Do you "Go with the Flow" or "Stock up just in Case"?

This is a guest post by Kurt Cobb. It originally ran on his blog, Resource Insights.

A frequent critique of those who claim we still have enormous stocks of resources left to exploit is that the flow or rate of extraction is far more important to the health of the world economy than the size of the stocks. If we can't get it out of the ground at the rate we'd like to, then that is the key restraint. Hence the concern about peak production of resources such as oil, natural gas, coal, phosphorus, and even gold.

It occurred to me that this argument might be due in part to differences in personality, but also to flaws in one's understanding of how the world actually works. Let's think for a moment about how the world actually works. All life on Earth (except that of certain deep-sea creatures living off the heat of the Earth's core) ultimately depends on the daily flow of sunlight. The sunlight enables plants to create food for themselves and for animals. There are storage mechanisms for when the light is gone at night or when it's seasonally weak and short-lived in winter. But, generally nothing could survive long without the Sun.

So too, our entire civilization lives on flows of energy, food, water and other resources. While it has the capacity to store resources, the end of the needed flows would mean the end of our civilization in short order.

Given all this, why is it that some people believe they can really store up much of anything? Yes, it is wise to have emergency supplies in case of a power outage or other disruption that might make it difficult to get food, heat and even water. But can one really stock up for a lifetime?

The illusion that we can stock up for a lifetime is given to us by money. We are told that if we save enough, we can have a comfortable old age. But what is money other than a claim on the current flow of goods and services? It's not really a stockpile of anything. So, its value depends entirely on the smooth flow of energy and resources through the economy.

And yet, there are people who believe that money will somehow make them immune to the breakdown of this flow. Yes, enough money might make it easier for someone to get scarce goods during such a breakdown. But, ultimately a community that fails to function won't be able to provide you with anything no matter how much money you have.

This is the fear behind the thinking of the lone survivalist. And yet, even stockpiles of food and other goods will eventually run out. Without a functioning community capable of defending itself and with continuing access to a flow of energy and goods, no one can survive in the long run.

Today, however, it is far too easy to just "go with the flow," rather than prepare for possible disruptions. This is the philosophy behind the just-in-time inventory approach which is still so dominant. Prudent stockpiles of essential materials including food have been the hallmark of civilization. Without such surpluses and the ability to store them, what we call civilization could never have arisen. Civilization depends on the ability to store surpluses.

Today's cornucopians provide a useful cheering section for the just-in-time religion since they are the ultimate "go with the flow" crowd. They like to cite the principle of substitution as their defense against running low on critical resources. No need to worry about using up nonrenewable resources, they say. But, what they always seem to leave out is that substitution takes time. What if we don't have enough time for a smooth transition from one resource to another? Won't happen, the cornucopians say. You see, the marketplace is just like magic. Things show up the instant they are needed! (This is true until it isn't.)

What I'm getting at is that the balanced personality would recognize that all of us live on flows of energy and resources and that our cooperation to keep those flows moving is critical. But that same balanced personality would also recognize the potential for serious problems should those flows be curtailed. Therefore, the balanced personality would want three things:
  1. That we have a reasonably large stockpile of critical goods in case of a temporary disruption of flows,
  2. That what we rely on for our survival be, by and large, renewable, and
  3. That our demand for renewable resources would come into balance with the supply we can reasonably expect--considerably less than fossil fuels have provided us.
It's hard to find such balanced thinking in the world we now live in. But that balance is precisely what we will need most in the years to come.

One of the things I learned when I first read about Social Security funding that, at least in the early days of funding calculations, those doing the calculations were very much interested in how many people would be alive in a given year, and of those, how many would be working and how many would be retired and expected to receive benefits. In more recent years, there has been a change to more attempted pre-funding, but the principle remains the same--retired people can only get a percentage of what is available at a point in time.

Kurt is talking about much the same thing. If the amount of resources goes down, each of us can only hope to get a share of what is available at a given point in time.

...but the principle remains the same--retired people can only get a percentage of what is available at a point in time.

I am always staggered by the number of people that I talk with who fail to understand this simple concept. The fundamental question about any large pension system is, "How much of current production goes to the non-productive elderly?" How you finance that is a secondary issue.

It is interesting to note that all of the long-term SS forecasts, no matter who makes them, shows benefits paid stabilizing at about 6.2% of national income. The current tax rate is 12.4%. So, if half of national income is subject to the tax, the system would be solvent as long as any of the forecasts run. The problem, when you dig into the forecast details, is that the share of national income subject to the tax is forecast to fall steadily: high-income earners and capitalists are forecast to capture an increasing share of production, eventually more than half.

I wrote a short piece arguing that the big pension systems are dependent on increasing productivity in the future. Based on history, that requires increasing use of external energy supplies. I see the long-term SS future as being much more at risk from peak fossil fuels than from the demographics so many people worry about.

This is a link to an article I wrote back in April called Social Security and Medicare Funding Issues: Even Worse when One Considers Resource Constraints. I didn't try to look at which was a worse part of the problem--demographics or fossil fuel declines, but it is clear that the combination is a major problem.

This has been recognized by the PO-aware for some time. Stocking up and converting one's assets to renewable food sources has been high on the list for those such as the Planning for the Future group at (of which I was formerly a moderator), Matt Savinar, and others.

There are a number of risks to prepare mitigations for beyond peak oil; pandemics, economic depressions, global natural disasters, limited nuclear war, etc.

So I've prepared by building an well-insulated passive solar house with woodstove backup, powered by PV with highly efficient appliances, a collection of bikes, livestock (sheep and chickens) and an entire landscape of 80+ fruit trees/shrubs/vines and nut trees. After slow and careful information sharing about the issues related to PO (and pandemics), there are others in the extended community that have the same mindset and preparations goals.

At current time, I can sell excess produce via local farmer's stands (or 20+ lambs/yr at livestock auction). Obviously, that would transition to a different distribution arrangement when the economic situation changes significantly

You have done a lot more than 99% of us!

You are doing something quite a few would like to do, but it is difficult to really make such a change. For one thing, you need to be pretty wealthy to buy the land and livestock and live in another house, while the passive solar house is being constructed. You have to be quite intelligent to learn all the skills needed. Somehow, you have the time available to spend on doing this--or wealthy enough to pay someone else for the physical labor involved. You need to have a supportive spouse, and to be in good enough work to provide quite a bit physical labor yourself.

Another issue is that this approach would seem to break down over time (say next 50 or 100 years), unless we find ways to continue to manufacture highly efficient appliances, bicycle parts, replacement glass for the solar PV home, and other things that we make today.

Yes, this situation is transitional, though even the current Amish lifestyle would have logical issues after a total collapse (i.e., buggy parts, plow/cultivator/thresher/tedder/etc parts). So such preparations are intended to be a bridge to the next times, whatever they end up being. Root cellars may become very important, along with spring houses, granaries, icehouses, and similar measures that are almost out of our ken.

I imagine glass could be scavenged for some time to come, though PV components (especially batteries) would result is a single point failure in the not to distant future.

I have a small roof garden which was handy and we decided to expand by taking an allotment plot but we found within a year we just didn't have time to look after it as well as holding down jobs, looking after young children and studying. Theres a reason why its mostly old people with allotment plots, they have the time on the hands to look after them.

Nice to hear someone else is also doing already the future. I have also few sheep and chicken, also few cows, a goat and a workhorse couple. We are self-sufficient on milkproducts, meat and eggs. We don't have yet fixed the rundown cellar here, so not all vegetables we eat are homegrown, but more and more each year. We have no electricity here, except battery electric fence for animals, i charge the battery at neighbor, and this cell phone also. Then again we get no electricity bills, so we don't have to go out earning money so often and this leaves time to work at home for own food. No computer and tv gives us more time for to do so much more. Oil dependent we still are, we have a car, but waiting for better days, I have the horses for transport short distances to town abt 10km, farmwork they do already. Firewood we get from neighbors' clearcuts leftovers, they say it trashwood, but good enough to keep house warm, for free, by horsesled from forest to our yard. If one has small enough house, one can make 20 cubic meters of wood without chainsaw for winter, that is needed at least here in Finland, last winter it was -30 for weeks. How do you transport there, do you need to move much, I know that if you have animals, travelling is not possible, and I have found out too it's not even interesting anymore. But I mean local transport, do you need a car?

We live on a finite planet, so is fair to say that we will eventually run out of the resources needed for survival no matter what.

Maybe if we are extremely careful and frugal the party can go on for a very long time. Could be that the sun will become “unfriendly” before we get to that point if, if we are very careful.

However, we are living in a way that is horribly wasteful and flippant toward our resource stewardship responsibilities. This seriously compromises/destroys our chance for long-term existence.

It does seem to be all about flow. Slow, careful and easy can go for a long, long time. Fast and furious burns us out of existence at a breathtaking speed. Large stockpiles will give us a few extra moments at best.

"And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed." steinbeck grapes of wrath

repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed." steinbeck grapes of wrath

Now that's wisdom.

It would certainly be possible to store a lifetime's worth of NPK, or sugar, or rice, or solar panels, etc. However, the society around you will relieve you of it at the point it becomes useful. A prepared community is a great thing to have; but in many places the shortsighted majority will be out in force with "death to hoarders" signs and shotguns. So stockpiling might have to be done with a bit of finesse; you might want a cave on your property both to store stuff and to discard the chocolate wrappers.

Now in a case where things didn't get "very" bad, and private property was still respected - a big "if" - a stockpile of something like NPK could be traded to others at a high rate of exchange for a portion of their crops. However "wealth" has a tendency to be coveted.

The trouble with a balanced personality is all those around you who don't have one.

Isn't "the prepared community," great as it may be, as likely to get raided by on or more neighboring under-prepared (or over-greedy) communities as the prepared community is to get raided by his under-prepared neighbors? And if you extend this out to "prepared states or nations" vs un-prepared, is not this (and the perception of this) what wars are made of?

I agree that personal and community preparedness in both supplies, knowledge, mindset...are crucial, but nothing guarantees success. And it is becoming harder and harder to see how one prepares for the likely massive "discontinuities" coming our way from global warming/climate change.

Isn't "the prepared community," great as it may be, as likely to get raided by on or more neighboring under-prepared (or over-greedy) communities as the prepared community is to get raided by his under-prepared neighbors? And if you extend this out to "prepared states or nations" vs un-prepared, is not this (and the perception of this) what wars are made of?

Indeed. A hypothetical "prepared community" might simply mean the scale of conflict was ultimately larger. Still, it's not impossible that preparation could include defense. Strife is probably baked into the cake in any situation where there's not enough to go around, such as, y'know, the biggest one-species overshoot ever on planet earth.

I agree that personal and community preparedness in both supplies, knowledge, mindset...are crucial, but nothing guarantees success. And it is becoming harder and harder to see how one prepares for the likely massive "discontinuities" coming our way from global warming/climate change.

You are wise. The biggest all-around determinant of survival will be luck, second-biggest may be protean flexibility, etc.

'Eloiburger' -- Love that cybername! Secured by Xe's Morlockurity 'contractors', perhaps?

Humans have been storing fat on their bodies for longer than we’ve been able to think about it and there may even be a portion of our brains that has evolved to discriminate against the obviously obese. Many of the obese have defended themselves by acting jolly and harmless and accepting lower positions in the dominance hierarchy. But for a small band of roving hunter and gatherers, the fat boys and girls may have been the only way to pass-on the group’s genes during stressful times. I think the Hawaiians loved their fat people and it was probably a sign of great success to be fat.

Extricating yourself from the body of civilization and getting as far away and as independent as possible may be the best strategy. Become your own single-celled organism amongst many and hope the colossus doesn’t fall on you when it collapses. Those trapped deep in the tissues of civilization will likely die in place when the oxygen and glucose stop circulating and the trash builds up at the curb. However, I expect the authorities will search every house and storage building for resources if hunger becomes widespread and perhaps rip that little glucagon vacuole right out of your carefully constructed doomstead.

"Extricating yourself from the body of civilization and getting as far away and as independent as possible may be the best strategy. Become your own single-celled organism"

Good luck with that.

It's very simple to extricate yourself from the body of a civilization so long as you have another civilization to extricate yourself to. This means leaving the US and finding yourself a lifeboat country. A place with not many people, plentiful uncultivated land, many decades of domestic supply of NPK and petrochemicals, and far enough away from the failing civilization that it stands a fair chance of coming through the resource bottleneck unscathed.

No stocking up necessary. But we'll slip another shrimp on the barbie ...

I don't think so, mate. We're out of water, our 'uncultivated land' isn't that great, we're as critically dependent on Oil as the USA (and show no signs of wanting to get off the habit), a JIT inventory system, a dysfunctional railway network, bugger-all military, and we've got a bunch of Nation-States to our North and West who are overpopulated and hungry.

The most viable place on the planet is the USA.

Why the USA?

Low population density is the big one.
And despite what you read here we still are wading in natural resources.
Edit for effect..............We export FOOD!

Porge, do you think you will be exporting much food as the energy resources start their inevitable slide?

The USA wastes like crazy now.
The story for the USA into the near future will be one of resource re-allocation back to the basics.......that is after we take the country back from the psychopaths that hold the reins.

Given all this, why is it that some people believe they can really store up much of anything?

And why does this belief seem so exclusive to the USA? One rarely finds it on European energy sites (including TOD:Europe) except when it's brought in by commenters from the USA.

The illusion that we can stock up for a lifetime is given to us by money.

Perhaps that's too facile: Europeans use money too. Money may make it easier to hold the belief, but the belief itself must have some sort of cultural origin or it would be more evenly distributed. Maybe it owes to the lone-ranger element of American culture.

Perhaps Europeans have more of a view that governments will take care of them, than people in the US have. Or maybe they feel they are part of a more secure culture, living in the same place year after year, not far from family.

People in the US seem to move around a lot, changing from job to job. Quite a few families aren't too close--especially if there has been a lot of divorce. Without family or government playing major roles, people have to rely on whatever they can come up with. It is hard to trust the flows, if they may be unstable, or your personal health may not last forever.

It is hard to trust the flows, if they may be unstable, or your personal health may not last forever.

(Emphasis added.) The latter seems like another powerful argument against the lone-ranger (or "single cell" as some one put it above) approach, rather than in its favor. Seems as if the USA-ian survivalist types think they'll be young and fit forever, and moreover with no substantial interruption, ever. But one, say, serious infection, even if it's curable, and that's done for...

I would compare it to the parable of the two campers and the rampaging bear. The campers come out of their tent to find a bear ravaging their campsite. The first guy grabs his shoes and frantically starts lacing them up. The second guy asks him... "What's the point? You're never going to outrun the bear." The first guy responds... "I don't need to outrun the bear... I only need to outrun you."

The point of having an abundance of emergency supplies is NOT to last you until the end of your life. The point is to outlast the folks that have made much less adequate preparations, so that you can live to see the new society equalibrium.

Sure, any emergency supply can and might be taken from you by force... but who has the better chance of surviving, the guy with no supplies, or the guy with too many? The first is pretty much a guaranteed failure, then second guy has some chance at least.

The point of having an abundance of emergency supplies is NOT to last you until the end of your life. The point is to outlast the folks that have made much less adequate preparations, so that you can live to see the new society equalibrium.

You're right on the money. Surviving the initial trauma is the point. To do that (and perhaps what follows) will require food, water, seeds, weapons, ammunition and hard currency such as gold and silver.

Money may work in a store, but barter is more certain. Barter goods (gold, silver, weapons, ammunition, seeds, clothing) affords the best opportunity to establish a presence in whatever environment follows.

Its called the bottleneck.

I think Liebig's Law of the Minimum becomes very important though. It becomes very difficult to plan for what we will need some time in the future. We will plan for some things, but leave out some of the basics (say water). We will put a lot of time and energy into trying to protect ourselves, but discover big gaps. We really need to learn how to use the flows that are available at a later point in time, it seems to me.

I've just past seventy. I remember an incident in my forties when, without the freely-given medical assistance of the Nederlands state health system (and I'm not a Nederlander), I would have died there, simply because, for the very first time in my life, my own always-robust personal health nevertheless met a challenge on that occasion that it was unable to conquer unassisted.

Had I been in the USA, I might have died then too, not because of the unavailability of timely help from my fellow humans, but because it would have been available only on a commercial basis, which I -- like lots of USAmerican citizens -- might not have been able to pay for just at the point of need.

But of course, any hint of that awful socialism in which we weakly indulge in Europe is to be spurned with contempt by the rugged individualists -- until their individual ruggedness happens to falter.....

Humane mutual-aid societies seem to me to be the best way to guard -- as much as we can hope to -- against the vagaries of fate. That's still happening to me right now, in awful, slightly-socialist Europe: I paid National Insurance contributions during my working life (instituted in Britain by the slightly-socialist Attlee government after WW2), and got medical aid on two or three occasions when I needed it, and now a small but adequate state pension, in return for my years of in-payments to the state scheme. I wasn't asked whether I wanted to join the scheme. It was a madatory state tax. Money was just taken from my wages at source. These days, I'm damn glad that it was.

The difference between here and rugged-individualist USAmerica seems to be that here the gangster-capitalists in high places tried to dismantle and loot our principled public-service, non-commercial social security system, but have failed to do it comprehensively yet. They haven't yet managed to perform a heist on the social security funds and loot that cash, for example. Whereas across the pond the even more viciously-criminal gangsters who run your society have indeed eviscerated it, and left you with a sauve-qui-peut anarchy. You have my commiserations. But solid, mutually-supporting communities still seem to me to be the best hope for dealing with your resulting ghastly mess. As usual, Dmitry Orlov sees the key issues clearly.

Hi Rhisiart
I am same generation and European.
My guess for European attitudes concerning collapse is that we have been there and done that, in living memory. Much of Europe was re-built literally and institutionally after WWII.
I have worked only for a few months in N America, but noted the 'motif' of 'survival'. It is strange for us as a response to fear, perhaps because we understand we stand or fall (even into catastrophic war or pogrom) according to the quality of our collective arrangements.
The memory of 1930s in the USA must linger there still, (and they turn to stories of survival on the land despite being children of share-croppers?) but the USA did not complete the Roosevelt settlement and did not follow through after WWII; completing neither political nor social care reforms. And they then prospered mightily. The Constitution though, as Dimitry comments, is still the one based on an agrarian society (though minus the original slavery)? The European political and institutional social-democratic settlement post-WWII, (including the shedding of Empires and colonies) still stands for much core EU, but Britain's greater involvement in and exploitation of American neo-con economics leaves us arguably more exposed in the latest crash and burn of wild capital. Hope our modest pensions hold-up, at least relatively, eh?

"Hope our modest pensions hold-up, at least relatively, eh?"

I wonder about that too Phil. If I go another ten years (my ma made it to 91) what will my pension buy? Will I still get it at all?

No wonder I'm on this crash-course to become competent to grow as much as possible of all my basic foodstuffs, to store right round the year. But I'm also a member of a very good hands-on CSA farm scheme here too. DIY and community solidarity both. I've just hauled home half a small share of this week's food harvest from the CSA, and I scarcely know how I'm going to get through it before next week's share is ready. When paper fiat money is worth nothing, spare food can still be a trading currency of value. Fukuoka and Emilia Hazelip rule, OK!

Another way to view the difference is after WW2 Europe sought to become civilized having become almost destroyed by the various Barbarisms, while the USA continued along the road to Barbarity it was initially started upon by the various colonizing empires. The historical record illuminates this very well for those willing to open their eyes to its view. And for that primary reason, Europe will have a much easier time coping with and transitioning to the next socio-economic paradigm while the US Empire will finally fall and various factions fight over the pieces as most common folks are left to fend for themselves, or for their communities if they were smart enough to create one prior to the dislocation.

Another way to put it--those lose a war or are greatly damaged by it learn that violence is not the way forward. Those who win, especially relatively unscathed, learn no such lesson and are forever tempted to see violence of various sorts as a promising approach to most problems.

Perhaps Europeans have more of a view that governments will take care of them, than people in the US have.

Remember that for at least a couple of decades following WWII, many in the US had the same attitude towards big companies that Europeans had towards their government: lifetime employment, defined benefit pensions, employee and retiree health insurance, etc. Not the government will take care of you, but rather, the company will. Many of the big companies at that time had policies of moving managers and executives across the country on a regular basis intentionally, to instill loyalty to the company rather than to a community.

And why does this belief seem so exclusive to the USA? One rarely finds it on European energy sites (including TOD:Europe) except when it's brought in by commenters from the USA.

Three possibilities that I can think of (it would be interesting to hear European responses):

  • The "pioneer spirit" went on much longer in the US. Greeley's famous editorial with "Go west, young man" was published less than 150 years ago. Up until 1976 (1986 in Alaska) the federal government was still giving away land under the Homestead Act.
  • Even without free land from the government, it is quite feasible to purchase 30 or more acres in a rural area with a combination of water, farmland, and timber where one could take a stab at self-sufficiency.
  • Europeans are more realistic about the chances of succeeding at self-sufficiency. At some point on your homestead, you use the last horseshoe nail, or break the last hoe blade, or the pump fails in some final fashion, etc. Successful homesteaders have always had somewhere that they could swap excess food and animal production for manufactured goods.

Yes, the difference in attitude is really just a difference in the plausibility of success between the locations.

Maybe a village Black Smith would be a good profession. There is going to be plenty of scrap iron around post FF. Need coal or a suitable fuel for the furnace but that shouldn't be a problem in most locations......after all it was done that way for hundreds of years before us.

$80.00 for #50!!!

Hard Pennsylvania anthracite is about $270 per ton - bagged.

Oops. Sorry, I misread. But $15/#50 is still about $600/ton.


Most americans use there supposed continued availability as a way to fend off the hoard and keep 'their' supplies to themselves. Most Europeans don't have them, and therefore look to community efforts to protect the community from the hoard. Plus its pretty obvious in Europe that little smallholdings are never going to be viable.

The cull in the US is going to be brutal - when TSHTF the population will rapidly halve as people shoot first and think later.

Within a larger area (like a country), you might notice smaller areas where material cycling (flows of material, food, consumer products) is either slower or faster, relative to the other areas. Call them "micro-flow areas". Usually they are in rural areas. People are forced to move things around more slowly because of the distances. We say that "the pace of life is slower" in these places. Often we like them, or we like to visit them. Things are on a smaller scale.

Big cities have high material cycling (or flows). Everything is fast. It is so exciting for us---all the paper, the machines, the shops, the ideas, the trains, buses, museums, hospitals.

If you want to be readier for the collapse, then a slow-paced place might be better because things are already slow there. They won`t notice so much if things get slower.

But some rather restless people just can`t stand living in the country, no matter if it is the only place where they they will later be able to survive. If there is a city (offering complexity) they will choose it and try to compete there until the bitter, bitter end. They will never back down, they will never give up, they will never opt out, they will never stop trying until the insititutions themselves (the governments, the research labs, the universities, the museums, the large hospitals) are shut down. They have professional considerations and they are terribly bored by the idea of living in a village where nothing much happens. And they believe that their level of professional expertise guarantees that they will be the saved ones.

So there is the conundrum, the puzzle, the catch. It will be a fight every step of the way. Many people will not be happy to live with lower, slower flows in the country. They will first choose lower, slower flows in the city, with budget cuts, hiring freezes, grant unavailability, lower salaries will make the lower/slower flows in the city a reality.

A slower flow rate of physical resource consumption does not mean that the mental exchange between people has to slow in step.

We could have low flow rates with high levels of cultural expression.

Billions are spent by advertisers to brainwash us into the belief that a low consumption life is boring and demeaning, this needs to be undone.


nice analogy of fast/slow paces to complexity/simplicity. as said; may not always be accurate, but very very useful.


I have commented before of an infinte source of enegy.

I think I know why it is such a passionate subject. It is not that it without promise, but that it is with threat.

There have been 4 unexplained benchtop explosions Bad guys might find this interesting. Imagine 4 million times more umph than chemical.

How does this relate to the thread? Unlimited energy means practically unlimited resources. (From seawater for a start).

Infinite source of energy

Long odds on being anything other that a pipe dream but if so would be sort of like giving a 16 yo passively suicidal teenager the keys to a 2000hp car in the hopes that they will never be late for class again.

Long odds on being anything other that a pipe dream

This is an interesting situation.
If we manage to develop this energy source we stand to gain the stars and unleash Satan.
Or, we cannot use this energy, and no Satan but we go to war over one or several of the following reasons. Famine, Oil, Water or Ideology.
Did I miss anything?


I would say that we have already let lose "sir satan" with the substantial amount of energy we have, had to play with. Unlimited energy resources would make this that much worse. What we desperately need is not more energy but a major mindset shift.

Not being able to accept that; 1) really bad things are going to happen and 2) BAU cannot continue puts us in the mindset that there "must" therefore be an "out". I feel that there is compelling evidence that this "out" does not exist. Accepting that there is no physical save, "unlimited energy" means that we must accept that the true problem/solution lies within.

What we desperately need is not more energy but a major mindset shift.

That's what is needed and can only be accomplished by strong authoritarian leadership and a new set of memes. The culture is created by the message/values sent out in the mass media and without harnessing the media to throw out the old mindset and install a new consciousness(and that is what it is because people simply reflect their culture and do not own their mind), then nothing will change and we will ride this sucker (quote dumbya bush) in at full throttle.

Big problem though.............Who controls the Media?

"Who controls the Media?"

Who cares? The BAU crowd aren't going to change their mindset, at least not until they've gone over the cliff. The governments haven't got a clue what to do and that isn't going to change either.

We're on our own to make the best out of a bad situation, the rest will just have to sort themselves out best they can. There is no deus ex machina to pull us out of the insoluble situation we've got ourselves into. Doing nothing while expecting the problems to be solved for us is not a plan, we have to capture the flows that sustain us while we can.

It was a rhetorical question.
The media is controlled by the very people that would stand to lose by change so..........

Roosevelt tried and had some success with authoritarian leadership in the 30s albeit they had more to work with and less problems.

I did not mean to imply that the government needs to bail us out but just stating the only way to really handle this with the least damage and disruption. I don't expect it to happen.

Media exists to sell advertising, so consumer culture and mass media go hand in hand. It may be possible to decouple the two, but it won't be easy. If a billionaire philanthropist decided to blow his whole fortune and foundation endowment, could he outspend the commercial advertisers and put a dent in this culture?

What we desperately need is not more energy but a major mindset shift.

A mindset shift?
We need prodigious amounts of energy, and then a mindset shift.
We need to realise that life is like a bicycle ride. You have to keep moving or you will fall off.
"Those who aren't busy being born are busy dying." My Back Pages, Bob Dylan.
I too want life to stand still.
It is not going to.
Not in a fit.

We have to force them atoms together, and head off into space.
Or die.

I disagree. We waste far too much.
And as far as living in space goes that is a sci fi fantasy.
Humans have evolved physically to live in a very specific environment and all the differences in ambient conditions of anything outside of earth and it's atmosphere would kill a human eventually.
Think about even just living in a reduced gravity environment and all the problems that would manifest.
You might as well say we should go live under the ocean as far as hostile environments go and we aren't doing that yet so....

No, I think that what we really need to do is realize that we are just one of many species that inhabit this world and re-establish our relationship with our ecosystem.
After that we can think about space.

Good lecture, and others too (Paul L. Joskow) but I thought Will Steger stole the show.

Major T. J. "King" Kong: Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days' concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

And later in the movie.

[Strangelove's plan for post-nuclear war survival involves living underground with a 10:1 female-to-male ratio]
General "Buck" Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?
Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.
Ambassador de Sadesky: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.

Right or wrong, I have made a set of assumptions about the future as a basis for my personal planning.
1. Within the decade, social order will break down and martial law will be imposed. However, initially we will be too timid (compassionate) to take action that is sufficient to restore order. The result will be cessation of production and distribution of essential goods.
2. The eight family members on the farm potentially expanding to sixteen/twenty family members have insufficient skills and fire power to maintain a sustainable life style. Therefore cooperation with a wider community is essential.
3. The family stock pile (hoard) is extensive but will only serve as a cushion as we transition to a community level sustainable life style.
4. Within a decade following collapse a greatly reduced but functioning production/distribution system will evolve to service a greatly reduced population. Think 1880 - 1900.

In September 2007, I started distributing a monthly Economic/Peak Oil Analysis letter to selected people in our community. The distribution list soon grew to a significant number. In December 2007 our community was flooded. As a volunteer, I coordinated the recovery process. This function gave me the opportunity to gain more Peak Oil converts. We now have a sizable cadre that has a wide range of ‘survival’ skills. We meet for dinner frequently and spend an evening planning based on the above assumptions.
We are preparing plans to train people when the pain of their present circumstances exceed the pain of change. My hope is that by sounding a general alert the unprepared will be more observant and have a bit of time to start preparing for transition to a new life style.

Community security is given a high priority in our planning. At this time we do not have a clear vision of how other communities and government agencies will behave in times of great need. We will prepare as best we can for several potential scenarios and modify as required.

The leaders of the Community Church, Grange, and Volunteer Fire Dept. are all on board and support the planning activities. Within two miles of my house there are two small sheep farms, a large organic dairy, a fifty acre organic vegetable farm and I raise beef cattle. None of these producers can continue their operation at present levels without input from the economy. However, I believe that we will have less trouble adapting than some of the more industrialized operations.

I believe that placing confidence in a stockpile rather than community is folly.

Wow. As long as you're not a "Patriot Militia" type in Idaho, I wish I were part of your group.


Impressive, you give me hope to the seemingly impossible task of improving our dysfunctional mindset beliefs enough to allow for some level of meaningful survival. If enough people world wide could do this maybe there could be a chance.

The mindset issue must be addressed. How to do that? I don't much care for the individualist survival mentality but your approach of starting small and working to widen the circle has merit. Not that this is anything new but for some reason it makes more sense now.

Newsletter open to outsiders? I live in a somewhat isolated small town location where this approach has possibilities, the toughest issue here is a short growing season and long cold snowy winters.

Then again, there's the option implied by my nickname. If the reindeer on St. Matthew Island had the ability to schism off a predatory subspecies, they would have survived pretty well in balance. As omnivores, this option is open to us.

Yeah, it sounds yucky to me too. Yet there's a certain ecological logic to it; the one thing there will be too much of, no shortage of, is human biomass. The non-yuckiness meme for serving one's fellow man has a bright future.

This will manifest one way or another, such as a person in a famine area furtively cracking a neighbor's head with a rock and eating the brains; but that's less an explouted niche than last-ditch survival. On the other hand, upbeat cannibal religions or communities would have an "edge" over others. Surprising there hasn't been a TOD keypost on it. There's a much stronger case to be made for it than for corn ethanol.

Soylent Green and zombie hordes are in the back of everybody's minds, even those who swear up and down that such visions are comic book nonsense. So it doesn't really require a campfire post about it. Everyone know that this looms as a worst-case scenario.

It wasn't too long ago that we humans were living without oil, and before that coal. We have preserved memories of those times, including how things were done. It may be that as these large energy inputs disappear, we transition back to that mode of living, instead of everything going Mad Max on us. Humans are quite adaptable, and might in some places make these transitions gracefully.

and hopefully we learned something since pre industrial times

If the carrying capacity sans fossil fuels is a billion or less (which seems to be the number most often floated) then I certainly hope that transition involves a lot of birth control, otherwise it ain't gonna be graceful.

Lifestyle change alone can not "solve" overshoot.

It gets me when people put some home grown lettuce on a sandwich then imply it mostly came from the garden. Er, not really. What about bread, butter, ham, cheese, condiments etc? I think most of us are kidding ourselves about self sufficiency. Those who have ample PV, big gardens, edible (non-pet) livestock and water wells probably spent many years in the fossil fuel economy to pay for all of that. Those who make fuel out of waste vegetable oil should question what happens when the fast food industry dies out. Or the roads don't get repaired.

My attitude is do what you can at home but hope that society doesn't disintegrate too fast.

Tainter (in the Collapse of Complex Societies) says that the elites in the cities feel the problem of this slower flow quicker (that makes sense). The people out in the countryside may not even be aware. Their suffering would be more muted, drawn out. Can`t get to the hospital to have a baby, or can`t get ahold of some drug, so oh, well, do what can be done at home. Tainter even says that the country people would welcome no longer being taxed by the elites if the system to extract taxes falls apart.

I dunno! I'm starting to think it will boil down to luck and flexibility. We are having a serious drought in parts of Japan, record heat for weeks. So someone with farmland around here would maybe be facing their own crisis. It seems like a crapshoot......

I have stopped thinking about any possible preparations----it seems like this heat and drought has everyone irritated. There is nothing to be done, if you are a rugged type who likes the country, making things, fixing things, fishing, hunting, then I think it you are in a place with water, then this could be your moment. If you like writing, spending lots of time reading and sitting behind a desk while you wait for your meal to appear, then perhaps the last century would have been a better time for you! Unfortunately I am more of the second type..........I don`t see that people can change themsleves. The "tests well" type, the "paper" smarts type had their moment, their time to profit. Now I think their brand of getting ahead is losing its steam.

But who can really change? I think that is impossible.

You make it sound as if there is some element of choice in whether we accept change or not. I think it is just going to be foisted upon people whether they're ready or not, capable or not. Events will simply rob people of choice or time to adapt.

Better to accept change voluntarily, before it is forced upon us and make the transition less stressful.

It's possible to create a "lifeboat" farmstead that negates the need to stockpile massive amounts of supplies as it will create its own energy and foodstuff flows. Such an entity need only be properly developed and worked, and could even be stand-alone beyond any larger community. But there are few potential locations for such a lifeboat, so the choice must be made carefully. I'm looking at such a site that is rural but not remote, has very good soil and plenty of rainfall and a shallow water table, and a small number of neighbors with similar plots of land that provide an oppotunity for exercising synergy to maximize food and energy flows between the several households. There is also the village design where the houses are grouped together with the arable land surrounding. Such an arrangement that provides most needed items with no outside inputs is unlikely to notice the greater collapse occuring elsewhere.

And just how will the collapse everyone expects transpire? Will there indeed be a collapse, or will it be just a slow decline in living standards along with decomplexification of the culture, which is already happening. What about people who already have lifeboat-like farms engaged in subsistince farming and handicraft production; will they experience a collapse too? More examples could be made, but I think the point is clear--if there is a collapse, it will effect people in differing ways in differing places, and a rather large number of people, well over 1 billion, won't see any substantial change in their lifestyle or culture as they were never industrialized.

I would probably write something different if I lived in a Virginia suburb of DC or someplace similar, but I don't. I also think much depends upon who emerges as new leadership if collapse occurs. I'm reminded of the frustration during the later 1970s when stagflation wouldn't abate. We are now just starting to encounter a stagnation that will continue for decades in the USA, while other nations are still dynamicly growing economies because they still have the input flows to do so.

"I'm looking at such a site that is rural but not remote, has very good soil and plenty of rainfall and a shallow water table, and a small number of neighbors with similar plots of land that provide an opportunity for exercising synergy to maximize food and energy flows between the several households. "

I have some farmland for sale that may interest you.

I was thinking about the Great Lakes area for all the reasons that the pre-fossil fuel population centers formed there.
The industrial area formally known as "The Rust Belt" is a much better climate choice than say Texas(where I am now with a for sale sign on my watered lawn).
The problem is I don't know the difference between my a$$ and anything else with a hole in it when farming is concerned.
I do agree with the above comments about needing a critical mass of skilled people to develop a simple minimum sized economy that might have a chance to gain traction and continue as a closed system.
Also someone up thread alluded to mercenaries being a indispensable element to any settlement in the future......I agree and think that is the next growth business opportunity!

If you think about it........What established networks in our society might be positioned best for the coming system decay?
Drug/organized crime gangs..............scary, but they are barely controllable now and they operate entirely outside the current system.
Basically they have been waiting for this moment and are going to rise up and provide the first new self-organized structure.
That and of course the mercenaries.
Any rich guy that thinks he is going to maintain his position at the top of the pecking order is a complete fool and in fact will be among the first to "loose his head".
Ironically, the type of person that is best prepared to adapt is the person that has been adapting all along......the low to mid-level organized criminal.

I was thinking about the Great Lakes area for all the reasons that the pre-fossil fuel population centers formed there....
The problem is I don't know the difference between my a$$ and anything else with a hole in it when farming is concerned.

I would think farmland going for $4000-$8000 an acre would be the problem. (Other than growing drugs - how ya gonna cash flow that growing crops to retire the debt in 5 years?)

I wasn't looking at it as a BAU investment.
I would never ever borrow money to buy real estate especially a homestead. I don't have to anyway.
The whole mortgage thing is nothing but a colossal banking swindle that is tilted way too far in favor of the lender especially when it comes to farmers. The history of banking and farmers is the history of swindler and victim.

Damned if you do and damned if you don't, that's the dilemma we face. Doing the right thing makes no economic sense, yet following the economists will undoubtedly lead us into a hole we can't get out of. I guess that's the essence of collapse, whatever you do you lose. The winners are those that lose the least and in extreme cases simply still being alive puts you with the winners.

The winners are those that lose the least

That is exactly how I look at it.

Organized crime is very much part of the "system". Just think about all those cops devoted to enforcing drug laws. All the lawyers and judges who are employed because of the drug laws. America's great prison industry is very dependent on drug laws. The criminals themselves know all that profit they pocket is because of certain things being illegal instead if well regulated. The collapse of society means the collapse of profits for organized crime. And it is not just drugs that they are a dependent on. There is prostitution in 49 of the 50 states that criminals profit from. Then there is gambling, dog fights, waste disposal, loan sharking though the credit card companies are much different. Street gangs have arose because certain neighborhoods have not been properly governed. The gangs take care of their own because the greater society won't. We have essentially already abandoned certain parts of our urban areas to fend for themselves. If legitimate government disappears we will see the formerly well off forming their own gangs. Those gangs that are better at stealing resources will become our new rulers as we move into another dark age where the nobility were in constant battle with each other.

Those that are practiced have an advantage.
I don't think the the "formally well off" have the stomach for the real.
Who do you think you are talking to?

The most basic and fundamental function of government is to maintain a monopoly on the use of force. The government is able to execute, arrest and incarcerate, tax, and conscript.

Once government cannot meet this requirement, it is replaced by warlords and organized crime. They are then able to murder, kidnap, rob, and enslave.

There are many examples of this. Somalia is probably the most vivid current example.

So, good call.
What are you prepared to do?

Not to give too much away but you sound like my kind of guy.

Thanks. If your property is in Lincoln County, Oregon, I might be interested.

..."lifeboat" farmstead that negates the need to stockpile massive amounts of supplies as it will create its own energy and foodstuff flows...

That suggests a vision of long-term use of the "lifeboat", rather than short term. But anywhere in the Great Lakes region (suggested below) or the Midwest, all it takes is one good hailstorm at just the wrong time to capsize it. Sooner or later you'll be needing to trade with the outside world.

But can one really stock up for a lifetime?

The only thing one can stock for a lifetime is knowledge, a couple of good knives and a whetstone. Hand tools and hand power tools are a good stock.

Everything else would be the tools/storage materials to capture energy flows. Rainbarrels, a garden, nickel-iron batteries, glass greenhouses - all things that can last a lifetime. Bicycles can be a long-term item.

In some respects I can't believe I'm reading these comments, then I guess I try to consider background here. Do you "Go with the Flow" or "Stock up just in Case"? Is meaningless until you take COMMUNITY into account. Do you live in Bloomington or Portland? They have peak oil planning don't they? Are you aware of the Amish? they are living post peak oil right now.

It seems to me that everyone here is totally unaware of the term CARRYING CAPACITY. Whether you live or die simply depends on the carrying capacity of the nearby environment. That is the way all plants and animals live. For about one hundred years (give or take) the human animal has cheated this simple equation, and we are not going to cheat it very much longer.

Community, carrying capacity issues have become the entire planet. That is the nearby environment is a little place called earth.

Preppers quickly learn that it is impossible to cover every contingency. And, further, that "forever" is a long time. I believe the philosophy that most of us have is to buy time so that decisions do not have to be rushed but rather can be deliberated upon. In crisis situations the worst thing a person can do is snap decisions. So, by having a store of essential needs one can wait until action is appropriate.


This is the fear behind the thinking of the lone survivalist. And yet, even stockpiles of food and other goods will eventually run out. Without a functioning community capable of defending itself and with continuing access to a flow of energy and goods, no one can survive in the long run.

The survivalist doesn't have to survive on his/her own stores in the 'long run' - merely needs to survive longer than his/her competitors for 're-stocking'.

seeds and ammo ?

Old timers here will recognize Todd as a community elder and appreciate his rock solid remarks and his been there backgroud.

New arrivals interested in preparation and survival in the evbent of a collapse or severe disruptions that be more limited in area cannot do better than to study his older commentary within the context of the threads where they are to be found.

Found this a couple of days ago. I think you can watch it outside norway.

A small introduction:
Its a norwegian program about people that live on isolated places, or places where you never tought anyone could live.
On this episode its about a american woman who was born into a rich amerikan family, but now lives on a farm without electricity here in norway. Its amazing how self sufficent they are, they produce candles, clothing, meat and cheese. But its always something to do there.
The host talks norwegian but she answers in english so you will understand most of it even if you dont understand norwegian.

Very interesting.. thanks for posting this. Leaves me wondering: how many could/would live this way?

Very interesting and heartening! I grew up in a town not too far from where the woamn in the vidoe was raised. I wish I had had her leave civilization and go off to a farm in the mountains. I bet she has nice clean water (unlike where I live) and healthy non-industrial food.

She seems about 10 years younger than me---still in her thirties. I think my generation was by and large conned by our parents into jumping into the industrial economy and never questioning its value. She seems like a very determined, brave, resourceful person with a broad vision and a mandate for herself and her family not to contribute to global warming in any way.

Thank you so much for posting this! I can`t live her life (other arrangements are too all-encompassing) but I can imagine doing so vicariously.

Interesting! Thanks for the link.

One of her observations that struck me was in regards to schooling, about how putting 25-30 kids the same age in a classroom is an experiment that is relatively new in human societies. I had to think about that a bit and the thought occurred to me how this has also changed how we as a society have looked at age groups and cohorts. I think Strauss and Howe would not have written their generations book or the 4th turning book without this change in the structure of society. I also wonder if this has somehow amplified the herding instinct or impulse within society where this is practiced.

I guess structure and organization matter, and perhaps if this has influenced the herding impulse, that perhaps this is one of those unintended consequences of the choices we make.

The key to survival is the community. To get an idea of how this could work read “The Pillars of the Earth” and “World Without End” by Follet. He describes life in feudal Europe and shows how the community banded together to prevent the more powerful from taking the resources of the middle class and the poor; and how the people managed to survive in a Kingdom ruled by an all powerful Magistrate.

Or read some of the Outlander Series by Galbadon about people from modern times who can travel back into the 1700’s. With their modern knowledge they can pull off a few miracles but mostly they create communities with the right mix to sustain themselves either in Scotland or the Carolinas in revolutionary times

In both cases the society is made renewable with a reliance on agriculture and ingenuity.
And in both cases the wiser and harder working people triumph over the foolish and greedy.

Whether one believes in the concept of central planning or the concept of the rugged individualist, if the society collapses it will be the rugged individualist who has taken it upon himself (herself) to prepare, hoard, isolate, hide, and build the right community who survives and those communities – after the death of society as we know it – will once again set up the kind of lifestyle seen several hundreds of years ago. The central government will be as incapable of solving this problem as it has been of solving every other problem it has addressed.

The preparation would involve the idea of groups of specialists who can manage to bring in foodstuffs, create shelter, and defend the homestead against outsiders. Individuals with special skills would be included such as doctors, motivators, renewable energy managers, and negotiators.

Even rugged single survivalists will seek to join such a community after the initial set of supplies is gone.

Of course timing is important here as well. In the above novels, the people had the time (after undergoing some hardships of course) to create their community. If things happen to collapse rapidly, then the people with preplanned communities (Like Vivos, ) will have the advantage over the rest of us.

I don't know .... I'm thinking solar (especially water pump) and pedal power.

Min 2.5 acres/adult to get enough calories.... more if eating animal products.

I agree, but I would have an isolated and defensible location for the first half year in a serious collapse. Then the community could move to acreage and work in the open. You have to get past the period where severe scarcity in general will lead to conquests by the above mentioned criminal types (and the starving who did not prepare but are armed).

I would note that not every community will survive, but some will. Farm areas off the beaten track may be able to move onto the fields more quickly. Groups near cities will be overrun unless their defenses are very strong indeed.

One location I have in mind has a natural spring fed stream, a small community, and perhaps it is far enough off the beaten path to be overlooked by most of the world. It is near good agricultural areas that should need help after the crisis settles down.


Thank my non existent Baptist God that I am not the only person who ever posts here who actually knows something about ag from both ends of the spectrum-hands on and scientific.

There are so many starry eyed rosy tinted glasses posts put up by people who simply haven't got a clue about the realities of doing a little farming in the real world on real world time scales I feel like Cassandra when I try to set the record straight.

Sure you can grow a lot of veggies and potatos on a quarter acre-we do it ourselves.But sometimes we have lost a whole quarter acre plot to a late frost, or a drought, or a flood, or a storm.

In 1955, my extended family was involved almost to the last man in the apple business;my grandfathers were growing tens of thousands of bushels, and my uncles and my Daddy were growing thousands of bushels in thier own young orchards.

The entire family was not able to put together one big truckload ...................

Last year we bought peaches in season for our family table-although we have been growing peaches very successfully commercially for fifty years.We had maybe a twenty percent apple crop.

A hail storm ruined half of our apples this year-trees only a couple of hundred feet apart were either ruined or untouched;the same storm took out some local truck farmers fields to such an extent that they simply abandoned thier crops.Too late to replant.

Oh yeah-the Blue Ridge Mountians are not even in "hail country".

Our hail storm did get a couple of short paragraphs in the local weekly paper.

Here's a good article which I came across about setting up a country lifestyle. It is very accurate, very real, I could have wrote it myself.

An Experiment in Country Living

One thing my wife and I learned from seven years in rural Ontario is that country living doesn't always mean freedom from money issues, and of all our expenses the greatest and most persistent was the car. People who live in the country nowadays are actually more hooked on automobiles than those who live in the city, since there are long miles of highway between one's home and other destinations such as shops or a job. In fact, one of the biggest problems of the truly poor in the countryside is that they may have no means of getting to a job even if it is offered to them. For everyone, the obvious alternative to the automobile would be horses, but how can horses survive at the present time, with the roads dominated by high-speed cars and trucks?

Also some more good articles from the same author (I'll certainly be reading the rest of his articles as soon as I have time):

How Much Land Do We Need?

But here are some rough figures. Let us use the production of corn (maize) as the basis for our calculations, and for now let us pretend that someone is going to live entirely on maize...

...A hard-working adult (e.g., a farmer) burns about 5,000 kilocalories (“calories”) per day, or 2 million kilocalories per year. With non-mechanized agriculture, the yield of corn is about 2,000 kg/ha. The resulting food energy is about 7 million kcal/ha. Under such conditions, then, 0.5 ha of corn would support approximately 2 people. (The data can be found in David Pimentel’s many writings on this subject.)

Potatoes require about 50 percent less land than “grain-corn,” but they are troublesome in terms of insects and diseases. Wheat, on the other hand, requires approximately 50 percent more land than maize to produce the same amount of kilocalories. Beans require about 100 percent more land than corn. “Root crops” such as turnips, carrots, or beets have yields at least 10 times greater than corn, but they also have a much higher water content; their actual yield in kilocalories is slightly less than that of corn.

Growing Your Own Grains

Plant your corn around the time of the last spring frost, but if you want to play it safe you might want to wait a few more days because corn is sensitive to cold weather. Just make sure you give the plants plenty of room: the kernels should be planted about 1 or 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) deep and about 2 feet (60 cm) apart, in rows that are 3 feet (1 m) apart. In an arid area, you might want to increase these distance. Many of the native tribes planted the kernels in clusters separated by perhaps 3 feet (1 m) in every direction; this method may have conserved water or ensured that a few plants would survive depredation by animals.


Pellagra can be common in people who obtain most of their food energy from maize (often called "corn"), notably rural South America where maize is a staple food. Maize is a poor source of tryptophan as well as niacin if it is not nixtamalized. Nixtamalization of the corn corrects the niacin deficiency, and is a common practice in Native American cultures that grow corn. Following the corn cycle, the symptoms usually appear during spring, increase in the summer due to greater sun exposure, and return the following spring. Indeed, pellagra was once endemic in the poorer states of the U.S. South, like Mississippi and Alabama, as well as among the inmates of jails and orphanages as studied by Dr. Joseph Goldberger.

Growing Your Own Grains

As food, corn has the defect that it is low in isoleucine and lysine, 2 of the essential amino acids that make up protein. To take care of this deficiency, you should eat corn with beans, which have roughly the opposite amino-acid composition. Corn is also low in one of the B vitamins, niacin (nicotinic acid), and again the problem can be remedied by eating beans.

A very common mixture here. Corn tortillas plus beans. Corn/rice/beans in various combinations is the staple around here. The corn in tortillas is nixtamalized.