Posted Feb 20, 2014 by Tom Whipple
As the years go by, those studying peak oil are beginning to develop a better understanding of what has been happening since the concept of limits to oil production came to widespread attention. First of all, it is important to understand that in one sense, production of what had been thought of as “conventional oil” really did peak back in 2005. While there has been growth in certain sectors of the “oil” industry in the last nine years it has come in what are known as “unconventional liquids”; and, as we shall see, the maintenance of existing conventional oil production has come at a very high price.
We are the human batteries powering the Corporatized Matrix – born into indentured servitude. The Corporate endless growth paradigm cannibalized the real economy, leaving a hollow illusion populated by denatured human drones…
These country club CEOs and their management lackeys are hardcore sociopaths. They’ve impoverished millions without even the slightest twinge of guilt. They turned the economy into a zero sum game to their own overwhelming personal benefit and in the process turned their companies into call options. Most of them were hatched in Ivy League schools which generated the text book alchemy that gives the all-important specious stamp of approval to this entire fucking fiasco. Harvard et. al. must never be questioned, no matter how self-destructive are their ideas.
Like HFTs in the stock market, the corporate special interests front-run the public at the polling booth by buying both/all parties ahead of time. The game show hosts in politics with % approval ratings hovering near single digits, bear the brunt of the public frustration while the puppet masters remain out of view. The Lost Boys of the Idiocracy and various other complicit stooges rail away at “evil government” in faux outrage, while the special interest groups who direct all government actions remain fully intact and unquestioned.
Economics is not a difficult subject, unless you try to learn it from an economist. As described by John Kenneth Galbraith, who posed as an economist but was far better as a critic:
Economics is a subject profoundly conducive to cliche, resonant with boredom. On few topics is an American audience so practiced in turning off its ears and minds. And none can say that the response is ill advised.
Common sense is all that is required to be a good economist. Unfortunately, in order to get your union card, you must pretend to have none. Belief in fairy tales like more spending and “free lunches” is also necessary.
But that is of little import in regard to the title – How to identify economic zombies.
What Is A Zombie?
Webster defines zombie as
… a will-less and speechless human in the West Indies capable only of automatic movement who is held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated
An economic zombie can speak and is not dead in any physical sense. His defining feature is a focus almost solely on the present. He assumes tomorrow will be just like today. If his current behavior has not created trouble or hardship thus far, then it won’t tomorrow or on into the future. Linearity describes his thinking and world. The future will be just like today.
A Simple Test For Economic Zombie Determination
The test to determine whether you or your friends are zombies is simple. Answer the following question: How would you live if debt/credit were outlawed? The economic zombie has difficulty comprehending the question, no less answering it. If you or your friends do, then you are well on your way toward full zombie-hood, if in fact you are not already there.
The question is relevant because it identifies those too ignorant to comprehend the fact that you cannot consume more than your income will support, at least not forever.
Income for a period determines the amount you can spend that period, or it would in the absence of debt or savings. Borrowing this period enables spending to exceed income this period. But borrowing is nothing but advancing consumption that otherwise would occur in a later period. Whatever is borrowed raises consumption this period but reduces it next period when some of the income earned then cannot be spent because it must be used to service the prior debt. Total consumption for both periods is lower than it would have been without the borrowing. That is due to the paying the carrying cost of debt, interest.
If you cannot understand this concept or you believe that you can nullify it by borrowing again next period, you qualify as an economic zombie. If you answered that you could not live if debt/credit were outlawed, you are an economic zombie, and perhaps also an economic idiot. Osavi Osar-Emokpae colorfully described debt:
And don’t tell me debt is not a big deal. Debt will cut off your legs and laugh at you as you grovel in the dirt begging for mercy. If you don’t need it, don’t get it. If you can’t afford it, don’t get it. If you’re already in debt, get out quickly. If you think you’ll never get out, you’re right, you won’t.
If you are using your credit cards as loans (i.e., you are not paying in full the balance each month) then you are zombie-qualified.
Economic zombies are not born. They are made. They choose their lifestyle. Behind every economic zombie is someone who believes he should live better than his abilities allow. That may work for a time. Then the Osar-Emokpae quote takes over.
The reality is that negative borrowing, saving, should be occurring every year. Man has a finite lifespan and a finite earning career. The latter is shorter than the former. Part of life is to be responsible enough to prepare for the future when income stops. Borrowing is a sign of immaturity and ignorance. Occasionally borrowing is necessary to meet an unforeseen emergency. If it is routine, then you are an economic zombie!
Water rationing began in areas surrounding Malaysia’s capital after a prolonged drought, as Selangor state officials sought to wrap up talks to nationalize the local industry.
“The supply of raw water in Selangor state is in a critical condition,” Khalid Ibrahim, the state’s chief minister, said in a faxed statement late yesterday. “The water levels at a few dams have been shrinking to reach an alarming stage.”
Rationing may also start in parts of Negeri Sembilan, south of Kuala Lumpur, if there is no rain in coming days, the New Straits Times reported today, citing the state’s Chief Minister Mohamad Hasan. Several other states have also reported shortages amid rising concerns over the potential impact on Malaysian palm oil crops if the drought continues. Prime Minister Najib Razak is due to discuss the situation in cabinet tomorrow, including the possibility of cloud-seeding, the official Bernama news service said.
Opposition-controlled Selangor, which surrounds Kuala Lumpur, has been trying to nationalize water-treatment assets in its jurisdiction for years to restructure the industry and tackle periodic shortages. Malaysia’s local and national governments want to announce a final resolution to the buyout within two weeks, the state’s chief minister said Feb. 18.
The regional government offered companies including Gamuda Bhd. (GAM) a combined 9.7 billion ringgit ($3 billion) for their assets in December, Sharizan Rosely, an analyst at CIMB Group Holdings Bhd., wrote in a Jan. 10 report. Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd. (KUPS) and Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd. (PNH) are also being asked to sell.
Malaysia’s palm oil, cocoa and rubber-tapping industries are dependent on regular rainfall. An El Nino weather pattern, which can parch Australia and parts of Asia while bringing rains toSouth America, may occur in the coming months, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said today.
“It needs a very prolonged drought to have a severe effect” on palm oil production, Ling Ah Hong, director of Malaysian research and consulting company Ganling Sdn., said by phone. “This current drought is only about three to four weeks.”
A prolonged drought might have a lagged effect on next year’s production, mainly through floral abortion when cells die before they can mature, said Ling.
Crude palm oil prices have climbed 7.6 pecent this month and rose 0.4 percent to 2,753 ringgit per metric ton as of the 12:30 p.m. trading break in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The positive price uptrend for crude palm oil is expected to be sustained as the current hot and dry weather affects parts of Malaysia and Indonesia, IOI Corp. (IOI), Malaysia’s second-largest palm oil producer by market value, said in a stock exchange filing today.
The dry weather began in early February and may last until mid to end of March, the Malaysian Meteorological Department says in e-mailed statement to Bloomberg News today. El Nino weather conditions may develop after May or June, it said.
For optimal yield per hectare, palm oil requires rainfall of 1,500-2,000 millimeters or more distributed evenly through the year without a drought of more than three months, the department said.
“The severity of the decline in production will depend on how long the dry season lasts,” Alan Lim Seong Chun, an analyst at Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd., said by phone in Kuala Lumpur. “In the worst-case scenario, it can drop to 30 percent below normal.”
Residents in parts of Selangor will get water on alternate days and rationing will continue until the end of March if hot weather continues, the chief minister said. The government will evaluate the situation before deciding on whether to declare an emergency, Bernama reported on Feb. 21, citing Najib.
“If the drought continues past March, then we might have to deal with more severe rationing that could possibly have an impact on our GDP,” Yeah Kim Leng, chief economist at RAM Holdings Bhd., said in a phone interview from Kuala Lumpur. “It’s likely to be short-lived.”
Neighboring Singapore had a record 27 consecutive days of dry weather from Jan. 13, the country’s National Environment Agency said. The rain shortage may extend into the first half of March, it said in a statement.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Barry Porter at email@example.com
50% of America’s fruits and veggies are grown in California and the Feds
are destroying their crops. What this means for you.
PREFACE: Only a small space is required to grow most fruits and veggies for a family. So Stan and I will scamper over to our local garden center this week and for additional organic compost to augment our Super Soil and get those growies growing! By the end of Summer our own compost piles should be ready to sustain the gardens hereafter. It just takes a little while to get there.Sunday, we planned out this year’s garden – including more than usual. Definitely making time for canning this year. Had the equipment, not the time. Since warmth – and dry (drat!) – are coming early this year to the West, Southwest and Southeast, it’s important to get our garden ready in February and seedlings sprouted and sunk in the ground by late March instead of late April – a full month ahead of normal. The most time-consuming aspect will getting the Super Soil pre-warmed as described in Garden Gold, which will only require a couple hours, so plants get a head start and beat this Summer’s killing heat.
These NOAA maps show the probability of temperatures exceeding the norm, so roughly 1/3 of the Country can get their veggies and fruits in early. Unfortunately, as 2014 progresses, a bunch of us will be sweating bullets living in tank tops and shorts.
Click on the different NOAA 3-month outlooks (under More POE Outlooks) on the left to see how temps are revving up hotter and earlier this year. It’s weird that after this blisteringly bitter cold winter, we have to think in terms of excessive heat, but that’s what extreme climate change is about and something Stan and I have warned would descend since 1995. Now that it’s here, everyone must act with fore-thought and planning. With what’s coming, every day counts. —Holly
February 24, 2014
TAN DROUGHT KILLING THE GOLDEN STATE
Government has lost its mind. It is no more evident than their decision last week to cut off water to America’s food basket. Squeezed by the worst-ever drought in the state’s history, California is dying of thirst. Crushing news was delivered to farmer’s that no water would be coming from the Federal government. This dreaded decision was compounded by the Sierra Mountains getting just 25% of normal snowpack. There is no water to replenish already dangerously low reservoirs, so no water for farmers.
Photo: Government shut off water in 2009 to California farms in a controversial effort to help threatened species. (NOAA) Now they shut off water to farmers because of low snowpack and rainfall. They can’t win.
Despite recent storms, it’s done nothing to alleviate the staggering dryness. California needs snow. Desperately. Down bursts can’t soak into parched, concrete-like soil so it rolls off, unused, into sewers and drainage ditches. Snowpack melts slowly and is easily funneled into reservoirs and sinks into land and eventually groundwater basins.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency 5 weeks ago and conditions have worsened since.
Farmers who thought this might be coming delayed planting crops. Some have given up altogether. Even late harvests, where possible, would be better than wasting the cost of fuel to run equipment, paying farm workers to work dying fields, paying for seeds that likely won’t survive summer – and have it all come to nothing. Over half a million acres won’t even be planted.
Not that anyone wants a business penalized, but golf courses will be allowed to waste water in the most extravagant method possible. What would you rather have: food on the table or 225,000 acres of lush golf links? The amount of water required to keep them verdant is staggering. Residential customers are already being warned to conserve and some cities have passed mandatory water restrictions. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that 17 communities are at risk of running dry.
Image: It’s clear from the image below that regions of California worst hit and in danger of running out of water are the prime food growing areas.
DROUGHT = SLOW DEATH
We saw this same scenario play out in Beulah, Colorado in 2002 – the year after Stan warned the Pine Drive Water District they needed vastly more water storage. They didn’t listen. The very next year when residents turned on their faucets, literally not a drop dripped. So dire was the situation, it made national news. It was a shock to have literally no water available.
Huge white plastic water storage tanks were hastily set up in front yards and water was trucked in weekly from Pueblo. Wells went completely dry and livestock were reluctantly sold off. It was either that or watch them die.
The next Spring when Stan and I drove around Beulah, the wildlife took your breath. Most telling were larger animals. Baby deer that survived were unbelievably scrawny. Their mothers’ ribs stuck out of their backs and sides from patchy coats like awkward jagged tree branches. Their faces were unhealthily gaunt, lit by haunted eyes. It was heartbreaking.
That was one small mountain community. Now we’re talking about an entire state facing extreme conditions. Heaven help them in the 2014 fire season, which for Californians, began January.
Last week Pres. Obama promised $100 million in livestock-disaster aid, but that doesn’t make water fall from the sky. This is less than a pittance when livestock and poultry alone gross nearly $10 billion in California.1 Instead farmers, like Beulah residents, will be forced to sell their animals. This is a calamity. We’re not talking about a few hundred head. On average, when drought conditions hammer down, like those in Texas a couple years ago, it takes at least 3 years to rebuild herds. This means further rising beef prices that we Americans are already experiencing. Just wait, it will get worse. I warned in 2010 what the Texas drought would do to beef prices in the next few coming years, and this story bears it out: Ground Beef Prices Have Skyrocketed, Here’s Why. The article warns to expect steak to double.
Three weeks ago news agencies reported that beef herds are the smallest since 1951 – and this didn’t factor in what will surely be a massive cattle sell-off in the Golden State.
Other crops feel it too. “Retail prices for tomatoes rose 10% in the 12 months through Jan. 31, and U.S. retail prices for beef, bacon, lettuce and broccoli have also risen at least 10% last year.”2 This hike came before farmers found out they won’t be getting water for crops and 8 million California farmland acres depend on federal and state irrigation.
In a stunning report from Time Magazine, Bryan Walsh writes that scientists fear California’s dryness “could get much, much worse” bringing back the horrible era of mega-droughts. “These mega-droughts aren’t predictions. They’re history, albeit from a time well before California was the land of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. And the thought that California and the rest of the modern West might have developed during what could turn out to be an unusually wet period is sobering. In 1930, a year before construction began on the Hoover Dam, just 5.6 million people lived in California. Today more than 38.2 million live in the largest state in the U.S., all of whom need water. California’s 80,500 farms and ranches produced crops and livestock worth $44.7 billion in 2012, but dry farming districts like the Central and Imperial Valleys would wither without irrigation.”3
Image: According to the Drought Monitor, 91% of California is in Severe to Exceptional Drought. For comparison, the rest of CONUS looks much better except Nevada and they don’t grow much of anything.
As one Millennium-Ark reader pointed out in an email last week, after the jump in beef prices, people will look to chicken, pork, fish and turkey. Chicken is already up though not as much as beef. This will, in turn, drive up their costs and affect availability of these other meats. Keep in mind that California also produces all of these proteins plus lamb. Then consider this: Ag Specialists Warn of Higher Wheat Prices Due to Drought. It’s not just beef, weather is clobbering food from all angles. Rising Threat to Crops from Climate underscores it.
Not to be totally depressing, but remember to factor in possible health issues from the Corexit ridden fish and seafood in the Gulf courtesy of BP’s Deepwater Horizon debacle. Then there’s Fukushima Daiichi’s radiation affecting fish all up and down the West Coast.
Food production is not a national only issue. We export food around the world. In the grain arena, so does Argentina, Australia, Canada, the EU with India, Pakistan, Thailand, the U.S. and Viet Nam contributing to world rice production. Every – single – country is being hit with flood, heatwaves or drought.
Friends, serious climate issues are clobbering beef, grain, fruit and veggies – nearly all food – with unpleasant trickle-down repercussions coming. At this point, it doesn’t matter if it’s caused by geo-engineering, climate change (aka global warming), natural cycles or Sun-driven events. We must deal with the fallout and it’s coming fast.
If you think the beef and grain scenario is bad, check what’s happening in the fruit and veggie department.
CALIFORNIA’S GOLDEN BREAD BASKET
California grows half, HALF of America’s produce. Another 13% is exported4 around the world. California’s yearly produce is valued at more than $45 billion5. In the list below, out of some 400 different foods it grows for our Nation, California leads production for 79 of them. Out of these 79, California grows ALL of 14 crops (in bold). Keep in mind, this list is only 79 out of some 400 foods including sugar beets, mushrooms, oats, potatoes, cucumbers and many more.
Now scroll down to one very important item in the 4th column – Greenhouse Vegetables. These are the nicely potted vegetable, fruit and herb seedlings people purchase every year at building materials centers and nurseries around the Country. These are now at risk.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR SEEDS!
People who have never grown their garden plants from seed think it’s hard and jet down to retailers to buy what they want to grow. There’s nothing wrong with this; we’ve done it too. However, it is so much more economical – and fun – and easy – to start your own plants from seed.
For those who are interested in starting their seedlings this year, here are some practical reasons.
1) Most retailers don’t offer non-hybrid, non-GMO, open-pollinated and heirloom plants.
2) It saves a bunch of money in the long run.
3) Allows a head start on the growing season. Retailers normally have their veggies and fruits for sale on a predictable timetable not taking into account yearly climatic differences. It’s possible to lose weeks in the growing season.
4) Get what you want. Last spring, some plants we wanted, like romaine, NuMex chilies and red lettuce, sold out early. Due to the economy, some veggies were completely unavailable as they only stocked the most popular. Additionally, we noticed that Lowe’s and Home Depot didn’t carry as extensive a variety as they normally do.
5) Avoid greenhouse-borne diseases.
6) This is a fun project for kids and grandkids – a good educational tool so they see how plants make food from seed to table.
Seeds don’t need sunlight to sprout, but do need warmth around the clock. We set the Seedling Heat Mat on a 1″ piece of styrofoam. The foam both protects the tabletop and keeps the warmth from escaping out the bottom. The heat mat keeps the soil temperature consistent and 10-20 degrees warmer over room temperature air. They’re relatively inexpensive and really improve germination and seedling growth.
The bottom tray goes on top of the mat with the little seedling plastic pots set inside. Depending on how many seedlings are needed, it’s more economical to do these plastic pots in a sheet than peat pots. It’s cleanable and reusable. If you’re only going to start 20 or so plants, then peat pots save washing it out.
The Seedling Heat Mat (9” x 19-1/2”) and lights are extra. Mats are about $20 and grow lights are about $21 each, but vary widely in price depending on retailer.
Then the clear plastic greenhouse dome cover sits on top with its edges resting on the sides of the bottom tray. Stan puts aluminum foil between the dome and the metal so it doesn’t turn the plastic an ugly yellow-brown. The yellowing problem we found out the hard way and ruined one dome. No place mentions this tip – and others – except in Garden Gold.
It’s important to get a greenhouse that has a high enough dome cover. Some kits’ covers are only about 2″ or 3″ tall. We use the Mondi 7″ dome (7-1/2” H x 11” W x 21-1/4” L) that sells for $4.60 and fits the 1020 tray. As the seedlings grow, if the lights become too close, they can burn tender leaves and suck the life out of tiny plants. Stan has even put in a set of 2″ or 3″ risers at each end between the dome and the bottom tray if the seedlings grew too tall. Risers can be made out of anything that’s not too heavy, just strong enough to support the dome and not break the bottom tray’s lip. The 1020 Tray runs $1.40 and the 72-cell propagation tray that fits perfectly inside is $9 for 10.
Photo: This is how it looks assembled – all ready for 72 seedlings waiting fill your food needs!
Some seed starter kits come without the plastic tops, but you need the dome to both hold the lights and keep moisture in. On top are two circles for moisture control. They can be opened or closed as needed.
Simply setting planted seeds in a window won’t provide enough light once the seedlings sprout. Plus, windows can get transmit cold, which can either delay or stop germination altogether and defeats the purpose of the heat mat.
Stan cut holes in the ends toward the top of the greenhouse dome and inserted 4 grow lights that are 2 feet long. We use Sun Blaster F24T5 24W HO lights. If you’re looking on-line for the best price, they are normally listed as “Sun Blaster T5 HO”. Gave a cursory look and the best price so far was at GroswersHouse.com:growershouse.com/sun-blaster-t5-ho-fluorescent-strip-light-2.
NOW is the time to purchase open pollinated, organic, non-genetically engineered seeds. When we ordered onion sets last week, I noticed there were already a few products on Seeds of Change that had sold out or were temporarily sold out. People are getting on the stick early this year!
You’ll get further savings from companies that offer seed in bulk. This is a smart purchase for the foods you love. We did this several years ago and now have our own seed bank.
Here are 4 great resources – ones we use – for open pollinated, heirloom seeds:
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – rareseeds.com
- Fedco Seeds – fedcoseeds.com
- John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds – kitchengardenseeds.com
- Seeds of Change – seedsofchange.com
If they don’t have what you want, Garden Gold lists over 350 suppliers with their contact information and websites. You’ll spend less time hunting for open-pollinated seeds and supplies, which leaves you more time to get your plants going.
NO COLORADO DOPE, JUST THE STRAIGHT SKINNY
I’m no mystic, but do see what’s coming down. It will be hurtful – possibly signaling prophetic bells to remind of us of Revelation’s 3rd Seal. ALL of our food is being squeezed one way or another. Just after I placed that short note Sunday on our website about getting the garden going, within 15 minutes a dozen people wrote saying they feel that same pressing urgency.
For many fruits and veggies, you can greatly lessen the pain at the grocery store simply by starting (or continuing) your home gardens. While community gardens and farmer’s markets are preferable to depending on the grocery stores and getting ‘robbed’ at check out, it’s best to have fruits and veggies right in your own yard. As they say with precious metals, if it’s not in your hand you don’t own it. You can harvest so much in such little space by using the ancient Chinese technique of bio-intensive growing described in Garden Gold. You will have produce running out your ears. There will be enough to can or sell depending on your family size. Whatever method of gardening you choose, get your beds ready soon.
Now for the beef and other proteins dilemma, if you have a spare freezer, it would behoove you to stock up now before prices shoot up further. You would easily be money ahead to purchase a freezer and stock that baby till it’s ready to burst. Alternately, look at some freeze-dried meats. The last time we checked, the food price bump had not yet hit this industry. Why? Because they literally buy tons of meats at a time and process same until they nearly run out. Then they take the hit on food prices and pass it onto customers. However, we the grocery store consumer, feel every bump and tickle along the way. There is a window of opportunity here…
We caution you to buy from only reputable, long-established retailers. It’s questionable for some smaller outfits where they got their foods, especially if they are a new name. One company is selling food that was around at least since 1998 and has been repackaged to look new. This is a smaller, lesser-known company so stay with the power names for best freshness: Mountain House, Alpine Aire, Thrive (Shelf Reliance). Read What They Don’t Tell You About Storable Foods for more insight. Also check these reviews: Mountain House, Provident Pantry / Emergency Essentials, Shelf Reliance / Thrive, Wise, EFoods Direct.
Don’t miss my next article coming shortly: How to Start Your Own Seed Bank.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Holly Drennan Deyo is the author of three books: bestseller Dare To Prepare (4th ed.), Prudent Places USA (3rd ed.) and Garden Gold (2nd ed.) Please visit she and her husband’s website: standeyo.com and their FREE Preparedness site: DareToPrepare.com.
1 A Look at California Agriculture, November 2012, agclassroom.org/kids/stats/california.pdf
2 California Farm Drought Crisis Deepens, By Andria Cheng, MarketWatch, Feb. 22, 2014; marketwatch.com/story/california-farm-drought-crisis-deepens-2014-02-22-16103424
3 California Drought: Water Supply Could Tighten in Mega Droughts, By Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine, Jan. 23, 2014; http://science.time.com/2014/01/23/hundred-years-of-dry-how-californias-drought-could-get-much-much-worse/
4 California Agricultural Exports, University of California Agricultural Issues Center, cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/PDFs/2013/Export.pdf
5 California Agricultural Statistics, http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/
6 California Agricultural Statistics 2012 Crop Year, USDA, pg. 1, nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/California/Publications/California_Ag_Statistics/Reports/2012cas-all.pdf
An increasing number of people are moving into urban environments and away from traditional agriculture. As a consequence, those who have a mind for self-sufficiency can find themselves falling short. Storable foods are of course an important part of every emergency prepper’s pantry, but storable foods are not a sound long-term solution that contain optimal nutrition.
Even produce from farmers markets and store-bought organic food will lose peak freshness faster than one might imagine. Alanna Ketler from Collective-Evolution explains:
Most people do not realize that vegetables will lose about half of their nutrients within the first week of being picked. The food that you are getting from the supermarket will not be as nutritionally rich as the food you are growing yourself and consuming immediately after harvesting. Imagine how much more fresh and alive this food tastes. If you have or have ever had a garden I’m sure you have certainly noticed a difference. (Source)
Nothing can beat growing your own fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. But it is quite a challenge for those with limited space; not everyone can afford acres of land to become a full-fledged farmer. Then, of course, are the climate considerations that inhibit year-round growing in most places across the planet.
However, several high-tech solutions are becoming available for city dwellers, or those who have a less-than-green thumb. As food prices surge due to climatological and economic factors, there never has been a better time to find ways of becoming self-sufficient at a low cost. It’s a movement toward becoming the ultimate locavore.
The following inventions offer an exciting way to have fresh produce year-round … right in your own kitchen, while also presenting a potential reduction in overall cost.
1. Urban Cultivator – This is a hydroponic system that is currently in use both professionally and in personal homes. One model, as seen in the short promo below, is roughly the same size as a dishwasher and is set up in a similar manner, according to the site’s design specs. By setting the perfect level of humidity and temperature, it’s as simple as adding a 100% organic food solution to be able to grow a wide range of pesticide and chemical free produce in your indoor garden.
Visit the site here.
For restaurateurs, here is what the commercial model looks like:
2. GrowCubes – Using aeroponics, GrowCubes offer efficient indoor growing for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, using 95 percent less water, with an added built-in resistance to diseases and pests. A software program underpins the system, offering a detailed Internet-connected analysis and customization platform to obtain and fulfill the optimal level of nutrients and maintenance. A coming Kickstarter program will focus on bringing this system to market later in the year.
3. Click and Grow Smart Farm – This is a another concept that is heavily invested in the ideas surrounding the Internet of Farming. The Click and Grow system is actually an expandable series of “smart pots” that can grow produce, as well as flowers. It begins by providing soil that remains in proper nutrient and pH balance throughout the growth of the plant. As they point out, the constant watering in traditional potted plants actually leaches away nutrients, so the addition of proper water management increases efficiency and production. This demo shows the process.
4. Kitchen Nano Garden – This is a concept being developed by Hyundai. It is roughly the size of a refrigerator and employs a similar method of hydroponic growing as seen in the Urban Cultivator. It controls the amount of light, nutrient supply and water to create the optimal efficiency for growing. The prototype won the 2010 Fast Company Idea Award and also doubles as a natural air purifier. While still only a concept, it is exciting to see a company with the resources of Hyundai working on this technology.
5. UrbGarden – While the 4 items above appeal to modern sensibilities, some of us still would like to retain a bit of the natural even if we can’t get our hands dirty on a traditional farm. TheUrbGarden is designed to be a vertical herb garden with an integrated worm farm for easy composting. The system produces a natural fertilizer which is then fed back through a drip system. Its open-window design offers an element of harvesting, as the grow trays are removed and re-potted as needed.
It is worth mentioning that in a grid-down situation, the four “high-tech solutions” offered here will become virtually useless as they rely on a power source. And none of these systems should be seen as direct replacements for developing a solid relationship with your local farmer, farmers market, or development of community gardens. However, these solutions do enable people to get away from commercial food and the toxic packaging that its often wrapped in, while making the act of farming as easy and hassle free for as many people as possible.
One thing is for certain: there is a movement to regain the self-sufficiency that has been lost within our modern world. If we are going high-tech, then we at least need to employ it the healthiest and most economical ways possible.
Note: Activist Post does not receive compensation from any of the products mentioned in this article.
Recently from Jeffrey Green:
oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: Eating Our Seed Corn: How Much of our “Growth” Is From One-Time Cashouts?
We as a nation are consuming our seed corn in great gulps, and there will be precious little left in a decade to pass down to the next generation.
Anecdotally, it seems a significant percentage of our recent economic “growth” is being funded by one-time cashouts of IRAs, 401Ks, sales of parents’ homes, etc. This is the equivalent of eating our seed corn. Once these pools of savings/equity/capital are gone, they aren’t coming back.
I personally know a number of people who have cashed out their retirement account 401Ks (and paid the taxes) to pay for their kids’ college expenses–in effect, cashing out their retirement to lower but not eliminate the debt burden of their offspring who bought the “going away to college” experience.
The cashed-out 401K delighted the government, which reaped huge penalties and income taxes, as the cashout pushed the annual income of the recipient into a high tax bracket. (“Hardship” withdrawals for medical care and education waive the penalties, but the income tax takes a big chunk of the withdrawal.)
The middle-aged person who cashed out their retirement will not work long enough to save an equivalent nestegg. Not only is time against such an accumulation of retirement savings, so is the stagnant economy: companies are slashing 401K contributions to offset rising healthcare (a.k.a. sickcare) expenses, and many workers young and old alike are finding jobs that pay them as self-employed contractors or part-time jobs with no benefits.
Another set of middle-aged people are withdrawing from IRAs (and paying the penalties) just to fill the gap between expenses and income. For a variety of reasons, many people are loathe to cut expenses or are unable to do so without drastic changes in their lifestyle. So they withdraw from the IRA (individual retirement account) to cover expenses that are left after income has been spent.
This “solution” is appealing to those whose incomes have declined in what they perceive as “temporary” hard times.
Another pool of equity that is being drained is the home equity in aging parents’ homes. The government will only pay for one set of medical expenses (long-term care, for example) if the elderly person has assets of less than $2,000 (as I recall). Given this cap, it makes sense for elderly homeowners to transfer ownership of their home to their offspring well before they need long-term care (which can cost $12,000 to $15,000 a month).
A variety of other medical expenses can arise that cause the home to be sold to raise cash–either expenses for the elderly parents or for their late-middle-age offspring who develop costly health issues. Family disagreements over sharing the equity can arise, leading to the sale of the house and the division of the equity among the offspring.
This cash is immediately hit with a variety of demands: a grandkid needs a car, somebody needs money to go back to graduate school (pursuing the fantasy that another degree will provide financial security), and so on–not to mention “we deserve a nice vacation, a new car, etc.”, the temptations in a consumerist culture that we all “deserve.”
Once the family home is sold, the furnishings and other valuables are also sold off to raise cash. In many cases, the expense of transporting the items across the country to relatives exceeds the value of the furnishings.
One common thread in all these demands for liquidation of equity is the short-term need is pressing. A consumerist culture offers few incentives for long-term savings other than life insurance, IRAs and 401Ks, and all of these can be tapped once a pressing need arises.
Though people may want to hang on to their nestegg, they are faced with short-term needs: how else can I pay tuition, or this medical bill?
As incomes have stagnated and costs for big-ticket expenses such as college and healthcare have soared, the gap between income and expenditures has widened every year for the bottom 90%.
Even those in the top 10% are not protected from draw-downs in retirement funds and family equity in homes and other assets.
Retirement funds, home equity, family assets–these are the financial equivalent of seed corn. Once they’re cashed out and spent, they cannot be replaced.
In more prudent and prosperous times, these nesteggs of capital were conserved to be passed on to the next generation not for consumption but as a nestegg to be conserved for the following generation. That chain of capital preservation and inheritance is being broken by the ravenous need for cash to spend, not later but right now.
So how much of the recent “growth” in GDP results from our consumption of seed corn? It is difficult to find any data on this, something which is unsurprising as the data would reveal the entire “recovery” story as a grandiose illusion: we as a nation are consuming our seed corn in great gulps, and there will be precious little left in a decade to pass down to the next generation.
We face not just an impoverishment in consumption but in expectations and generational assets.
Remember these two charts?
From November 2012, The Chinese Credit Bubble – Full Frontal:
And from November 2013, “How China’s Stunning $15 Trillion In New Liquidity Blew Bernanke’s QE Out Of The Water”
It seems people are starting to listen, and not a moment too soon: as of December 31, China’s corporate debt just hit a record $12 trillion. From Reuters:
China’s corporate debt has hit record levels and is likely to accelerate a wave of domestic restructuring and trigger more defaults, as credit repayment problems rise.
Chinese non-financial companies held total outstanding bank borrowing and bond debt of about $12 trillion at the end of last year – equal to over 120 percent of GDP – according to Standard & Poor’s estimates.
Growth in Chinese company debt has been unprecedented. A Thomson Reuters analysis of 945 listed medium and large non-financial firms showed total debt soared by more than 260 percent, from 1.82 trillion yuan ($298.4 billion) to 4.74 trillion yuan ($777.3 billion), between December 2008 and September 2013.
While a credit crisis isn’t expected anytime soon, analysts say companies in China’s most leveraged sectors, such as machinery, shipping, construction and steel, are selling assets and undertaking mergers to avoid defaulting on their borrowings.
More defaults are expected, said Christopher Lee, managing director for Greater China corporates at Standard and Poor’s Rating Services in Hong Kong. “Borrowing costs already are going up due to tightened liquidity,” he said. “There will be a greater differentiation and discrimination of risk and lending going forward.”
And then there was the worst capital misallocation in history:
Exacerbating China’s corporate troubles has been the questionable use of 4 trillion yuan in stimulus that Beijing pumped into the economy following the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, explained Lee of Standard & Poor’s.
“Many companies invested heavily into competitive and low-return projects because funding was readily available,” he said. “These investments aren’t doing well and are making little contribution to profitability.”
Of course, there is also this:
What happens next as the Chinese perfect debt storm is finally unleashed? Read this for the upcoming next steps: ‘”The Pig In The Python Is About To Be Expelled”: A Walk Thru Of China’s Hard Landing, And The Upcoming Global Harder Reset “