Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

A Good Reason to Can Your Own Vegetables

Consuming vegetables today is certainly not as simple as it should be, or it once was. By selecting conventionally produced canned, frozen, or fresh vegetables, you must wonder: Do these contain pesticides? Were they imported? Were they grown using GMO seeds? Now, unfortunately there is a new concern to add to the list: Do these vegetables contain BPA?

Recently, the website change.org reported that Del Monte canned foods were found to contain BPA, or Bisphenol-A, a dangerous hormone-disrupting chemical. This chemical has been linked to a number of ailments- everything from heart disease, to obesity, and even to cancer. Scientists have also found that BPA causes the early onset of puberty. BPA is toxic enough that some countries, such as Japan, have banned it entirely. Yet in America it may still be found in a number of products; specifically in hard, shiny plastics such as the interior coating of aluminum cans, toddler sippy cups, dental sealants, and baby bottles.

The important information here in this case is that the toxin is not coming from the vegetables themselves, as in the case of chemical pesticides. The toxin is leaching from the packaging into the canned food. Unfortunately, this means that it is fairly likely that BPAs have leeched into other conventionally packaged products you have bought, too. In fact, a recent study at the University of Texas School of Public Health found that of 105 conventional food items purchased at a Dallas grocery store, 63 of them contained “quantifiable levels” of BPA. That is more than half of the products they tested. BPAs were found in many different items, including canned tuna and canned pet food. But the highest levels of BPAs were found in Del Monte’s fresh cut green beans.

This does not affect me personally. I have not purchased canned vegetables in many years, because I have more than enough vegetables in my survival garden to can several batches every year. But this information does make me concerned for all those who rely on canned vegetables to feed their families. I would like to highly encourage you to begin canning your own home-grown vegetables. It is the best way to avoid dangerous chemicals like BPAs.

For some very helpful information on how to can your own veggies, check out some of these links:

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14 Pieces of Bad Economic News

Every day, I enjoy reading bits and pieces of other survivalist blogs that are being written across the country. Much as a baker may enjoy perusing other blogs about cakes, or a diver may enjoy other scuba blogs, I like to keep myself informed about what my survivalist brothers and sisters are doing and thinking. Above all, I find it reassuring to know that there are plenty of other people out there like me (and hopefully you, too) who understand the immediate need for living in a state of preparedness and self-sufficiency.

Here’s something that I find discouraging, though. Every day I come across comments from other blog readers who are painfully ignorant of the need to prep, and to maintain a personal supply of reliable food and medicine. Some comments indicate that preppers are “paranoid” and even that we are “delusional” and even “silly.”

Well, I have bad news for all of these people who let their own fear drive them to ignorance: You are under constant threat of economic collapse. And for the sake of yourself and for your family, I pray for you to quit hiding behind a false sense of security and safety, and face the facts. For a bit of a reality check, I am including 14 pieces of bad economic news from a recent article in the Economic Collapse Blog. Please read them and take them seriously. Consider this your call to action. There is no way this will end well.

14 Pieces of Bad Economic News, as of November 11, 2010:

(1 ) More Americans are on food stamps now than ever. More than 42 million Americans were on food stamps during the month of August.  That is a new all-time record, and that number is 17 percent higher than it was one year earlier.  In fact, the number of Americans on food stamps is up more than 58 percent since August 2007.

(2) The unemployment rate recently set a new, all-time record. The United States has not had such an extended bout of mass unemployment since the Great Depression.  The “official” unemployment rate in the United States has been at 9 and 1/2 percent or above for 14 consecutive months.

(3) Homelessness is rampant in major cities. More than 1000 people now live in the 200 miles of flood tunnels that exist under the city of Las Vegas.  Once one of the most prosperous cities in the United States, Las Vegas is now little more than a shiny, glittering corpse that it rapidly decaying.

(4) Children are now most vulnerable to poverty.  According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are currently living below the poverty line. Millions of children do not know where their next meal will come from. (Their parents do not maintain crisis gardens!)

(5) The cost of staples is climbing.  In the past 60 days alone, the price of cotton is up 54 percent, the price of corn is up 29 percent, the price of soybeans is up 22 percent, the price of orange juice is up 17 percent, and the price of sugar is up 51 percent.

(6) The government will not be able to keep up with the number of people who need assistance. One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.

(7) Bankruptcy claims are rising. The American Bankruptcy Institute says that there will be about 1.6 million consumer bankruptcies in 2010.  This would represent a huge increase over 2009.

(8) Jobs are still scarce.  According to one recent survey, 28 percent of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job.

(9)  The U.S. states are basically flat broke. For example, it is being reported that the 15 largest U.S. states spent on average over 220% of their tax receipts over the past decade.  Clearly this is not even close to sustainable.

(10) The U.S. government is completely and totally broke.  After analyzing Congressional Budget Office data, Boston University economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff concluded that the U.S. government is facing a “fiscal gap” of $202 trillion dollars. TRILLION.

(11) The government wants to cheat, debase, and inflate to gain financial footing. In an attempt to keep our financial system solvent, the U.S. Federal Reserve has announced plans to create $600 billion out of thin air and pump it into the U.S. economy.  The Feds are calling this “quantitative easing.”

(12) Other countries are becoming resentful towards the U.S. Many of the major trading partners of the United States are expressing deep resentment regarding the new quantitative easing policy announced by the federal government.  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recently described the growing animosity this way:

Li Deshui from Beijing’s Economic Commission said a string of Asian states share China’s “deep bitterness” over dollar debasement, and are examining ways of teaming up to insulate themselves from the tsunami of US liquidity.

(13) Bankruptcy is not a maybe. For many analysts, the economic collapse of the United States comes down to cold, hard math.  For example, the former CEO of the tenth largest bank in the United States says that it is a “mathematical certainty” that the U.S. government will eventually go bankrupt.

#14 The plan to stabilize the global monetary system will not end well. According to a recent article on CNBC, the financial world is already preparing for QE3:

“They’re already talking about QE3,” said Dave Rovelli, managing director of US equity trading for Canaccord Adams. “Eventually we’re going to be printing so much money the dollar is going to really go down and everybody’s going to try to deflate their currency against us. I just don’t know how this could end well.”  

What to Do in the November Garden

 

Here in Norfolk VA, we usually receive our first frost around early to mid November. So this makes the early fall an excellent time to get in some maintenance before Mr. Frost hits.

Personally, I love to garden in autumn. No, there’s not as much action going on around me as in the mid summer months. But, it is so nice to be able to work away without sweat dripping in my eyes. The chilled bite in the air on your face and the cool feel of the earth in your hands are really exhilarating.

In Norfolk, I live in zone 7b, so the maintenance varies a bit from what you should do it you live in zones 6 and below, those that receive frost early and frequently. However, there are some basic garden maintenance tips that you should complete, regardless of the zone you live in.

Basic November Gardening Tips:

  • Rake up fallen leaves from your lawn and garden and add them to your compost pile.
  • Cover up your compost bin, or use one with a lid, in order to keep fall rain storms from flooding it and leaching out the nutrients.
  • Cut back your perennials (you can wait until after the first frost to do this.)
  • Continue to weed and also to remove dead and withered foliage.
  • Add humus (finished compost) to your garden beds to replenish the soil with nutrients.
  • Clean, sharpen, oil, and safely store all of your gardening tools. Well cared-for tools will last you a lifetime.

Gardening Tips for Zones that Do Not Receive Frost (9-11):

  • November is a great time to plant trees, such as camellias and tropical fruit trees.
  • Insects don’t really hibernate or die off in your climate, so keep an eye out for garden pests.
  • If you live in a warm climate, you have a good opportunity to explore perennial vegetables and fruits. If you have planted perennial edibles, such as mangoes or coconuts, make sure to continue to water and fertilize them.
  • Prune your flowering trees after they drop their blossoms.
  • Plant bulbs that do not require a cold period, such as amaryllis, calla lily, freesia, homeria, lilies, sparaxis, watsonia, and garlic. Warm zones and borderline zones, such as the Pacific NW, can plant asparagus now. This is also a good time for you to plant perennial herbs.

Gardening Tips for Cold Zones (6 and below):

  • If you live in an area where deer may be foraging during the winter, it’s time to protect your trees from them. Create a circle around your trees with stakes and jute.
  • Make sure all of the water is drained out of your hose, roll it up, and store it. Do not leave it connected to your house in freezing weather.
  • Water your plants and shrubs until the ground freezes.
  • Make sure you have adequate amounts of mulch around young trees. Do not, however, mound mulch right up against the tree trunk. Leave a moat with the width of a couple inches.
  • Remember to frequently fill your bird feeders, as food becomes scarce when winter approaches.

Zone 7b (where I live) Gardening Tips:

  • I like to plant edibles throughout October and even into November. Some good cool season edibles are kale, cabbage, lettuce, chard, mustard greens, and brussels sprouts. The flavor of kale and brussels sprouts are actually improved by a light frost. All of these cool season crops also grow well in borderline zones.
  • I continue to tend to my herbs in the fall- and most of them keep producing. My rosemary thrives right on through the winter.
  • Up until the ground freezes, you can continue to plant perennials in zone 7b.
  • After the first freeze, prune back your rose bushes.
  • This is a good time to plant snowdrop bulbs, which will then bloom in early winter. You can also plant your other spring blooming bulbs now, such as daffodils.