Midnight in the food-stamp economy

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I read an interesting article from Reuters on the food stamp economy.  Retailers like Costco and Walmart have had to upgrade their point of sale systems to handle food stamp EBT cards.  Clearly, the job situation has driven droves of people onto the public assistance rolls.   Ultimately, people are going to have to come up with solutions of their own to survive the Great Recession as this will be with us for quite some time. 

Although I grew up in a major city, I have an appreciation for rural living mainly because my parents were from the rural south and they were very frugal.  To keep expenses under control,  one of the things my family had when I was growing up  was a large garden where we grew all of our vegetables.  My parents had my four siblings and I out in that garden during the summers hoeing and picking and after we bought bushels of vegetables home, we had to help out with all the canning.  I suspect that my family probably single handedly kept Ball Jars in business.  (Of course, my siblings and I hated it, but it was definitely a family activity that we all did together). We didn’t have fruits in our garden, so we’d go somewhere else to pick those and my mother would make jellies and preserves from the apples, grapes and strawberries we picked. 

Basically, we had a pantry full of veggies and jellies and the only thing we ever bought from the store were dairy products, toiletries, meats and etc.  I even remember my mother making clothes with cut-out patterns on her sewing machine.  I won’t get into the books of S & H green stamps she accumulated to redeem, but basically my parents did everything possible to economize.  They weren’t all that unusual in that regard because most everyone was doing a variation of the same thing.  I’m not referring to some remote ancient epoch here; we were doing this in the 1960′s and 1970′s.   

All of these things are long forgotten skills and they’re necessary to have for self reliance.  I think the greatest service that can be provided to people is for someone to show folks how to do some of this.  The key in this economy for the long term unemployed and those on public assistance is to sharply reduce the need for money as much as they practically can.  Assuming control over one’s food supply prevents the pangs of hunger while waiting for next month’s food stamp allotment. 

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