Sunday, September 28, 2008

We Can't Afford the Supermarket

And we can't afford to buy organic AT the supermarket. I wanted to buy a normal head of the supermarket.

It rang up at $8.50.

I'm sorry, I'm not paying $8.50 for ANY head of cabbage.

Buying local is not something that's easy here, and with the drive, paying more for long-distance "local" is not in our budget. That's what happened to the pet milk purchases, too...too much gas needed, prices too high.

Now they're too high in the store, too, and we're needing to change from questionable food to REAL food pronto. Learning that anything vegetable or animal out there now could be (and IS) genetically modified, ALL foods with only a few exceptions are permeated with pesticides and herbicides, and anything in a can or package usually has multiple preservatives all up in there ....all those things have tipped the scale for us. No longer do I live where a neighbor can gladly pawn off her excess zucchini or tomatoes (to my glee) on me. I don't have neighbors with dairy goats or cows. I have nothing seasonal growing in my backyard buckets, and have nothing stockpiled, except a modest collection of staples and dry goods.

We even have to buy water...even the water we cook with. For me, the girl from Tennessee, this seems like a budgetary travesty. Buy cooking water???

Simply stated, we can't afford to eat from the store anymore. I can remember when buying chicken thighs, or a whole chicken NOT cut up were the cheapest cuts of meat. Even these I can't afford. Even ground chuck I can't afford.

It literally would be cheaper to raise our own animals...even if not for any other reason than the cost alone. It would actually be cheaper for me to buy a live chicken and slaughter it than it would be to buy the cheapest chicken from the store. The times, they are a-changin'.

We're putting our heads together about what we need to grow to survive, from the bottom up. We will be identifying our own preferences and what our bodies need the most as far as nourishment and disease prevention, and those things will be planned for first.

First will be the staples that would see us through no matter what...what we could survive on even if we had nothing else.

Next will be the nutrition-dense secondary veggies and grains...all the seasonal crops that we could eat fresh and put away for the longer term. The basics to round out the staples.

Alongside these things will be the herbs for flavor, nutrition, and medicinals.

Lastly, the fruits, experimental crops, the veggies and fruits and various plants whose variety that would extend the basics into many different sorts of meals.

Does anyone have lists like this, starting from the Can't-Do-Withouts on up? If so, I'd be really interested in what's worked for you and your family, specifically which crops and plants you most rely on.

The old Victory garden concept has morphed into survival gardens for the long-term far beyond anything that's happening as a result of sending our boys overseas. Now we need because of battles in "progress" -- what's happening in test tubes and bio-tech labs, in China, and in the oil industry. Our "progress" is like the snake that tried to swallow its own tail.

We've just been "progressed" right out of being able to buy a week's worth of groceries at my own grocery store.

It's time to sow for our future, and take it into our own hands. There is now an urgency. Not a panic, but definately an urgency.


Carolyn said...

I agree. We won't be able to afford food from the store either. Leaves me wondering what we are going to do when all the gardens and farmers markets are closed.


amanda said...

UGH! I hear you...i used to believe if I really shopped smart I could still go to whole foods and buy all organic. HA! Even publix is too expensive. I finally made myself start shopping at our international farmer's market, everything is not organic and certianly ot local (apples from washington and I live in GA) but the prices are cheaper and we buy WAY less prepackaged there.
If you get a list, please post it or forward it along. I tried my first gargden this year (pretty much a bust) but want to try again and would love some input on what to plant!

Killi said...

I had a shock this morning : NO water. Turned on the tap & .. nothing. Usually, no water means tap-dancing cows breaking my feeder pipe to the holding tank, so I set off up the mountain to see what was wrong. Unfortunately I met the tap-dancing cows & their bull & they didn't want me in their field. I'm frightened of cows at the best of times & these are mean cattle. I made it to my holding tank, where I was then surrounded by mothers, calves, expectant cows & the bull & an electric fence. I couldn't work out a way under the fence to check things thoroughly, but my tank was overflowing, so the problem isn't between the spring & my tank: that would have been easy. Goodness only knows where the leak is now & I can't do anything until the rain stops once more & the cattle go away. I'm hoping that some how the outlet has got blocked & there isn't a leak. Things are complicated this time because the local neighbour who used to help me with well problems, a couple of months ago asked if he could court me; on being told "NO", promptly suffered from Wandering Hands Syndrome & I daren't ask him for any help at all. I've been trying to avoid him since when by myself as Irish Farmers don't understand the word "no".

Nola @ AlamoNorth said...

I'd flip if I had to buy water to cook with! What is wrong with your water supply, or do you live in the country with no well? I never thought I'd see a day that the supermarkets had a whole isle devoted to water!

The Brenda Blog said...

Isn't it amazing what our country has come to? I am just appalled.

Paulette said...

I hear you Robbyn, it's crazy here too. We can't wait to start planting in the country next Spring. Everyone says we'll have a garden the size of Rhode Island based on listening to us, and everyone tells us how much work it will be, but my goodness, what choice do we have?!
We have changed the way we eat a lot over the past few years. Our can’t-do-withouts are basic grains, herbs and vegetables. We very rarely eat meat any longer, I might cook chicken once a month, or even less. Beef, we never cook for ourselves, but 3 or 4 times a year may have a cookout with friends and cook burgers. We just don’t miss it. There are so many creative things you can do with fruits, vegetables, herbs and grains. And even here in the city where we are now, we’ve found it doesn’t take a lot of ground to grow vegetables and herbs.
Good luck, you’re right, times – they are a-changin’.

Christina said...

Our garden takes us through fresh vegies about 6 months of the year. We can do some things through the winter. My goal now is to grow and preserve for the non growing season. Next spring we are getting meat chickens now that we know we can do layers. Hopefully, in the next 2 years, I will get a dairy and a beef cow. May a pig or 2.... who knows....

MeadowLark said...

It isn't that bad out west (yet) that I can tell.

But I look at how far along everyone is as far as being more sustainable and I want to cry. Heck, we're on city water and there is no well drilling possible where I live. The nearest running water is probably 15 miles away? Sigh. It's nice though to be able to come here and visit with others who don't think I'm a complete raving lunatic for worrying about such things.
Peace to you my friends.

Able Oaks Dairy Goats said...

If you can afford to get some dairy goats, you can drink the milk and make cheese. also slaughter the male goat babies for meat. But remember, you have to feed the animals in winter, so you'll need a hay source.

Robbyn said...

I guess we'll all have to adjust our mentality back to about the early part of the last century and not take our food supply for granted, namely doing it ourselves...quite the adjustment for me and most Americans...

I'll work on a list..don't give up on the garden..all our starts are slow, too, but I'm beginning to think that's the only way we're going to learn :)

uh-oh!! You've got quite a strategy you've got to employ just to keep your water going :) Hang in there!

Nola, nearly everyone in our town is on their own well, but it has a strong sulfur smell/taste, and has to be treated individually with salts. The salts condition the water, but on ours there is nothing else to kill bacteria (such as chlorine, etc), so it's straight well water plus the salt. I suppose it's ok to bathe in, but the salts make the water terrible to taste, plus I just consider it unsafe. So ALL our drinking water is bought and we have a water stand that cools/heats it. The water from the tap cannot be used to boil veggies or disinfect things, and I can't risk pathogens in my fermented foods, either. UGH. :)

The most amazing thing was that while I kept asking "what happens down the road when we have to pay the piper, and what happens if there's a big crash like the Great Depression," EVERYone laughed at me and anyone else who asked those things. I'm amazed at how much we allow the media try to tell us the emporer is wearing new clothes ;-)

Paulette, I admire what you're doing! You're doing what we're trying to implement, too...we're also trying to find our permanent location SOON because we have decisions to, not later.

Christina...chickens! (happy sigh) Oh how I hope we get to have some someday! Your garden sounds great, and it sounds like you have all the skills to step it up a notch for stored goods for the off season, too :)

If you're a complete raving lunatic, you're in good company with a whole bunch of others (me included!) with sustainability on our minds...I sense we won't be considered kooks too much longer if food becomes a national concern! :)

Able Oaks, yes :) In our location, it is illegal for us to have a single chicken, even as a pet, which is why we're still knocking on doors as far as relocating before we make our "homestead long-term plan." Goats do offer so many benefits to the small farmer! I peeked at your site and really admire what you're doing :)

Killi said...

I've now used up the cold water I'd had stored in kettles on the range. There's quite a bit of water in the hot water header tank, so I can still light the range & it's stopped raining temporarily, but the mist is down. It's a pain, but I can go fill things from a spring outlet & I must do that before too long (before it gets too dark to see. I'm lucky ~ usually I do have water on tap. When I was in the village in Russia ALL water had to be fetched from a well & in Gaspra in Krym, water was turned off during the day to the blocks of flats.

In all honesty, I'd rather my clean, natural precarious supply than reliable mains water contaminated by chemicals & lead.

I love my chickens (& ducks & geese)

Gina said...

Some sort of aftermath, I guess, but a recent new friend of mine owns a small "second hand' food store. He buys close/just over expiration date, overstocks, etc and resells them. His store is located in a little seasonally populated lake town. Anyway, I have noticed a lot of "organic" foods showing up on his shelves. I bought several jars of organic honey, cereal, beans and other tidbits. I am guessing that is because people aren't able to buy them ($$$) anymore. he told me at the Pow Wow I attended last weekend that hh restocked his shelves to overflow and he has a truck of stuff he soesn't even have room for.

he also told me his business has picked up. He has new people crowding his tiny store. He has people calling him to ask if he has a new truck. He thinks it is sign o' times. He also is competing with FOOD BANKS (!) at the food auctions.

it's time to brace ourselves. maybe it is good we Americans have stocked up on fat if you know what I mean ('course, I'm talking about myself, LOL!)

meg said...

$8.50?!!! That's absolutely incredible! I guess I'm very fortunate to live where I do, with access to an incredible array of organic, local, relatively inexpensive food. Best of luck to you--I hope your garden flourishes and that you are able to prepare for the future.

E said...

Yes, food is expensive. It would be great if more of the cost went to farmers...

However I wonder if you've done the math on "cheaper to raise our own animals" including cost of housing, feed, medicine. Even without adding wages homegrown can be expensive.

Robbyn said...

Killi, you are very fortunate to have your good water supply :)

Gina, lol um I sooooooo have my own fat supply to burn off ;)

Meg, thanks! Anything we can add to the mix on our own will be very fulfilling at this point :)

E, Yes, animals are not without their expenses, and you're probably way ahead of us in your experience. We follow a lot of bloggers who've had heartbreaking disasters with their very costly animal investments, oftentimes unpreventable. Overall, we've not raised any of our seasonal produce, but have already begun enjoying our herbs, diabetes-controlling plants, and limes. We anticipate a lot of expense getting set up initially, and do realize there will be more than we anticipate that will come up. But the cost for us figures in at more than money. We cannot afford to buy pure food, but we could grow at least some of it. Not all will be free, but there will be some that will be. With ground chuck of unknown origin weighing in at $3.47 a lb right now, we can't even hope to afford to buy the pasture-fed. We can, however, hope to rent a pasture and run a couple steers, perhaps, or get some chickens and try to raise a good bit of their feed. The main cost to us will be the transition of our away-from-home jobs to the labor involved and maintaining and caring for a fuller homestead. But maybe you're right :) We'll get back with you when we're a couple years in and hopefully will have determined somewhat what will work for us and what puts the most affordable nutrition on our table, hopefully a good bit from our own soil. Gardeners and livestock owners are maybe idealists? :) At any rate, we want to stop eating things we can't determine are or are not GM substances. The unknown costs (health, medical) of continuing to eat those, as well as the foods with pesticides and herbicides, goes far beyond budgetary concerns.

Killi said...

We have WATER again ~ suddenly it just came back. I am very lucky to have my own supply & access to another constant spring whenever mine fails. Access to the spring is quite recent after towny neighbour decided that our lane needed resurfacing (my bit was fine) & the workmen only came up to wreck my dry-stone wall, my extra bit of lane & her well supply. I'd told her that I didn't want my bit done, but she went ahead anyway & asked for it to be done & the people doing it wouldn't stop. Not one bit of the lane outside her house was touched! But I can access the spring from the lane now ~ there's even a platform where I can stand to fill my kettles!

I don't want mains water at all