The Organic Prepper: Americans Aren’t Experiencing REAL Shortages Yet. We’re Just Living with Limited Options

The Organic Prepper talks about supply chain issues in Americans Aren’t Experiencing REAL Shortages Yet. We’re Just Living with Limited Options.

Imagine going to the store to pick up some everyday item – say, body wash for the shower – and not being able to find your usual brand. In fact, you can’t find any brand. The store is completely out so you have to go with bar soap.

In the grand scheme of life, this isn’t a big deal. Soap is soap is soap, right?  But in the United States, we have become spoiled with choices. In even a small-town store, there are dozens of options for body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and all the other things we consider necessary to live a civilized life. Don’t like the fragrance? Just go with a different brand. That laundry soap works better on your delicates and this one works better on work clothes.

Options.

Options.

Options.

This is NOT how it is in other countries. In fact, you regularly have to substitute something else entirely for the item you went to the store to purchase.

I would imagine that is also similar to how it may look in the US as the supply chain continues to crumble and personal finances keep plummeting. After all, in places like Venezuela and Greece, we watched on the news as people stood in long lines hoping to find basics like soap, diapers, rice, and cash from the ATM.

In the spirit of adaptability and resilience, let’s talk about life with limited options.

Some Americans are already accustomed to life with limited options.

Some folks are in positions in which you eat what you’re served, you use the products that are supplied, and you drink the coffee that is available. Your options are to take it or to leave it. People deployed overseas to dangerous places have a few choices on the base instead of the dozens of choices they’d have in the US. This has prepared them for the retail austerity that we’re just lately beginning to see in the United States.

Folks who have lived in poverty for a long period of time tend to be accustomed to a lack of choices because their decision-making is largely driven by price. You don’t see a lot of people who are truly struggling using salon-quality shampoo – they pick up a bottle of Suave or the store brand.

Also, folks in remote areas have fewer choices due to limited transportation. They have a couple of different stores to go to, and the stores must stock the products that most people want, not a broad assortment of specialty items. The advent of Amazon and other internet merchants has helped those in isolated areas have a broader selection, but if the item is needed right away, the choices are fewer.

But the culture of abundance in the US is changing.

We’ve published quite a number of articles on this website about the fragility of our supply chain. Not only are grocery stores showing the strain, but so are clothing stores, hardware stores, appliance stores, and places like Walmart and Target.

All you have to do is walk into any department store. Where do you see the bare spots? That’s where the products we used to get from China used to be. It should be a vast shock and an awakening that so much of our manufacturing has gone to China to give us our quick fix of shoddy yet shiny merchandise at low prices. Nearly all the things that are now limited are because either the product itself or a vital component of it is made in China. Months ago, I warned that we’d soon be seeing supply chain issues of these essentials that formerly landed on a regular basis from China.

And this is just the beginning.

The difference between a lack of options and shortages

The word “shortage” is being thrown around a lot and it’s being misused. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word shortage as “a situation in which there is not enough of something; a lack of something that is needed.” We had a shortage in toilet paper and cleaning supplies last year, but if we’re being pedantic, we are not currently suffering from “shortages” in food or consumer goods.

What we’re experiencing right now is a limit of options. No longer can you walk into the store and have 17 shades of beige from which to select your bathroom towels. When bopping around internet forums and chat groups, I’ve seen people complaining about this type of thing. We’ve lived for so long with such an abundance of variety that to many folks, it seems positively unthinkable to no longer be able to spend a half-hour waffling between cerulean, navy, and indigo for your placemats.

But it’s important to be clear that at this point, we may not have huge numbers of options, but we can still eat food from every food group, clean our homes, buy socks and underwear, and get dish soap. Real shortages are when there’s simply nothing to buy.

I’ve lived outside the US for most of the past two and a half years, in southern Europe and Mexico, and the type of choices we have in American stores is absolutely unheard of elsewhere. I wrote about the grocery stores:

Let’s take meat, for example. Here in the United States, our stores have a lengthy expanse with hundreds of packages of meat down one aisle of the store. Outside the United States (at least where I spent most of my time) you had a little corner with a couple of chilled cases of meat. In those cases you could find chicken in perhaps three forms – whole, cut up with bone-in, and chicken breasts. For beef, you might find a roast and ground meat. With pork, you might be able to get a tenderloin, a larger bone-in roast, and some pork chops.

Moving along to other sections of the store, produce is not a vast corner with 25% of the contents of the store. It was a small section and the options were fairly basic. You didn’t have 17 brands or types of potatoes from which to choose. You just had potatoes in general in a large bin where you reached in and bagged your own.

There was food, and plenty of it. It was just that you didn’t have 29 different brands of salad dressing. You didn’t have as much processed food. You had access to basics. (source)

So while right now it feels like we have shortages, there are really only a few things that are actually in short supply. Currently, in comparison with many other parts of the world, we still live in the land of plenty. The sooner you adapt to limitations, the better off you will be when true shortages occur.

Living with limited options

The key to not feeling deprived is learning to live within our current limitations. Whether that is a lack of food options, undesirable homekeeping items, or a lack of money, we need to learn to manage this. Here are a few tips to help adapt.

Try to think in terms of “different” instead of “worse.” The most important thing of all is to adjust your mindset away from one of deprivation. Where I live currently is beautiful with a year round growing season. Glorious, farm fresh produce is everywhere. But you can’t find the same kinds of processed foods that are readily available in the United States. At least in the part of Mexico where I live, you can’t pop into the grocery store and buy a frozen dinner or a frozen pizza or the same brands and flavors of potato chips they have in the US. I’ve heard ex-pats complaining about the “lack” of food when it’s literally growing all around us. But it’s different and some people are creatures of habit. Different is difficult for them.

I choose to look at the local food options and see them as a culinary adventure. I ask the local vendors how to cook things like jicama and plantain and they’re nearly always happy to make suggestions. (Although sometimes our conversations take place via a translate app on our phones.)

Your favorite brand of detergent isn’t there? Well, there are two kinds to choose from and the ingredients to make your own. Therefore, laundry soap is available.

Learn to cook with different cuts of meat and in-season produce. Maybe you wanted to make beef stew but there’s no stew meat available. Grab an inexpensive cut of roast beef and either ask the butcher counter to cut it up for you or cut it up into stew meat yourself once you get home. Learn to debone a chicken (here’s a quick video) and be sure to put those bones in the freezer to make some stock later on.

Start shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables. You’ll save money, eat better, and you’ll be looking for what’s available as opposed to blueberries in December.

Buy locally. I can’t say this enough – you need to shorten your supply chain. By limiting the distance your products must travel to get to you, you will naturally have a more abundant selection. If I were to buy household goods here in Mexico, I could easily find pottery and copper, but stainless steel is an item that comes from much further away, and therefore, my selection is very limited.

This is true of household goods, manufactured goods, and food. Focusing on a local diet is essential for self-reliance.

Produce what you can. Are you producing or simply consuming? Surviving the current economy requires that you be a producer instead of a consumer. It’s not enough just to buy locally. You need to also be producing some goods. Building, sewing, needlecrafts, gardening, foraging, hunting, and animal husbandry skills will be more and more important.

Make sure to stock up on heirloom seeds while you can, as well as supplies and tools for the other items you produce. As well, learn multiple ways to preserve your extra food so that you have plenty to eat when harvest time has passed.

Make things last. Learning to mend, repair, maintain, and alter the goods you already have means you don’t need to replace them as often. Most folks really don’t think about how quickly things wear out when you use the same items all the time. My wardrobe is small since I’m mobile, so I’ve been wearing things out a lot more over the past two years. I hadn’t considered how often I replaced socks or how quickly I’d wear through shoes if I only have a couple of pairs for every day use.  I’ve never darned socks so much in my entire life.

Being able to alter clothing for growing children and for hand-me-downs can help reduce your wardrobe budget as well. Maintaining your essential tools means they will be in good shape when you need them most urgently. Instead of replacing, start repairing. A lot of small components are becoming more difficult to find, so get your spare parts now. Keep a few handy items on hand for quick fixes.

Use creative problem-solving skills. Finally, the most important thing is to learn to solve your problems creatively. Whether you call it workarounds or MacGuyvering, figuring out ways to fix things or make them using limited supplies is one of a preppers most vital skills.

When you have a repair done in Mexico, sometimes the handyman will ask you if you want it done the American way or the Mexican way. The American way will be prettier and the “proper” way to fix it while the Mexican way will be a little more labor intensive, require easy-to-obtain parts, and will be a whole lot cheaper. That’s why the USB port in my Jeep was repaired instead of replaced and why my bathtub gets filled using a garden hose that hooks up under the bathroom sink.

You may look at these kinds of alternatives right now with disdain, but I assure you that the ability to create a “redneck repair” will serve you well in the future.

This doesn’t mean there are no shortages.

There certainly are shortages of things like deep freezers, canning jars, certain automotive components, and specific foods. But we’re still at a point where we can work around this and keep living a lifestyle that is fairly normal.

However, it may not always be that way. As our economy continues to crumble we’ll see fewer imports and less manufacturing. After all, how are people without money going to buy consumer items? We could reach a point at which even if you have money, the items you want to buy are unavailable.

Start living more simply and going by the Great Depression credo: use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

Organic Prepper: The Global Supply Collapse Continues to Get Worse

Robert Wheeler at The Organic Prepper tells us that The Global Supply Collapse Continues to Get WORSE: Shortages of Clothing, Appliances, Food, and Other Essentials.

The United States and the world have been suffering under a slow-burning economic depression for three decades now. Although the US began inching slowly out of the clutches of depression under the Trump administration’s quasi-Americanist tariff policies, COVID mandates, and the government’s war on independent businesses, personal finances, and the economy thrust both the United States and the rest of the world straight back into a financial and economic hole.

This time, however, that hole is much deeper than even the most negative predictions could have foreseen.

While PPE loans, stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits, and a terrified shut-in population, as well as a mainstream media that peddles nothing but 24/7 propaganda, are hiding the real effects of what has taken place, there will soon be no way to cover up the economic fallout from the Great Reset.

The global supply chain is overwhelmed.

For one example of what is lurking under the surface, an article published in the Washington Post entitled, “Pandemic Aftershocks Overwhelm Global Supply Lines,” details the fast arriving price increases, inflation, and scarcity. The article states,

One year after the coronavirus pandemic first disrupted global supply chains by closing Chinese factories, fresh shipping headaches are delaying U.S. farm exports, crimping domestic manufacturing and threatening higher prices for American consumers.

The cost of shipping a container of goods has risen by 80 percent since early November and has nearly tripled over the past year, according to the Freightos Baltic Index. The increase reflects dramatic shifts in consumption during the pandemic, as consumers redirect money they once spent at restaurants or movie theaters to the purchase of record amounts of imported clothing, computers, furniture and other goods.

That abrupt and unprecedented spending shift has upended long-standing trade patterns, causing bottlenecks from the gates of Chinese factories to the doorsteps of U.S. homes.

In other words, money that was once spent on luxuries such as eating out or going to the movies, entertainment, etc. is now being spent on necessities.

The price of everything will continue to rise.

This is, of course, due to the fact that many good jobs were sent overseas already before the COVID mandates took hold but also because the lockdowns and fearmongering of media outlets have now driven many of the businesses that were left into extinction.

Unemployed people and business owners who no longer own their businesses are faced with rising costs for the items they need and have no money left over for the items they want, something that has driven many more people to steal food and other necessities in an alarming trend.

The article continues,

Glimmers of sticker shock are starting to vex corporate planners. The cost of imported industrial supplies jumped 4.2 percent in December and is up 27 percent since April’s pandemic low, with manufacturers complaining of shortages of materials such as steel.

Shipping issues are affecting familiar brand names such as the Gap, where an executive recently told investors that “port issues” were hamstringing operations. At WD-40, higher freight and warehousing costs dented profit margins last quarter, Jay Rembolt, the chief financial officer, told investors this month. Bang & Olufsen, a maker of music systems and televisions, said it had resorted to more expensive airfreight to compensate for a lack of seaborne options.

“These challenges have put inflationary cost pressures on our and many businesses and, as the market is anticipating, will put further inflationary pressure on transportation rates in 2021,” said Shelley Simpson, chief commercial officer for J.B. Hunt Transport Services, on a recent earnings call.

Shortages will continue to emerge.

Just in case you were somehow unaware of the crisis, you might notice that there have been shortages of household appliances as well as clothing in recent months with many of those items costing more than they did pre-panic. In fact, many of those imported goods have risen by 0.9 percent since August. So much for those cheaper goods that you were promised for sending your high wage jobs to China.

In fact, we’re seeing shortages and higher prices of many essential products that come from China, as well as Chinese-made parts to maintain our own goods.

And it’s not just shipping costs. Higher oil prices, inflation from “stimulus” checks, and other factors are all combining. In fact, the Washington Post article surprisingly addresses this by writing,

By themselves, shipping cost spikes are likely to have only a modest effect on inflation, according to Neil Shearing, chief economist for Capital Economics in London. But they will reinforce the effects of other factors, such as oil prices and ample fiscal and monetary stimulus, that are expected to drive the current 1.4 percent inflation rate higher, at least for a while.

“All of these temporary factors come together at the same time the market narrative is primed for a post-covid inflation surge,” Shearing said.

This new spiral is not just a temporary hiccup.

If you read closely you will find that it is not merely a question of the market catching up with demand or resetting itself. Chinese goods are flooding the US market with Chinese companies fighting one another over cargo shipping space while American imports have taken a nosedive.

Essentially, what is happening is that a totaled American manufacturing sector is now being flooded with foreign goods while exports are stuck at the docks. Things are about to get very bumpy in this country and if you haven’t started preparing, now would be the time to do so in earnest.

To assess your preparedness level for this type of event, go here to get a copy of The Prepper’s Workbook absolutely free. Also check out this article for advice on how to perform an objective self-assessment.

Preparing isn’t as easy as it once was due to shortages of both goods and money, but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Here are some tips for getting prepared now that things have changed dramatically. Pay attention to the items that are currently in shortage and stock up if you can. Items like clothing, footwear, appliances, electronics, computers, and food are all likely to continue to be affected. (While computers wouldn’t have necessarily be seen as an essential before, an ever-growing number of Americans are working from home as their children are “distance learning.)

This crisis has been apparent since day one to anyone who understands the basics of economics and anyone who is capable of reading the writing on the wall…

Gold Telegraph: Global Food Supply Chains Beginning to Erode, Crisis Looms?

From The Gold Telegraph – Global Food Supply Chains Beginning to Erode, Crisis Looms?

…One would begin to believe history might not be repeating itself, but it is undoubtedly starting to rhyme. During the great depression of the 1930s, the hardest-hit industry was farming. Farm incomes dropped by nearly two-thirds at the beginning of the 1930s. Dairy farmers dumped countless gallons of milk into the street instead of accepting a penny a quart.

During World War 1, farmers had produced record crops and livestock to keep everyone fed. However, when prices started to fell, they tried to harvest even more to pay their debts and living expenses. In the early 30s, prices dropped so low that many farmers went bankrupt and lost their farms. In some cases, the price of a bushel of corn fell to just eight to ten cents. Some farmers even began burning corn rather than coal in their stoves because corn was cheaper.

However, there is a dramatic difference today. Prices are not dropping; in fact, grocery bills are getting more expensive by the day. Supply chains are being disrupted due to the transportation and of course processing of a vast selection of foods.

As we are beginning to learn, the country where the coronavirus started, China, may now be facing a food crisis. The country has just reopened its economy as the communist regime has even claimed a coronavirus victory.

However, there was a leaked government document made public last Thursday that shows that government officials have been planning for a shortfall in food supplies.

The document, dated March 28, was drafted following a meeting which was called to make special arrangements for food security.

“The State Party Committee and the state governments and counties and cities must do everything possible to transfer and store all kinds of living materials such as grain, beef, mutton, oil and salt through various channels,” the document said, according to a report from Radio Free Asia

The document also calls for the “mobilization of the masses to consciously store grain and ensure that each household reserves between 3 and 6 months of grain for emergencies…”

Click here to read the entire article at The Gold Telegraph.

Medium: What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage

Will Oremus has written an article at Medium.com on What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage, pointing out that it has little to do with so-called hoarding. The fact is that people actually are using more toilet paper at home. There are similar problems with dairy products. With everyone staying at home and mostly eating at home, consumption of milk, butter, eggs, etc. is higher at home, now.

round the world, in countries afflicted with the coronavirus, stores are sold out of toilet paper. There have been shortages in Hong Kong, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. And we all know who to blame: hoarders and panic-buyers.

Well, not so fast.

Story after story explains the toilet paper outages as a sort of fluke of consumer irrationality. Unlike hand sanitizer, N95 masks, or hospital ventilators, they note, toilet paper serves no special function in a pandemic. Toilet paper manufacturers are cranking out the same supply as always. And it’s not like people are using the bathroom more often, right?

U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar summed up the paradox in a March 13 New York Times story: “Toilet paper is not an effective way to prevent getting the coronavirus, but they’re selling out.” The president of a paper manufacturer offered the consensus explanation: “You are not using more of it. You are just filling up your closet with it.”

Faced with this mystifying phenomenon, media outlets have turned to psychologists to explain why people are cramming their shelves with a household good that has nothing to do with the pandemic. Read the coverage and you’ll encounter all sorts of fascinating concepts, from “zero risk bias” to “anticipatory anxiety.” It’s “driven by fear” and a “herd mentality,” the BBC scolded. The libertarian Mises Institute took the opportunity to blame anti-gouging laws. The Atlantic published a short documentary harking back to the great toilet paper scare of 1973, which was driven by misinformation.

Most outlets agreed that the spike in demand would be short-lived, subsiding as soon as the hoarders were satiated.

No doubt there’s been some panic-buying, particularly once photos of empty store shelves began circulating on social media. There have also been a handful of documented cases of true hoarding. But you don’t need to assume that most consumers are greedy or irrational to understand how coronavirus would spur a surge in demand. And you can stop wondering where in the world people are storing all that Quilted Northern.

There’s another, entirely logical explanation for why stores have run out of toilet paper — one that has gone oddly overlooked in the vast majority of media coverage. It has nothing to do with psychology and everything to do with supply chains. It helps to explain why stores are still having trouble keeping it in stock, weeks after they started limiting how many a customer could purchase.

In short, the toilet paper industry is split into two, largely separate markets: commercial and consumer. The pandemic has shifted the lion’s share of demand to the latter. People actually do need to buy significantly more toilet paper during the pandemic — not because they’re making more trips to the bathroom, but because they’re making more of them at home. With some 75% of the U.S. population under stay-at-home orders, Americans are no longer using the restrooms at their workplace, in schools, at restaurants, at hotels, or in airports.

Georgia-Pacific, a leading toilet paper manufacturer based in Atlanta, estimates that the average household will use 40% more toilet paper than usual if all of its members are staying home around the clock…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Medium.com

Here is a video of a dairy farmer of Wagner Farms, talking about dairy item shortages and supply chains.

KIMA News: Donations of Respirator Masks and Other Medical Supplies Needed

From KIMA news, Donations of respirator masks and other medical supplies needed

Health care providers are in critical need of supplies as COVID-19 continues to hit Washington. Critical health supplies are in demand for Trios, Lourdes, Kadlec and Prosser Memorial. The Tri-Cities Business and Visitor Center is volunteering to be a central donation point to drop off supplies. Jim Hall, a representative of area health organizations, explains what type of items are needed.

“Hand sanitizer, wipes, PPE equipment, gowns and more, the more we can accumulate the better position we are going to be,” explained Hall. According to Hall, the Tri-Cities community is stepping up.

“Thank you to the community and thank you to the Business and Visitor Center for putting this collective effort together,” said Hall. You can drop off supplies Monday through Wednesday from 11 am to 7 pm at the Tri-Cities Business and Visitor Center.

“I know all of the medical providers in the area have really been swamped with inquiries from the public on how they can help,” said Hall. You can help by donating or help by practicing good hand washing and social distancing.

Health officials say we will get through this together. “I know nurses and doctors and health care providers are working around the clock to take care of our entire community,” said Hall.

Here is a list of supplies in critical shortage:

  • Masks- Surgical Masks, N95 Masks, or Handmade
  • Face Shields / Goggles
  • Finger Oximeter
  • Gloves (Non-Latex preferred)
  • Disinfecting Wipes
  • Thermometers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Isolation Gowns

According to the Washington State Department of Health, many items were delivered to Washington State given from the Federal Strategic National Stockpile.

Here are the numbers of supplies given:

  • Gowns: 26,459
  • Gloves: 104,250
  • Masks: 133,760
  • Suits: 13

Here are the numbers of supplies given directly to the state:

  • 1.6 Million N95 Respirators
  • 560,000 Masks
  • 12 Million Disposable Gloves
  • 600,000 Masks
  • 74,000 Disinfectant Wipes

Prepping for Brexit

Will Brexit (the British exit from the European Union) prove to be a learning event for preppers? Only time will tell if those stocking up for shortages post-Brexit will appear foolish when nothing happens, or if they will be sitting pretty while those around them scramble for the last can of sardines in the grocery. British food author Jack Monroe has written a piece on her blog about how she is preparing for Brexit by stockpiling food, and what and why she is storing. Here’s an excerpt from What (And Why) I’m Stockpiling For Brexit. She helpfully includes a limited amount of nutritional information for many of the items, though I am not familiar with the “grim” nutrient ascribed to dried cheese.

…I have just finished writing my next cookbook, Tin Can Cook, which I pitched to my publisher as ‘the post-Brexit apocalyptic cookbook’. I wasn’t joking. On news of its announcement a few weeks ago, it went straight into the Top Ten on Amazon. People emailed me asking what they should be stockpiling for Brexit. I filed their emails in a folder and put my head back in the sand.

And then yesterday, I cleared the shelves of my 20 foot outhouse in the garden. Today I went online to my Asda account, and ordered tins of food. Many, many tins of food. Because if you want to stockpile for Brexit, if you share my concerns about potential food shortages, lorries backed up on motorways, hold-ups at the borders, delays, rotting fruit and vegetables, and lesser availability of fresh food, you may have started stockpiling yourself. I have heard from many people who have been putting a tin or two to one side ‘just in case’.

I am writing this not to alarm anyone, and not to cause any kind of food crisis. To address some of the common criticisms of stockpiling; suddenly buying a lot of tinned tomatoes probably won’t make the price go up any more. Supermarkets are ridiculously competitive with one another about the prices on their basic items, and if you aren’t greedy, you should leave enough for everyone else. Supermarket ordering systems are reactive and reflective – I worked in a supermarket many years ago – and the stock adjusts according to buying patterns and popularity. Overstock is stored in a massive warehouse usually the size of the store itself. Stocking up now gives supermarkets time to replenish and recover their stock, so that come March, we won’t all be fighting over the same tin of tomatoes in the aisle. Hopefully.

In the event that all is fine and dandy and we were all just being cautious, well, hoorah for that. I’ll take the punch on the nose from the trolls who will crow that I was a paranoid leftwing remoaner – I’d rather be prepared than starving, after all. And if the stockpile isn’t needed, I’ll donate it to the Trussell Trust, and you can do the same. Or gradually munch your way through it and enjoy not having to spend any money on your food shop for a while! I mean, they’re tins, they’re hardly likely to go off…

Click here to read the entire piece at Cooking on a Bootstrap.