Yesterday I shared with you some good news from around the world and while I try to keep things positive there comes a time when reality must sink in. Burying our heads in the sand won’t change things. Facing the problems head on and making plans to get through the rough times will do more for us and our families.
Let me give you and overview of the situation as I see it along with possible solutions that may work for you and your family. Finally, if the news depresses you I have a give away today which will help you keep a positive attitude in the face of our changing times.
- USDA reported increased prices on food for the month of March which pretty much covered every category. Don’t expect prices to fall any time soon instead expect to see a continued increase in what you will pay for food.
- Things are so bad in Venezuela the government is issuing new cards (similar to loyalty cards you have at your favorite grocer) to track who might be hoarding.
- Organic doesn’t mean what you think anymore. Did you know practices such as allowing ingredients in organic products derived from “mutagenesis” (using chemicals or radiation to genetically mutate life forms), treating animals on organic farms with genetically engineered vaccines, the spraying of the antibiotic streptomycin on organic apples and pears, and the little-known loophole in organic standards allowing the injection of antibiotics into newborn chicks, are all approved and will still carry the organic label?
- Along with the practice of cutting workers hours to under thirty and sometimes as low as twenty per week, now we are being told that many retailers are closing stores or cutting back on workers. The businesses include Sears, Staples, Quiznos, Abercrombe and Fitch, J.C. Penney, Barnes and Nobles, Radio Shack and many more. Business bankruptcies are increasing. While this particular list is from the retail sector I can tell you from my state that manufacturing, banking and many other areas are being affected. This will mean a larger percentage of workers will either be under employed or unemployed.
I don’t need to tell you the environment is in bad shape. Polluted waters, over fished areas, radiation from Fukushima will affect generations, peak oil, etc. But there are ways to get through these tough times by making a few simple changes. It won’t be easy to get everyone to change but for each of us who do we will have an easier time adjusting.
Looking to History
I am reminded of one country that was forced to change and is better off today than it was before. That country is Cuba. When the former Soviet Union collapsed gone was Cuba’s main imports which included pesticides and cheap oil. Cubans responded with “rectification,” fundamentally a reaffirmation of the principles and modalities that had driven the policies of the 1960s. Appeals were made explicitly to conciencia, to voluntarism and moral incentives.
The old socialist bloc Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) had accounted for almost 85 percent of Cuban trade, transactions conducted almost entirely in nonconvertible currency. Commercial relations with the former Soviet Union declined by more than 90 percent, from $8.7 billion in 1989 to $4.5 billion in 1991 and $750 million in 1993. Trade with eastern European countries ended almost completely. Soviet oil imports decreased by almost 90 percent, from 13 million tons in 1989 to 1.8 million tons in 1992. Shipments of capital grade consumer goods, grains, and foodstuff declined and imports of raw materials and spare parts essential for Cuban industry ceased altogether. Fertilizer imports declined by 80 percent, from 1.3 million tons to 25,000 tons; animal feed supplies fell by 70 percent, from 1.6 million tons to 450,000 tons. (source)
Cuba was plunged into a deep recession. By the mid-1990s its economy had shrunk by a third. (source)
Cuba had used very large amounts of pesticides, its food production was similar to the industrial farming we see today in the US. Along with the decrease in oil the ability to run farm equipment was hindered. But what the government did was to encourage all people to start growing food. To grow it anywhere there was an empty space. Food production became decentralized and organic. It resulted in better overall health of its people, better environment and lower costs in production and even health care.
A New Perspective
We can do this as well. No, I don’t see our government asking people to grow victory gardens as it did during World War II but we can take back control of our food supply by planting in any spot we have room. I only have one window I can grow food in but this winter I kept myself in greens without ever having to go to a store. (see pictures above) I grew lettuces, spinach and radishes. if I had a larger containers I could grow carrots and even potatoes indoors. Root vegetables don’t need bee pollination so they are easy to grow in front of a window. You can pick and choose from the following ideas to reduce your dependence on the economy.
Growing your own food doesn’t have to be expensive. Make compost from your food scraps and use in place of bought potting soil. Save seeds to reduce costs next year and exchange seeds with friends and neighbors to increase little by little what you grow in coming years.
- Grow as much of your own food as you can. If you have windows that get sunlight do what I did and grow your own greens, even in the winter. I didn’t go out and buy expensive pots instead I used found objects such as a discarded basket and a trashed kitchen drawer.
- Clare tells us how we can use our food scraps to grow our own food and never have to buy these foods again.
- We can look around and realize we have enough. Gone are the days of trading in a car every two years for a newer model. Today we need to learn to repair the things we own to make them last longer.
- Learn to sew. You can remake clothing items to better fit the personality of the person you are handing down clothes to. I recently cut down and sized adult tops for my five-year old granddaughter rather than donating them.
- Look for free entertainment, or at least low cost. A cheap hula hoop is a favorite activity around here as are taking walks and playing in the gardens. A deck of cards is inexpensive and can provide many nights of friendly card games.
- You can strengthen your local community by keeping your dollars in your town when you shop locally. Avoid the big box stores which treat workers less than respectfully and send all their profits out of state in addition to the likely possibility the products were made without the environment in mind. John writes very clearly on this topic.
We take care of what we love
I could write pages upon pages of the ways we can slowly adjust our lives to live with less financial security, but most have been said time and time again. We can be healthy and happy no matter what happens to the economy if we remember to put love first in all things. I was recently reminded of this song by Neil Young, about Mother Earth which I believe is fitting today.
A Giveaway that will help
What can you do if you are anxious about how to weather the storms that may find your family? The best way I know is to keep a positive attitude, which is different from burying your head in the sand. With a positive attitude you will be flexible, bending without breaking. A gratitude journal can help but so can a book such as Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times which I happen to have a brand new copy to share with you.
“A collection of probing essays and weekly meditations, this book addresses how to prepare emotionally and spiritually for the impending collapse of industrial civilization…..Author Carolyn Baker offers wisdom, inspiration, and a sense of spiritual purpose for anyone who is concerned about the daunting future humankind has created…..Part 1 is a collection of seventeen essays which argue that while the collapse of industrial society cannot be prevented, its meaning extends far beyond tragedy and loss. These essays ask the reader to delve inward and discover the limitless treasures of the soul, as well as the gratification and exhilaration to be discovered in joining with community in preparing for the future…..” (source)
But the best part of this book is the second half which is made up of 52 weekly mindful meditations “comprised of spiritual wisdom, inspiration, paradox, comfort, humor, irony, poems, and a persistent challenge to create and savor beauty in the world, regardless of how bleak the future may appear.”
To enter simply leave a comment. Open to residents of Us and canada only.
Winner will be announced monday.