop, in layers as it gets colder.  Above freezing, there is no real need for heat at all,  good clothing.will cover you fine.  However, you do have your pipes to worry about, so once the internal temps drop below around 40, you're going to want a backup here also.  Best for this in terms of Energy Density and ability to run indoors without killing yourself from Carbon Monoxide poisoning instead of freezing are portable Kerosene Heaters, which have CO detectors on board and automatic shutoffs.

https://don1uexbbetbo.cloudfront.net/content/art/slideshow/wellsfargo_igludorf_lg1.jpgHow much kerosene you will need to have stored and how many of these heaters you will need for any given length of time depends entirely on how big the space is you are trying to keep above freezing, and how low those external temps actually go.  If you have a big place and the temps outside are -20 Below Zero, you would need a LOT of heaters and a lot of kerosene every day to keep the place above freezing!  So for good resilience at an affordable price, best NOT to live in a big McMansion.  Also better to live together with several people in a reasonably small space, since your combined body heat by itself does a lot to keep a small space warm.  This of course is the Igloo principle of the Inuit, Athabascans and other "Eskimo" tribes that live here in Alaska, although they hardly live that way anymore.  You put husband, wife, 2 kids and 6 dogs in an Igloo big enough to fit all that mammalian biomass, you will not need a fire inside the Igloo just about no matter how cold it gets outside.

However, you shouldn't have to go the Igloo route for a short disruption if you match your heat generation capability to the size of the space you need to keep above freezing.  This is an important point, because you don;t want to try to keep the place at the same kind of temp you would under "normal" circumstances with your backup heating gear.  You are just trying to keep yourself and the pipes in your digs from freezing, not making it so hot you can walk around comfortably in your BVDs.  lol.

To conclude here, all of these plans are SHORT TERM DISRUPTION  plans.  They will not help you in a permanent Grid Down, SHTF scenario longer than their designed lifespan, which at the very outside I think would be a full year.  Perhaps longer if there was still working money and fuel to buy with that money, but in such a long disruption that probably would not be the case.  The deal here is though that as this spin down proceeds, it's unlikely that your infrastructure will fail all together, all at once, for good.  Being able to survive through the intermitent problems while the society reforms is crucial to making it THROUGH the Zero Point to the Other Side.  You don't wanna be the guy that freezes to death in his digs after just 3 days of an Ice Storm power disruption, but you get stories of those folks all the time.

For the longer term when all of these things we take for granted now are gone for good?  Most of the population, including me, will die off.  I'm not suited to building mud huts with stone tools and living the full primitive anymore.  Only a few younger folks may be able to do that, and I wish them well in their efforts.  For most of us though, you take it one day at a time, and try to keep going just as long as you can.  Covering the basics for the short term disruptions can help you do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNAP Card Gourmet Weekly Menu

FoodBank1gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of RE

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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

https://ramblingcookiemonster.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/bec.jpg 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

http://www.bonappetit.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/blt-set-free-overlay-bg.jpgThe 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

http://nutmegnotebook.com/wp-content/uploads/photos/TamalesChili-Food-Finds-033.jpgUsually 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!

 

 

 

 

 

Food Replicators

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 22, 2015

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Back when I was a kid in the 60's and a firm believer in Sci-Fi fantasies of how we would eventually be rocketing off the Earth, first to the Moon, then to Mars and then eventually to other Stars and Solar Systems, along with many others of my generation I was a Star Trek fan, or "Trekkie" as we called ourselves in those years.

Amongst the many other far fetched inventions of Star Trek were "Food Replicators".  In order to do a work around to the rather intractable problem of how to keep a crew of 400 or so folks fed while doing intergalactic travel, rather than try to set the sets with hydropnically grown food, various livestock, aquaculture etc, they came up with the idea of having a Food "Replicator", which essentially created any food from pure energy, sort of like their Transporters worked.  The computer had a complete database of foods from all over the Universe, and could take enrgy from their supply of Dilithium Crystals and directly convert this into any food you had a hankering to eat!  A whole lot faster and easier than cooking too!

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/6e/6b/d9/6e6bd9d466b71bf8de1aff250353c8ca.jpgAs it turns out, it wasn't that far fetched, because right around the same time the first "TV Dinners" came out.  My particular favorite of the very small selection in those years was the Fried Chicken Dinner, which came with mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley of corn, peas and carrots.

As you will note from the pic at the right, in those days the dinner came in a metal tray, because there were no Microwaves and you had to throw it in the oven for around 30-40 minutes to get it reheated.  It wasn't quite as instantaneous as the Replicator on Star Trek, and you didn't have a selection of all foods in the Universe at the time, in fact there were only about 3 or 4 varieties as i recall. "Salisbury Steak", Meat Loaf, Fish Sticks beside the Chicken.

As time went by of course, the number of Frozen Food complete meals as well as specific dishes EXPLODED, and today if you walk into your typical Food Superstore int he FSoA, there are ailes and aisles of Freezers with, well, every food in the Known Universe.  Today, you can get Pizza, Chicken Kiev etc and "cook" it up inside of 5 minutes in your Microwve Oven!

We got the Food Replicators after all!.  Well almost.  It's not quite instantaneous, you do have to drive your SUV to the store to buy the stuff, you can't just tell the computer what to make for you to eat.  There is a bigger problem than that though.

http://img.scoop.it/B5TpG4m99IzFcjJuEaoCwzl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9No Dilythium Crystals!

How energy intensive it is to supply food this way should be obvious.  Not only does it take copioius fossil fuel based fertilizer to grow all the raw foods that go into these pre-packaged meals, they have to be pre-cooked, then frozen and transported, kept frozen until you are ready to eat them, then heated up all over again for consumption!  How incredibly wasteful of energy this whole food production, packaging and delivery system cannot be measured, but to anyone brought up with the Star Tek meme, energy just wasn't a worry, not a problem.  That endles cornucopia of food selections would not just always be there, but it would keep getting bigger and better in terms of selection all the time, and easier and quciker to cook up too!

In fact, there is a whole generation of people who not only have no idea of how to grow food, they have no idea how to even prepare food for eating if it doesn't come in a microwaveable package or a can, or is prepared for them at Mickey D's.

In my early years I did learn to cook, and got better with it over time, but the convenience and ease of just buying a microwaveable was as seductive for me as anyone else, and for the last 20 years up to just recently I subsisted on these foods.  It's a pain inthe ass to cook for just yourself, its' time consuming between the preparation and the cleanup, and then if you spend that much time you want to cook up a decent size batch of whatever it is you are making, and then you have to store the leftovers and want to eat them before they go bad on you.  A batch of Spaghetti Sauce is a good example, how many nights in a row of Spaghetti with Sausage and Meatballs do you really want to eat?  Much easier just to Nuke a single size serving from a frozen dinner.

The other small problem that Star Trek skirted over with their Food Replicators was the whole problem of actually GROWING it.  As many of us are aware now, it takes huge resources of soil and water to get good yields from typical agricultural practices, and there are whole swaths of many countries where they are running out of both.  Even if you HAD unlimited energy from Dilithium Crystals, you still couldn't produce food without that other device that magically turns energy straight into food, which along with Cold Fusion still hasn't been invented, 50 years after the original Star Trek.

http://www.bttf.net/v/vspfiles/photos/21020-4.jpgAgain I think it should be obvious this kind of Magical Invention is not coming down the pipe here, but you still constantly read rumours of Cold Fusion, and of course Renewable Energy is quite often touted s a Savior for maintaining this type of techno-cornucopian lifestyle.  However, it's just impoossible for any form of renewable energy to prduce the copious amounts burned up here through the Industrial era utilizing millions of years of stored fossil fuel energy.  Distributed and basic forms of Renewable Energy can help us to make a transition and REVERSE ENGINEER to more simple lifestyle, but at nowhere NEAR the per capita energy consumption of current Industrial culture.

How much longer will the Frozen Foods be available at your local Food Emporium in your Industrial neighborhood?  That is a tough problem to figure, and it's not going to occur in all neghborhoods at the same rate.  The monetary system that currently works to produce and distribute said foods is likely to break down before the actual productive capacity disappears.

This would be a good time to start figuring out how you will produce your food more locally, and how you can reduce your energy footprint, because Dilithium Crystals are not going to be arriving in time to keep those freezers operating.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/3c/7c/f8/3c7cf83ca33299f61ef620ace7bc950b.jpg

 

Oil supply shock, food shortages, and potential starvation in Sweden?

PhoenixRisinggc2Off the keyboard of Fenixor

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Published on Peak Resources on October 8, 2015

 
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In 2013 the Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (JTI) released a report about potential impacts on the country’s food supply from sudden oil import shocks. JTI looked at three different scenarios, where oil imports would be redistricted (-25%, -50%, -75%) for a period of 3-5 years. Not enough time to make a transition to some other fuel. 
 
In the worst case scenario, where 75% of oil imports disappear, the authors stated that the diesel price could increase to some SEK 160/litre, and we would likely experience widespread starvation! Food supplies, in stores and warehouses, would only last for 10-12 days. Swedes don’t even know that the government has said that it’s up to the citizens themself to provide for their own food needs in a crisis situation. Most people seem to believe we still live in the 1970s when Sweden was a socialist country, not any more, not since the neoliberals came into office and started dismantling healthcare, defence, education etc. There is no emergency preparedness!
 
Without fossil fuels (oil and gas) we wouldn't be able to produce enough food in Sweden. This is partly due to our high food imports (50%)​, large-scale mechanisation of farms, loss of small-scale farmers and high costs (taxes) on farming. Most farm machinery runs on diesel while oil is used for heating and transportation. Areas like Stockholm and parts of Norrland are especially dependent on food imports. For example, the Stockholm region only produces some 5% of the milk consumed and less than 10% of the meat.
 
Today there are no food or fuel reserves, instead the entire country is totally dependent on “just-in-time” supplies. Again, in the worst case scenario, there will be no cooking oil, 75% less fruits and berries, 67-70% less grains, 40% less milk, and 64% less pigs, chickens and eggs. The only thing increasing is sheep and cow meat since a lot of land only will be used for grazing. Grazing animals get their food from sunlight (grass) and contribute with manure.
 
Based on SPBI data
Swedes can be kept over the starvation line if only 25% of oil imports disappear, but we will experience food shortages and risk of starvation if a larger oil shock occurs (50-75%). Looking at the export-import data some commentators have estimated that 90% of all oil imports will be gone by 2030. And this is probably a conservative estimate since it doesn’t account for sudden shocks due to an economic crisis, conflict, and so on. 

 

In a recent opinion poll (2013) two out of every three (63%) Swedes stated that they wouldn't be able to handle a shorter crisis. People in Gotland, Öland (islands) and Småland were most worried about a future crisis (49% think they will experience a crisis). Most people (58%) can only manage for about one week but it's likely that the respondents underestimate how much resources are actually required for everyday life. For example, water (3 litres/day) and heating during the winter.

 

Sweden's food supply is in any case extremely vulnerable to a shortage in oil imports, and Swedes are not prepared despite a lacking government. Our dear politicians have absolutely no plan on changing this, instead they claim “we need to stay competitive” totally missing the point that growth is over! (0.3% per capita GDP growth the last decade). The situation is not made better by half of all our oil imports now coming from Russia that we are engaging in trade wars with (sanctions etc). 

RE’s Excellent Spinal Surgery Adventure: Part 2 Recap

gc2smOff the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 6, 2015

Bed-Superstar

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As regular Diners know, last week I AT LAST went in to have my neck carved up by the Pros From Dover, after many months of blogging on all the problems related to this here on the pages of the Doomstead Diner.

Obviously, I came through this surgery capable of still Blogging on Doom, and have not as of yet Bought my Ticket to the Great Beyond TM.  So far, it doesn't seem to have made much difference as far as the symptoms go, but at least I am not taking my final Dirt Nap as of yet. 🙂

This is not the End of this Story however, it is not even the Beginning of the End.  It is just the End of the Beginning of numerous battles I need to fight to win this little personal War on Doom for myself.  It was a necessary one to go through though, even though I am still unsure of how all the bills will get paid, who will pay them or even exactly what the total bills are yet.  I am sure to find out soon enough though as my Snail Mail Box fills with bills from the team of Dover Pros who participated in carving up my neck.

http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-now-this-is-not-the-end-it-is-not-even-the-beginning-of-the-end-but-it-is-perhaps-the-end-of-winston-churchill-37226.jpg

This post is a recap of my experiences since I published D-Day Part 3 last Friday when I finally got in for the surgery.  Does my personal little story of Doom for me have any relevance with so much WORSE on the grand scale ongoing here as we speak?  Well, it obviously does to ME, which is why I am writing about it.  It also does have general applicability though as an example of the ongoing collapse evident in many systems, the Medical & Insurance industries and our Goobermint Social Support services.

Thursday Night, August 27, 2015

Instructions for the 2 weeks prior to the surgery were to avoid certain foods like Garlic, Ginger, Hops and a number of other things which sometimes react badly with anaesthesia.  So I had a pretty plain diet for the last couple of weeks, mostly Ramen Noodles, meat and cheese.  At midnite I was instructed to not eat or drink anything further until after the operation, to come in "hungry & thirsty".  This so that you don't have anything in there to puke up and choke yourself on during the operation.  I didn't get much sleep the night before, my friend who drove me into Anchorage was due at 4:30 AM and I also had to shower with a soap laced with chlorhexidine, which reduces the chance of infection.  After the shower I put on all freshly washed clothing as well, and then waited for my friend's arrival.

We arrived at the hospital at just about precisely the 5:30 AM Check-In time for the operation scheduled for 7:30 AM.  My friend headed back to the Valley for his work day, and I waited a short time in the lobby and then after around 15 minutes an orderly came to fetch me and we headed to the Prep area.  I got Cubicle #6 to undress, stuff my belonging into some bags they provided, although I also had my own bags with my preps for the stay in the hospital after the operation, scheduled for 2 days minimum.

Friday Morning, August 28, 2015

After undressing in the cubicle and stuffing all my belongings into the bags provided by the hospital as well as my own bags, I had a parade of Nurses and Doctors that dropped in to converse with me and answer my questions regarding the surgery.  I was assured that I was in much more danger on a statistical level in the drive from the Mat Valley to Anchorage than I would be while being dissected on the surgery table.  Nobody would give me any stats though on how often such surgeries are successful, how often they fail etc.  Nor did any Doctor know what their services cost for such a surgery, or at least they won't admit to knowing.  The Doctors are "above" such plebian concerns as to how much their services actually COST.  They don't even want to KNOW what they will cost, because that would affect their decisions on what to provide in terms of care and drugs, etc.  If you believe this shit, your anaesthesiologist has zero knowledge of what his services cost.  I find that slightly hard to believe.

Regardless of this, I was obviously committed to going through with said surgery, and after the last Doc left the cubicle, it was about another 15 minutes and an Orderly came to wheel me into the Surgical Theater.  Here I met the rest of the "Team" that would be doing one job or another during the surgery, 3-4 Nurses and 2-3 Techs besides the Docs doing the surgery and the neuromonitor ad anaesthesiologist.  This Meet & Greet was the last thing I remember prior to the Surgery.

Friday Afternoon, August 28, 2015

Approximately 20 minutes after the surgery was completed, I regained consciousness in the Recovery Room.  This timeline I got from asking the Nurse who was monitoring me how long I was unconcious after the surgery.  It is truly remarkable how well they can knock you out for such a proceedure, and yet return to consciouness so quickly.  The different drugs they use for this all have certain "half-lives", so they know how quick it will wear off.  I do not know as of yet what the drugs were that I was full of during surgery, I am trying to get that information now.

I was sufficiently "with it" however to make a video of my trip from Recovery Room to the Neurosurgical Ward where I spent the next 2 days while they made sure I was recovering OK and could be released without being liable for not doing due diligence. Vitals taken every 4 hours, check the wound for infection, etc.

I was able to rapidly get back to blogging, in  fact besides recording the Guerney Trip from the Recovery Room, I also recorded a Selfie once shifted over to the bed in the Ward Room. So this adventure did not cause much of a blip in coverage of ongoing Doom on the Diner, the chronicle continues relatively uninterrupted by this adventure.

Friday Evening, August 28, 2015

Upon arrival in my Ward Recovery Room, I was sharing it with another fellow who apparently was diagnosed with possible Brain Cancer, but during the course of the day found out that he did NOT have such a cancer and got Released.  The other half of the room was empty for the next few hours and life was quite Peaceful.  This all changed around 11PM when yet another neurological basket case got wheeled in to take up that bed.

Ths fellow was in absolute AGONY, moaning and groaning in pain at the top of his lungs.  He also was pretty DEAF, so the various Docs and Nurses had to also yell at the top of their lungs for him to be able to hear them.  It took several hours for them to load him up with enough drugs he quieted down some.  I got virtually no sleep the entire night due to this pain fest, and I felt positively LUCKY that I was only suffering moderate pain that was more or less under control with the Morphine Drip.

Neither on Friday Night nor on Saturday did I find out exactly what this guy's issues were.  I only observed a non-stop parade of different doctors going behind his curtain, catching snippets of conversation and discussions of what kind of drug to feed him next to try to get this under control.  By midday Saturday they loaded him up with enough drugs to put him to sleep for most of the rest of the day, and things were more or less peaceful on the Ward once again.  I will get to what his problems were in the Sunday Episode here.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Late Friday Night and Saturday morning I finally was able to PISS, but not before the Nurse on Duty on Friday tried to slip a catheter up my dick to unload the vast quantity of piss held in my bladder at that time.  I unloaded about 500ml, which was enough to be pretty sure my bladder would not explode before the next morning.  4 hours later, I unloaded another 800ml, which basically showed I was able to piss OK, and this would not hold up my release on Sunday.

Around noon on Saturday I had them pull the IV Morphine drip to go on Oral Pain Killer meds, Percocet mainly.  1 of those every 4 hours has been more or less sufficient to keep the pain down to a 3, which I can deal with.  Above 5 it gets bad if it goes on for any length of time.  Occasionally I will drop 2 of them if I have been moving around a lot, even with the neck collar on a lot of movement gets the pain going stronger.  I have found in the following week I need to lay down for about 20 minutes out of every hour to keep the pain from escalating through the day.

I also had visits from Physical Therapy and Occupational Rehab, and every last person who came to visit me had me do the same things over and over again, flex and point feet, try to lift arms etc.  Not a whole lot of difference here after the operation from before.  The Occ Rehab guy had me demonstrate I could get myself in and out of the shower OK as well.  I passed all the main tests and was scheduled for Discharge on Sunday.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saturday night-Sunday morning was mostly quiet, my roomate was being kept pretty well drugged and I got decent sleep.  By morning though he awakened and was once again moaning in pain at the top of his lungs, and now I finally found out his issues, listening to the Doctors discussing what to do about controlling the pain.

First off, he had both brain and spinal column issues, but the real problem was WITHDRAWAL.  Not from one drug, but from 3 different ones.

First off he was a heavy smoker, 2-3 packs a day.  They had him on their strongest Nic Patch, but it wasn't enough and he was constantly BEGGING to be allowed outside to grab a smoke.  Next, he was such a serious Alcoholic that part of his Meds was a shot of Whiskey in the morning and afternoon and before bedtime.  Finally, he had been seeing a Doctor (who has apparently since lost her license) who was prescribing him huge doses of Morphine every day, and he was morphine addicted.  The amount of morphine that the Hospital Docs were giving him was just not enough, he needed about double the dose they were giving him, which was about 5X what I had been getting.

He had a totally unrealistic idea of being released, there was just no way this would happen.  Oral meds were not enough and he needed constant care from the whole team of docs and nurses on the ward.  Nobody as far as I can tell ever mentioned to him that his pain problem was one of Withdrawal from all the drugs he loaded himself with every day for the past few years.  I can't see how he will ever get out of at least some kind of Assisted Care Living situation.  The cost of course is enormous for this stuff, and this fellow is just one small example of what is going on everywhere these days.

Sunday Afternoon DISCHARGE!

Around 3PM on Sunday I got discharged with a sheaf of prescriptions to pick up on the way back to the Digs.  So I ended up with pretty much the short-average stay for one of these proceedures, slightly over 2 days.  My friend came to collect me, and we drove back to the Valley, stopped to pick up the meds and I got back to BAU reporting on Doom here on the Diner.

In the week following discharge, so far I haven't seen much in the way of improvement, and some things like the pain are worse.  With the operation now out of the way, I am now on the task of trying to get my SSDI bennies, which apparently have been held up because SS either lost or misplaced my Form 827 medical release, and they did not inform me of this.  So I have now re-sent that via registered mail-return receipt to both the Anchorage Office and the Main Office in MD. I'm trying to locate an SSDI specialist lawyer in the area, but so far not too much luck with this.  No Newz on the Workman's Comp case either, so still draining the savings to keep going here.  If nothing breaks my way and I can keep the Bill Collectors at bay, I'm good through the winter up here and then I'll move into the bugout machine and make a last cross country drive, assuming gas is still available in the Spring and I can still drive the thing.

Far as the stay at Providence Hospital is concerned, overall I would give them high rankings, it's a nice facility, the staff were all helpful and courteous, and the food was pretty good for institutional food.  The menu was pretty complete and they served from 6AM to 9PM every day.  It took about 45 minutes from when you ordered until the food arrived at your bedside.  Here's a sample of my meals at the hospital:

Breakfast: Omellette with green peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese, English Muffin with eggs, cheese and Canadian Bacon, low sodium Bacon, Bagel with Cream Cheese and Cranberry Juice

Breakfast

Lunch Spinach Salad with Feta Cheese, Chicken and Dried Raspberries

North-Spinach

Dinner Alaska Cod Fillet encrusted with sesaoned bread crumbs and tomato, red potatoes with sour cream

Alaska Cod Fillet

Potatoes

Here's some shots of the helpful Nurses and Aides who made the stay reasonably tolerable:

Nurses-1

Murse-Aide

And finally a few of RE cruising around the Neurosurgical Ward 🙂

Hosp_Bed

Bathroom

Lobby-Spine

The Obesity Epidemic

Off the keyboard of Ugo Bardi

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Published on Resource Crisis on August 15, 2015

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A suburban market near Florence, Italy, a few days ago. This market is frequented only by local residents and it provides good evidence that the Italians, on the average, are not so fat. Most people you see walking there are in reasonably good shape and I tried hard to find someone truly obese, but I didn't see a single one.  It turns out that, indeed, Italy is less affected by obesity than most (although not all) countries of the Western World. But things are rapidly changing; Mediterranean diet notwithstanding, even in Italy people are more and more gaining weight and becoming obese. The obesity epidemic seems to be another one of those problems that keep getting worse and that we just don't know how to solve. 

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The obesity epidemics: another problem we don't know how to solve

We all know that the world suffers an obesity epidemic, hitting in particular the rich countries of the West. But what exactly makes people fat? You could say that it is because they eat too much and exercise too little and that would be, obviously, true. But should fat people be demonized because they can't control their appetite? Being overweight, and, in particular, being obese, brings all sorts of health problems; being also told that it is your fault just adds further misery to an already painful condition (*). Yet, this is a common attitude (See DeShazo et. al.). But consider that a whole scientific field has been developed with the specific purpose of creating food so tasty that people can't stop eating it. And we have a whole industry, the food industry, dedicated to making people eat more, and another, the medical industry, trying to make them eat less. A no win situation, if ever there was one.

There is more to say about the damage done by the modern, hypertechnological food industry. Food is not only a question of how many calories it contains, but also of the nutrients it contains. And there is a reason why we often use the term "junk food"; it is because this food contains plenty of calories, but few nutrients (see also this post of mine). So, it may be that people try to compensate for the lack of nutrients by eating more food; another likely reason for the obesity epidemic (see, e.g.  Swinburn et al.). Obese people are actually malnourished (see, e.g. Hyman).

But there may be more to this story if we consider the situation from a "systemic" viewpoint. Human beings are complex systems and complex systems are known to react in a non-linear manner to external forces. So, facing an obese person, if you are thinking in terms of systems, you won't just say "this person eats too much". Rather, you would ask, "what could have unbalanced the metabolic homeostasis of this person?"

To illustrate this point, let me compare the obesity epidemics to climate change (that we could call a "high temperature epidemic"). The Earth's atmosphere is a typical complex system that reacts in a strongly non linear manner to external perturbations (called, usually, "forcings"). The main forcing causing global warming is the increase in the concentration of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, CO2. It is not the only forcing agent, but surely the most important one in unbalancing the atmospheric homeostasis.

Note how all it takes is a small increase in CO2 concentration (little more than a hundred parts per million) to generate a major change in the atmospheric temperatures. It is a point that many people find difficult to understand; not unexpectedly because we are not used to think in systemic terms. But even a small change in the complex atmospheric system can generate a cascade of reinforcing feedbacks that create the disaster we call "climate change." That's the way complex systems work.

Now, could it be that something similar is taking place with the obesity epidemic? Could there be a single agent, or, anyway, a main one, that triggers a cascade of reinforcing metabolic feedbacks that turn normal human beings into land whales?

It can't be excluded, but identifying such a substance, if it exists, is a major – nearly impossible – task. A recent review by Simmons et al. reports a table of 23 putative obesogen substances, chemicals that go from heavy metals to saturated fat, including pesticides, hormones and more. And then the same authors report a table of 38 more possible obesogen additives, but never tested in this sense. A grand total of 61 possible additives that could make you fat; and I am sure that there are many more not listed in the paper.

The sheer number of possible culprits makes one's head spin.  But, in a sense, that can be seen also as promising. What if one of these chemicals plays the role of CO2 in the atmosphere? That is, could one of them be the main trigger of obesity? It would be great if we could point to a specific substance and say: "Look! This is the stuff that makes people obese! Stop putting it into the food we eat!" And, from then on, we would see no more land whales in shopping malls.

Unfortunately, things are not so simple. As I said, the human metabolic system is much more complex than the climate system and, therefore, it is hard to identify such a substance, assuming it exists. The best that can be done is to test the possible obesogens one by one, but what if their effects are reinforced by feedbacks created by their combination? To return to the climate example, by examining the climate system, we could conclude that water vapor is one of the causes of global warming, because it is a greenhouse gas and it is abundant in the atmosphere. But, no, the increase of water vapor concentration is not the cause of global warming, it is an effect of it. We can say that because we know the climate system much better than the human metabolic system.

 

Then, even if we could identify one or more substances that play a major role in triggering obesity, it may be impossible to remove them from food. Stuff such as heavy metals are just all around us; we have been creating or extracting them over centuries of industrial activity. There is no way to remove them completely from the ecosystem.

And, finally, even if we manage to have scientific proof that a specific substance is the main cause of obesity, we would likely see the food industry gearing up for a major denial campaign. It is easy to imagine politicians stating, "Look, I am not a scientist, but I believe that there is no proof that bis-tetraphenil-dyazin-watchamacallit causes obesity." and then you would hear in the news, "Fatgate: food scientists confess they have faked the obesity data in order to keep their research grants!"  And so on…..

In the end, it seems that the problem with obesity is the same we have with other gigantic problems we face: climate change, the food supply and many others. Often, we are not smart enough to understand what causes them and, even if we do, we are, unfortunately, smart enough that we can stop all attempts to solve them. It seems that we are creating a world so complex that it is becoming impossible for us to manage it.

Let me conclude, however, with a note of optimism (of a sort). Obesity has the advantage over climate change that people can experiment with it by themselves. So, a lot of different diets are being tried, from Vegan to Paleo, and everything in between. With all this experimenting going on, eventually we'll learn something about what makes people fat and how to avoid it. This is, after all, the way the universe manages complex systems: it just discards what doesn't work; it is called natural selection. It would be nice if we could apply the same strategy to climate change; too bad that we have just one planet.

(*) The author of this post has a body mass index (BMI) of 26.2, and that puts him on the lower side of overweight. 

h/t Roberto Rondoni
 

46 Million Amerikans on the Breadlines

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on August 13, 2015

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Children Orphans Eating - Public Domain

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46 million Americans go to food banks, and long lines for dwindling food supplies begin at 6:30 AM

Those that run food banks all over America say that demand for their services just continues to explode.  It always amazes me that there are still people out there that insist that an “economic collapse” is not happening.  From their air-conditioned homes in their cushy suburban neighborhoods they mock the idea that the U.S. economy is crumbling.  But if they would just go down and visit the local food banks in their areas, they would see how much people are hurting.  According to Feeding America spokesman Ross Fraser, 46 million Americans got food from a food bank at least one time during 2014.  Because the demand has become so overwhelming, some food banks are cutting back on the number of days they operate and the amount of food that is given to each family.  As you will see below, many impoverished Americans are lining up at food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning just so that they can be sure to get something before the food runs out.  And yet there are still many people out there that have the audacity to say that everything is just fine in America.  Shame on them for ignoring the pain of millions upon millions of their fellow citizens.

Poverty in America is getting worse, not better.  And no amount of spin from Barack Obama or his apologists can change that fact.

This year, it is being projected that food banks in the United States will give away an all-time record 4 billion pounds of food.

Over the past decade, that number has more than doubled.

And that number would be even higher if food banks had more food to give away.  The demand has become so crushing that some food banks have actually reduced the amount of food each family gets

Food banks across the country are seeing a rising demand for free groceries despite the growing economy, leading some charities to reduce the amount of food they offer each family.

Those in need are starting to realize what is going on, so they are getting to the food banks earlier and earlier.  For example, one food bank in New Mexico is now getting long lines of people every single day starting at 6:30 in the morning

We get lines of people every day, starting at 6:30 in the morning,” said Sheila Moore, who oversees food distribution at The Storehouse, the largest pantry in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and one where food distribution has climbed 15 percent in the past year.

Does that sound like an “economic recovery” to you?

Just because your family doesn’t have to stand in line for food does not mean that everything is okay in America.

The same thing that is happening in New Mexico is also happening in Ohio.  Needy people are standing in line at the crack of dawn so that they can be sure to get something “before the food runs out”

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, who has been working in food charities since the 1980s, said that when earlier economic downturns ended, food demand declined, but not this time.

People keep coming earlier and earlier, they’re standing in line, hoping they get there before the food runs out,” Hamler-Fugitt said.

And keep in mind that we are just now entering the next global financial crisis and the next major recession.

So how bad will things be when millions more Americans lose their jobs and millions more Americans lose their homes?

Rising poverty is also reflected in the number of Americans on food stamps.  The following graph was posted by the Economic Policy Journal, and it shows how food stamp use has absolutely exploded in the five most populated states…

Food Stamp Recipients - Economic Policy Journal

I don’t see an “economic recovery” in that graph, do you?

Instead, what it shows is that the number of Americans on food stamps continued to rise for years even after the recession ended.

Sadly, things are only going to get worse from here.  Eventually, the kinds of things that we are seeing happen in places such as Venezuela will be coming here as well.  At this point, young mothers in Venezuela are sleeping outside of empty supermarkets at night in a desperate attempt to get something for their families when morning arrives

As dawn breaks over the scorching Venezuelan city of Maracaibo, smugglers, young mothers and a handful of kids stir outside a supermarket where they spent the night, hoping to be first in line for scarce rice, milk or whatever may be available.

Some of the people in line are half-asleep on flattened cardboard boxes, others are drinking coffee.

Most Americans cannot identify with this level of suffering, but it is coming to our country someday too.  Here is more from Reuters

I can’t get milk for my child. What are we going to do?” said Leida Silva, 54, breaking into tears outside the Latino supermarket in northern Maracaibo where she arrived at 3 a.m. on a recent day.

Just a couple of days ago, I wrote about how the number of Americans living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.

In case you are wondering, that is not a sign of progress.

Just because you might live in a comfortable neighborhood that does not give you the right to look down on those that are suffering.

And when you add increasing racial tensions to the mix, it becomes easier to understand why there is so much anger and frustration in our urban areas.  According to Business Insider, the percentage of Americans that consider race relations to be in good shape in this nation has dropped precipitously…

Over the last two years there has been a 23% drop in the number of Americans who see relations between blacks and whites as “very good” or “somewhat good.”

Today, only 47% of Americans see black-white relations positively, according to a Gallup poll, the lowest it has been in the last 14 years.

The poll also showed that blacks see the relations more positively (51%) than whites (45%), but both percentages experienced sharp declines in the last two years.

All of the ingredients are there for civil unrest to erupt in cities all over the United States.

When the next major economic downturn happens, anger and frustration are going to flare to extremely dangerous levels.  At this point, it will not take much to set things off.

Desperate people do desperate things, and desperation is rising even now in this country.

So how did things get so bad?

Stupid decisions lead to stupid results, and very soon we will start to pay a very great price for decades of incredibly stupid decisions.

Confessions of a Carnivore

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner  on August 1, 2015

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http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Ribs-Filet.jpg

The Meat FIX for the week…

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I have a confession to make.

I am a MEAT ADDICT.

This addiction may be even worse than my Beer Addiction, it's a tossup.

http://shepherdexpress.com/imgs/hed/art10330widea.jpgI can blame the Meat Addiction on my parents.  Growing up in my youngest years in Brasil, they often took me to Churascarias where many delicious cuts of meat were served up directly off the spit.  My Taste Buds became so entranced by the flavor of Meat cooked over an Open Flame that upon returning to the FSoA around age 10 or so, I immediately embarked on a career as a BBQ Chef, utilizing a small Cast Iron Hibachi that was the site of many Steaks, Burgers, Chicken Wings and Salmon Fillets being Grilled to PERFECTION! 🙂

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/412UgoxHaSL.jpg

I am of course aware these days of how poorly treated the cows, pigs and chickens are by our Industrial Ag system, but people aren't treated a whole lot better and it becomes a bit much to worry about the unfortunate life of a cow in a feed lot when there are a few billion people not living much better lives, and besides I just LOVE MEAT!  So I can't quite buy in to the Vegan mind set because of this.

http://beefambassador.com/wp-content/gems/2014/04/feedlot-1.jpgBeyond the downside of the unfortunate life for an an Industrially raised, fed and slaughtered cow in some Chicago Feed Lot is the ENERGY and WATER problems involved with a diet copiously laden with MEAT in it.

According to HuffPo, it takes around 1847 gallons of water to raise up a Pound of Beef.  Chicken does a lot better at just 518 Gallons for a pound of Chicken, and Beer does better than Wine at 296 vs 872, although you then get into serving size questions as well.

In any event, as you can see it takes a whole heck of a lot of water to put the meat on the table, and even the Beer in your Bottle also!  To acquire enough of that water these days also takes energy, pumping it up from ever more depleted Aquifers like the Ogalalla.

However, the problems of Industrial Ag and its treatment of animals used for food sources, the problems of energy consumption and the problems of water consumption are NOT the reason I am writing this article!

The reason is that due to a few reasons, I cannot STOP buying MEAT at the grocery store!  The Feature Photo at the top of the page has this week's selections, a rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs which ON SALE came in around $4/lb, and 3 nice Filet Mignon Cuts coming in at $12/lb.  That wasn't a sale, but it's still pretty cheap for Filet Mignon.

http://storage.googleapis.com/zgt-user/Boston-Chicken-Photo.pngPrior to buying this meat, I still have in the fridge leftovers from LAST week. particularly some nice Short Ribs and about 1/3rd of a Rotisserie Chicken left to eat, and that is BEFORE I take the carcass and throw it in the Slow Cooker to make a batch of Chicken Soup, which itself will last me another 2 days EZ.

Layered on top of this is the fact that my neurological problems from my neck injury are depressing my appetite, so most of the time I just don't feel like eating any of it!  Regardless how good it smells or looks!  I'm just not feeling HUNGRY enough to devour it!

Now, because  I can't help myself as an ADDICT, I keep buying this stuff.   I'm NOT living on the SNAP Cad Gourmet budget of $2/day (yet!), but neither am I spending much more than $5/day either on food.  The Filet Mignon I picked up for around $12, The Pork Baby Back Ribs for another $16, but together this is enough Animal Protein for 2 weeks EZ!  If I would just STOP buying the stuff when i see it ON SALE, I COULD stay under $2/day!

 

http://i5.walmartimages.com/dfw/dce07b8c-fae7/k2-_f9c906d7-2db2-412b-b285-669ed7dfd238.v1.jpgBut I can't stop buying it, I'm a JUNKIE for Meat!  Not just beef, any Animal protein.  You know what ELSE I bought this week?  A Cocktail Shrimp Ring for $10!  Like I really need this with all the freaking leftovers I have in the fridge right now?  It will take me a month to work through just the LEFTOVERS, and some of it will probably go bad before I am hungry enough to eat it!

Supermarket-meatsI can't even vaccuum seal it up and put it in the Freezer!  Why not?  Because the freezer itself is JAM PACKED with as yet uncooked Steaks, Fish, Chicken and Sausage I have purchased on other occassions travelling down the Meat Aisles of the local Food Emporiums.  I'm like a kid in a Toy Store when I walk (or these days cruise on the Ewz) down the meat department.  Look at those beautifully marbled Rib Eye's ON SALE!  Gotta have those.  Hot Italian Sausage ON SALE!  Mmmm, think of the great Spaghetti Sauce I can make with those!  LOL.

Meanwhile of course out there in the rest of the world and even here in the FSoA, plenty of people have trouble just putting enough Rice in a Bowl to get the daily necessary intake of calories.  Houston, We Have a Distribution Problem!

You might think this would make me feel guilty about buying more meat than I can actually eat, but it doesn't.  Why not?  Because all the dead cow flesh in the local freezer will never make it onto the plate of a starving child in India, and in fact a good deal of it never even goes to feed the homeless up here either.  It just gets tossed if it gets too old and can't even be sold at discount. It's not my fault the distribution system is so fucked up, and I am not going to blame myself because I have more meat to eat than I can handle and somebody else has none.  It happens to be the shelf at my local grocery store, and I happen to have money to buy it, so I do.

http://lorax.blog.drugisvet.com/files/2011/11/Skinny-cow.jpgThe other reason I can't stop buying the Meat is because of the problem I KNOW is coming down the pipe here at some point, which is that the stuff just won't be available to buy AT ALL.

Cattle are already not looking too good in many parts of the world, and here in the FSoA as the water depletes out of Ogalalla and the energy isn't there to pump it up either, the Cattle right here are going to look just like the one at left.  The ones still left anyhow, since the ranchers are already culling the herds, which leads to some pretty weird effects not dissimilar from what is going on with Oil, which is that in spite of a real shortage, the prices go DOWN rather than UP. as a temporary GLUT hits the market.

You have the additional problem where as Credit dries up, the first folks to lose access to the credit are the actual End Consumers of the product, be it either Rib Eye steaks or Gas for your SUV.  If the end consumers don't have credit to buy the stuff, where can the price go but DOWN?  This deflationary driver is ongoing across the Globe at the moment, and is likely to continue on for quite a while in many places, while in others new Credit is created, driving an inflationary spiral in those places.  Eventually either way though, without the stuff on the meat rack to buy, the Money Dies.  It simply stops working to buy things, and you revert to a barter economy if you are fortunate, this already is occurring in Greece.  You do need something to barter though that somebody else wants, and they have to have something you want.  Both of those things are also likely to start disappearing too.

Which brings us back round to the old question of TIMELINE, how long will it take for this to play itself out, in what locations first and how can you best negotiate what is inevitable here, for yourself and your progeny?  There are no firm answers to those questions, but we do tackle them daily here on the pages of the Doomstead Diner.

 

Gleaning

Off the keyboard of Ugo Bardi

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Published on Resource Crisis on July 23, 2015

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Gleaning women in Italy in 1930 (image source). The ancient peasant society had found in gleaning an elegant and efficient way to optimize the management of low-yield resources.
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Gleaning is an ancient tradition, deeply embedded in the agricultural world. In the past, it was common practice that the poor were given access to the grain fields after the harvest, so that they could collect the spikelets left on the ground by the harvesters. It wasn't done just with grain, but with all kinds of agricultural products: fruit, olives, chestnuts, and more. Whatever was left after the first pass was for the poor and for the destitute to collect.

Gleaning was so important in the past rural societies that it was even sacred. We read in the Bible that God explicitly ordered to owners to give to the poor a chance to glean in their fields. And the origin of David's lineage in the biblical tradition is related to gleaning, as described in the story of Ruth, a poor Moabite girl who married the owner of the fields where she gleaned. Other religions do not have such explicit references to gleaning, but most of them convey the idea that the rich should partake with the poor what they don't need. For instance, a similar sharing command from God can be found in the Islamic tradition directed to water.

Gleaning remained a fundamental feature of rural societies until recent times; it is still done, occasionally (as you can see in this movie), but it has lost importance with the onrushing growth of the industrial society. It is not considered sacred anymore; on the contrary, the suspension of the property rights associated with gleaning is often seen as subversive in a world that emphasizes fenced private property and strictly regulated activities. In some cases, it was specifically prohibited, as in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. That was a terrible mistake that aggravated the famine known as the "holodomor" in Ukraine.

But why gleaning was so common? Why even sacred? And can we learn something useful for us from this ancient tradition? It turns out that, yes, we can. Far from being a primitive tradition, gleaning is a sophisticated and efficient technology designed for managing low yield resources. It is a technology that we could still use and that, probably, we'll have to re-learn as the gradual depletion of high-yield mineral resources forces us to abandon the wasteful and expensive industrial technologies we have been using so far. But it is a story that needs to be told from the beginning.

Gleaning to optimize the agricultural yield

Few of us have direct experience with the sickle (or the scythe, its long handled version, used specifically for reaping). We can only imagine how hard it must have been to use it to harvest crops during the Summer, under the sun; going on day after day, swinging it over and over, for as long as there was enough light. It took not just physical strength, it took endurance and skill. But it was the task of the peasant to do that and it has been done for thousands of years.

Now, imagine a line of reapers advancing in a grain field. Obviously, they had to stay at a certain distance from each other while swinging their sickles. So, it was unavoidable that some grain stalks would be left standing and that some spikelets would fall on the ground. Could you avoid this loss? Maybe you could try to get the reapers closer to each other; but that could even be dangerous. Or maybe you could force the reapers to be more careful, or to stop and collect what they let fall on the ground; but that would slow down the whole process. In short, we have here a classic problem, well known in economics: efficiency shows decreasing marginal benefits. The optimal yield of harvesting is surely obtained collecting less than 100% of the grains.
 

Now, there comes gleaning; and it is an extremely smart idea simply because it is so inexpensive. First of all, gleaners didn't need tools, nor needed special skills. They would simply walk in the fields, equipped with nothing more than their hands and a bag, collecting what they found on the ground. Gleaners didn't need to be trained in harvesting, nor to be in perfect physical shape. Women could do it, just as older people and youngsters could. Then, it was a totally informal operation, without the costs of bosses, of hierarchies, of organizations. (Image on the left "La Glaneuse", by Jules Breton, 1827-1906. Note how this girl has no tools, no equipment, not even shoes!)

But gleaning was not just a question of efficiency, it was way deeper than that. It provided a "social buffer" that allowed flexibility (or, if you prefer, "resilience") to the agricultural society. The vagaries of the weather, of insects, pestilences and other calamities always made the yield of the harvest uncertain. So, a peasant family that faced hard times could always fall back on gleaning to survive. Then, when the good times came back, the same family could provide the human resources for the regular harvesting. So, gleaning played the role that today we call "Social Security" or "welfare", reducing conflicts and frictions within society.

But the idea of gleaning went beyond this utilitarian factor. It had to do with the very fact of being human and of helping each other. As such, it takes the name of solidarity (or, sometimes, of compassion). The harvesters knew that the spikelets left on the ground would be collected by the gleaners following them. Would they leave some falling on purpose? We can't know for sure, but we can read in the story of Ruth in the Bible how the owner of the field himself ordered the harvesters to leave something on the ground for her to collect.

Biophysical economics of gleaning

Economics theories never considered gleaning. This is in part because gleaning does not involve money and prices and, therefore, it is invisible to economists. At most, economists might define the spikelets that fall on the ground as "diseconomies", goods of negative value. But why does the economic process generate goods of negative value? And how to get rid of them? (maybe it is this kind of reasoning that led the Soviet Government to enact a law that called for shooting gleaners)

So, if we want to understand the mechanisms of gleaning, we need to go to a different concept: "biophysical economics". It is the view that sees the human economy as an activity that mimics biology. So, each economic activity is like a biological species; it uses resources to live and reproduce, while producing waste.

Once we take this view, we immediately see what gleaning is. It is a "trophic cycle;" a manifestation of the fundamental idea in biology that one creature's waste is some other creature's food. Spikelets fallen on the ground are a low-yield resource not worth processing by traditional harvesting and therefore should be considered as waste from the point of view of the primary productive process. But, from the viewpoint of gleaners, it produces a sufficient yield to make it worth processing. Gleaning is, therefore, a processing method specialized in low-yield resources. We can express this idea also using the concept of "energy return for energy invested" (EROI or EROEI). The energy yield of the spikelets fallen on the ground is not sufficient to generate a good EROEI if they were to be harvested by mechanized methods or by specialized personnel. But, if we reduce the energy investment by means of gleaning; then the process must have generated an acceptable (or even very good) EROI if it was so commonly used in agriculture.

The low cost of gleaning derived from several factors, one was that it wasn't associated with the costs of private property; intended as claiming it, fencing it, defending it, and more. Indeed, gleaning can only function if the resource being gleaned is managed as a "commons;" that is, free for everyone to collect. Traditionally, it meant that private land ceased to be such for the period of gleaning (as in the case of grain fields). Other kinds of resources shared this characteristics, being so low yield that they can be gathered only informally and in a situation of commons; e.g. mushrooms, wood, grass, and others. That's true also for hunting as it was practiced in very ancient times. Overall, we can see gleaning as a "hunting and gathering plug-in" applied to the agricultural society.

 

On the subject of the commons, the analysis by Garrett Hardin is very well known under the name of the "Tragedy of the Commons". Hardin made the example of a pasture managed as a commons, noting that every shepherd can bring as many sheep as he wants to the pasture, and that the more sheep he brings the more the economic yield for him. However, if the total number of sheep exceeds the "carrying capacity" of the pasture, then the pasture is damaged. The cost of the damage, however, is spread over all shepherds, whereas each single shepherd still has an individual advantage in bringing one more sheep to pasture. The result is we call today "overexploitation". It is the eventual destruction of the resource being exploited.

However, if the commons have survived for millennia in agricultural societies, it means that the tragedy described by Hardin was not at all a common phenomenon. Harding was not wrong, but he applied an industrial logic to an activity that was not industrial in the modern sense. For the "tragedy" to occur, there must be some kind of capital accumulation that you can re-invest in order to increase the rate of exploitation of the resource. Gleaning, instead, hardy generates capital accumulation. But think of gleaners collecting grain: how would they accumulate capital? Can't be; the most they can do is to is to collect enough to feed their families. The very concept of monetary capital is a burden that gleaning cannot afford.

Hence, we see how beautifully optimized gleaning is; a far cry from the brutal and inefficient method of "privatize and fence" often proposed as the solution to all problems. And we can also understand why gleaning has nearly disappeared from our world. With the energy supply that society obtains from fossil fuels, there was no need any more for such a radical optimization of the agricultural process as gleaning could provide. The industrial world was (and still is – so far) rich enough that it can think that it doesn't need to be efficient; it doesn't need gleaning. Indeed, the wealth generated by the industrial society can provide better services than those that gleaning produced, long ago: pensions, social security, food security and more. All that was the result of the high energy yield of fossil fuels. For how long that will be possible, however, is a completely different story; considering the fact that fossil fuel are not infinite.

3. Gleaning in the modern world.

One of the problems of the modern industrial economy is waste. We are possibly at the height of a historical cycle of energy production and, as a consequence, we probably never generated so much waste as we do today (there are indications that a decline in waste production may already have started in the rich regions of the world, see this article of mine). But, as mentioned before, we don't know very well what to do with this stuff that we call "negative value goods."

Normally, we tend to try to get rid of waste by using expensive industrial processes, for instance incineration plants which – miracle! – are said to produce energy (and, hence, they are renamed "waste-to-energy plants"). And our concept of recycling involves expensive methods that almost never repay their cost. But, as Einstein is reported to have said, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

However, if we look at the hidden side of waste processing, we can see that gleaning, although nearly completely disappeared from agriculture, is still there; alive and well. An early example of modern waste gleaning can be found in the novel by Franck McCourt "Angela's ashes," where the author tells us of how his family could survive in the winters of the 1930s in Ireland, literally gleaning coal; that is collecting coal lumps fallen from coal carrying carts. Today, you could call "gleaning" the activity of "binners," "cartoneros," and "cataderos" who recover what they can from the trash bins of the rich Western society. (more data at this link)

These activities go under the general name of "informal participatory waste management" – a fancy term for what is simply gleaning applied to industrial waste. These modern gleaners use no expensive equipment, mainly bags and old carts. They move on foot or, occasionally, use supermarket carts as skateboards. They separate the mixed waste into (modestly) valuable objects by hand. In the picture, you see Professor Jutta Gutberlet of the University of Victoria, Canada, discussing with a Brazilian "catador."
 

We don't have precise data on the world trends of this kind of activities, but it seems clear that the increasing number of people who live in poverty in rich countries has generated a return to ways of living that seemed to have disappeared with the booming economy of the second half of the 20th century. Then, in poor countries, the poor have always been "gleaning" landfills, even though the poorer the country, the poorer also must be the landfills. It is a job that doesn't pay well (obviously) and that carries considerable danger: you never know what you can find in a waste bin. It can be something sharp, poisonous, contaminated, or dangerous for all sorts of reasons.


The gleaning of household waste is seen in different ways in different parts of the world. Some European and North-American countries have implemented "container deposit legislation." That is, the consumer who buys a bottle or some other kind of container, pays an extra as deposit, which can then be recovered by bringing back the container to the seller. This kind of legislation, obviously, generates a considerable gleaning-like activity on the part of poor people who actively search and collect thrown away containers.

The gleaning of industrial waste would seem to be a good idea under many respects; and it even seems to work where it has been implemented. However, there are big problems with making it a widespread and commonplace technology for waste management. On the basis of my personal experience, I can tell you that trying to fight the vested interests of the companies that make money out of traditional waste management is hard; think of taking away a fish from the crocodile's mouth. In some cases, disturbing the crocodile can even be dangerous, considering the widespread network of illegal activities related to waste management. Then, in proposing participatory waste management, you risk being considered as an "enemy of the people." Plenty of well intentioned people will think that you want to prevent the poor from their legitimate right of becoming 9 to 5 office employees. You may also be seen as an enemy of science and technology, as you are intentioned to block the development of new and wonderful technologies that will bypass thermodynamics and transform waste into a high yield resource. Finally, often you face a stumbling block in the form of the "zero waste" idea, often intended as meaning that no waste should be produced at all. The fact that perfect efficiency implies zero resilience seems to be completely alien to the way of thinking of those who propose this idea. That's true also for the concept that "waste is food" and, hence, zero waste means zero food for those who could profit from it.

So far, no one seems intentioned to propose shooting the informal waste collectors, as it was supposed to be done during Stalin's times, but it is easy to get discouraged facing the complete lack of understanding of the situation at all the levels of the decision making process. Most people simply don't want to hear about this subject, and the idea of having the poor scavenging their household waste horrifies them. They want it burned or removed from their view, and that's it. Hence, we are stuck with the traditional, industrial techniques of waste processing for as long as we will be able to afford them (not forever, for sure)

Conclusion: the future of gleaning. 

How can we see gleaning in our society? Can we see its return in one of its many possible forms? And, if so, will it be useful for something, for instance to solve the waste problem?

Personally, I would avoid seeing gleaning as a solution for any problem. Gleaning is simply something that happens, it is part of the way our world works and the way human beings adapt to change. Gleaning really never disappeared from human society and it will never disappear as long as human beings exist. The future will bring us the gradual winding down of the industrial society as cheap fossil fuels are burned and disappear. As a consequence, it will become more and more common to return to gleaning-like technologies that can optimize the return of low-yield resources, such as those left by the industrial binge of the past few centuries.

In this vision, a good case could be made that the gleaning of waste should be encouraged already today by laws and subsidies. Even if you don't agree with this idea, at least, we should avoid the mistake of forbidding gleaning, or to make it impossible under the burden of taxes and bureaucracy. It is not just a question of opportunity, but a wider one of solidarity. God Himself (or Herself) commanded us to let gleaning be and, as God is said to be compassionate and merciful, I think we should take that into account.

Wicked Problems and Wicked Solutions

Off the keyboard of Ugo Bardi

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Published on Resource Crisis on July 13, 2015

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I am back from two days of full immersion in a meeting on something rather new for me: the world's food supply. I am still reeling from the impact. Whenever you go in some depth into anything; you see how immensely more complex things are in comparison to the pale shadow of the world that you perceive in the glittering screen of your TV. Everything is complex, and everything complex becomes wicked once you start seeing it as a problem. And wicked problems usually generate wicked solutions. (image from Wikipedia)

 

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Can you think of something worse than a wicked problem? Yes, it is perfectly possible: it is a wicked solution. That is, a solution that not only does nothing to solve the problem, but, actually, worsens it. Unfortunately, if you work in system dynamics, you soon learn that most complex systems are not only wicked, but suffer from wicked solutions (see, e.g. here).

This said, let's get to one of the most wicked problems I can think of: that of the world's food supply. I'll try to report here at least a little of what I learned at the recent conference on this subject, jointly held by FAO and the Italian Chapter of the System Dynamics Society. Two days of discussions held in Rome during a monster heat wave that put under heavy strain the air conditioning system of the conference room and made walking from there to one's hotel a task comparable to walking on an alien planet: it brought the distinct feeling that you needed a refrigerated space suit. But it was worth being there.

First of all, should we say that the world's food supply is a "problem"? Yes, if you note that about half of the world's human population is undernourished; if not really starving. And of the remaining half, a large fraction is not nourished right, because obesity and type II diabetes are rampant diseases – they said at the conference that if the trend continues, half of the world's population is going to suffer from diabetes.

So, if we have a problem, is it really "wicked"? Yes, it is, in the sense that finding a good solution is extremely difficult and the results are often the opposite than those intended at the beginning. The food supply system is a devilishly complex system and it involves a series of cross linked subsystems interacting with each other. Food production is one thing, but food supply is a completely different story, involving transportation, distribution, storage, refrigeration, financial factors, cultural factors and is affected by climate change, soil conservation, population, cultural factors…… and more, including the fact that people don't just eat "calories", they need to eat food; that is a balanced mix of nutrients. In such a system, everything you touch reverberates on everything else. It is a classic case of the concept known in biology as "you can't do just one thing."

Once you obtain even a vague glimpse of the complexity of the food supply system – as you can do in two days of full immersion in a conference – then you can also understand how poor and disingenuous often are the efforts to "solve the problem". The basic mistake that almost everyone does here (and not just in the case of the food supply system) is trying to linearize the system.

Linearizing a complex system means that you act on a single element of it, hoping that all the rest won't change as a consequence. It is the "look, it is simple" approach: favored by politicians (*). It goes like this, "look, it is simple: we just do this and the problem will be solved". What is meant with "this" varies with the situation; with the food system, it often involves some technological trick to raise the agricultural yields. In some quarters that involves the loud cry "let's go GMOs!" (genetically modified organisms).

Unfortunately, even assuming that agricultural yields can be increased in terms of calories produced using GMOs (possible, but only in industrialized agricultural systems), then the result is a cascade of effects which reverberate in the whole system; typically transforming a resilient rural production system into a fragile, partly industrialized, production system – to say nothing about the fact that these technologies often worsen the food's nutritional quality. And, assuming that it is possible to increase yields, how do you find the financial resources to build up the infrastructure needed to manage the increased agricultural yield? You need trucks, refrigerators, storage facilities, and more. Even if you can manage to upgrade all that, very often, the result is simply to make the system more fragile and less resilient, vulnerable to external shocks such as increases in the cost of supplies such as fuels and fertilizers.

There are other egregious examples of how deeply flawed is the "'look, it is simple" strategy. One is the idea that we can solve the problem by getting rid of food waste. Great, but how exactly can you do that and how much would that cost? (**) And who would pay for the necessary upgrade of the whole distribution infrastructure? Another "look, it is simple" approach is 'if we all went vegetarian, there would be plenty of food for everyone'. In part, it is true, but it is not so simple, either. Again, there is a question of distribution and transportation, and the fact that rich westerners buy "green food" in their supermarkets has little impact on the situation of the poor in the rest of the world. And then, some kind of "green" food are bulky and hence difficult to transport; also they spoil easily, and so you need refrigeration, and so on. Something similar holds for the "let's go local" strategy. How do you deal with the unavoidable fluctuations in local production? Once upon a time, these fluctuations were the cause of periodic famines which were accepted as a fact of life. Going back to that is not exactly a way to "solve the food supply problem."

A different way to tackle the problem is focussed on reducing the human population. But, also here, we often make the "look, it is simple" mistake. What do we know exactly on the mechanisms that generate overpopulation, and how do we intervene on them? Sometimes, proposers of this approach seem to think that all what we need to do is to drop condoms on poor countries (at least it is better than dropping bombs). Not so easy, but suppose that you can reduce population in non traumatic ways, then you intervene into a system where "population" means a complex mix of different social and economic niches: you have urban, peri-urban, and rural population; a population reduction may mean shifting people from one sector to the other, it may involve losing producing capabilities in the rural areas, or, on the contrary, reduced capabilities of financing production if you could lower population in urban areas. Again, population reduction, alone, is a linear approach that won't work as it is supposed to do, even if it could be implemented.

Facing the complexity of the system, listening to the experts discussing it, you get a chilling sensation that it is a system truly too difficult for human beings to grasp. You would have to be at the same time an expert in agriculture, in logistics, in nutrition, in finance, in population dynamics, and much more. One thing I noticed, as a modest expert in energy and fossil fuels, is how food experts normally don't realize that the availability of fossil fuels must necessarily go down in the near future. That will have enormous effects on agriculture: think of fertilizers, mechanization, transportation, refrigeration, and more. But I didn't see these effects taken into account in most models presented. Several researchers showed diagrams extrapolating current trends into the future as if oil production were to keep increasing for the rest of the century and more.

The same is true for climate change: I didn't see at the conference much being said about the extreme effects that rapid climate change could have on agriculture. It is understandable: we have good models telling us how temperatures will rise, and how that will affect some of the planet's subsystems (e.g. sea levels), but no models that could tell us how the agricultural system will react to shifting weather patterns, different temperatures, droughts or floods. Just think of how deeply agricultural yields in India are linked to the yearly monsoon pattern and you can only shiver at the thought of what might happen if climate change would affect that.

So, the impression I got from the conference is that nobody is really grasping the complexity of the problem; neither at the level of single persons, nor at the level of organizations. For instance, I never heard a crucial term used in world dynamics, which is "overshoot". That is, it is true that right now we can produce roughly enough food – measured in calories – for the current population. But for how long will we be able to do that? In several cases I could describe the approaches I have seen as trying to fix a mechanical watch using a hammer. Or to steer a transatlantic liner using a toothpick stuck into the propeller.

But there are also positive elements coming from the Rome conference. One is that the FAO, although a large, and sometimes clumsy, organization understands how system dynamics is a tool that could help a lot policy makers understanding the consequences of what they are doing. And, possibly, helping them device better ideas to "solve the food problem". That's more difficult than it seems: system dynamics is not for everyone and teaching it to bureaucrats is like teaching dogs to solve equations: it takes a lot of work and it doesn't work so well. Then, system dynamics practitioners are often victim of the "spaghetti diagram" syndrome, which consists in drawing complex models full of little arrows going from somewhere to somewhere else, and then watching the mess they created and nodding in a show of internal satisfaction. But it is also true that, at the conference, I saw a lot of good will among the various actors in the field to find a common language. This is a good thing, difficult, but promising.

In the end, what is the solution to the "food supply problem"? If you ask me, I would try to propose a concept: "in a complex system, there are neither problems, nor solutions. There is only change and adaptation." As a corollary, I could say that you can solve a problem (or try to) but you can't solve a change (not even try to). You can only adapt to change, hopefully in a non traumatic manner.

Seen in this sense, the best way to tackle the present food supply situation, is not to seek for impossible (wicked) solutions (e.g. GMOs) but to increase the resilience of the system. That involves working at the local level and interacting with all the actors working in the food supply system. It is a sensible approach. FAO is already following it and it can insure a reasonable supply even in the presence of the unavoidable shocks that are going to arrive as the result of climate change and energy supply problems. Can system dynamics help? Probably yes. Of course, there is a lot of work to do, but the Rome conference was a good start.

H/t: Stefano Armenia, Vanessa Armendariz, Olivio Argenti and all the organizers of the joint Sydic/FAO conference in Rome

Notes.

* Once you tackle the food problem, you can't ignore the "third world" situation. As a consequence, the conference was not just among Westerners and the debate took a wider aspect that also involved different ways of seeing the world. One particularly interesting discussion I had was with a Mexican researcher. According to her opinion, "linearizing" complex problems is a typical (and rather wicked) characteristic of the Western way of thinking. She countered this linear vision with the "circular" approach that, according to her, is typical of ancient Meso-American cultures, such as the Maya and others. That approach, she said, could help a lot the world to tackle wicked problems without worsening them. I just report this opinion; personally I don't have sufficient knowledge to judge it. However, it seems true to me that there is something wicked in the way Western thought tends to mold everything and everyone on its own image.

** In the food system, the idea that "look, it is simple: just let's get rid of waste" is exactly parallel to the "zero waste" approach for urban and industrial waste. I have some experience in this field, and I can tell you that, the way it is often proposed, the "zero waste" idea simply can't work. It involves high costs and it just makes the system more and more fragile and vulnerable to shocks. That doesn't mean that waste is unavoidable; not at all. If you can't build up a "zero waste" industrial system, you can build up subsystems that will process and eliminate that waste. These subsystems, however, cannot work using the same logic of the standard industrial system; they have to be tailored to operate on low yield resources. In practice, it is the "participatory management" approach, (see, e.g., the work of Prof. Gutberlet). It can be done with urban waste, but also with food waste and it is another way to increase the resilience of the system.

Teaching Ourselves Out of the Industrial Economy

Off the keyboard of Allan Stromfeldt Christensen

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Published on From Fimers to Farmers on June 30, 2015
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Last week I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a fruit tree pruning workshop held at a nearby community garden. I say "fortunate" since I've only had one day of pruning experience, and because growing fruit trees is something I'd like to take on in the future for preservation purposes and, amongst other things, for fermentation purposes.

That one day of pruning experience I've had came about 10 years ago, which also occurred here in New Zealand while on my one-year WWOOFing venture. To say it was horrid would be a severe understatement, partly due to it being during one of my short (non-WWOOFing) work stints that inevitably occurred on one of those wretched monoculture farms.

To start off the day I vaguely remember being dropped off at a peach monoculture, given a pair of pruning loppers, and a quick ten-minute lesson on how we were to prune those trees. It was pathetic to say the least, and not only were we not taught any fundamentals behind the cuts one makes when pruning, but I hardly even grasped exactly how it was that we were to be pruning. No matter, as off we were sent to go up and down the rows chopping away, the strong impression that I was trashing those trees contributing to me hating every second of it all.

This all ended up ringing true for me just a few days ago during the pruning lesson. Our instructor, giving a short bio on his pruning experience, mentioned that after several years of working on a team that travelled from orchard to orchard pruning fruit trees (as well as kiwi and grape vines), he was eventually pushed out of the market by orchardists who wanted to reduce their costs, replacing the hard-won knowledge of pruners like himself with the cheap labour of ignoramus' like myself and backpackers.

Although our instructor had lost his job to people like me, he wasn't completely out of a job. Because occasionally – and I don't know if this was all pre-factored into the plans of the bean counters – our instructor was hired to go back through the orchards that were recently pruned to fix the mess that people like I had inflicted on the trees. Stupidity squared, but no surprise when it comes to the mentality of the industrial system which chooses to ignore long-term consequences for short-term gain.

But doing the workshop at a community garden at an elementary school, our instructor pointed out to us that although he could charge all the schools to go from community garden to community garden pruning their trees, he preferred giving workshops. Or as he told us all that day, he was more interested in spreading the knowledge around, and so effectively, as he put it, "I'm teaching myself out of a job." More than a noble gesture I'd say, and as far as I can tell, a wise approach as we go over the far side of Hubbert's curve.

If we're going to have much of a chance of softening our landing on the come-down from peak oil and upon the collapse of industrial civilization, then it's going to be necessary to spread around the required knowledge so that when things such as food production are inevitably forced to become more localized, a significant percentage of us (once again) have the needed skills to make it happen. Since industrialism has largely cordoned us off into increasingly secluded specialities where the norm is to know about one thing and one thing only (leaving us ignorant of pretty much everything else), perhaps a more generalist approach to the gathering of knowledge and skills would prove more useful in a time when knowledge is being thrown away and lost for the saving of a few bucks.

This approach of "teaching one's self out of a job" and spreading the knowledge around reminds me of small seed-saving companies who state that they'd be pefectly happy if they were put out of business by the (re)emergence of a seed-saving populace. For if we and our communities started saving our own seeds to the point that we no longer needed to buy them from seed suppliers (even from the nice heirloom seed suppliers), then all the better – we'd be that much closer to adapting our cultures (and our seeds!) to our places and securing ourselves a more resilient way of living.

Seeing how the collapse of economies is turning into a bit more than just a fad, where viable and applicable, teaching ourselves out of our jobs and professions before they're pulled out from under us might come in rather handy.

Chicken Soup

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 6, 2015

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Matzoh_Ball_Soup

 

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Also known as "Jewish Penicillin"

    If you were brought up by a Jewish mother, chances are you have been prescribed a hot bowl of chicken soup at a time you felt under the weather. Dr. Mom may have insisted it was a type of "Jewish penicillin," that it would lessen your sniffles and perk you right up. She was, in some regard, correct. In a 2000 study published in the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, researchers found that chicken soup could help reduce upper-respiratory inflammation, which leads to those annoying qualities of a cold, like a stuffy head and incessant sneezing. Many doctors believe that colds are caused by viral infections. The body responds to these infections by sending over white blood cells to take charge, though they are not really effective in killing the virus. Instead, they lead to those cold-like symptoms that make you feel crummy. Stephen Rennard, M.D, Larson Professor of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and one of the study's leaders, found that fewer white blood cells attempted to be heroes when the body had chicken soup in its system. The soup had some "very modest but clearly measurable" ability to promote an anti-inflammatory activity, he explained in a UNMC video about the research (watch here). Even more, fluids — not specific to soup alone — loosen congestion and support hydration.

Chicken Soup is actually ubiquitous through just about every culture that raises Chickens for food.  Besides the Matzoh Ball variety favored by Jewish Grandmothers, there are many others.

http://img1.cookinglight.timeinc.net/sites/default/files/styles/400xvariable/public/image/2012/01/1201p116-good-old-fashioned-chicken-soup-m.jpg?itok=bKzZLSpr http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/roasted-garlic-and-chicken-soup-updated.jpg http://www.dailyperricone.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/coconut-chicken-soup-660x430.jpg http://amysuestastybites.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/wonton-soup.jpg

   Chicken Noodle Soup    Clove Garlic & Chicken Soup        Thai Chicken Coconut Soup    Chinese Won Ton Soup

 

This of course doesn't even scratch the surface of all the types of Chicken Soups out there, many of which you wouldn't know from the name that use a Chicken Broth as a Base.  For instance, here's a recipe for Alaska Halibut Chowder:

Great Alaska Halibut Chowder

Great Alaska Halibut Chowder• Two pounds cubed halibut (approximately ½ inch by ½ inch cubes)

• 1 small can clams (reserve half of the juice)

• 1 cup diced celery

• 1 cup diced onion

• Vegetable oil

• 2 cups chicken stock

• 2 cups heavy cream

• 2 teaspoons dill

• 2 cups diced red potatoes

• Salt –to taste

• Pepper-to taste

• ¼ cup cook diced bacon (optional)

• 1 cup cooked, drained spinach (optional)

 

Sneaky using Chicken Broth instead of Fish Broth in this Chowder!  🙂  

Here's another one, Borscht:

Chicken Borscht Recipe2 pounds skinless chicken thighs

8 cups chicken stock

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes (not drained)

3 large beets, peeled and shredded

1 large carrot, grated

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 bay leaf

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Now, why is Chicken Soup so popular with so many variations?  Partly because it is DELICIOUS of course, but much more historically because it makes the maximum out of the the nutritional value in your Dead Chicken.  Nothing goes to waste. Whether you Roast it, BBQ or Fry it, everybody knows that after you finish off eating the meaty parts of the chicken from its bones, there's always still a ton of good stuff left on them, not to mention inside them in the case of the leg bones and thigh bones (Crack them before simmering with a Hammer or Rock).

http://bellpub.com/images/ugcoverphotos/UG_201107_CoverPhoto.jpgThe best way to get all that good stuff off is to simmer the remaining leftover bones (and gizzards) slowly over a few hours and create your base Broth, which you then can use in all the Chicken Soup recipes you can find. As Diners who follow my SNAP Card Gourmet series know, I'm always looking for ways to EAT CHEAP but EAT WELL, and Chicken Soup is one of the best ways of doing that. So I decided this week to see just what I could get out of 1  4.5 lb Organic Chicken as my entire Animal protein consumption for the week.

I also added another limitation here, NO REFRIGERATOR.  I just used my Cooler with 2 bags of Ice for the whole week.  The concept here is that if I was living in the Bugout Machine and couldn't afford to keep the Fridge running, could I keep my food good a whole week for eating?  Or if I was living in a Tent in a Homeless Camp, etc.?  Of course, I'm not living that way yet, but it seems to be getting closer by the day.  Best to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best of course.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe experiment began with the Weekly Shopping Trip at 3 Bears.  The Organic Chicken which came in at exactly $6.66 On Sale  🙂 actually was purchased some time ago and has been in the Freezer, so I took that out to thaw.  I could have bought a new chicken just as easily though, even a precooked one hot off the Rotisserie.

In addition to the Chicken, I bought the usual Fresh Veggies you drop in Chicken Soup, Carrots and Celery.  Both keep quite well in a cool place for a week, in the case of carrots a good deal longer than that.  The carrots in particular are a good source of vitamins, so make your soup even healthier once brewed up.  I also bought Fresh Garlic, which not everybody who makes chicken soups likes in there, but I like it plus it also adds vitamins and wards off Vampires & Zombies too!

https://www.atncorp.com/night_vision_images/products/318/images/big/04.jpgJust about every form of Chicken Soup also has its Carb Content, whether that comes in the form of simple Potatoes, Noodles, Couscous or Rice or more creative ones like Matzoh Balls, Dumplings or Wontons.  In the case of Matzoh Balls, you get some additional Protein and Vitamins because you use Eggs with the Matsoh Meal; in the case of Wontons you get additional from leftover meat (sausage usually).  For my purposes this week, I did the KISS principle, utilizing Rice and Noodles (mini-shells I found ON SALE) and Rice I have many vacuum sealed bags of as the Carb Component of my Chicken Soup.  Both of these dried forms of Carb even without vacuum sealing last months without refrigeration, so they are ideal as long as you the Homeless Person has a safe place to store them.  For this, you should have a Storage Unit, which you can usually find for $30-50/mo for the size a single homeless person would need for safe storage of personal possessions.  I don't need one of those yet, I still have my cubbards and a lock on the door so my preps are *relatively* safe at the moment.  However, at this SAME moment My Future is So Bright I Have to Wear Night Vision Goggles TM. As I outlined in last week's Sunday Brunch article, it's really remarkable how fast you can fall off the economic cliff if you run into Medical Issues, even if you HAVE some savings.  I'm fortunate that I do, because if I did not, I would already be cooking my chicken soup behind my Bugout Machine in some Walmart parking lot.  Not there YET though, so I can still tell the tale here on the Diner! 🙂

OK, off the tangent of my personal trials & travails these days as I inch towards Homelessness, Quadraplegia and inevitable DEATH, and back to the topic of Chicken Soup and this week's Experiment!

After simmering the leftover chicken carcass overnight in the Slow Cooker, I strained off the bones and meat to have just broth, which I put in the Fridge to cool overnight.  Purpose of that is to skim off the FAT from the top which solidifies, to reserve for use later in making Matzoh Balls for another Chicken Soup down the line.  You can also just leave the fat in the soup, and have it that way though it makes the broth very rich.  Afterwards, I picked off the best remaining meat chunks and added them back into the soup.

http://stephanieodea.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/2-quart-slow-cooker.jpgNow, obviously I got two things here which the Homeless person probably does not have, a Slow Cooker and a Fridge, both running on electricity piped into the digs by the local electric Co-op.  The Homeless person might be able to pirate electricity from some source though, but probably needs to use his Cooler and Ice for that process.  For the Slow Cooking though, this can be done by heating up some rocks over a fire, digging a pit and dropping your crock pot in over the stones and covering the whole biz with dirt for overnight slow cooking.  Basically the same way you do a clambake.  Other alternative is just to keep the pot simmering over a low flame, but you have to maintain that low flame for many hours which is a pain in the ass.  With a group of Homeless people much more possible than for a solo, as you can rotate the job of maintaining the fire at the right level.  Burying the crock is more energy efficient too, if you are short on firewood.

Another possibility for the Homeless Person is a Solar Cooker, escpecially in the warmer and sunnier parts of the country.  You can put these things together with cardboard boxes, aluminum foil and saran wrap if necessary.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/6e/ab/37/6eab375eaf165f28f85eb900bfb9dddc.jpg

http://cdn.recipes100.com/v/5eba6fa84e9abcce8c84bd6efaac20f9.jpgIn terms of Total Nutrition, I got more meals and more than 1 person needs in a week of Animal Protein out of this chicken.  I consumed the nice Meaty Parts over 4 days, together with Rice & Beans or Baked Potato.  Some of the nicer leftover meat I made a Chicken Salad out of with some Mayo, tarragon, chopped onions and celery etc and dropped on nice fresh Kaiser Rolls.  The Soup itself by the time all was said and done adding the veggies and noodles and rice made 3 HUGE Bowls of very tasty Chicken Soup.  Utilizing a larger crock, adding a few more of the carbs and veggies to this equation, easily you can feed 2 people for the week this way, for a likely total cost of under $20, $10/person.

http://cdn.ebaumsworld.com/picture/gionet2454/fatty.jpgThe great problem here in the FSoA and in Industrial Culture as a whole though is that many if not most people never learn to Cook at all, and all the prepared foods have come so cheap for so long, you have an entire generation of people who know nothing more about how to prepare food other than Microwaving it or buying cooked up already at Mickey Ds.  Why are people starving on a SNAP card allotment of around $140/mo per person?  Because they buy bags of potato chips that run $5 a bag with the SNAP Card, that's why!  FAT and STARVING at the SAME time!

You might not be able to make it on the $2/day Egyptians and Indians and many others in the 3rd World have for their food budget here in the FSoA, but you DEFINITELY can make it on $5/day if you don't buy all the junk and stick to the basics.

Of course, the food DOES need to be available on the shelves at Safeway, and the Money or SNAP Card does need to work to buy it.  Still working as of today, so enjoy it while you can.

Eat Cheap, and Eat Well! TM

 

French Onion Soup

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on March 15, 2015

French-Onion-Soup

Discuss this article at the Diner Pantry inside the Diner

If you go into any fine French Restaurant that serves the Upper Class like Lutece in Manhattan, about always you will find French Onion Soup on the Menu in the Appetizers or Soups & Salad category, depending how the Menu is organized.  Well, except you can’t get an overpriced bowl of FOS at Lutece anymore because Lutece is Outta Biz since 2004.

http://images.nymag.com/images/2/daily/2011/01/14_delmonico_560x375.jpghttp://www.coffeedrome.com/images/walk2005/50lutece.jpg

Lutece, once the top 5 Star French Restaurant in NY Shity closed in 2004.  Back in the Wall Street years, we ate there regularly, and dropping $1000 on Dinner for 6-8 people was no problem at all, if you bought a few bottles of Wine anyhow.  1980s Dollars too!  I guess the .01% got tired of the food there after 9/11

AFTER serving one last Valentine’s Day dinner Saturday night, Lutèce, the renowned landmark French restaurant on the East Side, will close its doors, ending a 43-year run as a pillar of French dining in the United States.

”Since 9/11 we have not had enough business to meet expenses,” said Michael Weinstein, president of Ark Restaurants, which has owned Lutèce since 1994. ”This is probably a decision that should have been made a year ago.”

My old employer Capsuto Freres in Tribeca is also now Outta Biz, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy.  The Fine Dining Space there has been taken over by the Chinese.  Apparently Chinese Food is more popular now amongst the .01% than Nouvelle Cuisine French food.  Who Cooda Node?

http://www.nycgo.com/images/uploadedimages/devnycvisitcom/venue/capsouto_v3_460x285.jpg

That’s where I parked my motorcycle when going to work at the bottom left.  I can’t tell if one of the ones behind the first one is mine.

China Blue, the new sister restaurant to Midtown’s Michelin-starred Café China, is now open in Tribeca. It takes up the space that once housed Capsouto Freres, the 33-year-old neighborhood mainstay that was shuttered in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The new restaurant still has white tablecloths, but now the space, like Café China, takes its cues from 1930s Shanghai, with a menu of Shanghai cuisine to match. That means more seafood and “delicate flavors” than the intense Sichuan style of the original.

A really Classy FOS will have gobs of Melted Swiss Cheese over the top of a huge ceramic bowl, with a nice large hunk of a French Bread slice beneath it, all floating on top of a beef broth that has copious quantities of sliced up Onions nicely sauteed and caramelised in butter or oil in a skillet before adding to the soup.  It’s quite a scrumptious concoction when presented this way, and you’ll likely have to cough up $10-15 for such a bowl in this type of restaurant these days to chow down on it.

In reality though, French Onion Soup is a PEASANT dish that comes from the era before Refrigeration, and all the ingredients are in there because they are conservative of the food the French Peasants had available before refrigeration became ubiquitous in Industrial culture.

Your base of the Beef Broth comes from simmering all the bones and scraps of meat that get leftover after the cow cets slaughtered and carved up into Steaks, Ribs, Roasts, Filets and finally Ground Beef for the least tender cuts, although you will find more expensive Ground Beef from the same cuts that the other beef products are carved from, just because it’s useful in many things like meatballs, hamburgers etc that are common in the western diet.

http://www.eurofoodimports.com/v/vspfiles/photos/AZ00001202-2T.jpgStill, you get a lot more nutrition from your dead cow by simmering up all these leftover parts, and by further boiling down and adding salt to it you can make Boullion which will last quite a while unrefrigerated.  Drop the Boullion Cube into some boiling water, and you reconstitute your Broth for a nutritious soup the next week.  Of course, this is Energy Intensive in the sense you need to use quite a bit of burnables usually to reduce the liquid to a semi-solid.

Onions, your Fresh Veggie in this dish are roots which keep well in a cool Root Cellar, you don’t need refrigeration for them.  The French Bread slice you add ups the calorie content of your bowl of soup with carbohydrates, and you use Stale Bread that can be a few days old and no longer real moist and chewable , but soaked in the broth it becomes very edible again.

Final ingredient, the Cheese you melt over the top is a way to preserve Milk by fermentation, and when waxed over  and kept cool, it also lasts a long while without refrigeration.  It also adds additional calorie count to your soup dish, so by the time you are done here you have a single meal full of Protein, Carbs, Fat, Vitamins, all from stuff which can be grown or raised on a small subsistence style farm, the traditional type of farm back in France before the industrial age.

http://ropcorn.com/a/europe-interrail.jpgWhen I Backpacked and Inter-railed around Europe back in the 70s, I did it on a shoestring budget, as I recall I had $800 in American Express Travelers Checks to last me for 2 months the first time I participated in this Right of Passage common for many European teens at the time, but not that many Amerikans.  No credit card in those years, and debit cards didn’t exist yet either.  The roughly $100/week I had with me had to buy all my food, and hostels on nights I stayed in them.  At the time, a bed in one of the hostels was usually about $10/night in the northern European countries, as cheap as $5/night in Southern Europe.  If you stayed in a Hostel every night, you weren’t left with much to buy food.  The way around that was to take night trains or sleep in train stations, on beaches, wherever.

So for obvious reasons, most interrailers cruised around Spain, Portugal and Greece because it was cheaper.  However, I wanted to see France and Switzerland and Sweden, but in those places I ate on the cheap.  I would buy a Baguette and wedge of Brie and a Salami and that would last in my backpack for 2-3 days while checking out these neighborhoods.  All old fashioned foods that keep for a while with no refrigeration.

I almost actually made it to the end of the two months with enough money to still eat, although for the last week or so the first time there I was sleeping by the Thames River in the “Big Queue”, waiting for a cheap ticket home on Freddie Laker’s “Better Laker than Never”, “Sooner or Laker” discount airline of the era.  Interestingly, it is impossible to find any pics on the web from the Big Queue.  It was quite a hilarious scene overall.

http://freddieawards.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/sir_freddie_laker_crop.jpghttp://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/tm/2007/05/laker2_428x269_to_468x312.jpg

http://www.virgin.com/sites/default/files/legacy/Richard_Branson_and_Freddie_Laker-17612-530x330.jpg

There’s Freddie with the young Richard Branson.  These guys got Knighted for their contributions to Aviation.  Laker went bust in 1982.  Branson is still flying Virgin Atlantic.  He has better access to more debt.

Why did Skytrain suddenly fail? Laker had received an $86 million mortgage on his aircraft from the U.S. government’s Export-Import Bank. As airlines like Pan Am and TWA were floundering in the face of Laker’s competition, they pressured the Reagan administration to have Ex-Im call in Laker’s debt. In addition, the Thatcher government in Britain was worried that Laker might eventually eclipse the parastatal British Airways. Taking away Laker’s capital, paradoxically enough, was a way of saving the airline industry in both the U.S. and Britain.

Laker Doesn’t Leave

Freddie Laker was understandably more than a tad pissed off at the majors, and in January 1985, he filed suit against twelve major airlines from around the world, who had allegedly conspired to drive Skytrain into the ground. At first, they offered him a $50 million settlement, but as Laker dug his heels in, the value of the settlement grew progressively smaller. By August, Laker finally gave up and accepted a $20 million settlement from British Airways.

Bear_Creek_SoupSince I am obsessed with eating cheaply and with food that last a long time, I recently started experimenting with recipes for the many bags of Bear Creek Soups I have in my Prep Arsenal, ready for TEOTWAWKI.  They are fine just by themselves, and one bag will get you through the day by itself if necessary, but as long as there are other ingredients to pitch into said soup, you can make much heartier meals that will last for 2 or 3 days.  This weeks concoction was a Broccoli-Cheese-Beef soup I wrote about Inside the Diner

NEW BEAR CREEK SOUP CONCOCTION!

This one is just SCRUMPTIOUS!  Currently still brewing in the Slow Cooker but I have been Taste Testing over the last couple of hours and it is AWESOME!

Base was some leftover Rib Bones I BBQed, then stewed in beef broth, soy sauce and water to get all the remaining meat to fall off the bones.  Then I added half a package of Bear Creek Broccoli Cheese soup, Fresh Broccoli (actually in the fridge for over a week already) and some shaved parmesan romano cheese, a couple of tablespoons of this.

This is a fucking AWESOME soup!

I think I could improve on it still more with the addition of some fresh Garlic and Onions and some Parsley for garnish, with some crusty day old bread to dip in as well.  Maybe a little Paprika also to make it more tart and lip smacking good.

I’ll be writing up a new Recipe post for the Sunday brunch article this week.  I’ll include this in that article. At least I am still eating like a King here as the world spins down!  This soup would have sold for $10/bowl in 1980s Dollars at my old job at Capsuto Freres!  About $4 in ingredients excluding the leftover rib bones previously chewed on, and would fill about 4 bowls for $40!

RE

http://www.alaska-in-pictures.com/data/media/9/organic-potatoes_2796.jpgAt some point in the future, getting hold of many of the other ingredients to add to one of these soups probably will become difficult, depending on where you are of course.  Certainly, being in a location where Cheese is produced locally is helpful, along with being in locations where there is some kind of Meat available to pitch into the soup to make your Broth, even if it is just Squirrels or even Worms.  This will up the nutritional value of the soup considerably.

Far as the carbs go, even stale bread is fine, but most small farms don’t grow their own Wheat, at least not in my neighborhood, so Bread probably won’t be very available.  Similar with Rice, it doesn’t grow up here in Alaska, although perhaps it could be done in Grow Domes.  Rice though keeps very well once dried and vacuum sealed, so your supply of this can last a while.  Main carb though likely to remain available locally is Alaska Potatoes.

Potatoes are fabulous food which go fine in soups, but there are lots of other good ways to prepare them and spruce them up, which will be the subject of the next SNAP Card Gourmet Sunday Brunch article on the Diner.

http://cdn.spellbrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/alaska-grow.gif

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