Thursday, October 30, 2014
Monday, October 27, 2014
Thanks to the Federal Reserve, the middle class is slowly being suffocated by rising food prices. Every single dollar in your wallet is constantly becoming less valuable because of the inflation the Fed systematically creates. And if you try to build wealth by saving money and earning interest on it, you still lose because thanks to the Federal Reserve's near zero interest rate policies banks pay next to nothing on savings accounts. The Federal Reserve wants you to either spend your money or to put it in the giant casino that we call the stock market. But when Americans spend their paychecks they are finding that they don't stretch as far as they once did. The cost of living continues to rise at a much faster pace than wages are rising, and this is especially true when it comes to the price of food.
Someone that I know wrote to me today and let me know that she had to shut down the food pantry that she had been running for the poor for so many years. It isn't that she didn't want to help the poor anymore. It was that she just couldn't deal with the rising food prices any longer. Now she is just doing the best that she can to survive herself.
Perhaps you have also noticed that food prices have gotten pretty crazy lately. In particular, meat prices have become absolutely obscene. For example, the average price of ground beef has risen to a new record high of over $4.09 a pound. Over the past twelve months, that works out to a whopping 17 percent increase...
The average price for a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high–$4.096 per pound–in the United States in September, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).In August, according to BLS, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time–hitting $4.013. In September, the average price jumped .083 cents, an increase of 2.1 percent in one month.A year ago, in September 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.502 per pound. Since then, it has climbed 59.4 cents–or about 17 percent in one year.
The "intellectuals" over at the Federal Reserve insist that "a little bit of inflation" is good for an economy, but the truth is that inflation slowly robs us of our buying power.
In a previous article, I shared a chart that showed how food inflation has risen dramatically since the year 2000. For this article, I wanted to show how food inflation has risen since the 1970s. As you can see, the rise in food prices has been absolutely relentless for more than 40 years...
If our paychecks were going up at the same rate or even faster that would be okay.
But they aren't.
In fact, CNN is reporting that our paychecks have fallen back to 1995 levels...
Americans also don't feel any better off. While more people may have jobs, they aren't bringing home fatter paychecks. Wages and income have remained stagnant for years, making it tough for folks even though inflation is low. Median household income, which stood at $51,939 last year, is back to 1995 levels.Consumers expect a median income boost of 1.1% over the next year, Curtin said. But that won't keep up with their inflation expectations of 2.8%."American households, on average, are still struggling with their living standards slowly eroding," he said.
This is one of the primary reasons why the middle class is disappearing in America.
The purchasing power of our dollars is continually diminishing.
And this could be just the beginning. Right now, severe drought is affecting some of the most important agricultural areas around the globe. Most people are aware of the nightmarish drought in California, but did you know that things in Brazil are even worse? Brazil is one of the most important food exporters in the world, and so they definitely need our prayers.
In addition, a "black swan event" such as a worldwide explosion of the Ebola pandemic could quickly drive food prices into the stratosphere.
Just this week, we learned that food prices in the Ebola-stricken regions of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have already risen by an average of 24 percent...
Infection rates in the food-producing zones of Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone, Lofa and Bong County in Liberia and GuDeckDedou in Guinea are among the highest in the region. Hundreds of farmers have died.The three governments quarantined districts and restricted movements to contain the virus’ spread. But those measures also disrupted markets and led to food scarcity and panic buying, further pushing up prices, WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization have said."Prices have risen by an average of 24 percent," said WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, adding an assessment of major markets showed the price of basic commodities was rising in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and in neighboring Senegal.
If you have been storing up food, I think that you will be very happy with your decision in the long run.
Without a doubt, food prices are only going to be going up from here.
But the Federal Reserve continues to insist that inflation is under control.
One of the ways that they make the "official numbers" look good is by playing accounting games. They regularly change the way that inflation is calculated in order keep everyone calm.
You don't have to take my word for it. Posted below is an excerpt from an article by Mike Bryan, a vice president and senior economist in the Atlanta Fed's research department...
The Economist retells a conversation with Stephen Roach, who in the 1970s worked for the Federal Reserve under Chairman Arthur Burns. Roach remembers that when oil prices surged around 1973, Burns asked Federal Reserve Board economists to strip those prices out of the CPI "to get a less distorted measure. When food prices then rose sharply, they stripped those out too—followed by used cars, children's toys, jewellery, housing and so on, until around half of the CPI basket was excluded because it was supposedly 'distorted'" by forces outside the control of the central bank. The story goes on to say that, at least in part because of these actions, the Fed failed to spot the breadth of the inflationary threat of the 1970s.I have a similar story. I remember a morning in 1991 at a meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's board of directors. I was welcomed to the lectern with, "Now it's time to see what Mike is going to throw out of the CPI this month." It was an uncomfortable moment for me that had a lasting influence. It was my motivation for constructing the Cleveland Fed's median CPI.I am a reasonably skilled reader of a monthly CPI release. And since I approached each monthly report with a pretty clear idea of what the actual rate of inflation was, it was always pretty easy for me to look across the items in the CPI market basket and identify any offending—or "distorted"—price change. Stripping these items from the price statistic revealed the truth—and confirmed that I was right all along about the actual rate of inflation.
It is all a game to them.
It is all about getting to the "right number" to release to the public.
But anyone that goes to the grocery store knows what has been happening to food prices.
The next time you get to the checkout register and you feel tempted to ask the cashier what organ you should donate to pay for your groceries, please keep in mind that it is not the fault of the cashier.
Instead, there is one entity that you should blame.
Blame the Federal Reserve - their policies are slowly pushing the middle class into oblivion.
at 9:09 PM
Sunday, October 26, 2014
With the popularity of prepping at an all time high, it’s common to see folks succumb to those old clever marketing tactics. Purchasing gear for a bug out bag can be quite a daunting task, especially given the fact that we most likely have never been in such a situation to have needed it. We are often haunted by the question that when we get out there in a real crisis scenario: what is that one thing that we should have packed? It’s unnerving enough to keep us awake at night (trust me, I know).
Clever marketers know this, and they use this to their advantage because you aren’t completely certain that you won’t need that piece of gear, which they are attempting to sell you. These slick salesmen will try to sell you everything from tooth picks to an industrial sweeper, “because your survival depends on it!” …Right.
The B.O.B Balance
Especially for putting together a bug out kit, it is important to ask yourself what sensible balance is acceptable of several ratio-type questions. For instance, what is the balance between time and comfort? Or, what is the balance between mobility and preparedness?
If you want to be able to outsmart those clever marketers, then it is important to know these balances, so that you can have a clear picture of why you need this particular kit and how to adequately supply it. Usually, these balances boil down to the compilation of two of the most common types of B.O.B kits: the 72-hour bag and the sustainability kit.
Keep in mind that these two types of kits are worlds apart!
Time and Comfort
One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is: how long are you preparing to utilize this kit? 3 hours? 3 days? 3 months? This is perhaps the most obvious difference between a 72-hour bag and a sustainability kit.
A 72-hour bag is purposed exactly the way it was named: it should be crafted to get you through a 72-hour survival scenario. The reason why many survivalists pick the 3-day window is because in most cases, you will be rescued and back in civilization by the third day. Also, packing for 72 hours is rather easy, as there are a few categories of provisions that you can survive without over the course of 3 days. Any amount of time beyond that, and you’re going to need to pack differently.
The 72-hour kit is supposed to be highly mobile, lightweight and packable, meaning that your sheltering system may be below par, you may not have packed those tasty MRE’s (but rather settled for a granola bar or two), and most of the items in there are either cheap or disposable. Why? The answer is simple: there’s no sense in spending all that cash and load all that weight for a three-day pack. In summary, consider these two main points:
- The reason why we’re looking at time vs. comfort is because the less time for which you are preparing, the fewer creature comforts that will be in your pack.
- If the pack is designed for a week or a month, then you’re going to need more gear that adds to your comfort and sustainability.
However, this balance does not address the medical and first aid aspect of your 72-hour kit. In fact, you might even be compelled to overdo your kit’s medical supplies, especially because if you are stuck in a 3-day survival scenario, then there’s a good chance you’ve already sustained injuries. Do yourself a solid favor and go heavy on first aid and medical supplies!
Mobility and Preparedness
The other balance to cover is mobility vs. preparedness. In essence, the more prepared you are, the heavier your pack (or packs) will be, resulting in the loss of mobility. On the flip-side of that coin, the lighter your pack, the more distance you can cover, meaning that you will be able to get out of harm’s way much faster; However, this also means that your preparedness factor goes down.
This particular balance is probably best addressed in the sustainability kit. In this sense, a sustainability kit is starkly different from the 72-hour bag for the simple fact that it’s not designed for a 3-day scenario –it’s designed for a 3-week to 3-month scenario.
In a 72-hour kit, it might be smart to pack a pocketknife or an inexpensive fixed blade knife just to get you through. For a sustainability kit, you’re going to need a drop-point, full-tang, high-carbon, 3”-5” blade that will do the job every single day without fail, in addition to a solid multi-tool (Leatherman, Gerber, etc) and a high-carbon steel camp axe. Also, you may want to bring animal traps (food), better sheltering systems(hiker-grade tarp system) and other comfort provisions to assist in rural wilderness living.
In a sustainability kit, you are going to want all materials to be borderline bulletproof, meaning leather, canvas and steel. Stay away from lightweight fabrics and plastics, as these just won’t have the same level of durability that a sustainability pack requires, especially in the bitter cold. However, bear in mind that the more sustainable your pack is, the heavier it will be. This will limit your mobility and speed, and it will make you more tired by the end of a day of trekking.
Ultimately it is important that you take away these two basic points:
- You need to figure out your mobility vs. preparedness balance, as this will have a very pronounced effect on how you pack.
- For a 72-hour kit, you can certainly get away with cheap disposable gear. For a sustainability pack, you simply cannot.
However: the balance of mobility vs. preparedness can actually be cheated with the presence of bushcraft and survival knowledge. For example, if you knew how to hunt, trap and forage for wild edibles and medicinal herbs, trees and plants, then you might only need to bring a week’s worth of food, just incase. Without this presence of knowledge, you might have to pack a month’s worth of food and heavily ration it, as you continue to learn how to survive and acquire food sources.
Perhaps the biggest point to understand is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ pack that will work for every single scenario. This is the one of the biggest common misconceptions that preppers often have, and it’s to the detriment of their peace of mind and bank accounts. It is best to have several packs for different purposes, allowing you to have more numerous, more accessible and more complete options when you may come to need them. When you’ve prepared beforehand, survival is a whole lot easier!
at 8:23 PM
Friday, October 24, 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Storing a variety of crops in a root cellar is a superb way to preserve your harvest, not to mention saving a great deal of money. However, if you don’t have one in place, don’t worry. It’s quite easy to create a space in order to store vegetables at the appropriate temperature and humidity levels. Regardless if you’re storing food to sell to customers in the fall, spring, and winter or simply for your family – storing various vegetables in a root cellar is a great idea to save money and maintain adequate food storage.
Overall, this list shows the most common vegetables that people generally store in a root cellar:
- Winter squashes
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Apples (Store them separately. They will spoil the other vegetables)
If you have enough space in your basement, you can easily create a working root cellar. Simply wall off a space in the corner and incorporate vents to let cold air flow in and warmer air escape. Close the vents before the temperature gets too cold (freezing), which works to trap the cold air in the cellar and thus protects the produce from freezing.
Select a location that has a window if possible to facilitate an easy installation. Masonry walls work best since they’ll offer adequate cool temperatures. An outside corner in the basement is ideal. High soil height and northern exposure will also work better. Replace the glass in the window with a solid panel in order to hold the pipes for venting. In order for the vent to pull cold air in, attach a pipe that runs to the floor and shifts horizontally away from your vent to the outside. Since cold air hangs low and warm air rises, it naturally produces a siphon effect where the lower vent pulls cold air in and the upper vent pulls warm air out. Use some two by fours to frame the root cellar’s walls and also add a door. It’s also necessary to properly insulate the inside walls of the root cellar from the rest of the basement. Fiberglass batts or rigid foam will both work in this case. Be sure to leave at least one-quarter inch of gap in between the top, and along the wall, in addition to the structure above, in order to create good airflow.
A super easy and inexpensive way to adequately store a small amount of vegetables is to simply use a clean trash can as a makeshift root cellar. Purchase a new galvanized trash can and drill a number of holes in the bottom, which will let enough moisture into the can from the surrounding soil. Next, place the can in the soil, with close to 3 – 4 inches left sticking out above the ground. Gently place the vegetables inside and secure the lid (consider using a bungee as well if you have pesky critters like raccoons).
Finally, top with a foot of leaves or straw and a heavy tarp to cover.
If you’re a small farmer or an authentic homesteading family, you’ll need a great deal of square footage in order to store your food properly. The general concept is to utilize the earth as shelter for the food from the weather elements including freezing rain and heavy snow. People tend to get really creative in this area – one family even used a bus as their root cellar!
Once you dig a hole big enough for your particular needs, you’ll need a way to keep the soil from falling back in. Choose from a variety of things like wood, logs, rock, or concrete. Also, your earthy cellar will need a roof and maybe a tarp. It’s best if the floor is made of concrete and footings that reach beyond the frost line.
These are the different types of root cellars to create. Pick one to build so you can start eating fresh carrots in February.
at 10:21 PM
Monday, October 20, 2014
at 10:03 PM
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Winter is approaching us quickly in 2014. The last few winters have been somewhat mild, but according to the Farmers Almanac it is going to be a very bitter winter this year.
Being prepared for natural disasters is one of the most important things a person can do to ensure the safety of their life and that of their family. Winter is no exception. The risk of hypothermia is high if you do not know the proper clothing to wear or have a winter kit in your vehicle. Having your car break down or slide off the road can be a recipe for death. However, being properly prepared can keep you alive until emergency personnel arrives.
Below are some items to consider for your winter car kit:
(Note: As with any kit, you will want to design it to fit your region. These are *ideas* to help you start your emergency car kit.)
Shelter and Element Protection:
- space blanket
- Magnesium fire starter/striker and lighter
- Poncho with hood
- Emergency tube tent
- Wool Blanket/ Wool beanie or Hat / Wool Socks / Wool Glove liners
- Change of clothes according to season. Appropriate shoes for walking.
- Bandana to cover your face from the wind should you find yourself on foot.
- Hand/Foot warmers/ Body warmers (Here is a nifty little kit with all in one for a reasonable price.)
Tip: If you are stuck in your vehicle it is safe to run your heater for ten minutes every hour. Just make sure your tail pipe is clear of any snow or debris. We keep a tarp and duct tape in our vehicle so we can block off the back seat or the back of the SUV to retain heat to our location in the vehicle.
Food and Water:
- Filtration water bottle for each family member
- Several gallons (This depends on the size of your family.) of water for drinking or heating for meals or emergency water pouches
- Food/energy bars, powdered soups, camping meals, nuts, jerky or any other snack that will not go bad for a while in the trunk. Make sure to change these items out often to make sure. Hot chocolate or instant coffee would be good to keep as well. Not only would it be a comfort drink it will also help keep you warm.
- Pocket Stove
Communications and Lighting:
- Flashlight and extra batteries or a solar hand cranked powered light with an all weather radio and USB device charger.
- Glow sticks ~ If you use glow sticks, one neat trick I have learned is to tie a string or shoelace to the glow stick and swing it around like a lasso when you see a vehicle. It is much more powerful and can be seen from the sky as well. Most emergency personnel know about this trick as well so it would aid in your rescue.
- Emergency whistle
- Plumber candles – With a little air ventilation these candles last about 8 hours and will also provide heat.
- Survival Guide/ First Aid book
- Multipurpose tool/Swiss army knife
- Duct tape – We use this to tape the tarp down so the warmth stays in the front part of the car.
- Deck of cards, note pad, pencils/pens, List of phone numbers
- Signal Mirror
- Pre-Paid calling phone & card/ emergency cash
- 3 days of prescribed medication
- Compass/ local street map and state map
- Mess kit/utensils or any tin style cup to heat water in.
- Walking shoes/socks
- Fold-able shovel
- Rock Salt
- Toilet Paper
- Gallon of Kitty litter to get traction
- Tow rope
Being prepared can mean the difference between life and death. It is not something to take lightly or put off until tomorrow. Anything can happen to you in your car. Knowing the proper clothes to pack in your kit is important to. Many people do not know the dangers of cotton in the winter. Please do your research and do everything you can to keep your family safe.
at 9:02 PM