Get Ready Blog
Rapid food price inflation is about to hit consumers as major producers warn About Extreme Grain prices.
The craziest part is last year they were mocking anyone who thought they would really get rid of meat, they said that was fake and it was “fact-checked” as false. Well, the truth comes out and yes they really intend to transition away from meat. Grain prices have been soaring and a silent upheaval is underway in our food supply and distribution networks. Grain prices are rising so fast the major producers like Kraft-Heinz and Conagra are warning higher prices are about to be passed on to consumers. A recent business survey revealed many small businesses also planned price raises and it looks like it may not be an option for most. The question is will customers be able to afford the new normal food prices?
You may have heard money expert Clark Howard recommend that everyone should keep some cash at home in case there’s an emergency that affects our banking systems, but exactly how much cash should you keep on hand?
We went straight to Clark himself to get some clarification…
How Much Cash Do You Need to Keep On Hand for an Emergency Situation?
Clark says that how much emergency cash you need is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
“It depends on daily cash needs,” he says. “Figure you need to cover three days of ‘walking around’ money. Whatever you would typically charge or use a debit card for over a three day period, that’s what you need to have on hand.”
Here’s one way to figure out what your ideal amount of cash to keep on hand would be:
- Look at a month from the last year in which you didn’t have any large, out-of-the-ordinary expenditures.
- Add together your total credit and debit card expenditures, plus any money you withdrew from ATMs that month.
- Divide that number by 10 and, voila, you have a pretty good idea of how much cash you might need to cover you for three days.
Clark says he has a simple rule: “I have $400 in cash on hand. No one will find it if they come looking for it, but if I don’t have access to money otherwise, I know that I have that much. $400 can cover a lot of things in the event that global banking systems are not available.”
One thing to consider is that if there is a true cash crunch, you probably don’t want your entire emergency stash to be big bills like $100s and $50s. You’re much more likely to be able to spend your cash and get change with denominations of $20s, $10s, $5s and $1s.
Keep in mind that you should also have a more general emergency fund that you can tap into if unexpected circumstances arise. This should not be cash that you keep in your home, but should be money you can access quickly if you need to pay a surprise medical bill or repair your vehicle.
“If you don’t have savings, then you’re not prepared for the ‘oops’ in life,” Clark says. “Because ‘oops’ happen — all different types and sizes, and a lot of times we’re not in a position to deal with them.”
Hopefully, one of those “oops” won’t be our banking systems going down but at least with some cash on hand for an emergency, you’ll know you’re prepared if that does happen.
Here’s a strange story from Utah. A woman got a mysterious package in the mail from China. According to the box, it had earrings in it. She opened it, and found the box to be full of baggies of seeds—not earrings at all. And she didn’t order seeds. What’s up with that? And who sent them?
The woman in Utah isn’t the only one to get a mystery seed package. Other unsuspecting Utahans have received packages from China marked as earrings or ear studs. When they open them up, they find seeds inside. Across the pond in the United Kingdom, hundreds of gardeners have also received mystery packages from China and Malaysia, marked as ear studs, that contain unknown seeds. (Thanks to RobMcNealy for the tip!)
Here’s what you need to know:
- I called Utah’s Department of Agriculture to learn what the seeds were. So far, they haven’t proven to be anything dangerous.
- If you receive such seeds in the mail, contact your local agriculture department immediately.
- Do not plant or throw away the seeds. They could produce an invasive species.
- The mystery packages could be related to “brushing,” a bizarre yet mostly harmless scam.
Department of Agriculture investigates
The mystery seeds prompted immediate investigations by Utah’s Department of Agriculture and Food and the UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency. The importation of plants and seeds is highly regulated due to concerns about invasive species.
I contacted the Utah Department of Agriculture to ask if they had identified the seeds. I heard from Mark Ashcroft, the program manager in the plant industry division overseeing seed, feed, fertilizer, fruit, and vegetable.
What could the seeds be? A mysterious bioweapon (per one theory we actually saw on Twitter)? Drugs?
“So far our Seed Laboratory has identified the seed that came from Tooele last night as rose, amaranth and two mints. We have also bar code identified aloe vera and coleus,” Ashcroft said. Ashcroft said many more people were dropping off or sending in mystery seeds for testing.
So, thankfully, the seeds are nothing harmful. Just some flowers, herbs, and succulents. (coleus is a type of ornamental flower). However, if you receive a mystery seed packet in the mail, you should be aware of the potential dangers and know what to do.
Care and handling of mystery seeds
Invasive plants are plants that are alien to an ecosystem, but thrive incredibly well there. They wreck their adoptive environments when they arrive. A common example is kudzu, which is an Asian vine that has invaded large sections of the United States. Not only is kudzu annoying to gardeners, but its prolific growth can also kill shrubs and even trees by completely blocking them off from sunlight.
Invasive plants can even be a threat to human life. Another invasive species that has taken off in recent years is the giant hogweed, which releases a sap that, when combined with sunlight, can cause what the BBC describes as “life-changing burns, blisters and scarring.”
Much like the acid-blooded xenomorphs in the movie Aliens, attacking a giant hogweed plant with a mower or string trimmer can spray you with sap. The worst part — you may not even realize it at first. Once the sap is activated by sunlight, the sap starts burning your flesh. If it gets in your eyes, it can cause permanent blindness.
As you can see, invasive plants can be a major threat. If you receive any such mystery seeds in the mail, contact your nearest agricultural department immediately so they can collect and test them. Do not touch the seeds, plant them, or even throw them away. Tossing them in the garbage could mean the seeds end up sprouting in a landfill, unleashing unknown horrors (or some lovely mint) on the world.
Have we weaponized seeds? Or is this just a weird scam?
The most likely explanation for the mystery seeds (other than world domination by invasive flora) is a good, old-fashioned scam.
Jane Rupp, president of the Better Business Bureau’s Utah chapter, told FOX 13 in Salt Lake City that it’s a common scheme known as “brushing.” An unscrupulous vendor selling on a website like Amazon or AliExpress somehow gets your address, creates a fake account with your name and address, sends you a cheap product, and then posts a fake, but glowing review of the product under your name.
Forbes explains the rationale for this bizarre scam:
To the platform and other users, these faux reviews appear to be from legitimate and verified sales. Beyond the benefit of favorable reviews, simply having additional sales is often enough to raise a product in the rankings of some e-commerce sites, such as Amazon.
As far as scams go, it’s pretty innocuous, albeit unsettling. The “victims” are almost never billed for the items, and some even wish they’d be the victims of a brushing scam.
If it happens to you, take the standard security precautions like contacting the retailer to let them know, changing your online retail passwords, and carefully checking your bank records to make sure you aren’t being defrauded. But you likely have nothing to worry about. Brushing is just a bizarre, yet strangely considerate way for vendors to boost their sales rankings.
Health care workers and restaurant servers seem to be wearing face shields to avoid contracting COVID-19. So should we all be wearing them, too?
The bottom line: face shields add extra protection for people who need it—but only if worn and cleaned correctly.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads most commonly through droplets that hang in the air for a short time and then fall to the ground and onto nearby surfaces. They are most concentrated within six feet of the infected person emitting them. There’s some debate about the degree to which these droplets remain airborne, so let’s begin by making it clear that mask-wearing and hand washing are of primary importance in preventing or decreasing transmission of the pandemic virus.
Is it time for a face shield?
Face shields may add an additional layer of protection and are most useful if you have to be in close contact with infected people (less than six feet). It makes the most sense for frontline healthcare workers to wear them, but you’ll also see shields being used by restaurant staff, for example. There’s probably an argument for teachers and professors to wear them as schools open up, as there will be times when educators need to step inside that 6-foot radius to help a student.
Face shields are most protective if worn over a mask, and not in place of a mask.
If you’re caring for a sick family member or frequently find yourself in situations where social distancing is compromised, a face shield could be useful to you. It may also be useful for those who have trouble keeping their hands off their face when wearing a mask. When I’m working in the hospital, I prefer face shields for eye protection. I find that goggles and safety glasses fog up with mask-wearing.
Which shields work against COVID-19?
I don’t recommend buying disposable shields and trying to reuse them. Many disposable shields have foam around the headband, and that foam can’t be thoroughly disinfected. The disposable shields I’ve come across are not made of robust enough plastic to survive heat treatment as a means of disinfection, either.
I recommend getting a durable, reusable face shield. More durable shields can be properly cleaned with disinfectant wipes or solutions. They can also be used for safety when crafting or doing other projects around the house.
For general information and especially if you plan to make your own face shield, follow JAMA’s advice. Make sure the shield:
- extends below the chin,
- extends to the ears on each side,
- does not have a gap that exposes the forehead between the headband and the shield, and
- is made of smooth, solid materials (this is what allows it to be disinfected) if you plan to reuse them.
Avoid alcohol and ammonia as disinfectants on flimsier materials, as they may damage the material and make it less protective. Don’t use acetone on plastic or rubber. Use approved disinfectant wipes or cleaning solutions, and allow shields to dry before reuse. To avoid respiratory irritation, disinfect outside or in a well-ventilated area. Allow some time before reuse so traces of disinfectant can dissipate—I’ve heard complaints from shield-wearers that constant exposure to disinfectants on the mask is irritating. If you have a reactive airway, disinfecting and reusing shields without drying time may not be ideal.
Whether you have a commercial shield or a homemade one, it’s probably wise to spot-test your disinfectant to make sure it doesn’t corrode the material or warp it. Warping could make the surface porous and harder to disinfect. Corrosion could cause the clear plastic portion of your shield to become cloudy and unusable.
Please family, hold on to your money during these times.
The food shortages have begun in the US and it seems consumers are not as confident as the wall street analysts would like to convey since they are still stocking up on emergency foodstuffs. There may be a couple factors at play here though the companies all deduce it’s due to increased demand from more and more customers eating at home more the items that food producers and grocery stores are finding hard to keep in stock would be rice, flour, and canned goods among other things. Another factor may be a major disruption still present in the supply chains. There are shortages in different metals particularly aluminum, Pepsi and Coca Cola both acknowledged a shortage of aluminum cans and the way they have been dealing with it is to reduce production for some of their flavors of said and focus on their top-selling brands to try to keep their products on the shelves. They warned there will be shortages on many of their products until they can get the supply problems resolved. This could be some of the strain for canned goods and what it signifies is there may still be some serious supply chain disruptions.