New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Great American Supermarket Games - The Bureaucratic Maze Game & Bioterrorism Political Scare Tactic

Ok we have covered the more common ‘games’ that supermarkets play so now it is time to check on government and industry safety standards.

The Bureaucratic Maze Game

Food safety and quality in the United States is governed by no less than 30 federal laws and regulations administered by 15 federal agencies and additional state and local agencies. 

Numerous federal, state and local agencies share responsibilities for regulating the safety of the U.S. food supply. Federal responsibility for food safety rests primarily with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

FDA, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for ensuring the safety of all domestic and imported food products (except for most meats and poultry). FDA also has oversight of all seafood, fish, and shellfish products.  In many cases, the food safety functions of the FDA and USDA overlap; particularly inspection/enforcement, training, research, and rulemaking, for both domestic and imported food. Both USDA and FDA currently conduct similar inspections at some 1,500 dual jurisdiction establishments (facilities that produce foods regulated by both agencies).

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulates most meat and poultry and some egg products.

State and local food safety authorities collaborate with federal agencies for inspection and other food safety functions, and they regulate retail food establishments.  Restaurants and other retail food establishments (like supermarkets) fall under state law and are regulated by state or local health departments. Typically these regulations require official inspections of specific design features, best food-handling practices and certification of food handlers.

Role of the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control leads federal efforts to gather data on foodborne illnesses, investigate foodborne illnesses and outbreaks and monitor the effectiveness of prevention and control efforts in reducing foodborne illnesses. CDC also plays a key role in building state and local health department epidemiology, laboratory, and environmental health capacity to support foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak response.

Role NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services External Web Site Policy, is the nation’s medical research agency—making important discoveries that improve health and save lives. NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems. NIH leadership plays an active role in shaping the agency's research planning, activities, and outlook. More than 80% of the NIH's budget goes to more than 300,000 research personnel at over 2,500 universities and research institutions. In addition, about 6,000 scientists work in NIH’s own Intramural Research laboratories, most of which are on the NIH main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The main campus is also home to the NIH Clinical Center, the largest hospital in the world totally dedicated to clinical research.  When it comes to our food safety NIH gets involved, along with the CDC, when an outbreak occurs.

Differing Authorities

All of the federal laws on food safety empower the USDA and FDA with different regulatory and enforcement authorities which come into play at every point in our food supply line, are misleading and somewhat sporatic.

For example, food products under FDA's jurisdiction may be sold to the public without the agency's prior approval. On the other hand, food products under USDA's jurisdiction must generally be inspected and approved as meeting federal standards before being marketed.

Under current law, UDSA ‘continuously’ (right) inspects slaughter facilities and examines each slaughtered meat and poultry carcass. They also visit each processing facility at least once during each operating day. For foods under FDA's jurisdiction, however, federal law does not mandate the frequency of these inspections.

Add the Bioterrorism Political Scare Tactic

We know that not only is ‘mental instability’ on the rise, but that it is most frequently used by the ‘fanatics’ of this world that can’t get attention or power any other way.  So in typical human fashion, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our government had the federal food safety agencies began taking on the added responsibility of addressing the potential for deliberate contamination of agriculture and food products, AKA bioterrorism. 

An executive order issued by President George W. Bush in 2001 added the food industry to the list of ‘critical sectors’ that need protection from possible terrorist attack. As a result of this order, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 established the Department of Homeland Security, which now provides overall ‘coordination’ for ‘protecting’ the U.S. food supply from deliberate contamination, as well as all other U.S. infrastructures. 

Nothing really wrong with this until you realize that the Patriot Act allows DHS, under a declaration of National Emergency, to by-pass the three branches of our government and act independently of our government to ‘protect’ the United States.

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 granted the FDA additional food safety enforcement authorities similar to those of the USDA.

Recently, in the United States, a process called Country of Origin Labeling (or COOL) was required by the USDA. This can let you, the consumer, know more about where your produce is coming from and is utilized by DHS to track possible bioterrorism to our imported food supplies.

 Inefficiency Issues

Couple this with the corporatization of all levels of the food industry and trends in U.S. food markets (for example, increasing imports as a share of U.S. food consumptions and increasing consumption of fresh, often unprocessed, foods) results in most of these regulations being placed either on the farmer/rancher or the point of sale.  The problem here is that the last 20 years of outbreaks of food-borne illness in the U.S. have occurred primarily in between these two points or from imports alone.

Next remember that the more layers to any organizational structure, the more expenses and the slower the response.  So the more all these federal, state, local and industry regulations are imposed, the more expensive the end product becomes.  Plus we all know that too many cooks can spoil the soup – so with each bureaucratic layer and contention, more and more ‘bad’ food is making it into our daily food supply.  And that is without corruption and graft thrown into the mix!

Food Safety Costs

What this all means is that all this regulation and labeling costs us money, many times twice or more over.  How so?  

Every time our food, in any format, is touched or handled there are already regulations that must be met, reported and or inspected to quantify that these regulations have been met.  Each and every time this done, there is an expense and that expense is passed on to the consumer at point-of-sale.  Example:

  • The farm/ranch has to meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity, if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with. 
  • If the item is imported it has to meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity, if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with. 
  • Any transportation of any food item in any form must meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with. 
  • Any processing of any food item in any form must meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with. 
  • Anything done to or around these food items that has not already been identified above, must meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with.  This means that all these ‘dangerous’ chemical and pharmaceutical usages are being tracked by other regulations outside the food industry.

Labeling regulations currently include, and is not limited to:  Organic, nutrition information, ingredient information and country of origin information. 

Now say we want ‘honest labeling’ on any human GMO product and/or  ingredient, or a list of the herbicides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, gases and like used, to be labeled – this will incur regulation quantification monies to prove complicity.

Although I have been unable to find any actual cost analysis of labeling and regulation expenses, we can use some deductive, logical reasoning to guesstimate the cost:

  • The cost of actually putting this information on the label or packaging itself is miniscule at best, as proven by the number of times producers and suppliers currently change the labeling and packaging without a change in price of the product.
  • Many of the corporations that are complaining about and fighting any type of new ‘truth in labeling’ regulation on the basis of cost, are in my book, bogus at best and outright lies at worst.  How?  Think about this:
Most of these chemicals, pharmaceuticals, gases and copyrighted products are already being tracked by not just the corporation producing them, but by all entities that utilize them, since these items are considered either dangerous in some way (and already regulated, inspected or tracked for some kind of safety or national security reason) or because the corporation owning the copyright wants to be sure they can press charges against any violators of said copyright.

This means that if these additional labeling regulations were applied, the cost increase would be minimal; because the government can already utilize the information needed to quantify complaisance from its other government entities and/or the corporate entities themselves, since they are already tracking and recording this information.

Bottom line:  The overall cost increase of food items due to a ‘truth in labeling’ regulation would be minimal and the greatest increase would be due to bureaucratic inefficiency.
Keep in mind that these combined efforts of the food industry and government regulatory agencies are some of the reasons the U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world.  However, this situation of organizational complexity, comprised of shared government responsibilities; added to laws that can allow a government entity to by-pass the rest of government, creates not only budget and control battles between the various agencies; it lends itself to the ultimate corruption of said government, straight into the arms of tyranny.  And this is on top of our federal governments overall mentality to “control the people”.

Where our choice in food products is stifled is with the lack of ‘truth in labeling’ in the U.S..  There are NO labeling requirements to know if food was: grown with fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides; if it has been pre-gassed or frozen; or if it is human-genetically modified in any way.  Without ‘truth in labeling’ we don’t even know if the item is waxed or sprayed, if it has been pre-frozen or had hormones, antibiotics, saline solution or food dye added to meats and seafood, etc.  It is in this area that the U.S. governance is lacking, our health is at risk and our inalienable right of CHOICE is shackled.

Next posting will be on some General Grocery Store Safety and Cost Saving Tips.

See ya next year ;-}


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Oh Yes - Here We Go Again!

"Flies create garbage the same as guns create crime"

To control crime via the method of depriving the tools of crime, we better start banning from civilian use not only firearms but: vehicles, bats, golf clubs, fireplace pokers, crowbars, 2 X 4's, bricks, hammers, mallets, screwdrivers and other tools, eating utensils, toothbrushes, pipes, anything glass, knick knacks, statues, bird baths, knitting/crochet needles and any other strikable or stabable object - to name just a few ...

The truth is that NO law, act, bill, declaration, directive, executive order or treaty has EVER PREVENTED a crime.  We will NEVER EVER be able to keep the tools of a criminals trade away from them by outlawing them. Remember Prohibition, it didn't work to reduce drunkenness or crime; in fact it increased it.

It is the sicko and criminal that commits crime, not the tool of the person committing the crime.  If we want to reduce crime; we must reduce the sickos and criminals; to do that we need to identify them and put them where they cannot be a threat to the rest of us law abiding and Creator loving people.

Our country was founded on the principle that each and every one of us have 'inalienable rights' given to us by God the Creator and they cannot be taken away from us by ANY human-made government. 

All of our founding documents have one common theme: 
The freedom of choice within the constraints of the 10 Commandments.   Because of this I will defend any US citizen's right to NOT own a firearm, as strongly as I will defend any US citizen's right TO own a firearm.  I will defend this inalienable right of personal choice with my last breath.

Since 2009 (according to the FBI crime stats, CDC, WHO & Census stats) each year suicide now 'kills' more US citizens than vehicle accidents. Homicides (including ones WITHOUT firearms) are NOT even in the top 10 causes of mortality of US citizens.

So yes, let us remember those taken from us by sickos and criminals and start attacking the root cause - the sickos and criminals!

PS - Since 1974 I have been a non-designated voter.  I will NOT support the Democrats or Republicans with monies or my vote.  They are flip sides of the same coin and have hijacked our representative government, debased the dollar, increased debt and inflation and pass laws for a federal dictatorship!  My tax dollars should go to NO political party!!!  Belonging and supporting a political party is a CHOICE and should not be dictated!

"Today is the Tomorrow that we worried about Yesterday"

"Politicians and diapers must be changed often and for the same reason"  Mark Twain

e have given you a Republic, if you can keep it."  Benjamin Franklin

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Great American Supermarket Games-Dates Game, Smells, Sights and Cooties and the Non-grocery Product Game

Sorry to be ‘tardy’ on getting this next installment of the Supermarket Games to you.  I have no excuses, except that I was human and let time get away from me.  So here goes it ...

The Dates Game

Another area with little to no regulation, yet alone standardization are the ‘Use by’ and ‘Sell By’ dates.  Except for baby formula and food, product expiration dates are not required by Federal regulations (some states, however, have their own rules requiring product dating).  What is even more shocking is that according to Dr. Oz, “many foods come with a use-by date established by the manufacturer, which cannot be changed.  However you may also notice a use-by date added on by the retailer on foods that they process and package.” And guess what? Retailers are allowed to change that date as many times as they’d like until the product sells!

  • The “Best if Used By” date is more of a suggestion than a safety issue—the food will taste best if eaten by the date on the label, but won’t necessarily be unsafe if eaten after that.
  • The “Sell-By” date generally means that that is how long the store should display it.

If all of this sounds fishy, keep in mind that the food industry is designed to move massive amounts of food in order to make a profit, so retailers will continue selling their products until they look green and moldy. In many cases, the only way to tell whether a use-by date was placed by the manufacturer or the supermarket itself is to ask your grocer. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but your health is worth it.

Smells, Sights and Cooties – oh my!

Another interesting tidbit is that there are no restrictions on who can fumble through all the products and produce on the shelves. So not only are you taking home produce that’s been handled by other customers, it was put out there by store employees, the person who unpacked the box and in some cases even the person who picked it. There’s no telling who has touched the produce or where their hands have been. So, if you need a snack and opt for something quick out of the produce department, be certain you wash it thoroughly—even if it’s organic.  Remember that these ‘cootie’ conditions apply to the shopping carts as well as all the other products in jars, jugs, cans and other transferable surfaces. 

According to studies done by Gerba and his colleagues at University of Arizona, shopping carts had more bacteria than other surfaces they tested—even more than escalators, public phones and public bathrooms. "These bacteria may be coming from raw foods or from children who sit in the carts," says Chuck Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist at University of Arizona. "Just think about the fact that a few minutes ago, some kid's bottom was where you are now putting your broccoli." To avoid picking up nasty bacteria, Gerba recommends using sanitizing wipes to clean off cart handles and seats, and to wash your hands after you finish shopping. 

Kinda explains those ‘wet wipes’ you see scattered throughout the store doesn’t it!

The Non-grocery Product Game
Non-grocery convenience items such as medicine, motor oil, office supplies and light bulbs are often over priced compared to other department stores (like Walmart, Kmat or Target).  We pay for not having to go to another store while we ‘run in for some milk’.

Many supermarkets now have ATM Machines and most supermarkets also let you pay for your order using ATM cards. What a lot of people still do not know is that instead of paying the fee for withdrawing money from your bank account using the ATM you can simply purchase something from the store, use your debit card to purchase it and ask for additional cash back.

Ok we have covered the more common ‘games’ that supermarkets play so now it is time to check on government and industry safety standards; the next installment will be on the Bureaucratic Maze Game.

Until then think about this time of year ... we have made it past the Mayan Calendar and the Winter Soltice and are on the downhill slide into spring and re-birth, as well as a spiritual time of year too.  December is filled with celebrations around the world.  Like:

Hanukkah, which is the Hebrew word for dedication, honors the victory of the Jews over the Greek Syrians in 165 BC. After their victory, the Maccabees, sons of the family that led the revolt, entered the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to the service of their God. When the Maccabees entered the temple, they found only enough lamp oil to last one night, but the oil somehow managed to burn for the whole eight days it took to go in search for more oil. Therefore, Hanukkah is observed over eight days.

I already mentioned the Winter solstice. It's the shortest day of the year, because of the earth's tilt. The winter solstice is the solstice that occurs in winter. It is the time at which the Sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon.  In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 to 22 each year. In the Southern Hemisphere this is the Northern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on June 20 to 21 each year.

Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. No one knows the exact date of Christ's birth but in the 4th Century, Pope Julius I chose December 25th as the day of celebration. It's a holiday that's celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. In recent times, Christmas has become a holiday that is largely commercial, with everyone eagerly anticipating the arrival of St. Nick, but for Christians around the world, Christmas is a special and holy time to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ.

The first Boxing Day is believed to have started in the Middle Ages. This is just a guess because the exact date isn't known. How Boxing Day started is a question as well. Some say it started with the giving of Christmas boxes, while others think it was named after the tradition of opening charity boxes placed in churches during the Christmas season. Either way, it's now known as one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Kwanzaa; Although some people believe this holiday is a substitute for Christmas, it is not a religious holiday. It is celebrated every year on December 26th. Kwanzaa, which means "first fruit of the harvest" in Swahili, is a time to focus on the traditional African values of family. It is based upon the celebration of seven principles or beliefs called the Nguzo Saba and was created by Ron Karenga in 1966 to celebrate African-American heritage.

And of course New Year's. The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23rd, although they had no written calendar. It wasn't until 153 BC that the Roman senate declared January 1st to be the beginning of the new year.

Whatever your spiritual or festive inclination, do take the time to value all that we do have, thank your Higher Power and get ready for spring with a smile on your face.

May the Creator bless you and yours always ;-}


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Great American Supermarket Games- Lighting Game, the Life Style Game, the Freezing Switch-a-roo and Pricing Games

The Lighting Game

Just as our favorite Hollywood star looks better under certain lights, so does our food! Supermarkets actually spotlight foods with different lights to make them seem more appealing, using red lights near the meat section and green lights in the produce section. In most states this practice is a violation of the food code, but it’s difficult to enforce because the health inspector must prove it was done intentionally. If you notice any of these lights in your grocery store, beware!  Inspect your produce and meat under a white light before buying to ensure you’re getting the freshest, healthiest selections possible.

Next time you’re strolling the aisles, pay attention to the sensory sensations your supermarket uses to seduce you: The smell of brewing coffee and donuts, colored lighting around meats and or produce, the colorful signage around the DVDs near the checkout – even the music is designed to make you reach for your wallet. During quiet business hours, supermarkets play slower music, hoping it will cause you to linger and buy more.  On average, these supermarket tricks alone can cause you to spend $50 more per trip. Be sure to walk in with a list – and stick to it!

Yep the layout of the store and the placement of the products results in mega bucks for the corporation’s (not the farmer or rancher of the base ingredients).  How so?  Well take 10 million shoppers a day tacking on an extra $10.00 to their final purchase, which has an end result of a billion dollar a day industry!  Truth is that research indicates that on average we spend an extra $50 per supermarket trip when all these tactics are applied.

The Life Style Game

Taking advantage of our ‘busy lives’ we see produce items that are already cut up and neatly arranged in a disposable serving tray or ready for cooking or salads.  At the meat counter, chicken breasts and beef are cut into chunks and marinated—ready for immediate grilling. There's no denying that these pre-cut foods can make life incredibly easy. And nutritionists agree that if they get people to eat more healthfully, there's nothing wrong with them. But realize that you're also paying a tremendous premium—sometimes up to twice as much as uncut versions of the same food—just so you don't have to bother picking up a knife.
That prepared food you buy from the deli comes off the shelves of the store and many aren’t picking the freshest options. Instead, they’ll choose the foods that are closest to their expiration date, saving themselves money. A better bet: cooking and making it for yourself.

The ‘butcher counter’ could be cheaper! Common meat items like store brand bacon are usually cheaper at the ‘butcher’ counter than prepackaged in the ‘on display’ refrigerated meat area and it’s the same meat. 

The Freezing Switch-a-roo
Did you know that what you think is fresh could be months old?  That’s right, after being kept in a freezer at a distribution center for months to prevent aging, breads are finally thawed to put on display. This is known as “parbaking”.  Similarly, meat and seafood is frozen before reaching the supermarket, but then thawed to look fresh in the market’s freezer or meat/seafood department. The problem here is that this opens a wider door for bacterial exposure and growth. Think twice before stocking up on meat, only to freeze it and be sure to use that bread quickly.

A lot of returns and other items accumulate throughout the store in a given day. The cashiers usually are the ones to put these away when there is down-time. With perishables most clerks would just do the "feel test" if it feels cold then they put it back on the shelf, if it feels warm they will mark it damaged and will not put it back.  What this means is that you could be purchasing perishables that have been defrosted.  The best hint I can tell you is look at the package for signs of possible defrost.

Pricing Games

Supermarkets want you to think that they have across-the-board low prices, which is often not true.  Many stores use a mix of highly advertised items sold at cost, then some at 5% above cost and others at 10%, 15% and 20%.  By keeping it confusing, stores can create the illusion that everything is at a rock bottom price.

Another trick supermarkets play on us is the sale tags. For example when you don't know the general price on an item and then you see it with a sale tag you automatically think you are getting a deal and probably buy it when it is actually the same price. They do this with the name brand products that sit right beside the generic.  So let’s say you buy a single unit of yogurt for .45 cents, then you see a more popular name brand on sale for .10 cents off the regular price which costs .55 cents, so you grab a couple of those thinking you have just scored a deal, though you haven't, the store just got the same amount of money out of you and that's the bottom line.  It’s not what you buy, rather it is how much you spend.

Next take a look at the 2 for 1 concept, etc.  You see an item, whether it be for daily use or a specialty buy and the store has a sale tag stating 10 units for 4 dollars.  This subliminally suggests to us, the consumer, not only to buy this great deal but to buy a quantity of it when you normally buy a couple at a time.   Now take a closer look and remember the yogurt comparison.  The generic brand is on sale at 10 for 4 dollars, while the popular brand offers 10 units at 6 dollars.  So being the smart consumer, you grab 10 of the generic,  only you had budgeted for just the two you normally buy.  So when you planned on spending less than a dollar for some yogurt you ended up spending three times as much.  How much was the unit on sale for again?  If you had stuck to your regular needs of only two you would have saved .10 cents versus spending 4 dollars.

Who can resist an offer like "buy five, get one free," “10 for $10” or "three for $1"?  Apparently, very few of us can.  "Any time you see numbers in a sign, you're likely to buy at least 30 percent more than you may have purchased otherwise. So if you go looking for soup and the sign says 'limit 12 per person,' chances are you’ll purchase several more cans than you intended to buy".  And of course, if you buy more than you need, it's not necessarily a bargain.  Or worse yet, it could lead to over-indulging. "Mindless shopping leads to mindless eating," says Wansink. "Once the stuff is in the house, you'll eat it whether you really want it or not."

Next time you see a sign promoting a “Manger’s Special” it might be helpful to instead imagine it reading, “This food is old and we need to get rid of it.” These lower prices come from the fact that the products on sale have been on the shelf for quite some time. Generally these items should be avoided.  At the very least you need to "look" for the expiration dates on sale items, especially when they are marked down 70% or more and use the product in the next day or two.

The oldest of the pricing games is the use of 9.  Just take a look at all the $.29, 1.89 etc pricing.  Legally the seller of this item can say the product is ‘under 2 dollars’ or ‘for less than 30 cents’.

 The Rewards Card - Is it really? What a lot of people do not know is that when you have a ‘rewards card’ for a store that this card is being used to track your buying habits.  Every time your card is swiped the supermarket keeps a record of what you bought.  They use this information for market research.  If you are interested in more on this topic you can find it at: .  Now this can be good and bad.  On the good side the store can keep stocked with items they see you purchase regularly.  On the bad side, they now have an ‘in’ to your personal eating habits.

Thankfully most stores that use the ‘rewards card’ do actually offer savings, not much, but in this economy every penny counts.

Remember I said that ‘fresh’ has no legal definition in the U.S.?  Good now think about this - Deliveries to supermarkets don’t typically happen on weekends.  Wednesday is usually the day to shop for the freshest food.

According to Progressive Grocer, only 11% of shoppers go to the store on Wednesdays and only 4% of customers shop after 9 p.m. Why does this matter? This means that stuff purchased on Mondays is likely several days old. Wednesday is generally when supermarket shelves are stocked with fresh products and that means we should avoid shopping on Mondays.

Next time I'll cover the Dates Game, Smells, Sights and Cooties and the Non-grocery Product Game


Monday, November 26, 2012

Everyday & Holiday Gift Ideas for Family, Friends and Preppers

 I just had to squeeze this in before I continue with the Great American Supermarket Games ;-}

Well folks despite all the Mayan Calendar and political mumbo-jumbo, we have made it to the string of holidays that signal years end and winter.

We should all have our fall and winter prepping completed and if you have been frugal and a planner, your holiday gifts are completed and you can avoid the shysterism of Black Friday and holiday shopping.  That’s right anyone who keeps track of prices will realize that starting around September the prices on most goods have gone up.  This is a pricing strategy of merchandisers so that when they put on holiday ‘sales’, they get the same price as always – i.e. the stuff really isn’t on sale at all.  The big shysters of the group will actually make a higher profit per item!  Don’t know about you, but to me this appears to be worse than ever this year with commercials and advertisements on “Black Friday sales”. 

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Winston Churchill

Put all that crap aside and let’s remember the true meaning of this holiday season.  From the fall festivals, hectic harvesting and stocking of foods for the winter months, Halloween; to Thanksgiving and the battle of the colonists that settled our country and how they got along with the peoples that already lived here at the time; then all the various spiritual holidays and their corresponding time of prayer and thanks concerning the miracles of each faith; the Winter Solstice and on to New Year’s with the reminder that we are now on the downhill side heading towards spring and re-birth. 

The thing is gift giving is a year round endeavor, what with birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, promotions and the like.  When it comes to our Prepper oriented friends we may feel in a bit of a quandary about what to get and still save money for ourselves.  So here are some ideas to get you started. (Yes, some of these are from last year.)

Read on for all kinds of inexpensive and still worthy gifts for him, her, children, family, friends and Preppers and many that are easy to make yourself too ;-} @


“It isn't the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.”
Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

PS - In the next day or two I'll continue with the Supermarket Games ...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Great American Supermarket Games - Store Design & Layout Game

The Store Design and Layout Game
There's nothing haphazard about the layout of your grocery store or where various food items are placed within the store.  It starts with the placement of the entry, which has a significant effect on how people shop and how much we spend. 

  • Right-hand side entries favor counter-clockwise movement through the shop, while left-hand side entries favor clockwise patterns.
  • Counter-clockwise shoppers spend, on average, $2 more per trip, than do clockwise shoppers.
  • People use the perimeter as a home base, so key items are placed on the perimeter of the supermarket.
  • Shorter trips tend to stick predominantly to the perimeter.
  • Familiar brands are placed at the end of aisles to serve as a psychological ‘welcome mat’ to those aisles, which results in increased traffic.
  • Products at the center of the aisle will receive less “face time
  • On an average shopping trip we cover about 25% of the supermarket.

People who use the fresh food (e.g., meat, fruit and vegetables) areas tend to spend more, so supermarkets place the produce area at the beginning (or the end) of the supermarket experience.  They also make the produce area a relaxed, inviting, and fresh/clean environment to create a sense of trust and emotional involvement in the shopping experience. 

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t weave up and down aisles. Research of movement patterns using GPS trackers attached to carts show that people tend to travel in select aisles and rarely in a systematic up and down pattern.

Even long shopping trips are punctuated by short excursions into and out of the aisle, rather than traversing the entire length of the aisle.  What this means is that key products (the ones with the greatest profit margins, or those that have paid a premium), will be placed at the ends of aisles in endcap displays.

Supermarkets are designed to make you walk out with way more items in your shopping bags than you intended.   They do this by being designed to slow us down as much as possible.  According to research every extra minute we spend lingering will cost us $1.70.  The more time a supermarket gets us to spend in the store, the more money we will likely spend.  This is why milk is put way at the back.  A store is often designed so that you cannot even follow a straight path to the back but must move around the produce, the fresh baked bread and the large displays in the middle of the aisles.

Sure, some of the layout is practical (like refrigerated cases along the periphery or meat cases in the back by the store's loading dock), but some is carefully calculated to ‘help’ us part with more money.  Walk in the front doors and chances are you're faced immediately with hard-to-resist items (not on your list) like fresh-cut flowers or just-baked loaves of bread.  Just try walking past them en route to a carton of milk without tossing something extra into your cart.

Think it's a coincidence that you almost always have to walk through the produce department when you enter the supermarket?  The produce is the second most profitable section.  While it occupies a little over 10% of the supermarket, it brings in close to 20% of the store's profits.

  • People also tend to use the perimeter of the shop as the main thoroughfare, rather than heading down aisles.
  • Supermarkets don’t block your way, but they do “push” the products that you may be interested in, into your path.
  • Many items are opportunistic purchases, or impulse, however, they tend to, again, be in the main pathways around the supermarket – although there are some caveats to this, particularly in relation to the placement of staples such as milk and bread.

Arrangement of the Products on the shelves is designed to have us explore and buy …

Some products are categorized and shelved according to their value to the shop.  Leading brands and more recently store-labels, are put in high traffic locations and are given priority for secondary placement.  Niche categories are placed in visible, but low traffic areas – because the target market is willing to hunt for them.

The Keep Us Guessing Strategy

Many supermarkets make it a habit to re-arrange the store layout every once in awhile just to get us to ‘explore’ all the aisles to find what we are looking for and hopefully do a little impulse buying in the process.

The Leveraging of Human Characteristics Mole

Products at eye level sells! Companies pay big bucks to place their products at adult eye level for adult sales or children's eye level for children's sales.  Stocking fees or "slotting allowances" are often paid to place products at eye level.  Brand-name products and high profit products are often sold this way.  Food companies pay for product placement and we pay the mark-up to the companies every time we purchase their item. The little-known companies and local food producers are often on the very top shelf or way down at floor level because they can’t afford to be right in the middle, where companies pay a stiff price to be closer to your eyes and hands.

Forget Peer Pressure try The Pressure of Children Gambit

Kid-friendly food is purposely placed within their reach.  Anyone who shops with a child (or several) in tow has to keep an eye out for products the kids grab and toss into the cart. "I always tell parents never to bring a kid to a store," says Nestle. "The packages with the cartoons on them are often placed on low shelves where even toddlers can reach for them." A trip down the cereal aisle will confirm this. "Sugary cereals are at kid's eye level, while the healthier, all-bran options are usually on the highest shelves," says Tara Gidus, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. It's the same situation at the cash register, where candy and gum are strategically placed to encourage impulse buys by adults and kids can easily grab low-lying products.

End-of-aisle Display Obstacle

These are there to distract you.  Supermarkets strategically place non-sale items along with the big sale items at the end aisle displays. They hope we will buy the item thinking it’s on sale. "Food companies pay the stores to place their products where they can be seen most easily—such as in a display at the end of an aisle," says Nestle. That prime real estate is likely to hold high-profit items or grouped items (such as marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers for s'mores) designed to inspire impulse buys. And although sometimes those aisle-ends are used to promote sale items, mostly they are used to have us think the item is on sale and buy it. "People are 30 percent more likely to buy items on the end of the aisle versus in the middle of the aisle—often because we think what's at the end is a better deal," says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating (Bantam, 2007).

The Impulse Buying Attack 

Not surprisingly, grocery store ‘eye candy’ (which sometimes is actual candy), you know those foods with enticing come-ons and delectable photos on the packaging that aren't on your shopping list—are prominently placed to encourage you to reach for them. 
When you are bored and standing in line at the check-out counter, you may find yourself reaching for a magazine, a pack of batteries, duct tape, or chewing gum. It turns out that this section of the store sells roughly 3x as much merchandise per square foot as the rest of the store (Food Marketing Institute, Washington DC). Often these are high profit items. Batteries, for example, usually sell for less at discount department stores.

The next post will be on the Lighting Game, the Life Style Game, the Freezing Switch-a-roo and Pricing Games ;-}

“Every step we take towards making the State the caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our master.” 
Dwight D. Eisenhower


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Did you 'Fall Back' Today?

Yes this morning at 2AM Daylight Savings Time (DST) we switched to Standard Time (ST) and turned our clocks back 1 hour.

Time is basically calculated based on Earth’s rotation, which determines the length of an Earth Day.  The rotation of our planet is variable.

Because of the variable rotation time of the planet and all that ‘orb’ science, the earth is divided into various time zones.

There are all kinds of ‘time’ or systems of time and our methods of keeping time have changed over the centuries. 

Systems of Time

•    Atomic Time , with the unit of duration the Systeme International (SI) second defined as the duration of 9,192,631,770 cycles of radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of cesium 133. TAI is the International Atomic Time scale, a statistical timescale based on a large number of atomic clocks.
•    Universal Time (UT) is counted from 0 hours at midnight, with unit of duration the mean solar day, defined to be as uniform as possible despite variations in the rotation of the Earth.
o    UT0 is the rotational time of a particular place of observation. It is observed as the diurnal motion of stars or extraterrestrial radio sources.
o    UT1 is computed by correcting UT0 for the effect of polar motion on the longitude of the observing site. It varies from uniformity because of the irregularities in the Earth's rotation.
•    Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) differs from TAI by an integral number of seconds. UTC is kept within 0.9 seconds of UT1 by the introduction of one-second steps to UTC, the "leap second." To date these steps have always been positive.
•    Dynamical Time replaced ephemeris time as the independent argument in dynamical theories and ephemerides. Its unit of duration is based on the orbital motions of the Earth, Moon, and planets.
o    Terrestrial Time (TT), (or Terrestrial Dynamical Time, TDT), with unit of duration 86400 SI seconds on the geoid, is the independent argument of apparent geocentric ephemerides. TDT = TAI + 32.184 seconds.
o    Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB), is the independent argument of ephemerides and dynamical theories that are referred to the solar system barycenter. TDB varies from TT only by periodic variations.
•    Geocentric Coordinate Time (TCG) is a coordinate time having its spatial origin at the center of mass of the Earth. TCG differs from TT as: TCG - TT = Lg x (JD -2443144.5) x 86400 seconds, with Lg = 6.969291e-10.
•    Barycentric Coordinate Time (TCB) is a coordinate time having its spatial origin at the solar system barycenter. TCB differs from TDB in rate. The two are related by: TCB - TDB = iLb x (JD -2443144.5) x 86400 seconds, with Lb = 1.550505e-08.
•    Sidereal Time, with unit of duration the period of the Earth's rotation with respect to a point nearly fixed with respect to the stars, is the hour angle of the vernal equinox.
Delta T is the difference between Earth rotational time (UT1) and dynamical time (TDT). Predicted values of UT1 - UTC are provided by the Earth Orientation Department. An example showing the variation of the length of the day to late 2008 is shown below. Units are milliseconds.

When told the reason for Daylight Saving time the old Indian said,
"Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket
and have a longer blanket."
Author Unknown

For more information on how we came to today’s system of time see Fall Back – Spring Forward @

For making the most of your time see Time – Tracking It & Making It at

Winter is just around the corner so be sure to hit those Fall & Winter To Do’s.  For more information see Fall To Do’s - Preparing for Winter @ and Winter Preparedness & To Do’s @


Keep On Preppin'

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Great American Supermarket Game - Misleading Labeling Game & Dissonance Mind Game

The Misleading Labeling Game

Just remember that here in the U.S. “natural” and “fresh” have NO legal definitions.  However, “fresh” is generally considered any item under 5 weeks from harvest to point of sale.  The term “local” has a federal meaning of up to 400 miles from point of harvest, however most local farmers consider 20-50 miles as truly local.

Also keep in mind that the use of various chemicals, gases and GMO’s are NOT required to be listed on the label.  This means we can inadvertently be eating chemicals that we don’t wish to consume.  In some cases, like with fresh produce, all we have to do is wash the chemical off the item before we eat it.  In too many other cases the chemical(s) have been absorbed by the produce, dairy or meat item and cannot be washed off.

Good source of” may mean “bad for you”: You’ll see the claim “good source of” on cereals, crackers, and Pop-Tarts. The thing is, rarely are these vitamins worth the calories they’re embedded in. They’re usually just run-of-the-mill vitamins that processors are required to add to enriched flour—vitamins that can actually wash off your cereal the minute you add milk to it!

Lightly sweetened” could mean “sugar overload”:  This is another term that’s completely unregulated, so processors use it however they please. In Smart Start, that means 14 grams of sugar per cup. That’s more than Fruit Loops.

“Natural” doesn’t mean squat:  Outside of meat and seafood, the word “Natural” when applied to foods is completely unregulated and has no legal definition. So when you see 7Up Natural, a loaf of “natural” bread, or a product that claims to be “made with natural sugar,” that doesn’t really mean anything.

Reduced fat” may make you fat:  Sometimes, the full fat version of a product is more nutritious. Cookies and crackers often claim to contain “a third less fat than the original.” But that fat hasn’t just vanished—it’s been replaced by extra doses of sugar, starch, and sodium. They might have dropped the fat from 4 to 3 grams, but they’re hitting you with 2 grams extra sugar and 300 mg extra sodium.

“Zero grams of trans fat” may include trans fat:  Some products carry the “Zero grams of trans fat” claim when they do, in fact, contain trans fats. The FDA allows this claim as long as the food contains less than half a gram per serving. But serving size is whatever the food marketer wants it to be. So if the processor claims that, say, a serving is one cookie, you could easily get 3 full grams of trans fats by eating 6 “no trans fat” cookies. If you see “partially hydrogenated oil” on the ingredient statement, rest assured that it contains trans fat.

Don’t be ’100 %’ misled:  Drinks may be labeled ‘100% pure juice’, but that doesn't mean they're made exclusively with the advertised juice.  Take Tropicana Pure 100% Juice Pomegranate Blueberry, for example. Pomegranate and blueberry get top billing here, even though the ingredient list reveals that pear, apple and grape juices are among the first four ingredients. These juices are used because they're cheap to produce and they're very sweet—which means you're likely to come back for more.

The Dissonance Mind Game

In-store food marketing can and does influence our food-purchasing behaviors.  Let’s face it; most of our supermarket buying is habitual.  We don’t tend to put a lot of cognitive effort into the purchase of most of our brands.  We mostly choose from the same brands week after week.  So to convert us (or get us to change brands), supermarkets like to create dissonance in our mind. They do this by using ‘cues’ such as specials, price changes and the use of color.  Red, for example, is the most noticeable color in the spectrum, yellow and gold have been shown to bring on salivation and hunger (perhaps because of its links to the color of fried food), while blue is said to promote trust.

Think that cold supermarkets are just a fluke?  Think again!  When the temperature is just a shade above making the average human shiver with cold chills or get goose bumps – we humans get hungrier and when we are hungrier we buy more.  If we are hungry when we go shopping – we buy more!

Next time the Store Design and Layout Game

To all those on the East Coast - Hang in there, my church group collected and sent a number of items your way.  If your preps were up to date you are doing OK, otherwise my prayers go out to you ;-}


Keep On Preppin'

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Great American Supermarket Games - Packaging & Brand Tax

The Packaging Game

The packaging has a purpose that isn’t all bad.  Many preserve and protect the product, allowing us to make use of things that were produced far away or a while ago.  In this way they assure that an item arrives unspoiled and ‘help’ those of us who use the item to feel good about it.  The downside is that packaging is potently expressive, which ultimately costs us even more monies.

For manufacturers, packaging is the crucial final payoff to a marketing campaign.  How so?  Well it is not uncommon for us to have been ‘prepared’ for shopping and purchasing this product by lush, colorful print advertisements, 30-second television mini-dramas, radio jingles and coupon promotions.  Yet it is the package that makes the ‘final sales pitch’, seals the commitment and gets itself placed in our shopping cart.  Advertising therefore leads us into temptation and in many cases this temptation and its influence to us, is what makes the product possible.

Package colors, materials and other design elements are very deliberate. Much like advertising, packaging appeals to our emotions and directs our attention to specific product features, like health claims or a free toy, while distracting attention from other details, like small serving sizes or questionable ingredients.

But the package is also useful to us, in that it is a tool we can use for simplifying and speeding our decisions on what we buy (IF we read the package and not just look at the picture).  Packaging promises and usually delivers, in a predictable way.  With proper Nutritional Labeling they can give us the vital information we need to purchase nourishing and healthy food items or avoid ingredients that we object or are allergic to.

The Shrinking Package Game
Package downsizing is another marketing ‘game’ to get more money for less product.  Just about every manufacturer today utilizes this particular strategy.
No we do not need glasses, this is really happening!

Ever hear about the “brand tax”? 

This is an ‘unofficial’ sudo-tax based on when a company develops a product that becomes very well-known and very popular, that product's brand becomes a highly valuable commodity.  This causes an increase in price due to the popularity of the band and is known as the ‘brand tax’.

Companies often spend thousands and thousands of dollars on developing brand recognition, investing in symbols, slogans, catchy jingles and high-impact advertising campaigns that will stick in a consumer's mind. Over time, the product becomes more and more familiar to consumers and studies have shown that people are often more comfortable buying products that are familiar to them rather than unfamiliar alternatives – no matter that the price is higher. 

Of course, companies cannot justify a brand tax if their products aren't high-quality. Once this quality and popularity is established the unofficial market price or "brand tax" is added to the wholesale cost.

Many store brands are made by the same companies who sell much more expensive brand-name products. Most supermarkets do not have their own manufacturing plants as it is cheaper for them just to have their products packaged by established manufacturers.

Some budget-conscious consumers buy lower-priced generic products whenever possible, as a matter of principle. Other consumers compare prices and only buy generics sometimes.

Some generic products are nearly identical to their brand-name equivalents. Other generics are even manufactured in the same factories or processing plants as the better-known brands. In other cases however, the difference in quality is considerable.

In the long run, brand popularity depends not only on how effectively a product is marketed, but on quality and consistency as well.

Each consumer has his or her own unique tastes and preferences, and each consumer has his or her own budget to consider when shopping. Accordingly, despite all the advertising in the world, only you can decide whether or not you should pay a higher price for a brand-name product.

 The trick here is to always calculate the unit price or price per ounce and never trust the package size.
The next post will be on the Misleading Labeling Game and the Dissonance Mind Game

Until then Be Prepared - Not Scared ;-}


Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Great American Supermarket Game - Who Wins, Who Loses?

Just about all of us get our food items at a supermarket.  Unbeknown to most of us is that as soon as we enter the store we are starting a game of huge proportions and importance.  This game is out to not only take our hard earned dollars, but also to rob us of our independence, while  driving us nuts in the process.

Over the next series of posts I'll discuss these various games and what we can do to save our minds and our dollars!  Let's start with a little background ...

Not a day goes by that we are not faced with psychological mind games.  We are conditioned to believe that we live such a busy life that we need and are entitled to this or that in order to gain more free time or in order to present ourselves in a ‘successful’ manor or be with the ‘winning’ team.  All this manipulation is used to control our thinking, to conform us into accepting the dictates of the ‘status quo’ and ultimately to get our hard earned dollars.

Every day we are slammed by the ‘games’ of the food industry and the only winners are the corporations ‘sponsoring’ the games.  From the corporatization of our industries and government regulation roulette, to marketing and advertizing ‘mind games ‘– we are the ultimate losers each and every time.

As soon as we put ourselves behind a shopping cart our world changes.  We find ourselves in the position of a ‘player’ on the ‘game board’ of the supermarket.  Our ‘role’ is as an active consumer, our obstacles are all the marketing and advertising ploys used to get our hard earned money. So as we are moving through these ‘game boards’ (the supermarket, the discount store, the warehouse club, the home center, the department store) we have to realize that the game has been ‘fixed’ to put us at a disadvantage and the ultimate goal is to get our money and put the ‘game masters’ (the store and product suppliers) into the Mega Buck stratosphere.

Although fundamentally there is nothing wrong with earning money, the problem is the addiction to the dollar and hence the goal of ‘Mega Profits, Mega Bucks, Mega Quickly at any and all costs’ mentality, that unfortunately, all too often, is at the sacrifice of our health and well being by these ‘game masters’.  

The modern supermarket is no longer a larger version of an old fashioned or traditional marketplace.  Rather it is a programmed environment with innocuous music, punctuated by enthusiastically intoned commercials and signs, with subliminal architecture, to packaging labels and ‘sale’ flyers.   The life and death matter of eating, which was expressed in traditional markets by the sale of vegetables with stems and roots and hanging animal carcasses, is purged from the supermarket.  Food is now processed somewhere else or at least trimmed out of sight.  The hard labor of the earth and the ‘gory’ process of ‘dressing’ our foods is foreign to most of us.  In the past a stroll through a traditional market offered an array of sensuous aromas, yet today if you are conscious of smelling something in a supermarket, there is a problem. 

Our only defense against all this marketing is to admit these games exist, identify them and then consciously attempt to avoid them.  One of the best places to start this new awareness is in the supermarket.

It’s A Hard Battle Ahead
Research shows that on average we spend about 30 minutes on a trip to the supermarket.  As we traverse this ‘artificial environment’ we are bombarded with 30,000+ different products that vie to win our attention and ultimately make us believe in the ‘promise’ of the product enough to purchase it.

From the time the door opens (automatically) for us, we enter an arena where our emotions and appetites are immediately put in play.  Walking down an aisle becomes an exercise in self-definition.   Every decision we make, on each item we put in our carts, we are systematically being asked:  Are you a good parent, a good provider?  Do you have time to do all you think you should and would you be interested in a shortcut?  Are you worried about your health and that of those you love?  Do you care about the environment?  Do you appreciate the finer things in life?  Is your life what you would like it to be?  Are you enjoying what you've accomplished?  Wouldn't you really like something chocolate?  These are just a few of the subliminal questions we are confronted with as we stroll through a supermarket.

Once we begin pushing the shopping cart, it matters little whether we are in a supermarket, a discount store or a warehouse club. We are now in a world of products in packages. Expressive packages that are intended to engage our emotions; ingenious packages that make us ‘believe’ a product useful; informative packages that ‘help us understand’ what we want and what we're getting. 

Historically, packages are what made self-service retailing possible and in turn, such stores increased the number and variety of items they carried and that people buy.  Today most of us don’t remember grocery shopping before self-service stores and ‘clean and tidy’ packaging.  We are so far removed from what goes into providing us with food that all of these ‘preparation steps’ are virtually unimaginable and considered gross or disgusting.

It is here that all the 'games' start. 
So the next post will be on The Packaging & Shrinking Package Games.

Until then Keep On Preppin'


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

To GMO or Not to GMO?

That is the question …
         And ultimately it is up to you and you alone to answer.

"Control the oil and you'll control the nations;
control the food and you'll control the people."
Henry Kissinger (1970)

I have chosen to avoid GMOs.  Why?

Well first off, the biotech firms (like Carghil, DOW, Syngenta, Okanagan, Genective and Monsanto to name a few) that are “owners” of the genetically modified seeds, DO NOT allow anyone outside their own industry to perform any studies, yet alone true, documented, scientific studies.  Oh they do have some rather ‘intense’ excuses as to why they do not allow this … from corporate espionage fears to convoluted copyright laws and the like.  Then, to make matters worse, what studies these seed companies do publish DO NOT contain all the parts to a true scientific experiment (The Research Question, The Hypothesis, The Procedure [and process], Parts of an Experiment [variables & controls],  Materials, Results, The Conclusion), yet alone what is needed in a study vs experiment.

So, to me, ANY entity that is NOT willing to let scientists and students from around the globe perform their own independent (a true scientific) study on their product – is “bad” or “suspect science” and not worth more than the paper it is printed on.  It’s a huge red flag that these studies and experiments CANNOT be quantified.  Pure and simple – Why on earth would ANY entity be afraid of a non-biased, independent scientific study?

Second, I don’t like the shysterism that these biotech firms use with their “farmer contracts”.  When I read these contracts it reminds me of the US Welfare system – a TRAP and nothing but, as well as an economical heyday only for the biotech firms, NOT the farmer and most certainly not us consumers.

"It is the silent acquiescence of millions that supports the system. When you don’t oppose a system, your silence becomes approval, for it does nothing to interrupt the system…Many people say it is insane to resist the system,
but actually, it is insane not to."
Mumia Abu-Jamal

Thirdly, one set of facts these biotech firms cannot hinder is that those farmers that get stuck planting their GM seeds continue to NEED fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.  Yet, isn’t that supposed to be some of the stuff these GM seeds and plants are supposed to reduce? - At least according to the studies published (only) by these biotech firms.

"Big Government and Big Business … will try to impose social and cultural uniformity upon adults and their children. To achieve this they will (unless prevented) make use of all the mind-manipulating techniques at their disposal and will not hesitate to reinforce these methods of non-rational persuasion by economic coercion and threats of physical violence. If this kind of tyranny is to be avoided, we must begin without delay to educate ourselves and our children for freedom and self-government. Such an education for freedom should be …
first of all in facts and in values — the facts of individual diversity and genetic uniqueness and the values of freedom, tolerance and mutual charity, which are the ethical corollaries of these facts."
Aldous Huxley
(Brave New World Revisited)

Fourth, the recent droughts in the bread basket of the US have proven, in the real world, that these so-called drought resistant GM seeds are just as susceptible to lack of water as non-GM and in some areas, even more susceptible.
Fifth, since because of Reason 1, all the studies to date on the effects of GM food products on humans is at best “tainted” and that is IF it is possible to find one NOT funded by (and hence controlled  and manipulated by) the biotech firms.  This leaves a huge hole that we can fly a fleet of Starship Enterprises through! 

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and
you're a thousand miles from the corn field.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the lives of my loved ones and me – I will error on the safe side!  Hence I am 100% behind clear and concise labeling of ANY and ALL GMO foods and ingredients.  This labeling will help us decide for ourselves if we want to consume these things, which is the basic principle behind ALL of our founding documents – Freedom of Choice (within the constraints of the 10 Commandments or the Golden Rule).

"There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew."
Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)

On top of the GMO threat, we in America are also facing the scourge of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers that our food products are washed in, grown in or sprayed with and food animals are injected with other chemicals, antibiotics and hormones; many of which are labeled as poisons!
Other things are done to our foods like dyes in beef and salmon, along with saline solution injections for “plumping” and other “aesthetic treatments” – just to get us to buy the product. (The 6 Creepiest Lies the Food Industry is Feeding You

On top of all of that - Very little of this is labeled; we don’t have the foggiest idea that we are consuming these chemicals!

"Trade increases the wealth and glory of a country; but its real strength and stamina are to be looked for among the cultivators of the land."
William Pitt

As goes California, so goes the nation!   

Shortly, California voters will have a chance to exercise their Freedom of Choice on an unprecedented bill in their state congress – Proposition 37 (GMO Labeling requirement).  I hope the voters will choose in favor of the labeling to allow true Freedom of Choice to all of its citizens and set the precedent for other states to follow suit.

Below is a list of the top 10 contributors to the No on 37 campaign, which is trying to stop GMO labeling in California:  (This is another red flag – What are these corporations afraid of?)

1) Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO, $7,100,500
2) E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co., Washington, DC, $4,900,000
3) BASF Plant Science, Research Triangle Park, NC, $2,000,000
4) Bayer CropScience, Research Triangle Park, NC, $2,000,000
5) Dow Agrosciences LLC, Indianapolis, IN, $2,000,000
6) PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, NY, $1,716,300
7) Nestle USA, Inc., Glendale, CA, $1,169,400
8) Coca-Cola North America, Atlanta, GA, $1,164,400
9) ConAgra Foods, Omaha, NE, $1,076,700
10) Syngenta Corporation, Washington, DC, $1,000,000

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
Thomas Jefferson

Corporatism or oligarchy (marriage of our government with corporate backed political parties) plays a major role in incomplete and inaccurate food labeling, the shysterism of “agribusiness” and the downfall of good old fashioned agriculture.

"The first farmer was the first man.
All historic nobility rests on the possession and use of land."
Emerson, Ralph Waldo

As of April 2012, 10 companies that own most of our food-grocery products and Organic Operations Accounted For Less Than 1% of Total Crop Acreage in 2008!

 Keep in mind that in the United States:

  • The term “Natural” does NOT have a legal description or any regulations for use.
  • The term “Fresh” does NOT have a legal description or any regulations for use.  However, the food industry generally “accepts” that as long as only refrigeration (and air circulation, including gassing) was applied and the item arrives at the point of sale in under 5 weeks, that the item is considered fresh.
  • The term “Local” to the Fed generally means anything up to and including 400 miles from where it was grown/raised and farmers generally consider up to 50 miles local.
  • The term “Organic” in the US is the one of the most loosely defined by law of ALL the nations in the Codex Alimentarius.  IE: Much of what the US terms organic would not be considered so in many other nations.
  • The terms “Natural” and “Organic” are NOT interchangeable.
  • The average distance from the farm to your table is 1,500 miles for “fresh” produce and a typical carrot has to travel 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table.
  •  In 1866; 1,186 varieties of fruits and vegetables were produced in California. Today, California's farms produce only 350 commercial crops.
It seems that when we buy “Organic,” we are buying products that are guaranteed to be produced without GMOs, but not guaranteed to be 100% GMO-free!

In 2001 the US imported:

  • 68.2% of our fish and shellfish
  • 27.3 percent of confectionary products
  • 21.4 percent of fruits, juices and nuts
  • 15.5 percent of vegetable oils
  •  9.3 percent of red meat
  • Hawaii imports 90% of its food.
  • According to a report by USDA in 2007, US fresh produce imports have exceeded exports starting in 1990.

Now add us consumers.  How much do we know about what it takes to produce our food?  Most of us don’t understand the basic intricacies and inter-dependencies that bring foods to our grocery stores, restaurants and tables.  There is nothing really wrong with that.  What is wrong is when we let others have us believing that “just this one little thing” is the problem or the solution. 

Reality is that it is NOT JUST the farmer/rancher, government or corporatization of our agriculture; it is NOT JUST meat eaters or dwindling bio-diversity. 

How many of us know what is actually produced in the U.S. or imported and what is seasonal or not in our area?

"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet."
James Oppenheim

Do we know what products are GMO, what are sprayed or injected and the like? 

Do we demand and hold accountable the food processors and our government as strictly as our food producers or do we “let someone else worry about it”?

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time,
and your government when it deserves it.”
Mark Twain

How many of us actually know what we consume in a week?

Ultimately we the Citizen/Consumer have the power to hold the government and corporations accountable.  We have the power to read the labels on our food, purchase local and in season; avoid GMO’s and demand honest labeling.   Other countries are doing this, so we can darn sure do it too!

"The best stock a man can invest in, is the stock of a farm;
the best shares are plow shares;
and the best banks are the fertile banks of a rural stream;
the more these are broken the better dividends they pay."
Henry Ward Beecher

Benefits of Buying Local:

  • Communities reap more economic benefits from the presence of small farms than they do from large ones. Studies have shown that small farms re-invest more money into local economies by purchasing feed, seed and other materials from local businesses, whereas large farms often order in bulk from distant companies. Large factory livestock farms also degrade local property values because of the intense odors they emit and other environmental problems they cause.
  • In the U.S., a wheat farmer can expect to receive about six cents of each dollar spent on a loaf of bread—approximately the cost of the wrapping.
  • Farmers' markets enable farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer over 5 to 25 cents of each consumer dollar via supermarkets and grocery stores.
  • About 1/3 of all U.S. farms are located within metropolitan areas, comprising 18% of total U.S. farmland. 

"The farmer works the soil, The agriculturist works the farmer."
Eugene F. Ware

The Farm Bill 2012 aka Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2012

The bills in the House and Senate that comprise this bill have been in debate since 2011.  That is because in late 2012 the previous bill of 2008 expires.  There are all kinds of innocuous “riders” and “clauses” in the 2012 bill, ranging from energy usage, to corporate exemptions, to climate change.  We must watch these bills and be sure they are for the family LLC farmer/rancher and NOT just for the corporate farm/ranch.

Now most of us may think that this bill only affects farmers and ranchers – WE ARE WRONG!

This bill determines all the emergency funds allocated to farmers and ranchers, like say for this year’s drought; Farm/Ranch subsidies; School Lunch programs; the Food Stamp program, subsidies, corporate exemptions (not LLC but Big Business) and a slew of other “programs” that affect each and every citizen of the United States!

"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most
to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."
Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington (1787)

What Can We Do?

  • Buy in season
  • Buy Local
  • Read the Label
  • Plant a vegetable garden, change your yard to edible landscaping
  • Use only open-pollinated seeds.  (Remember that all Heritage/Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated but NOT all open-pollinated seeds are heirloom.)
  • Question the purchasing manager at your local farmers markets and super markets and let them know how you feel about imported, GMO and non-organic items.
  • Let your government officials know you want truth in labeling
  • Tell the government that you want the corporatism to STOP
  • Don’t settle for the “lesser of evils” and vote accordingly!

As you can see all these different things are all related and inter-dependent on each other.  It’s no wonder our food system, not to mention, food quality is rapidly declining.


To find out how to read PLU (Price LookUp number) codes, nutritional labels, Proposition 37, Farm Bill 2012, what is in season or not-imported or not and,  about GMO food products, avoiding pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other chemicals in our food, as well as legislation around the US and the world go to

"Today is the Tomorrow that you worried about Yesterday"