Slouching Toward Depression
May 1, 2008
Slouching Toward Depression
Are we closing in on another Great Depression?
The signs of our times indicate that we are at least flirting with the likes of such. This was part of the discussion around the lunch table recently.
A group of us started what we call “The Lunch Club” to cut down on our daily food bills while continuing to enjoy good food at lunch time.
Here is how it works:
There are nine of us, so every nine days one of us makes lunch for the group — we are not just talking sandwiches here but a full-course meal including vegetables, fruit and grains along with our meat dishes. I’m planning to make my Mediterranean chicken for my next turn. It has become a joyous event in our busy work day. It is fun to see what delectable surprises fellow diners present at the table. The recipes have been interesting and intriguing. I learned that eggs can be baked to doneness in their shells. I thought hard-boiled eggs had to be “boiled” in a pan on top of the stove.
Food is the main discussion, which recently evolved into talk about the food peculiarities of parents and grandparents. One in our group, whose parents gave birth to her late in life, said her mother has always been a food “minimalist.” She hoards apples because she can’t forget the scarcity of fruit during the Depression of the 1920s and ’30s.
Others had their stories, too. While I also remember hearing Depression-era stories from relatives and friends, my thoughts revisited my trip to East Africa in the 1970s, which was life-changing on several fronts. For one thing, it marked my serious appreciation of the fact that the world is a global community. Of greater impact was the full realization that Americans consume adisproportionate share of the world’s resources based on population. I left for Africa with the memory of long lines at the gas pumps, for gasoline prices had increased dramatically.
This brings me to my concerns about another Great Depression. Gasoline prices continue to go up. It seems every other personal vehicle on roads these days is big with big gas tanks to be filled at nearly $4 a gallon. Gasoline in East Africa was nearly $5 a gallon when I was there in the 1970s. There were not so many cars on the roads, either, but lots of bicycles and motorbikes. A front-page headline in a Chicago Tribune Sunday edition advised people to “Eat high on the hog while you can.” The story was about soaring feed costs and their impact on meat prices. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported on limited rice purchases at Sam’s Club and Costco as prices rise. The retail giants placed a limit on how much rice customer could buy due to “recent supply and demand trends,” the report said.
So, are we closing in on another Great Depression? Probably not in the traditional sense, but we can look forward to many changes in the way we live and the way we spend money as we adapt to living on a smaller slice of the world economic pie.