Now most folks that have read my blog over the past few months will have figured out that we are working on being a do it yourself kind of farm and that we tend to buy in bulk, store a good amount of food in our house and ideally grow and harvest most of what we need on our farm or in wild harvest. I tend to go to two discount stores for required loss-leaders and I do tend to shop the outside ring of the store, with the flyer in hand to know what I want, get in and get out.
I am in pickle making mode at the moment, I have put up 24 pints of bread and butter, 12 pints of dill quarters, and am working another 24 pint batch of english style bread and butter jars, and while it surprised me, I ran out of mustard seeds, I can find ways to mix or replace different things but not this at this time of the year.. sigh, so I needed to run to the store and get a couple bags of mustard seed because right or wrongly, bread and butter pickles need this 🙂 to taste right to me.
So into one of our “loaded” stores I flew, its the closest and I didn’t want to spend any extra gas getting to the cheaper stores that are further away, plus I figured the odds are goods that the basic cost of mustards seeds would be fairly even regardless of where I shopped for them, unless I could get to the big herb store in the city.
The lady in front of me was very well dressed, hair done, makeup on, and looking a little controlled with pinched lips and tight looking eyes.. ok, so I almost ran her over with my cart the first time, she was going slow and I was moving it!
Zipped by her, grabbed the flyer to read the loss leaders and headed in to the store with two things on my mind, check the reduced department, and see if I can find Mustard seeds and maybe cheese cloth if they have any (most stores don’t) and I don’t know this store well so ended up down a few rows thinking maybe they would be the right one.. first off, it shocked me at how little stock they had, many of the things were only stocked three to five things on the front, with nothing at the back, the meat shelves had blank spots (this is something I am seeing far more often in the past few months) and the cost of veggies as I went by, stopped me and made me look again.. 4.99 for three peppers in a bag.. wow.
Ran into the well dressed lady at the discount freezer area, where the store puts almost past its date and freeze’s it and then you can buy it, I have in fact picked up the odd good deal in this way, and she was staring at a one pd of ground meat that had been reduced to 2.99 from around 6 dollars.
At the check out, she ws in line ahead of me, and I was amazed to see how little was in the cart, she put a discounted loaf of bread on the till, and four cans of cream of mushroom soup, as the last can went on, I noticed it was badly dented and without thinking said, “excuse me miss, do you realize that can is dented?” she turned that straight laced face with the hard mouth and said, quickly ” yes, I will use it right away” and turned back to the till, as it moved I realized that all four cans were dented and marked down to 29 cents each, she carefully handed over a five dollar bill and it hit me, this was not a matter of just being frugal or stocking up, this was a matter of that 2.99 meat was to much in cost, she spent just under two dollars including tax on her shopping, bread and soup, one old and outdated and the others dented..
Here I was with my cart, I had six packages of mustard seeds ( I bought them out), three big bags of dates (they were on sale) and ten pds worth of oats, so my cart didn’t look much like others in line either but It was because I have stores of food..
The strange thing is, I wanted to reach out and pay for her bill, wanted to say go back and get that discount meat, you stood and stared at, I wanted to say, I have extra in the garden, would you like some fresh produce? and in the time it took me to think it, she was gone.. and I was having things put though, I said to the tiller, not alot in that sale, she nods and said, she does not buy much, lives over in XX apartments. I was moving slowly at that point on my way back to the parking lot.
We don’t have a local food bank in our closest little town, we do have a program for low cost fruit and veggies though the local health center, you pay ten dollars and they take that money and buy fruit and veggies wholesale and then split it among those that put their money in, there is typically between 70 to 120 box’s monthly, the only thing is unless you know how to perserve, getting fresh once a month does not last long, I have supported the program since it started, its a good one.
It was a hard moment for me when I got back home and started into my food preps again, how does someone who lives in a tiny apartment with no yard, help grow their own food, I know that I have a link on the site for folks that trade or work with those that have yards to grow gardens join with those that want to do so but don’t have land, and yes, I would say honestly there is lots of wild pickings to be had in our area but you have to know how to do that, what to pick, when to pick and how to use the produce and or perserve it.
It was a humble moment for me, I felt a slap of emotion, a twang of guilt for having as much as I do, as I looked around the farm at the livestock, the gardens and in the house, the fact that I will add eggs to my bread just to add cuz I have so many to use, that I will throw out anything not perfect from the garden to the critters, if I am canning because I want the batch to be perfect, that I can go out my front door and in a short walk find a dozen different fruits to pick at right now. and if you went into my cellar or freezers, I have well over a years worth of food for my family put away, that ideally by the time the fall season is done, that I will be close to my goal of two years worth of food in storage.
What would be the proper way to feel about this? Guilt that I have more? Shame that in a country as great as ours that folks go hungry? Angry that todays happenings can be seen in a real life person in my own community? Angry that I have not done more for my own area? I regularly send money for micro-loans to a women’s program oversea’s, because in most cases, in most 1st world countries we don’t have any idea what being poor is truly like..and because I know that if I support a women, she will do right with it, and so many benefits to her, her family and her village will be had from that little loan.
Bringing me back around, food is something that everyone needs, and being without no matter where you live is a hardship, I will say one thing for being a farmer, we may never have as much money as we would like but we do live in a way that is rich! in so many ways, and having amazing food to put on the table and in the pantry has to be counted as one of the blessings to this very hard working lifestyle.
So are you seeing effects of what is happening in the economic storm that is raging world-wide at the moment in your area, are you seeing more empty spots on the shelves, are you seeing folks in your own community doing with less? What are you feeling when you realize that you have more then others? Do you share a percent? Do you wonder if you should just give without trying to find a way to have the person earn it? I would gladly trade some work on the farm for fresh produce but how do you even start that talk with someone? Do you as a small farmer feel blessed when you look at your livestock and sit down to one of those zero mile meals?
The really sad thing for me, is that I don’t think its going to get better, I think that the next generations are going to find that it will be very hard to live anything near the lifestyle that the past couple generations have had, that it will in fact be harder and harder to provide not just the needed things in life but all the little extra’s that are currently taken for granted!