FOOD COSTS ARE SOARING. WHAT CAN WE DO?
by anita Sands Hernandez or astrology at earthlink net

Inflation is running rampant, particularly food prices. First all at once, 20 years ago, breakfast cereals triple, then Milk and butter tripled and finally lately, BREAD has quadrupled. What's up? I googled around seeking answers and noticed that official, Government sources totally lie to us about the rising cost of food amounts in their stats, even when we can see inflation has caused the bushel of wheat to double in cost.  I go to the market and notice that bacon which cost $1 a few short years ago is up to 4$ last week. I googled NEWS, then "inflation, food costs" and found NO decent description of inflation trends in the news. The few sources of that phrase 'higher food cost' weren't reporting the doublings. They gave examples that made things look like a l0% hike which is lying like rugs!

Being a careful shopper, I clock prices. Doesn't take me one minute longer. Ferinstance, I note my super market offers apples at 2$ a lb, bacon is no longer $2.50 as it was but months ago, it's $3.50 on sale, 5$ regular. So I buy bacon ends, which my Kroger's chain market packages itself, in back occasionally, and charges only $99c for an lb. I plastic-wrap each strip, freeze ten small bacon packages. Use rarely but freezing doesn't hurt it.  Buy one lb. every month maybe have this fatty little nibble, crisped up and dry, 2x a week. IF I CAN FIND it on sale for 99c. Some months I don't find it on sale, so no bacon.

My fave BIBLE Bread which in Calif not only HEALTHFOOD STORES, but also big chain supermarkets offer, has exactly doubled in cost! Is it worth driving with no tags, license, insurance to TRADER JOE's where it's twenty cents less? Nahhh. I'll pay $3.40 a loaf for Ezekiel 4:19 and bite back the cuss words cuz it is BIBLE bread, fater all. Anyway,. I freeze the entire loaf, only use two slices a day. Again, buy one not every month but every two weeks.  But suddenly it has gone up to 5$. I quit unless it's on KROGER chain's  'day old bread shelf' at 99c. Then I get it, stick it in freezer, 2 slices toasted every A.M. with my homemade jam.
 
Fish at my Supermarket is 9$ a pound but Chinese markets have Alaskan pollock fillets, no bones, for $1.50 lb. and once a month on the special, a dollar an lb.

KROGERS chain has 3 fillets for $2.29 on sale, each meal is 75.cents. Frozen in blue bags Find a Krogrs near you, they have all different names. Not krogers. That's just the chain name. 

The Chinese are in love with good,  fresh seafood! They have wall murals that are vertical swimming pools with FISH SWIMMING ALIVE, brought in alive on a boat from CHINA! GO SEE THIS! The Mexican market chain (Vallarta, 14 stores,) used to have a special on whole Tilapia for 99c lb.. When they do, I go in, demand l0 fish, frozen solid, none thawed, and freeze nine.  Nectarines at the super are 1.99 on sale or more. 99c store has 2 lbs for 99c. The Barrio market chain has peaches at 49c lb. That's where I go. And I check the dumpster behind both markets, tons of fruit, suitable for jam making or feeding my clan of possums. (I figure WWIII hits or the GREAT DEPRESSION, I have possum meat!) And flats of wilted berries which I plant. Trade the baby raspberry and boysenberry vines for bags of potting soil, adverts on Craigs list. Met a whole lot of neat people thru those ads, too.

So my point is, I note that big super market chains really overcharge. By going to non-chain markets, Asian and Mexican markets, the 99c Store and by shopping specials only and by cooking from scratch with no pre-prep convenience foods, no frozen, readymade vegies in sauces, but everything done from scratch, I can eat for two bucks a day and still pay for rent and heat.  ANITA's FOOD INDEX has tips on this frugal art form.

WHY has food become costly? Two reasons, MONOPOLY AGRI BUSINESSES who can charge what they please, setting the price for entire marketplace, or trying to, and CERTAIN FOODS like corn have another use, they are becoming used as FUEL. And why will food become scarse in the future? The disappearance of farmers as Agribusiness buys all the land, and the disappearance of water. Lakes are drying up in every country of the world. Read SURVIVALISM at wikipedia. And the SURVIVAL INDEX.

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Food vs. Fuel from Business Week, Online.

As energy demands devour crops once meant for sustenance, the economics of agriculture are being rewritten!

Greg Boerboom raises 37,000 pigs a year on his farm in Marshall, Minn.Those hogs eat a lot of cornó10 bushels each from weaning to sale. In past years he has bought feed for about $2 a bushel. But since late summer, average corn prices have leapt to nearly $4 a bushel. To reduce feed costs, he sells his pigs before they reach the normal 275 pounds, and keeps them warmer so they don't devour more food fighting off the cold. Still, Boerboom hopes just to break even. "It's been a pretty tight squeeze on pork producers," he says. "The next eight months will be really tough."

The spike in the price of corn that's hurting Boerboom and other pork producers isn't caused by any big dip in the overall supply. In the U.S., last year's harvest was 10.5 billion bushels, the third-largest crop ever. But instead of going into the maws of pigs or cattle or people, an increasing slice of that supply is being transformed into fuel for cars. The roughly 5 billion gallons of ethanol made in 2006 by 112 U.S. plants consumed nearly one-fifth of the corn crop. If all the scores of factories under construction or planned go into operation, fuel will gobble up no less than half of the entire corn harvest by 2008.

Corn is caught in a tug-of-war between ethanol plants and food, one of the first signs of a coming agricultural transformation and a global economic shift. Ever since our ancestors in the Fertile Crescent first figured out how to grow grains, crops have been used mainly to feed people and livestock. But now that's changing in response to the high price of oil, the cost in lives and dollars of ensuring a supply of petroleum imports, and limits on climate-warming emissions of fossil fuels. Farms are energy's great green hope. "Economics, national security, and greenhouse gases have created a perfect storm of interest," says John Pierce, vice-president for bio-based technology at DuPont, (DD ) which is making fuel and chemicals from plants.

Indeed, a massive expansion of biofuels is the one policy that has support from Democrats and Republicans and from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. In his Jan. 23 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush called for 35 billion gallons of renewable fuels per year within 10 years, enough to replace 15% of gasoline burned in American cars and trucks. Congress is considering measures that would require 60 billion gallons by 2030. And the fervor for greener fuels isn't just a U.S. phenomenon. Europe is requiring that 5.75% of diesel fuel come from plants by 2010, while Japan and others line up contracts to buy biofuels to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

NEW LANDSCAPE

The consequences, while still uncertain, are impossible to ignore.According to the most optimistic estimates, which involve a switch to still-unproven energy crops, replacing U.S. consumption of gasoline with biofuels would take at least 50 million more acres of American cropland. Some put the figure far higher. Meeting Bush's mandate with corn ethanol alone isn't even feasible, because it would mean an additional 80 million acres of corn. Eliminating gasoline entirely could require more than double today's 430 million acres of cropland, by some calculations. Bioenergy threatens to eclipse food, livestock feed, and all other uses "as the major driver of American agriculture," testified Iowa farmer John Sellers at a recent Senate Agriculture Committee hearing.

Already, the growing demand for biofuels is bringing major expansions. Last fall, Singapore was enveloped in choking haze from forest fires set to clear land to plant oil palms. The palms will supply 90 biodiesel plants under construction in Malaysia and Indonesia. Biofuels are "a key engine of growth," says Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. If the bioenergy boom continues, Agriculture Dept. chief economist Keith Collins foresees boosts in sugar cane and other crops everywhere from Thailand and Australia to Brazil and Central America. "It starts to change the landscape of agriculture," he says.

Whether this is good or bad is a matter of intense debate. At one extreme is Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute. He warns of a coming "epic competition between 800 million people with automobiles and the 2 billion poorest people," and predicts that shortages and higher food prices will lead to starvation and urban riots. "I don't think the world is ready for this," he says. Dow Chemical Co. (DOW ), which is turning soybeans into foam for furniture and car seats, worries about rising demand. "There's only so much biologically based stuff around," says William F. Banholzer, corporate vice-president and chief technology officer. With chemical companies competing with fuel and food over the supply of certain crops, "it's not a very rosy picture," he says. Nor is the conversion of ecologically valuable forests to oil palm in Malaysia or sugar cane in Brazil. "Why are we burning our forests to plant something that we have been told will be clean, environmentally friendly fuel?" asks S.M. Idris, chairman of environmental group Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth). "This is technology gone mad."

In addition, biofuels are expected to bring a rare permanent change in farm economics. "People had grown accustomed to $2-per-bushel corn. That's not going to happen anymore," says Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Assn. Higher corn prices are already rippling though the economy, lifting prices for soybeans and other crops, and products like tortillas. Next could be meat, poultry, and even soft drinks. Chicken producers estimate that the industry's feed costs are already up $1.5 billion per year. "Ultimately, these increases will be passed on to consumers, and we could have a fairly dramatic inflation scenario for food costs," says William Lapp, president of consultant Advanced Economic Solutions.

Is all this really so bad? Pessimists, in fact, are a minority in debates about food vs. fuel. Lapp notes that food is now at its cheapest level, historically. "It'll be easier to pass on the food increases because we're spending a smaller portion of our disposable income on food than in the 1970s," he says. And some experts even argue that a boost in food prices could be beneficial to Americans' health. A doubling of corn prices makes corn syrup more expensive, lifting the price of a bottle of soda by 6 cents, calculates David Morris, vice-president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis. That might lead people to consume less. "If Americans reduce our input of sugar, we could make 2 billion more gal. of ethanol and help overcome our obesity problem," he says.

And while grocery bills could rise modestly, higher agricultural commodity prices are a boon in many ways. Corn farmers are having a rare period of prosperity, and the federal government is getting a break. In 2006, Uncle Sam gave corn farmers $8.8 billion in subsidies. Thanks to high corn prices, subsidies are expected to drop to $2.1 billion in 2007. "All the price-dependent spending is getting wiped out," explains the USDA's Collins.

Higher incomes for farmers also mean healthier rural economies and more jobs in the U.S. and around the world. Contrary to Lester Brown's grim scenarios, "[biofuel] could be a lifesaver for Third World countries," argues Morris. "It can help keep farmers on the land without providing huge public subsidies." Plus, crop-based fuels could shift the global balance of power, as countries grow enough of their own fuel to cut back on imports from OPEC and other oil producers.

In the most optimistic scenarios, the world will move smoothly to biofuels through increased farm acreage, higher yields, and new crops and technologies. "Don't underestimate the ability of U.S. and global agriculture to respond to higher prices," says Collins. Farmers already plan to seed 10 million more acres of corn this spring. Some even worry about overshooting demand. "There's an old saying that goes, Farmers will see a hole in supply and put a pile on top of it,'" jokes Illinois farmer Steve Pitstick, who's shifting most of his soybean field to corn.

Corn is just the first step. It's a lousy raw material for fuel because producing 10 gallons of ethanol consumes the energy equivalent of about 7 gallons of gasoline, and greenhouse gas reductions are minuscule. That's why the key will be changing to more environmentally friendly sources, such as agricultural waste, trees, or new crops. Pine groves in the South could supply 4 billion gal. of ethanol a year and revitalize declining rural communities, says Georgia Tech's Roger P. Webb. Stanford University biologist Chris Somerville calculates that, with the right plants, 3.5% of the earth's surface could supply all of humanity's energy needs, compared with 13% now used for agriculture. One of the best candidates: perennial prairie grasses. Their deep roots store carbon captured from the air, improve soils, and require little water. Companies are now trying to breed the most productive varieties. Only 49 million acres could supply 139 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2030, figures venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. "Farmers will be better off, the world will be less dangerously dependent on the Mideast, and we will take a giant step in greenhouse gas reductions," he argues. "There is little downside."

Of course, a lot could go wrong along the way. Methods to turn the cellulose from prairie grass into fuel may be hard to scale up. A host of unintended consequences could appear. And if the price of oil drops significantly, the whole biofuels bandwagon could come to a shuddering halt.

But a new world seems inevitable. "We have to be prepared for dramatic change in agriculture," says Nebraska pork farmer Joy Philippi. "There will be a tremendous shift."

DRAMATIC CHANGE  REQUIRED IN YOUR PERSONAL AGRICULTURE TOO!

1.) MORE FOOD-BEARING GARDEN BEDS! Seek out all sunny spots in your garden, Remove hedges, bushes, cut trees back so sun hits ground. If honeysuckle has climbed a dead tree, cut vine out then the tree out. Leave the hedges full of honeysuckle as nobody jumps a big hedge, not with your dog in the yard, anyway. The GROVE GARDEN CONCEPT   allows you to keep some trees that are useless being decorative nothing more. But many will have to go. If you keep it, make it smaller and grow food around it!  The SOUTH SIDE of your property is usually shady as all trees in the northern hemisphere cast shadows. CUT back those trees, prune hedges, remove vines trailing on the ground, cut back the bushes. You'll see, you have a new, sunny bed. Amend that bed, i.e. compost it. Use bagged leaves folks leave on street, trashcans from up and down street, wheel them to your front yard pile. Particularly good: Pine needles. They are acidic. A treasure. Go down piney streets during needle fall, with a flat shovel and bags. Leaf clippings, grass freshly mown, bags of manure and  peat. Wet it down often. A few months later, it's ready, dig it into the new bed. Plant that bed with food bearing vines (berries, kiwis, grapes) or with plants. The supermarket Dumpster has bushels of blackberries and raspberries in summer as they 'go bad' fast. Ask produce man to give you all his bad berries and reserve a time for you to come in for them.  Plant these rotten berries, as is, or smush them in water for a few minutes, with your fingers then, sieve out the fruit's flesh, plant the granular seed. You will have berry bushes ready to set out in a year. I use a pingpong table on south side of house to grow seedlings. Water daily  for a year, then set out in garden when they're bigger. Watch for snails, slugs. I have possums so don't have to worry. They eat them all! And if you don't have a veg/fruit garden going, you'll have to, too!

2.) Dump the CONDO! You can't grow anything on a condo balcony. Sell the condo when you've hit the two year ownership mark (needed for tax exemption purposes). Buy a huge property house with the proceeds. Fixer upper shack but on 1/4 acre minimum. Some very low priced homes come with 8,000 square feet of yard, or even more. Go for size. So what if it's a shack. An interior in neutrals with one wall having POP color is classy.Ditto sanding floors, varnishing. Dark pastel walls with BASEBOARD WHITE.

3). 23 SKIDDOO FIDO! Keep pets you adore but all others you give away to GOOD HOMES or sell at a very low price, though that offends my sensibilities. They are sadly, meat eaters. In times of scarcity, the best guard dog-barker is needed in your yard for fruit poachers, and to catch varmints that eat fruit. vegies, the rest of the brood, find them good homes.

4.) START SAVING   JARS, those ex-3 lb coffee CONTAINERS with LIDS for seed, grain, bean, rice. I won't cook or use rice even from my kitchen shelf if it's in a plastic bag. But if it's in a glass five lb honey jar, I will use it. Dry Ice is easy to find, a piece the size of a half dollar goes inside. 

5.) HIT THE Garage sales as they produce rakes, shovels, spades, pitchforks, wide tine forks, trowels, plastic pots, flats. Sometimes amendments, hoses. HOME sales allow you to pick up fruit trees which can be dug out in Jan/Feb.

6.) DUMP the GYM. Save the 40$ a month fee and put it into stored rice, beans, nuts. A home freezer with tilapia. Or why not put it into a tilapia farm in a homemade lake.   Learn about this tasty fish. Instead, work out on your  farm. Yes! Become a gentleman farmer on your very own farm. Learn easy fast cheap gardeningtricks.

7.) Get to know your local alleys. I have lemons guavas/ oranges figs and apples near me. Oh and grapefruit. Citrus gets a slug of sugar, some water and I keep it in a juice jar in fridge. No more sodas. Any bad tooth inflammation, VIT C takes care of it.


8. GET A CRAIGS LIST "slightly used" second hand FREEZER. HUNT wild turkey, deer. FISH FOR PROTEIN. STEW FRUITS, leave space in jar for frozen expansion.
  And fill that sucker up !

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Our POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Gardener, Writer, ombudsman, fisherwoman, researcher, mother of 4 and career Astrologer. Catch up with her websites TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE & NEVER TELL YOU, also The  FUTURE, WHAT'S COMIN' AT YA! FRUGAL LIFE STYLE TIPS,  HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also ARTISANRY FOR EXPORT, EARN EUROS....* Anita is at astrology@earthlink.net ). Get a 15$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic! No smarter, more accurate career reading out there! PS. Anita sez, 'get a website for 5$ a month and post articles that YOU LIKE, TOO! Be someone who forwards the action, the evolution. IT IS getting better you know and by getting WORSE FIRST, it gets better!

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