Archive for April, 2008

Nobel Prize Winning Economist Gary Becker Says We’ll Fix the Food Crisis with Gardens

Sharon April 25th, 2008

That’s not quite the way he phrased it, but I thought it rated a seperate post on this blog to note that Nobel Prize winning Chicago economist Gary Becker thinks that among other reasons food prices can be stabilized by putting into production the vast quantities of arable land converted to suburbia and cities worldwide.  “Persistent high and climbing prices of grains and other foods will induce conversion of some of this land back to farming.”

Well, things are shifting, aren’t they?

 Sharon

Three Mothers and the Fall of Icarus

Sharon April 25th, 2008

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on. 
 - WH Auden

My husband’s grandmother used to have a picture of herself and two of her cousins at a birthday party.  They lived in Berlin in the 1930s.  And one day, Eric’s great-grandmother and one great-aunt decided to put two of their daughters on the kindertransport train that took Jewish children out of Germany to safety in Britain.  It was a very hard decision to make – the trip went through dangerous territory, and it looked as though it wouldn’t be terribly long before Britain would be held by Germany.  Certainly both sides were preparing for war – sending the children to London meant sending them to be a target.  And thus far, the Jews hadn’t had too much more than ghettoizing. 

Inge, Eric’s grandmother, was only 12 years old.  It meant taking her out of school and sending her to a strange family’s home, through war, to a place that was soon to be a target.  It meant, in fact, extrapolating from prior trends to say that it was more dangerous to stay in Germany than it was to send your child off alone into a war zone.

It is little wonder that one of the cousin’s Mother, another great-aunt said no, that it was safer for her little girl to stay with her parents, to stay in school, to stay where things were familiar.  So two of the cousins boarded the train, left their parents – one would never see either of them again, one would see her mother, but many years later.  And one cousin stayed behind.  She died in a concentration camp two years later, with her mother and father. 

But I don’t tell this story to suggest that it is always the right thing to react strongly.  Because let us imagine, for example, that the original Nazi desire to simply kick the Jews the heck out of their territory had not culminated the Final Solution, and that other nations had opened their doors to the European Jewry.  Historians have postulated that this is, within the realm of possibility – at first, Hitler just wanted the Jews gone, and had the US and other nations let them in, millions of Jews probably would have lived.

Now Inge was supposed to live with a family in England that would treat her as a daughter.  In fact, while her cousin did go to such a family, Inge went to a family in England who regarded their little Jewish emigree as a servant.  They forced her to work, never sent her to school, and emotionally and physically abused her.  A neighbor girl went to a different family and was shortly after killed in the blitz.  My point being that it is that it was perfectly reasonable for that cousin’s family to say that sending their daughter to England was too big a risk – it was within the realm of possibility that getting on the kindertransport could have been as disastrous for Eric’s grandmother as not getting on it was for her cousin.  But it wasn’t. 

I bring this up because I think it is important to understand that reading the data as I did in my prior post about the crash,  almost never leads to historical certainty.  That is, history, when you live it, feels like life.  There are occasionally those moments of absolute disaster in which you know you are playing a part in something larger, but most of the time, history is just what a lot of people do all day.  And it is virtually impossible to know what to do and when to do it precisely.  And yet, history, and what is happening now, are pretty much the tools that we have to work with. 

The point of my previous post was that it is possible to be in the midst of a historically significant and terribly tragic event, and not really know that you are participating in it.  The current world crisis may reach into my readership, leaving some of them hungry and desperate.  Or rich world denizens may well be able to say later “You hear all these stories about that terrible time, but we always had plenty.” It is, however, unlikely that the residents of Bangladesh will agree with you – crashes are always specific.  Even the Black Death left millions in the Americas who never knew it existed.  It may technically be possible for the world to have a equal opportunity worldwide crisis, but only a meteor crash that instantly extinguished all life would qualify – that is, there will always be people who say “well, that wasn’t too awful.”

So things can be crashing and we still have to ask ourselves “does this apply to me?”  Crashes happen all the time – Cuba crashed.  The Soviet Union crashed.  Argentina crashed.  The Jews of Europe crashed.  Zimbabwe crashed.  And larger crashes happen – they are perfectly possible.  But the perfect equal opportunity crash probably won’t ever happen.  The question is how much any given crisis will apply to you – or rather that’s part of the question.  The other question is this – if the world is crashing down around the poor and the hungry, when do we see it, not as their problem, but as ours?  When do we see it as a world-crash, not a poor-crash?  My own take is that sooner, rather than later, gets us closer to the response we need.

Nor is “crash” a world without multiple valences and meanings.  Dmitry Orlov wrote a superb essay about “The Five Stages of Collapse” - and his central point is that not only is a crash something that can work a whole lot of ways, but that it isn’t, as many people tend to assume, a race to the bottom – that is, saying that society is crashing doesn’t immediately translate to “cannibalism now.”  It simply means that things are falling apart and will have to be put back together in new ways.  It is pretty clear that the ways that it falls apart among the desperately poor and hungry will be different than if the rich world remains insulated.

Ultimately, at some point, all of us stand in the position of those three Mothers, making that agonzing decision – what do we do, what do we believe, how do we react.  And worse, we have to make it for others in many cases – parents have to make it for their children, but also neighbors make it for their neighbors, in a way – people who recognize where we’re going make preparations and move communities in particular ways.  

None of us knows that our reading of historical events is absolutely true.  It is certainly possible to over-react, to say that the sky is falling when what you have is just a little cloud.  It is also equally possible to under-react, to wait too long, to close off your choices, to say that the problem belongs to someone else or won’t come here for too long.  And the truth is, no matter what happens, everyone risks choosing wrongly.  And we don’t know the price of making mistakes.

But we still have to choose.  No matter what we do, we close off some options.  If we look up and see a crash, and live our lives as though we are in one, we choose one way.  We lose the peace of mind we might have had otherwise.  We may lose some time that would have felt normal – and we may choose wrongly.  We may look back and say “I wish I hadn’t listened to Sharon – I got all worried and nothing really happened” or “Things really weren’t that bad – I should have put the money into the college funds, not the farm” or “There was nothing we could do anyway, so I wish we’d just gone to Cancun one more time.”  Or perhaps your regrets will go the other way – there is no way not to choose.  “Wait and see” is a choice that closes off a whole set of options for early response.  “Hurry this way” closes off the option of going the other way.  We can’t not choose. 

And we can’t know what will happen.  As WH Auden observes

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure”

It is never fully possible to know which failures are important.  But what is possible is this. To make the best choices we can with what we know – to be the best Mothers and Fathers to our children and our culture that we can.  To leave as many doors open as we can.  And to decide that when children are falling into the sea, when a million more people are hungry, that this failure is ours, together.

Sharon 

My Family’s Deep Breaths

Sharon April 24th, 2008

I thought it might be interesting to tell you how we’re stepping back a little from the thoughts of crisis today.  My boys and I are…inventing permaculture.  Shhh…don’t tell Simon and Isaiah this existed already.  They think it was their idea.

 You see, in his wonderful book _Gaia’s Garden_ Toby Hemenway mentions that three sisters gardens actually have a fourth sister, cleome serrulata, also known as Rocky Mountain bee plant.  We’ve been planning for some time to do a family 3 sisters garden – the kids have drawn pictures, helped me make a garden plan and chose varieties of corn, beans and squash.  When they heard that, of course we had to add a fourth sister, and while we don’t have that particular Cleome, we do have seeds of common spider flower, also a Cleome.  Will it work?  No freakin’ idea, but we’re going to experiment. 

Well yesterday, as we were out on the swings, Simon and Isaiah came running up with a new idea.  Could they make a Four Brothers Garden, one based on plants that were special to them and that would work together?  And…and…could they be plants that come back forever, so that they have them every year.  I swear – they thought of the whole thing themselves.

So we started to talk about what a Four Brothers Garden would look like.  We all agreed that Eli’s plant should be the biggest, and that it should be an apple tree.  Since Eli can eat a half bushel of apples in a weekend, this seemed important.  We have apple trees, but one more is always welcome.

Simon, being the next sized down kid wanted  a shrub, and I suggested a Goumi, since we don’t have any, they fix nitrogen and I want one.  And Simon likes the idea because birds like them and he likes to say “Goumi.”

Isaiah wanted to have the pollinator plant – he loves bees, bugs and humming birds, and wanted something red that would attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.  We picked some Bee Balm – good also because Isaiah loves to make salads with edible flowers.

Finally, Asher is the little guy, but with a big, pushy personality.  What could be better than comfrey, dynamic accumulator that it is, for its natural mulching pleasures.  Yes, it is a spreader and occasionally a PITA, but then again, so’s my kid ;-) .

With just a little guidance from Mom, we’ve essentially reinvented the wheel.  But boy are the boys excited – and proud of themselves.  And it strikes me as remarkable what kids of four and six can accomplish when they put their minds to it.  Heck, permaculture summercamp – the next big thing!

BTW, http://green-phoenix.org/08-08-pdc.html I really wish I could go to this – I want to go to camp!  My relationship to permaculture is self teaching plus bugging some people I know to help me out – I’d love a chance to do a more formal program.  But I thought I would recommend it to those who don’t have four little tutors - and I’m told there’s some fundraising being done for those who can’t afford the full program.  

I’ve been invited to stop by and visit, and I might – although there are factors working against it.  First, there’ll be the goats to milk.  Second, there are the four kids and the lack of many people who really want us to dump them on them.  Third, there’s the driving miles - Rioting, y’know.  And finally there’s the real reason – I’m afraid Toby Hemenway will throw composting fruit at me ;-).  We had a little argument once, and I think he might be out for revenge – permaculturists are a rough bunch ;-) .

Ok, must abandon the blog – the screaming in the yard suggests that it is now time for Mommy to encourage the children to reinvent non-violence.

 Sharon

Ok, Breathe.

Sharon April 24th, 2008

So my last post kinda hit a nerve.  I broke 100 comments for the very first time (thanks for the lively discussion on nuclear power, guns, veganism and tomato plants), and made the top links at Savinar’s LATOC, the Automatic Earth, Energy Bulletin, etc…  Can I just make one little complaint – I asked, nay, begged y’all to argue me out of this belief, and almost no one argued the basic premise at all.  I really, really wanted someone to persuade me that things aren’t really going to hell in a handbasket. 

Given that that doesn’t seem to be happening, what to do?  Where do we go from here?  I have compiled a list of suggestions, most of them fairly obvious.

 1. Take a couple of deep breaths.  Yes, this is a scary thing.  Yes, this is a terribly sad thing.  Yes, we have every obligation to bust our behinds to do what we can to mitigate the disaster unfolding before us.

And yet, let’s also note that this current crisis was 150 years in the making and had the participation of a lot of people.  You didn’t do it by yourself, and you aren’t going to fix it by yourself.  You are potentially more powerful than you think – but no delusions of grandeur here ;-) .  The world will not fall apart if you take a short break.  Remember, we are the last fairy godmothers in line at the Christening.  We can’t make the curse go away, we can just soften it a little.

So take those deep breaths.  Go out in the garden and sit in the sun for a bit.  Read a book – and not a book about peak oil or food, a trashy novel – no high art allowed.  If you are a chick, and you haven’t read Georgette Heyer’s _Venetia_ or _Faro’s Daughter_ do.  If you are of either gender, and like mysteries, read Barbara Hambly’s _A Free Man of Color_ and the sequels.  Tom Robbins is permitted, and if you are a Sci Fi geek Lois McMaster Bujold (stay far, far away from the horrible ones about Fawn and Dag, though), Connie Willis (my favorite is _Bellweather_ or Neil Stephenson.  But stay away from “the earth is destroyed by a giant baseball bat and a few survivors must fight off drooling zombies…” stuff.  This is denial time. 

 Rent a movie.  I suggest a pre-1950s comedy, preferrably something with Cary Grant.  “His Gal Friday” “Desk Set” (my favorite of the Hepburn-Tracy flicks), “The Thin Man” or the perfect, glorious “A Night at the Opera.”  Nothing that reminds you of our present crisis – no “Modern Times.”

Have a beer or two.  Throw or kick a ball with your kid or some borrowed kid from the neighborhood.  Pat your seedlings.  Pet your dog or cat or guinea pig.  Hang out with friends and talk about trivial things.    Do something life affirming for a short while.

And then, get back to work on the same things – because in  a way, it doesn’t much matter if I’m right or not – the answer to how to do deal with a fast crash or a slow crash is the same – live differently, help other people adapt to living differently, grow food, enrich soil, share, talk to the neighbors, help each other out, take care of yourself and your own, give what you can to those in need, meet as many of your own needs as you can, keep services alive for those who are most vulnerable, speak out against injustice, do what good you can, and try and stop what evil you can, love one another, take pleasure in what you have and find a way to hope for the future.  Above all, to paraphrase the words over the Holocaust Museum – DON’T BE A BYSTANDER.  Be in your world, as deeply as you can, as bravely as you can.

2. Do not start panic buying food, especially rice.   Does that sound strange, coming from me?  Over at the breaking news page of LATOC you will see a lot of articles about food rationing hitting the US.  You may also see, if you look here that food rationing panic drove rice prices up to a record high overnight.  And while I’ve written that I don’t think poor people buying rice at reasonable prices is hoarding, and should not be primarily blamed for high rice prices, a lot of well fed Americans buying rice suddenly because Costco (btw, you heard it here first) is limiting purchases *is* bad for the world’s poor.  So don’t buy rice right now.  Take a deep breath again, and recognize that you and I will always be able to outbid poor people for rice, and that part of why food storage buying made sense is because my audience was so small – everyone wasn’t doing it.  When the problem was not acute, buying rice for your family made sense.  Now, it is acute, and it is more important to do what we can to help the poor.

Does this mean you shouldn’t store food – no, you absolutely should, but don’t contribute to the drive up of rice prices.  By oatmeal, plant potatoes, buy quinoa – but not big sacks or pallet loads of rice.   Forgo CAFO meat, and eat only meat, milk and eggs that is raised on pasture or with minimal human food grain use.  Send the money you would spend on that stuff (or on soyburgers – buy whole black soybeans and eat them instead) to the relief of the poor.

3. Add another row in your garden, or a bed, or something, and donate it to your food pantry.  Grow more food if you can.  Ask a neighbor if you can grow on her lawn, or your boss if you can plant vegetables on the corporate greenspace.  Push the limits of agriculture and local food as hard as you can.  Talk about food – make sure people understand that this is about who eats.

4. Get the hell out of your car.  I know this is hard – I live in the country – everything is far away.  But do it anyway – I bet you have a couple of trips you could skip.  Find a way.  Not warming the planet and not buying ethanol are too important.  So find a way.  We dumped our van, we’re now the proud owners of a tiny, high mileage compact car not officially designed for 6 people, 3 in carseats, but we can do it – and the less we drive, the less I have to sit crammed in the middle.  Making your car freakin’ uncomfortable is an excellent way of creating incentives to drive less ;-) .

5. There’s a good chance you’ll never build your strawbale dream house, start up that intentional community or buy a farm.  You may well be adapting in place.  So if you have been waiting to do things until you were where you want to be, start acting as though you might be in that place.  It is time to decide that home now is home.  Maybe you won’t have to stay put – but a lot of us will – or we’ll be moving onto someone’s couch.  Or someone will be moving onto yours.

 So use the yard sale season to get some extra blankets, and prep the couch, the guest room or whatever.  Think about how the kids might double up.  Accept that where you are may be your world for a while, and make it the best place you can.

 Build community – even if your neighbors are assholes, they are your assholes now. ;-) .  Get to know them, and get to know the power structures in your town and region – see what you can get started.  Talk about food security and Katrina and start developing a plan.

See the opportunity here to push harder, make more change, get more involved.  Run for something.  Give that talk at your church or community center.  Yes, I know you don’t want to.  Do it anyway. 

6. Triage.  If everything collapsed today (and no, it isn’t going to happen, so relax a little – I swear on all that is holy you have at least until Sunday ;-) ), where would you be?  Your community?  Your family?  What could you accomplish, and what can’t you?  Write it down. 

Next, take a look at what you would want to accomplish if you had a couple more years and some money.  Make a list.  I’m going to bet that there are some duplications on both lists – that is, there are things you have to do that you want to do anyway.  Guess which things are now numbers 1 and 2 on your priority list.  Maybe you still won’t be able to do them – but at least you know.  And maybe you will. 

But think it through.  I know, it isn’t much fun – it is far nicer to ask “what do we want the world to look like.”  But just in case, have a plan for fucked up too.  If you need guidance, I would encourage you to read Dmitry Orlov’s articles on his life during the Soviet Collapse, and to read his book as soon as it is available - it is terrific. 

 Of course there’s more – health care, transport, education…but start here.  Breathe first, then get to work.  Yes, things are falling apart rapidly, we’ve acknowledged it.  But then again, your life is different from yesterday now…how?

 Sharon 

We Regret to Inform You…

Sharon April 22nd, 2008

When climate change and peak oil thinkers run out of other things to worry about, there’s always the endless, inevitable debates about whether we are facing a “fast crash” or a “slow grind.”  And I admit, I’m worried about my fellow environmentalists – because I think they are about to lose their favorite distraction.  When no one was looking, we got an answer.  Fast crash wins.  And we’re in it now.

Wait a minute, you argue – that’s not right.  If we were in a fast crash we’d be well on our way to living in a Kunstler novel.  But we’ve still got cars, we’ve got food, things are slowing down, but at worst this looks like a slow grind – but the crazy lady at the blog is saying fast crash?!?!?

Before you argue with me (and you are both welcome and encouraged to), I’d like to post something a bit out of my usual style – it is simply a description of what has happened with food and energy in the last year – that’s all it is.  Then tell me what you think – because it wasn’t until I began to write this introduction to the present food situation that I suddenly was struck by the fact that even a fast crash doesn’t always look fast when you live it – new normals arise and it turns out we assimilate faster than we panic.

So here we are – the “We regret to inform you that what you have imagined to be “civilization” is now falling apart” post.  See if it strikes you the way it struck me. 

I would also note two things.  The first is that the general political consensus is that neither the food nor energy crisis will do anything but grow more acute anytime soon – we’re really in the early stages.  And that this only covers the first 4 months of 2008.

_______________________________________________________ 

In early 2008, the world’s food and energy train came off the rails.  What was startling was that it didn’t happen either gradually or in a linear way - instead, things simply fell apart at an astounding rate, faster than anyone could have predicted without being accused of lunacy.

It started with biofuels and growing meat consumption rates.  They drove the price of staple grains up at astounding rates.  In 2007, overall inflation for food was at 18%, which created  a new class of hungry, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.  In 2008, the month to month inflation was higher than 2007’s annual inflation.  At that rate, the price of food overall was set to double every other year.  Rice, the staple of almost half the world’s population rose 147%, while wheat grew 25% in just one day.  Price rises were inequitable (as was everything else) so while rice prices rose 30% in rich world nations like the US, Haitian rice prices rose 300%.

Haiti was an early canary in the hunger coal mine.  Desperately poor, by early 2008, tens of thousands of impoverished Haitians were priced entirely out of the market for rice and other staples, and were reduced to eating “cookies” made of nutrient rich mud, vegetable shortening and salt to quiet their hunger pangs.  Women stood on the street, offering their children to any reasonably well fed passerby, saying “Please, pick, take one and feed them.”  Thousands of Haitians marched on Port Au Prince, yelling, “We’re hungry.”  And indeed, the Haitian government was complicit, allowing food relief to rot on the wharves. But Haiti was just the start. 

After riots over long bread lines threatened to destabilize Egypt, the Egyptian government set the army to baking bread for the hungry.  Forty nations either stopped exporting grains or raised tariffs to make costs prohibitive.  Food prices rose precipitiously as importing nations began to struggle to meet rising hunger.  The UN warned that 33 nations were in danger of destabilizing, and the list included major powers including Pakistan, Mexico, North Korea India, Egypt and South Africa.   Many of these hold nuclear weapons.

The crisis didn’t stop among the already-poor, however.  An article in The Economist reported that the crisis extended well into the middle class –  Joanna Sheeran, director of the World Food Project  explained, “For the middle classes,…it means cutting out medical care. For those on $2 a day, it means cutting out meat and taking the children out of school. For those on $1 a day, it means cutting out meat and vegetables and eating only cereals. And for those on 50 cents a day, it means total disaster.”  

Up to 100 million people who had managed to raise their incomes above $2 a day found themselves inexorably drawn back to the world poverty level, while millions of those who called themselves “middle class” began, slowly, to realize that they were no such thing.  Reports noted that many of the supposed middle class in rich world nations were actually the working poor who had overextended their credit to keep up appearances.  And the appearances – and credit access – were fraying

In 2007, a major American newspaper reported the growing problem of seasonal malnutrition affecting poor children in the Northern US – the rising price of heating oil meant that lower class families were struggling to put on the table.  Hungry, low weight children were unable to maintain their body temperature in chilly houses, and a vicious circle of illness, hunger and desperation ensued.  Malnutrition bellies began to be regularly seen by pediatricians treating the urban poor in cold climates.

Shortages were a chronic problem in the poor world, but by early spring of 2008, they began to arrive in the rich world – despite Japan’s deep pockets, a shortage of butter and wheat reminded the rich world of its dependence on food import.   Many of the supply problems were due to climate change and energy issues, as Australian dairy farmers struggled with high grain prices and the extended drought that destroyed their pastures. 

Following up on anecdotal reports of limits at bulk warehouse stores, in late April of 2008 rationing went official. Many Costco stores were limiting purchases of flour, rice, cooking oil and other staples to avoid shortages – and the stores tracked purchases electronically to prevent customers from visiting other Costco stores.  This was the first example of food rationing, but probably not the last – at least one financial analyst was predicting corn shortages in the fall of 2008.

The energy train and the food train were inextricably linked, and indeed directly (as the costs of diesel rose rapidly) and indirectly (rising energy costs created the biofuels boom) drove the food crisis.    They were linked in other, complex ways as well – the housing collapse that threatened to plunge Europe and the US into a  major depression was in part due to the high costs of commuting from suburban infrastructure.  Exurban housing collapsed hardest, while housing closer to cities remained desirable – for a while.

While the food crisis in the poor world made headlines, the energy crisis there went almost unnoticed.  <ore and more poorer nations simply could not afford to import oil and other fossil fuels, and began to slowly but steadily lose the benefits of fossil fuels.  Nations suffered shortages of gas, electricity and coal.  Tajikistan, experiencing a record cold winter found itself with inadequate supplies of heating oil and a humanitarian crisis.  South African coal supplies were so short that electricity generation dropped back to intermittency.

Industrial agriculture, described as “the process of turning oil into food” began to struggle to keep yields up to match growing demand.  Yield increases fell back steadily, with more and more investment of energy (and higher costs for poor farmers trying to keep yields up).  Yield increases, which had been at 6% annually from the 1960s through the 1990s fell to 1-2%, against rapidly rising demand.  Climate change threatened to further reduce yields in already stressed poor nations – Bangladesh struggled with repeated climate change linked flooding, the Sahelian African countries with growing drought, China with desertification. 

All future indications were that both food and energy supplies would fail to keep up with demand. Unchecked (the only kind we’ve got) climate change is expected to reduce rice yields by up to 30%, and food production in the already starving Sahel is expected to be reduced by half.  GMOs, touted as a solution, have yet to produce even slightly higher yields.  Arable land is disappearing under growth, while aquifers are heavily depleted – 30% of the world’s grain production comes from irrigated land that is expected to lose its water supply in the next decades.

Meanwhile the costs of fossil fueled agricultural skyrocketed, with Potash rising by 300% in less than a year.  What should have been a boom for farmers was actually the beginning of an increasingly precarious spiral of high prices, high indebtedness and market volatility.  Agricultural indebtedness rose dramatically.

Meanwhile, the ability of nations to transport food supplies began to be called into question.  Early trucker protests were intermittent and largely ineffective, but real predictions of diesel shortages and a shortage of refining capacity made it a real possibility that food might not reach store shelves. 

 And so how does the story end?  If you were reading this in a history book, what ending would you expect to see?  Because just because the crash doesn’t quite read like a post apocalyptic novel doesn’t mean that we aren’t the new Po-Apoc (like Po-Mo, only darker) generation.

Sharon

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