According to my checkbook, my last trip to an actual supermarket took place on December 22. I went yesterday because I had used up all my stored juice. I have a couple of quarts of cider left in the freezer but that’s it. I was struck by a couple of things.

1. Prices are a LOT higher than a few months ago. Sugar was $7.69 for a ten pound sack. Packaged cereal was in the neighborhood of $5.00 for a name brand box and many packages were noticeably smaller. If you shop each week the prices may creep up on you but when you only shop 6 times a year, it really shows up.
2. It is not possible to shop in a supermarket and avoid plastic or GMO’s.
3. A lot of people were using WIC checks and credit, debit or SNAP card. Cash and checks are pretty rare.
4. A lot of the staff was middle-aged. I wonder how many were checking out groceries because they needed that extra cash to pay for their own groceries.

I’m not making an editorial here. Just observing.

The news has been really bad of late. The austerity budgets are coming out and I think it’s just the beginning. Our school district announced last night that the stimulus money is gone, the state has reduced aid to municipalities and next year will certainly see budget cuts and staff reductions. Climate instability has impacted the price of food with poor people being hit hard enough to topple governments. People seem to be going crazy in larger numbers with violent events dominating the news. We have huge, macro problems with solutions seemingly beyond the scope of anyone to solve. While the problems are big, for many of us, the solutions need to be small.

Figure out your food. Joining a food co-op may seem like too much work but the benefits are huge. Good food without all the packaging at better prices along with a food community is just the beginning. Look at your diet. What can be changed? What can be sourced differently? I took a long look at juice yesterday. I’ll certainly be canning more apple juice this year and just drinking less juice overall. Herbal teas can fill in for some and plain water too. I give up coffee from time to time but I always fall off the coffee wagon come winter. I need to discipline myself to give it up for good. We eat very little dried cereal and we all like oatmeal and cooked wheat. My kids actually like plain rice with milk and sugar for breakfast. I can knock boxed cereal right off the shopping list and never miss it.

Really look at your energy usage. We’re pulling the second television out of the den. The girls often turn it on just for the music station when they have lots of other music sources that use much less energy. Weather stripping, and window coverings are a better investment than a new, $ 6000.00 furnace in many cases.

Buy used.
Don’t buy.
Stay home.
Turn it off. (It doesn’t matter what it is. You’re better off if it is.)
Grow something.
Store something.

Don’t wait.