By Kurt Saxon
Last week PBS aired a weird program entitled "Hunger In America". It was
weird because not one of the families shown as examples of hungry Americans
were destitute. They all had living quarters, some had jobs and even land
and each had the money or food stamps which should have provided them with
a more than adequate diet.
The commentator was in full sympathy with those hungry people and lamented
the fact that nothing more was done. I watched this bizarre exhibition of
the helplessness of the otherwise able and heard the pity of the "there but
for the grace of God go I crowd". I harked back to tales of other starvelings.
In 1845 the Irish potato blight raged and hundreds of thousands starved in
the resulting famine. Yet, it was found that on farms where whole families
had starved, the barns held corn, oats, rye and barley in the cattle feed
In France and Belgium, millions were starving after WW I. America sent boatload
after boatload of corn and the people were insulted at being sent food for
horses and cattle.
Stalin deliberately starved millions of kulaks in the '30's. When his henchmen
moved in to cart off the bodies of the rebellious farmers, there too, was
found plenty of grain in the feed bins. Of course, the livestock had been
eaten but the livestock's food was not considered fit for humans to eat.
That people would starve to death before eating corn is a misleading concept.
Had the corn been ground and made into cornmeal mush those people would have
survived. But they simply didn't relate to corn as food.
Of course, you've heard of the African Bushmen and the Australian Aborigines.
They can thrive where Europeans wouldn't see any food at all. But that is
an extreme. The point is that people tend to see as food, only that which
they are accustomed to eating.
The people on the program were accustomed only to prepared foods bought at
the supermarket. One couple with four kids got $390.00 a month in food stamps.
The man was an auto mechanic who had quit work since he couldn't afford his
wife's medical expenses and his loafing would entitle her to Medicare.
They had four children and lamented the fact that the $390.00 in food stamps
were all used up before the next month's dole. Oh, you know food prices today
and how $390.00 for a family of six doesn't go far. I don't suppose they
spent every bit of it on TV dinners and in the deli section. Nonetheless,
to a Survivalist family, $390.00 would buy about four months' food for six;
That reminds me of 1967 when I was a bum in San Francisco. I was living in
a $10.00 a week sleeping room and worked off and on as a fry cook and a freelance
house-painter. For a no-sweat $5.00 a week I was selling my blood and so
contracted infectious hepatitis.
That's a very debilitating illness and its effects last about a month when
not fatal. Anyway, I was barely able to get around and I couldn't work. I
wasn't hospitalized since the illness wasn't communicable except through
dirty needles, as in my case. But the hospital gave me some pills and arranged
for me to get welfare.
To a single person with what I had, short term, the welfare people paid my
rent and gave me a $6.00 food voucher each week. With that food voucher I
bought sugar, yeast, cheap fruit, margarine, pinto beans, bacon ends, corn
meal, raisins, rice, canned milk and odds and ends. Quite a box of food for
only $6.00, even then.
I had a hot-plate I'd bought earlier in a Salvation Army store for a dollar
and odd pots and pans. One of my favorite dishes was rice and raisins and
canned milk. Delicious, nutritious and cheap. Of course, $6.00 wouldn't go
that far now, but I'd do just as well on its equivalent today.
Notice, I didn't buy any prepared food, nothing in cans or ready to eat.
The sugar, yeast and fruit was for booze I started in several one gallon
wine bottles. Five days later and from then on I had all the booze I wanted
and just as good as store-bought.
Another group interviewed on the program was a farm worker who had fathered
fifteen children. He had a wife and eight children living with him. His wife
was preparing boiled baloney and rice. They were hungry.
Yet, he was shown plowing around onions and some kind of greens. The children,
strapping, albeit ill-favored, were shown in the yard. Behind them was a
great stand of weeds. Now, why didn't the man use from the field he was
cultivating, as was his right? Why weren't his children cultivating a garden?
These people didn't want to be hungry. Obviously, he spent his food budget
on food which was cheap enough but too expensive to supply ten people. But
again, why didn't the man have a garden for all those children to work?
Naturally, the narrator never mentioned the fact that too many
children born to incompetents was a major contributing factor to hunger;
and most other social and economic ills.
The farm worker and his brood were in Alabama but I've seen the same thing
in Appalachian coal country on other programs. Run-down shacks with whole
families of unemployed adults and their many children loafing on the porch.
No gardens! They were hungry too, as the narrator of that program gloated
in an attempt to make the viewers feel guilty.
Another family in "Hunger In America" was Mexican migrant farm labor. The
father was heavy and the others were sturdy-looking. Of course, they wouldn't
have much choice in food from the fields, since stuffing oneself with cucumbers
for a week would hardly make a balanced diet.
I suppose they also had inadequate living quarters and kitchen facilities.
Maybe they didn't even have a super- market close by. Even so, they could
have bought masa in bulk for making tortillas, and pinto beans by the 25
pound sack, and with gleanings could have eaten as well as if they were earning
the equivalent in Mexico. But as it was, they didn't speak English, migrant
labor was their lifestyle and they had chosen, directly or indirectly, to
live on a day-to-day basis. They simply lacked the adaptability to make that
lifestyle as efficient as it could have been.
Another family on the program owned a dairy farm. They weren't doing very
well at it so they were hungry. But with even a small dairy they had milk,
and from it, butter, buttermilk, cheese and yogurt. There were no chickens
in evidence, although several dozen could have lived off spilled feed and
undigested grain in the cow lot. Why weren't they supplied with chickens
and eggs? Where was their garden?
In all these cases there was no reason for hunger. But each family was too
ignorant of food, as such, to prepare nourishing meals from cheaper, more
basic ingredients. Instead, they unrealistically paid others to process their
foods. Consequently, they could afford only about a third of the food they
would have had, had they processed it themselves.
A while back I read a Reader's Digest article on hunger in America. Their
argument was that there was no reason for hunger here, as I've pointed out.
But their idea was that those who weren't eating as much as they needed was
because they didn't know where to apply for more aid!
What amazed me was that neither the narrator of the program nor the writer
of the article considered educating such people in simple home economics.
Knowing how to cook and knowing what foods give energy would have enabled
them to shop for foods which would have been cheaper but more filling and
Several years ago this idea was brought home to me while watching a local
San Francisco news story on malnutrition among the aged there. Featured was
an old man on a fixed income who ran out of food about a week before his
next Social Security check was due.
He was shown cooking his supper. His main course was Canadian bacon. In case
you aren't familiar with it, it was in a roll rather than slices. It cost
three times as much as regular bacon. He was buying gourmet food on his income
from Social Security!
That's the problem with the families on the program. They were buying, in
effect, gourmet food on welfare budgets. No wonder they were underfed and
Most of us have seen people paying with food stamps for TV dinners, steaks
and other highly processed foods. They just don't know how to buy food. All
they know about food is what they see on TV. If they can't afford it; if
they spend all they have on what intelligent wage-earners can't afford, no
wonder they're hungry!
But the bleeding hearts would only have us give them more money. For them
to eat like they must if they can't economize like the rest of us, we might
as well give them all food vouchers to take all their meals at fancy French
restaurants. It won't work. As things get worse, they'll starve.
More rational sympathizers might suggest TV programs (hosted by rock-n-roll
stars, Jim and Tammy Bakker and sports heroes, to keep their attention)
demonstrating the buying and preparation of inexpensive and nutritious foods.
Of course this would have to be on PBS, which they never watch. Otherwise,
the makers of Captain Stupid's Sugared Breakfast Crunchies would protest,
along with all the other advertisers of the equally debilitating carcinogens
and brain-rotting delectables morons have been sold as staples for years.
The point is, millions of Americans are so ignorant about food that without
the media they wouldn't know what to eat at all. And with the inevitable
rise in food prices and cuts in welfare, those millions are going to starve.
But that's not the half of it. Next time you go to the supermarket look at
the foolish people with their carts piled to overflowing with expensively
packaged foods hardly fit for human consumption. One doesn't have to be a
health nut to shudder at what most of that does to the body and brain. Most
people who make good livings don't know any more about staple foods and their
preparation than do the welfare morons.
This is because, in our prosperous culture, food is usually taken for granted.
Urbanites really had no time, and seldom the facilities for preparing foods
from basic staples. Also not too long ago, food's cheapness, even processed
and packaged, make it impractical for the homemaker to process staples.
But now, with the rising costs of food, energy, packaging, etc., food has
become a major budget outlay. Therefore, it is becoming more practical to
buy in bulk and process one's own food. But since Granny baked bread weekly,
made sausages in the fall, had a kitchen garden even in the city, and distrusted
canned foods, people have suffered a kind of cultural amnesia concerning
So people are hungry in the midst of plenty. And fewer people are left to
pass on the basic techniques to fewer people who care to learn them.
I was fortunate in having nothing but peasant ancestors who were too poor
to hire commercial food processors to prepare their food. In my misspent
youth I never hungered because I knew food and how to prepare it.
This ability really came in handy when I had the accident which damaged my
hand and left me nearly blind for months. In 1970 I was getting $87.00 per
month County Welfare. My little apartment cost $50.00, leaving me only $37.00
a month for food and incidentals. I spent less than $5.00 a week on food
and ate better and tastier foods than I had when I could afford anything
Most of the processes I knew and developed then are in SURVIVOR Volume I.
They will guarantee anyone an abundance of nutritious food for about a quarter
of today's food prices. This book is the most important in my whole line
and could save you enough to afford all my books and tapes with a couple
of month's savings.
Many of the processes are shown in my tape, "The Poor Man's James Bond Strikes
Again". The information was given there to illustrate the fact that the embattled
Survivalist can hold out almost forever with the right kind of food supplies.
Without such foods, any survival program may fail.
Unfortunately, less than half my subscribers have bought Survivor Vol I.
Some take pride in having stocked up on "survival foods", a snare and a delusion
which will doom many. This is because such foods are simply stored. They
don't increase in food value as do grains used for sprouting. They need no
processing except for adding water.
They also cost up to ten times what I recommend and are not nearly so good
tasting or nutritious. The worst thing about them is that the Survivalist
doesn't learn the skills insuring survival on a long-term basis. Without
such knowledge and skills the "Survivalist" will be useless to his neighbors
and so may be driven from the community when his supplies run out or are
On the other hand, unprocessed foods are the last items a looter would want
or would even recognize as food. Not nearly so portable and lootable as the
neatly packaged and labeled meals like Mountain House Freeze-Dried Foods,
Another class of Survivalists are those fixated on weaponry and personal
defense; and maybe offense. That type saddens me as they are incomplete and
also contributes to the negative side of Survivalism.
The media image of the Survivalist is a camouflage-clothed dingbat living
in a hole in the ground and waving guns at everybody. I made up the term
and that's not my definition. But all too many of my readers seem to try
to live up to it.
But the arms-crazy type won't make it. Banditry is self-defeating. Say you
take food by force from one, two, maybe three families. Logic and the law
of averages should show you that you're only working your way to a real
Survivalist who will destroy you.
Bandits are just as dependent as any other losers. You must be self-sufficient
in many areas in order to survive the coming collapse. And self-sufficiency
in food is the most basic and most important survival skill.
Surprisingly, self-sufficiency in food is the simplest and also the most
profitable survival skill. As shown, it will take care of you now and save
over half your food bill. When it becomes an absolute necessity, you will
be among the most valued members of your community.
So sure, there's hunger in America. There will be more and only those who
have become independent of the food conglomerates will be prepared for a
future which will doom millions.