Friday, January 14, 2022

A Few Comments on the Food Shortages

In June 1992 a Burlington Northern railroad derailed while crossing the Nemadji River. 14 cars jumped the track. One of these, a chemical car, fell into the water and began spilling benzene. A toxic cloud of benzene began to form, slowly growing only to be carried by winds in what appeared to be the direction of Duluth and the North Shore. Local authorities quickly went into action and began urging people to evacuate the city.

Our family was living on the Central Hillside at the time. Susie called me at work to make a plan. It so happened that we had booked a cabin up near Gooseberry Falls for the weekend but cancelled. Because we could not get our deposit back I had planned to turn it into a one day writing retreat. 

Everyone had their radios on, following the breaking story. I was working at Chromaline in West Duluth at the time and it was decided that we would all leave by noon. The slow moving toxic cloud would not reach the city for a couple hours. The radio station I was listening to had callers calling in to ask which roads were best to take in order to get out of town. Purportedly all traffic heading toward Duluth from the north was stopped in Two Harbors, as were other roads coming from the west and south.

When I left the office and headed to my house at the top of First Avenue East, there was an eerie sensation that I was living in a horror film. There were no cars moving, and with the exception of one man who was standing in the middle of his front yard with his arms folded I saw no people at all anywhere. I went into my house, changed clothes, grabbed a few items for the evening and left. 

While I was in my car, people were calling the radio station asking what roads were open to get out of town, and one of them said that traffic heading toward Two Harbors was backed up all the way to London Road. Well, that was the direction I needed to go. Looking out over the lake I could see the benzene cloud but it was moving slow and going more north than west, so I decided to take my chances.

SO HERE'S THE SHOCKER. When I drove down London Road, which was supposedly bumper to bumper traffic going north, there was nary a car. I mean, I did not see a single vehicle. I figured that if I keep going I'll reach the tail end of the traffic at some point further on, but as I drove along -- I took the scenic route so I could watch the white cloud on the lake -- I went totally unimpeded. Even while driving on this empty road one of the radio announcers repeated that this was not a good way to leave town because of the traffic which was stopped dead for 20 miles. 

My car was the only vehicle on the road, the entire way to Two Harbors.

OK, here's the point of my story. Wednesday on one of the radio stations I heard someone say how the grocery store shelves are all empty, that  it was like living in 1981 Soviet Union. 

The photos above were taken at the Mount Royal grocery store here in Duluth. The photos below were taken at a Super One in Hermantown or Pike Lake. 

OK, so we had a couple places where they were missing items. Last year we went three to four weeks without "Tostitos with a Hint of Lime."

But it's hardly the Soviet Union 1981. At least not here.

If your experience is different, feel free to leave a comment and say where you're from. I'd like a clearer picture of what is really happening.

1 comment:

LEWagner said...

Here in Thailand, the food prices have barely gone up at all, including dairy products that are imported from New Zealand.
In fact, I was surprised the other day to find that the price of one NZ dairy product I keep on hand had gone down, from 240 baht to 180 baht, and a native Thai product had gone down from 63 baht to 59 baht. This despite the fact that the baht has been going down, against the US dollar.

Regarding the USA, FWIW: I just read this from a FB friend in Colorado:

"The stores have some empty shelves and it's intentional. What I want to know is why would anyone follow these orders and not ask questions?
"I read about a Dollar General store yesterday that they have been instructed to leave the shelves looking empty like that. They have alot of the stock in the back but are being told to leave it looking like they are out of alot of things.
I wish I would have saved and shared it . I didn't see a reason for doing such but who knows what's going on!!!"

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