by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper:
Imagine going to the store to pick up some everyday item – say, body wash for the shower – and not being able to find your usual brand. In fact, you can’t find any brand. The store is completely out so you have to go with bar soap.
In the grand scheme of life, this isn’t a big deal. Soap is soap is soap, right? But in the United States, we have become spoiled with choices. In even a small-town store, there are dozens of options for body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and all the other things we consider necessary to live a civilized life. Don’t like the fragrance? Just go with a different brand. That laundry soap works better on your delicates and this one works better on work clothes.
TRUTH LIVES on at https://sgtreport.tv/
This is NOT how it is in other countries. In fact, you regularly have to substitute something else entirely for the item you went to the store to purchase.
I would imagine that is also similar to how it may look in the US as the supply chain continues to crumble and personal finances keep plummeting. After all, in places like Venezuela and Greece, we watched on the news as people stood in long lines hoping to find basics like soap, diapers, rice, and cash from the ATM.
In the spirit of adaptability and resilience, let’s talk about life with limited options.
Some Americans are already accustomed to life with limited options.
Some folks are in positions in which you eat what you’re served, you use the products that are supplied, and you drink the coffee that is available. Your options are to take it or to leave it. People deployed overseas to dangerous places have a few choices on the base instead of the dozens of choices they’d have in the US. This has prepared them for the retail austerity that we’re just lately beginning to see in the United States.
Folks who have lived in poverty for a long period of time tend to be accustomed to a lack of choices because their decision-making is largely driven by price. You don’t see a lot of people who are truly struggling using salon-quality shampoo – they pick up a bottle of Suave or the store brand.
Also, folks in remote areas have fewer choices due to limited transportation. They have a couple of different stores to go to, and the stores must stock the products that most people want, not a broad assortment of specialty items. The advent of Amazon and other internet merchants has helped those in isolated areas have a broader selection, but if the item is needed right away, the choices are fewer.
But the culture of abundance in the US is changing.
We’ve published quite a number of articles on this website about the fragility of our supply chain. Not only are grocery stores showing the strain, but so are clothing stores, hardware stores, appliance stores, and places like Walmart and Target.
All you have to do is walk into any department store. Where do you see the bare spots? That’s where the products we used to get from China used to be. It should be a vast shock and an awakening that so much of our manufacturing has gone to China to give us our quick fix of shoddy yet shiny merchandise at low prices. Nearly all the things that are now limited are because either the product itself or a vital component of it is made in China. Months ago, I warned that we’d soon be seeing supply chain issues of these essentials that formerly landed on a regular basis from China.
And this is just the beginning.
The difference between a lack of options and shortages
The word “shortage” is being thrown around a lot and it’s being misused. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word shortage as “a situation in which there is not enough of something; a lack of something that is needed.” We had a shortage in toilet paper and cleaning supplies last year, but if we’re being pedantic, we are not currently suffering from “shortages” in food or consumer goods.
What we’re experiencing right now is a limit of options. No longer can you walk into the store and have 17 shades of beige from which to select your bathroom towels. When bopping around internet forums and chat groups, I’ve seen people complaining about this type of thing. We’ve lived for so long with such an abundance of variety that to many folks, it seems positively unthinkable to no longer be able to spend a half-hour waffling between cerulean, navy, and indigo for your placemats.
But it’s important to be clear that at this point, we may not have huge numbers of options, but we can still eat food from every food group, clean our homes, buy socks and underwear, and get dish soap. Real shortages are when there’s simply nothing to buy.
I’ve lived outside the US for most of the past two and a half years, in southern Europe and Mexico, and the type of choices we have in American stores is absolutely unheard of elsewhere. I wrote about the grocery stores:
Let’s take meat, for example. Here in the United States, our stores have a lengthy expanse with hundreds of packages of meat down one aisle of the store. Outside the United States (at least where I spent most of my time) you had a little corner with a couple of chilled cases of meat. In those cases you could find chicken in perhaps three forms – whole, cut up with bone-in, and chicken breasts. For beef, you might find a roast and ground meat. With pork, you might be able to get a tenderloin, a larger bone-in roast, and some pork chops.
Moving along to other sections of the store, produce is not a vast corner with 25% of the contents of the store. It was a small section and the options were fairly basic. You didn’t have 17 brands or types of potatoes from which to choose. You just had potatoes in general in a large bin where you reached in and bagged your own.
There was food, and plenty of it. It was just that you didn’t have 29 different brands of salad dressing. You didn’t have as much processed food. You had access to basics. (source)
So while right now it feels like we have shortages, there are really only a few things that are actually in short supply. Currently, in comparison with many other parts of the world, we still live in the land of plenty. The sooner you adapt to limitations, the better off you will be when true shortages occur.
Living with limited options
The key to not feeling deprived is learning to live within our current limitations. Whether that is a lack of food options, undesirable homekeeping items, or a lack of money, we need to learn to manage this. Here are a few tips to help adapt.
Try to think in terms of “different” instead of “worse.” The most important thing of all is to adjust your mindset away from one of deprivation. Where I live currently is beautiful with a year round growing season. Glorious, farm fresh produce is everywhere. But you can’t find the same kinds of processed foods that are readily available in the United States. At least in the part of Mexico where I live, you can’t pop into the grocery store and buy a frozen dinner or a frozen pizza or the same brands and flavors of potato chips they have in the US. I’ve heard ex-pats complaining about the “lack” of food when it’s literally growing all around us. But it’s different and some people are creatures of habit. Different is difficult for them.