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Empty Shelves & Price Gouging

Yesterday Chris and I celebrated a special day and took some time in the morning to get iced coffee, and milkshakes then went to a book store and finished up by stopping in the local Home Goods. We do not go out often so it was nice to get away from the farm for a few hours and enjoy the time together.


When we walked into Home Goods, we were quite surprised by the lack of items in the rest of the store that was not filled with clothes. The picture section, which normally would be bursting with wall art was completely empty. The only items left were insanely overpriced mirrors. Even in the decor aisles, everything is picked through with the remaining items being overpriced junk. If you were looking for pillows you would be in luck as the store was full of them. We were looking for a stainless steel scoop for the chicken feed and a fly screen but left empty-handed. While walking out—the vending machine was almost bare too. A machine that would normally hold close to 100 sodas had less than 10 remaining. There are so many little signs like this all over the place that our society is falling apart. I'm sure you have plenty of examples too. Crazy isn't it?

Ironically, Chris received a phone call from a relative when we got home who had gone to Home Goods as well that morning and said the exact same thing. Only, they live 7 hours away near a large city. Quite telling to see that they are experiencing the same thing in the same chain store on the same day.

If you have cats, you know how rough it has been sourcing cat food for well over a year now. Walmart, pet stores, and Tractor Supply all seem to be empty when we look for cat treats and food. We have to find treats on Amazon and even there we have trouble finding them in stock.

Fruit Trees

As we begin to prepare for Fall, have you seen the prices of fruit trees from popular nurseries this year? In a previous post, I talked about how prices for fruit trees have steadily risen to nose bleed levels and this Fall it's even worse. Yes, some of the materials to grow and propagate these valuable trees have gone up. I am sure the cost of employees (health care, taxes, and so on) has gone up too. Having said that, a fruit tree that cost $30 last year does not cost $70 this year all because of inflation. That is bullshit. In my opinion, this is price gauging at its finest. That "invisible hand" capitalists extolled is no longer invisible at this point. It's pure greed. If you have oodles of money to spend, check out Grow Organic's website to pre-order $70 fruit trees. Keep in mind the quality of the tree did not improve, they are still grown the same way, sorted, trimmed, and grafted as they always have been. So sickening.

fruit tree prices
Screenshot of Grow Organic's fruit trees

Over at Trees of Antiquity, you can see slightly less price-gouging. In their Apple category, you will find most apples close to $50 per tree! My mind instantly thinks of young people trying to afford a few fruit trees to grow for extra food and build some level of resilience. Forget about it at these prices. Even if you are older and have a good-paying job (which most do not at this point) how long can you afford to put money into fruit trees at these prices? The window is seriously closing for people of all ages to afford to grow a single fruit tree due to these businesses charging exorbitant prices (in my opinion) for grafted trees.

I know I have brought this up before, but Mike Maloney of Gold Silver seems like a nice guy but is tremendously out of touch with the average American when it comes to the affordability of goods. He owns a precious metals business so of course, he is selling a product but when he asks his Youtube audience what is the most undervalued asset for people to own these days he is referring to silver (and Gold depending on the price) but the reality is still vegetable seeds.

Yes, I agree it's a good idea to have some precious metals as a store of value, but how long is he going to survive in his Puerto Rican penthouse or mountainside villa that has a tesla power bank surrounded by precious metals? Probably not very long.

Important Items

Next, let's talk about basic tools for everyday life. Even Berkey Water Filters are insanely overpriced. I get that parts and materials may be hard to source at this time, but does it really cost the company $300-$500+ for molded stainless steel standardized sections? What irritates me about these absurd prices and business practices is that people actually need these products. This is not a luxury watch or fancy sports car. Water filters, and to an extant fruit trees, are important everyday items critical to the health and well-being of Americans. To see this type of pricing during these chaotic times is really frustrating.

Discussing this topic with Chris, he said it would be interesting to see how much profit these companies are taking in. It's one thing to make a profit to keep the lights on and pay employees. Then there is the kind of profit-seeking that charges customers hand over fist for your products because you can transfer the blame onto the mysterious "shortages" goblin.

Strategies to Cope

Get Creative:

I will not pretend to know of a better (and cheaper) water filter than Berkey but your research may provide you with a sound alternative (that's cheaper too). There are many books available that explore DIY filtration, sun ovens, wood stoves, and so much more. Feel free to check out our resources page for great books and sites that may help according to your goals. No affiliate links either with that page FYI. No, the DIY version may not look brand new or sleek but the skills learned and the money saved sure make up for any cosmetic problems.

I have said before that Facebook is one big online trailer park and I still believe it is. Facebook marketplace, however, is slightly better in that you can just use your account to see what is available for cheap or even for free. Habitat for Humanity Restores are great places to look for second-hand items and if you make friends with the staff, you may be able to score some amazing finds by being notified ahead of time.

Seeds, Plants, and Propagation:

My expertise is in plant propagation so I will add some tips to help you in your quest for better food resilience on the cheap.

  1. Saving seeds from nut and fruit trees will produce offspring of considerable variation. Having said that, there is the possibility of discovering a new and improved variety that is prolific and disease resistant. Keep in mind that it may take thousands of offspring to weed through in order to find that one superior plant but if you have the space, why not try it? Yes, you can even start on an apartment patio. I know because I did it for years before moving to our farm. Seed companies offer bulk quantities of seeds for reasonable prices. Sheffield's offers a dizzying array of species to choose from. Route 9 COOP offers the best chestnuts, and Grimo offers seeds of superior fruit and nut tree cultivars. Just remember when you save tree seeds you keep them moist, cool, dark, and rodent-proof over the winter.

  2. Be observant. Look for planted edible plants in parks, median strips, parking lots, and other out-of-the-way places that are ignored. I have found some wonderful Chinese chestnut trees that were planted well over 100 years ago producing huge nuts every year on their own in a neglected median strip. I found them by driving by during their blooming period in early July and came back in the fall to see what they produced. Currently, I have several 5-gallon pots full of their offspring ready to be planted next spring. When Chris and I are out driving, I am naturally looking for fallen fruit or nuts on the sides of back roads to see what is produced naturally. Just last week I found some Autumn olives producing ripe berries weeks ahead of the usual ripening time that I collected and will plant out to see if I can extend the berry season of this useful species.

  3. Learn to graft, take root cuttings, and layer. Grafting is not a hard skill to learn, it just takes practice to make it work. Apples, Asian pears, Euro pears, Cherries, and Ginkgo are my most successful species with 90-100% of them working. Peaches, plums, and apricots have been my least successful with a 0% success rate. The good news is that those species bloom way too early for my frost pocket site. So why try to make them work? Scion wood is much cheaper than a grafted tree and you can make a lot of fruit trees at the same cost as 1 grafted fruit tree would. Obtaining cuttings from neighbors, friends, family, or online stores enables you to get plant materials that you can then plant in rich soil to send up a lot of growth so you can root those pieces and increase your food production. Elderberry is a great plant for my site due to its late bloom period and disease resistance. After 1 year of growth, I can make 10+ new clones the following year. Exponentially you can end up with a lot of plants to grow yourself or sell. Layering takes a little longer but is another trick you can use depending on the species to make more plants. Check out the link for a great guide on how to do it.

  4. When it comes to vegetable seeds, their costs are still much "cheaper" at this time. Even if someone cannot plant an apple tree (you may be able to still do it in large pots) there is normally enough space where someone lives to grow some vegetables or herbs. Every little bit helps, improves your health, and is great for the soul (assuming you have one and are not a narcissist). Seed saving for veggies is much easier, especially if you are only growing one variety (of bean or some other type) so they do not cross-pollinate. Plus, keeping them in a cool dry location as opposed to tree seeds, allows you to keep them in a closet or pantry.

These are just some simple ideas and techniques that come to mind when trying to source plant material and grow enough to scale to provide bulk food production. There is a lot of satisfaction when you can propagate your own trees and not have to deal with expesnvie nurseries that are screwing you over. You will also find that it does not cost anything near the ridiculous prices they charge to graft your own trees.

In regards to the previous price gouging, this is just my opinion on the matter and your mileage will vary on what makes you spit your drink out when you see the price. I am hopeful that people who want to build resilience are able to be crafty, go under the radar, and source their materials to give them the best possible shot at thriving during the Long Emergency. Are there tips and strategies that are working for you that you would like to share? We would love to hear what you have!

Grow a fall garden

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