The Responsible Survivialist

Lettuce Recall Due to E. Coli, AGAIN
May 7, 2010, 6:30 am
Filed under: Being Responsible, Gardening

It’s Friday and since I don’t have to work today, you would find me at this morning hour with a hot cup of coffee, reading the latest news on the Web. Well, that is, I don’t have to go into my day job but I do plan on getting that flower bed cleared so I can get my raised bed in there, and prepped for the tomatoes and carrots.

First thing I come across of interest is Alina Tugend’s short piece “Penny-Pinching Is Fine, But It Won’t Save the Profligate”. (I actually had to look up the word “profligate”…lol. It means wasteful.) She’s right. Cutting back on the little things while continuing in our bigger and more wasteful ways gives a person a false sense that they are doing something.

Responsible Survivalism looks to the long term. In the years to come as resources grow scarce, jobs dry up and the way our civilization does things now, become undoable, we all will have to learn to do without and do with less.

We have a choice though.

We can learn to do those things which will help us survive, we can make the changes in our habits and lifestyles now, when there is still a backstop of plentiful resources or we can make them then when the smallest mistake will mean disaster for us, our families and our community.

You don’t practice fire drills when the room smells of smoke.

While we will begin to focus more on personal finance over the next few months, here is one tip from Tugend’s article you can start now. Cut back on the number of meals you buy from restaurants.

I don’t eat out that much but I am guilty of impulse buying at the grocery store when I know I already have food at home. A few pieces of fried chicken from the deli or a salad, when there is a can of soup in the cupboard that wouldn’t take more than a few minutes to heat up and would cost a lot less in the long run.

Even better, a soup not from the can but one I cooked myself.

That brings me to the second article that caught my eye this morning. The Associated Press is reporting of yet another E. Coli outbreak in our food, this time in lettuce.

“Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, said it was recalling romaine lettuce sold under the Freshway and Imperial Sysco brands because of a possible link to the E. coli outbreak.

The recalled lettuce has a “best if used by” date of May 12 or earlier. The recall also affects “grab and go” salads sold at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh grocery stores. Freshway Foods said the lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, in-store salad bars and delis

The lettuce was sold in Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.”

Is it just me, or don’t we see these reports with more and more regularity? Big agri-business again, profits over people.

One of those long term changes we mention over and over again, grow your food if you can. Not all, but as much as you can. Learn to grow now when a mistake like I did with my first spouts of lettuce and broccoli, just means a minor inconvenience, not hard times and starvation.

Its not too late either. Even with the warm Spring we’ve had, normal planting seasons are just starting. Do it this weekend, go by a local hardware store, or nursery, or as a last resort Home Depot or Lowes and pick up a few vegetable plants. Add in a bag of compost. When you get home, find a spot that gets sunlight and take that first small step towards a new life.

By the way, here’s my newest batch of both plants. They are going into the ground this weekend.

lettuce and broccolli.

ADDED 05/08: NPR has an additional story HERE.

Not much to add but it did say the affected lettuce is not sold to customers, its just the kind they use in restaurants and salad bars at grocery stores. I highlight the link not for the story but for the comments. Very informative stuff there, if you have the time.


Breathing Room
March 24, 2010, 11:24 am
Filed under: Being Responsible

One of the fundamental principles of Responsible Survivalism is to understand and recognize that there ARE limits to things.

Those imposed on us by outside forces and those we impose ourselves. Just as the finite nature of our planet’s resources will soon limit what we can and can not do, the limits we place upon ourselves define the boundaries of our Life. We may not recognize the edges but they are there and we crowd them at our peril.

This post is not so much about when we press against our limits, as it is about knowing when to step back from them and seek instead some breathing room.

Limits have more effect on our Lives than just preventing actions. They bring with them stress.

The military knows this, that’s why soldiers and units who are in the front lines, who see combat, take as much time to rest and refit as they do. If I remember correctly, a 6 month tour in combat will often mean 18 months in the rear recovering from the stress of battle.

You and me, we don’t often have the luxury of such an R&R.

I returned from California in 2005 where I had moved to for work a decade before, because my Father’s Alzheimer’s had progressed into its final stages. I wanted to be there while he could still remember who I was.

Over the next three years, as his disease got progressively worse and worse, and the support of the System and our Family got stretched thinner and thinner, the stress grew and grew, until we almost snapped.

When he died on May 16th, 2009, a collective sigh of relief went through my Family. They won’t admit it, but we had reached a breaking point that nearly destroyed us. His death gave us breathing room.

Maybe you are in a similar situation. Maybe you aren’t but still sometimes feel the stress of day to day is piling up. Something that is happening to more and more these days, what with the way the economy is going. Juggling bills and worrying whether you will have a job next week.

Do you feel your own breaking point growing near?

In a world obsessed with growth and making the big bucks, we often forget to give ourselves a break from all of that sometimes. We do a service to ourselves, our friends and families if we strive not for continuous growth but seek sometimes instead for some breathing room.

Being able to just get under the covers on a rainy day, with a hot cup of coffee and a new unread book, AND the time to be lazy, how often do we say to ourselves we will do that? How often do we really carry through?

Working that extra day, taking that offered overtime, does put more money in our pockets but if you are going to go out and spend it on that big screen TV or tickets to some sports event, then why take the extra work? You might find that those 8 or 10 hours is better spent connecting with your family, or working to better your community.

When I was just a boy, my parents would send my sister and I down to out grandparent’s home in Wagoner, Oklahoma for a month in the Summer. It’s a small farm and ranch town about 40 miles north of Muskogee, in the northeast of Oklahoma. I learned a lot of important lessons in that town, though it wasn’t until I was grown that I understood I had learned them.

And though my grandfather worked hard, he always seemed to make time to just sit on that back porch and rock, watching the sun go down. Usually just whittling on a twig he’d gotten from I don’t know where. For an over active 10 year old, sitting there was torture.

Now for someone many years past that youth, I see that the act of just sitting mattered the most. Breathing room, is important. And we all need to reconnect with that simple fact.

Make time today to just, sit and enjoy the simple things in Life.

Rob Dietz over at Steady State has some additional thoughts on this, well worth the read.

Avatar Follow-up: The Seductiveness of the Savage
February 26, 2010, 2:34 am
Filed under: Being Responsible

the seductiveness of the savage

When I went to see James Cameron’s “Avatar” recently it was with a large group of friends and friends of friends. Any big movie like that, and we tend to get everyone together, see the film at the same theater and then all go out for dinner afterwards to talk about it.

Its usually quite a eclectic group too, so the discussions can be quite informative as well as very lively. So its not surprising that one of the first topics to come up was, “Would you want to live on Pandora as one of the natives?”

(this entry being worked on)

What is in a Label?
January 7, 2010, 11:49 am
Filed under: Being Responsible

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Lao Tzu, Founder of Taoism.

When I was very young, my uncle Kenneth taught me the “proper” way to fish. Not that glorified city boy way, tossing $5 lures off the back of a four thousand dollar bass boat. No his way was the country boy way.

Old school country too. He was a farm boy who hunted and fished all his life, living in a small town in north eastern Oklahoma. While his younger brother, my father had chosen a path that took him to the big city of Saint Louis the year I was born, and a manufacturing job with McDonnell Aircraft (later McDonnell Douglas, to be bought by Boeing), my uncle stayed a small time country boy his entire life.

In the summers I would come to visit, we’d drive down to the river and set up early morning camp. First thing, pull the John Boat out of the back of the pickup truck and slide it into the water (a John boat is a aluminum flat hulled boat about 12 feet in length). A cheap 5 hp motor would get you up stream. Not fast but it got the job done.

Next thing, time to set your limb lines.

See, limb lines are the best of simplicity. Pick a tree limb that extends out over the river. Attach enough fishing line to drop a hook a few feet below the surface. Bait it. Leave it.

Once you have done 20-30 then back to camp for breakfast.

Give it an hour or so, then go back to check your limb lines. You know when there’s a fish caught because that limb is now down in the water. In that case, haul that fish out, re bait your line and come back an hour later.

It was not unusual for my uncle Kenneth to pull a couple of hundred pounds or more of good eating channel cat fish out on a lazy Saturday morning.

And that is the difference between just playing at survival, and living it. Kenneth wasn’t there for the sport, he was there to feed his family.

One is “Responsible Survivalism“, the other…not.


This World we have made these past few decades is a once a place of wondrous possibilities and endless dreams, on the other, a fragile house of cards waiting for that one small sharp breath to bring it all down. Which one it will be for you, depends in no small part to the attitude you bring to the problem.


Being Green and Being Mean?
December 29, 2009, 6:03 pm
Filed under: Being Responsible, Green Issues

Economic Reasons to Garden – Poverty
December 18, 2009, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Being Responsible, Gardening | Tags:

Sharon Astyk, whose The Chatelaine’s Keys blog we consider a must read for responsible survivalists, has a very good article over on the Energy Bulletin site, entitles “Do you need to grow food?”, which looks at some of the underlying reasons you should consider gardening.

“I think his (Hemenway) focus on “food collapse” as the reasoning behind growing food misses the central point – that most hunger doesn’t occur because of a food collapse, it occurs because people can’t afford to buy food. This is an easy one to miss – many people, learning about peak oil and climate change become fixated on the idea of transportation or other system disruptions that cut food supplies. And this is possible – indeed, when food and gas costs rose to their highest point in 2008, end-of-supply-line regions like Alaskan Native Villages found themselves struggling to get supplies in. But the vast majority of the world’s hungry live in places where there is sufficient food – but they can’t buy it. It is credible, then, to assume that at least in the shorter term, our collective crisis is likely to play out as it has in the past – with more and more people unable to keep food on the table.

Just as I’ve argued for some years that the most likely reason for any of my readers to have to live without heat or utilities is because growing poverty makes it impossible for them to pay utility bills, and thus, they get shut off or because they become homeless, the most likely reason for anyone reading this to encounter a food crisis is because of a growing poverty. And in both the Global North and South, this is the norm of hunger.”


Toby Hemenway’s own post here: