Already the headlines are starting to scream at us from every corner. Time Magazine has stated that America is in decline. CNN is now citing rising costs, and the Wall Street Journal is trumpeting the end of the dollar’s reign in international circles.
The FDA says that food prices will rise by 3.5% in 2011 and because the world is turning away from the dollar, the return of our currency is creating an inflationary cycle. And now the federal government has requested 40 million dehydrated meals for “emergency” preparedness. What’s going on?
Off The Grid Radio
Released: March 5, 2011
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome once again, as the announcer says, to Off the Grid News – the radio version of offthegridnews.com. I’m Brian Brawdy, as always here with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, how are you sir?
Bill: Greetings, Brian, I am well. I’m well.
Brian: We’re going to get to your travels here in just a bit but I wanted to catch you up on a conversation I had yesterday where someone said “I’m not so much worried about the rising cost of fuel because I’ll just ride my motorcycle. I’ll park my truck. So if gas goes to five dollars a gallon, I’m not going to worry. I’ll just ride my bike. The summer’s coming …” I was really stunned at the shocked look on his face when I said you realize that the rising fuel prices have a little bit to do with fuel but it has so much more to do with food. Because the farmers have to pay the rising fuel costs to either get their seeds to where they’re going to grow or get their product from the fields. Then there’s the cost of getting it to production; then it’s the cost of getting it from production to the stores. I think when people look at rising fuel prices they go “it’s going to hurt at the pump” – well, it’s going to hurt at the grocery store too. It’s going to hurt at a lot of different places. I found it interesting that Glenn Beck, of late, has really started pushing “you better focus on food.” So I thought we would talk today about what you think is coming and why. I saw a report yesterday that said food prices are up 15 percent over this time last year. The Wall Street Journal today has an article saying the dollar’s reign – the American dollars reign – is near the end. Time Magazine – Time Magazine, Bill, of all people – say “yes, America’s in decline. We finally admit it.” And then the report, as well, that China’s Central Bank “plans to grow its currency’s international role.” There’s all kinds of things affecting the cost of food. It doesn’t look like it in the beginning though, does it? Because although tangential – they go “how could that hurt the cost of bread?”
Bill: It looks like an abstraction. You drive past the pump and there is a bit of lament to all of us, if we have to fill our cars up, we’re going to groan. But as you say, fertilizer – even agricultural – even fertilizer – a lot of fertilizers have their roots in petroleum products. It’s a slow drumbeat, maybe fast at times, but nonetheless it’s a slow drumbeat towards higher prices. At the end of the day, I’m not so sure food prices are going up as you’re just seeing the shrinking value of the dollar as measured against hard commodities like gold and food. To me, are there shortages of these things? I’m not sure there’s shortages of a lot of foods in many places. I know we experience seed shortages from time to time. I see it really as the dollar deteriorating against some of these things and that’s what ends up looking like – higher prices are a function of this – and that’s what it looks like at the ends of the day. But it’s coming and it’s going to get worse.
Brian: That’s the sleight of hand of inflation. People go “inflation” – and people use the term, and I’m not really sure that a lot of folks understand it, which is why I always enjoy the time we have with Porter Stansberry when he’s on. But inflation basically means that the dollar is worth less and less. So you’re right. Either way, it’s going to start to affect us, as I can tell you personally, because I have to shop for my own groceries. Just in the last six months it’s a bigger hit every time I go to the grocery store and stock up for the week.
Bill: You could go to the grocery store today, if you have a family of four, and spend – if you were going to stock up you could spend $500 pretty easy. $500 …
Brian: I was traveling and yesterday I stopped – I won’t even mention the name of the fast food place – but I had breakfast and had two of their breakfast sandwiches and a large pop – ten bucks! Ten bucks! for two bagels with some cheese and crappy meat on it, a large diet coke – ten bucks! $9.97 or something. I looked at the girl like “are you kidding me?” It’s never been that much in the past. So even when you go out to restaurants, they have to pass the cost onto us. But that’s a little inflation lesson.
Bill: Again, it has political implications that transcend that pump thing that you’re talking about. I think as you go into an election, maybe of 2012, if you have $5 gas or higher, whoever the incumbent is is gone, because we live in a petroleum-based economy. I mean, Fed Ex has to bring you a package, or UPS – they’re going to charge – everything goes up – except your wages, right? Except what we all make, that goes down, because we have less to buy against. It creates misallocations of capital in the marketplace and at the end of the day I really believe that whoever is in power – Obama – it’d be very difficult for the President to stay President if you’ve got $5-plus gas.
Brian: Oh, stick around, the Republicans will figure out some way of doing that. They’ll nominate someone that couldn’t beat you and I in a presidential election and they’ll put them up against President Obama. You’ll see. You know the names, I’m not going to say it now in case there’s fans of those people listening. But leave it to the rhinos, they’ll think of some way of shooting us in the foot.
Bill: But in a sense, across the ocean, or maybe even in the South, what you’ve got is food prices aren’t just an annoyance and at some point people don’t just say “that’s annoying to me to have to put $5 in there when I could have bought more songs for my iPod.” Really, what happens in economies that are less strong than ours is it becomes a situation like Egypt. These countries, more times than not – Tunisia – they are interested in food prices and what created some of these revolutions, at the heart of it, was people not having enough money for food. Then you get the Muslim Brotherhood and other organizations, other groups, trying to grab the flock and say “come our way …” or this or that. But a hungry belly makes for a protest and then for violence.
Brian: That’s such a great point, Bill, when you say that – when you talk about the Muslim Brotherhood or the different organizations, over there saying “come, come …” I was interested in a report out of Chicago, I think it was yesterday or the day before – Jeremy will check for us – but where Louis Farrakhan is saying “wake up. It’s coming here.” I wasn’t so sure if that was a shot of him fortune telling or whether he was inviting it, but he’s basically saying when people are hungry this is what you get, and it’s coming here, so everyone who thinks it’s not coming to the United States of America … so when I thought about that I thought “when I bump into Bill in the studio, I’m going to ask him about that because was he looking to break a news story or was he trying to recruit the fact that those types of …”
Bill: I think he’s trying to get out a little ahead of the parade. But I think what you see is a good example – when you see turmoil, you see blame laying. At the end of the inflationary period in Germany you had Hitler rise to power and of course the Jews took a hit there – it’s their fault – so Farrakhan – what’s Farrakhan doing today? He’s blaming someone – the Jews have been historical target. I think it won’t just be the Jews that get blamed but it’ll be any kind of group – Patriots … we’ve heard this before but as it gets rougher and rougher, someone’s got to take the hit, and it’s a question of what are these guys in Obama’s cabinet now – who are they trying to manipulate to take the hit? Who are we going to blame this on? Is it the Teachers’ Union? Is it this guy? Is it that guy? Who do you blame the stuff on? Blame becomes a huge part of political transitions.
Brian: And even just political transcripts. You listen to – it’s hysterical to me that everyone’s screaming now that – what did I see the other day? “With the stroke of a scheming governor’s pen” – someone on the left was writing an article about executive orders. I’m thinking “are you kidding me?” You remember Paul Begala had that point back in the Clinton days where – what was the quote? “Stroke of the pen, law of the land, pretty cool.” Democrats do it, Republicans do it. Executive Orders have been around since President George Washington. I know you’re a fan of President George Washington – I know that picture you have in your home. But it’s been around forever. But that’s the blame game. You’re absolutely right. Even here at home, when it comes to “who wrote the worst ever Executive Order?” If you’re a Democrat, you think it’s the Republicans; if you’re the Republicans, you’re pointing the finger at the Democrats. And it’s the same thing in the Middle East. I think Gaddafi this morning is blaming – first it was al-Qaeda, then it was us, then it was someone else. They’re all looking for someone to hang this on.
Bill: And by the same token, I think our State Department wants to take a look and blame this, use this, whatever happens – is this a way for us to demonize Gaddafi and then thereby gain more influence in the region? So the blame game is a very big part of the political landscape, always has been. But I think we’re entering a period of time where it’s going to become more pronounced, where it’s going to get rougher and rougher.
Brian: I think that’s almost where we are right now. When you look at the stories – even in Wisconsin, which we’ll get to after the break, I hope for a little bit – just the unrest in Wisconsin and – shocker! – it isn’t the Tea Party that’s busy being all violent and disruptive and anarchist. Alright, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to go ahead and run to a quick commercial break. When we’re back, the full hour – he’s been traveling – you’re going to want to know where he’s been. Back, the full hour, with Mr. Bill Heid, here at offthegridnews.com.[0:09:54 – 0:14:08 break]
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Off the Grid News. Brian Brawdy here, as always, with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, before we went to commercial break we were talking a little bit about rising food prices and some of the unrest in the world. I suspect a lot of our listeners are accustomed to hearing people slam FOX news or slamming one side of the political spectrum, so I thought I’d throw it out for everybody – here’s the title this morning – “World Food Prices Hit Record High,” brought to you not by FOX news but …
Bill: CNN. And it sounds like a lot of fear-mongering to me. Like they’re trying to create a disastrous way to think.
Brian: Nice to have them on board, right? Have fellow fear-mongerers … [laughs]
Bill: We were out way ahead of this and we’ve been talking about this for the last couple of years but I think another story that we saw and we were talking about there at the break was the dollar’s reign near an end, as being reported by the Wall Street Journal. That sounds like another abstraction. Just like you drive by the pump and say “darn it! Up another 40 cents.” – or whatever it might be – “Maybe we won’t go on vacation as far this year,” or whatever. If you see a headline like that “Dollar’s Reign Near an End,” that’s probably scarier than the pump prices because here’s what happens. As the dollar being the reserve currency, we have currency all over the world. We have currency being traded right now on the streets of Russia. They’re trading dollars. We have exported this inflation all over the world. Here’s what happens – as it comes to an end, and people start saying “we’re not going to take that as a medium of exchange anymore because of its declining value.” These little dollars that we’ve sent away, fly back home. And what happens is, when you have supply and demand, you’ve got more dollars – same amount of products, more dollars – you get the bidding up effect – it’s like Economics 101 today. You get the supply and demand issue with products – more dollars coming back home and not taken, so all that inflation gets pumped back home. You could see a disastrous situation where you could see 20 percent inflation. If this happens, it won’t take much to trigger it. It looks to me, Brian, like it’s going to happen, like they’re finishing – and I don’t know if it’s by design or not, but they’re going to finish off the dollar. We’ll probably have some other currency. It sounds like something that just is going to be handled but there’s going to be millions of people that suffer.
Brian: And suffer not just at the first tier, if you think about that Bill, but I’m looking at a report now that said “food prices to skyrocket. Riots could follow,” suggests the USDA. The article said “USDA is predicting a 3.5 percent increase in food prices in 2011, which is about twice the overall inflation rate.” So as you mentioned to me, I think either in the break or in our first segment, about the unrest in Egypt – everyone’s “the unrest in Egypt – they really wanted to get rid of Mubarak.” Well, a good bit of the unrest had more to do with their stomachs growling than it did trying to overthrow a government, didn’t it?
Bill: It did. And you also have – this country, you have FEMA and other governmental organizations, as you know – you broke that story when you were traveling in Utah, almost by mistake. We wrote about it in one of our emails that went out.
Brian: Always nice to meet a fan, Bill. Most of the stories that I bring are by mistake. I’m like Columbo – I’ve got a 12 IQ and I just have to bumble into something.
Bill: Here’s what happened. You didn’t go there trying to hunt this issue out. But what you discovered surreptitiously, maybe is a better way to phrase it …
Brian: I like bumbling, but thanks, you’re very kind.
Bill: You found out through your conversations with someone in a very large dehydrated food production company that they had a request from the government and it was substantial. What did they say it would take them?
Brian: Forty million meals – wasn’t it, Jeremy? Forty million meals to last over 10 days. They were looking for companies that manufactured freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. Part of me, Bill, and I know this is a part of you ricocheting in my mind – a part of me says that’s really cool that the government is planning to make sure that, not like Hurricane Katrina, that there’ll be some good that they can do to try to help folks. But then the other side of my brain kicks in and goes what do they know that we don’t know? I’m not an anti-government guy. I think in the things that the government is supposed to do, big fan – huge fan. But what is it that they know that we don’t, when they’re looking for 40 million freeze-dried meals over a 10-day period?
Bill: I think either way you’ve got – you go back to what’s the government supposed to do? My analysis is going to be largely biblical and say you’re not supposed to do anything other than prohibit the evildoer. You shouldn’t even be buying dehydrate food for emergencies for other people – that’s where I would place government. That’s left to the communities, the churches, individuals, charities and so forth. I would put that down in terms of – either way I think you’ve got a bizarre thing happening there. My guess is that’s probably for government employees. My guess is … my conspiratorial side – I’m like Alex Jones, the most paranoid – Rolling Stones did a piece on Alex – the most paranoid man in the world.
Brian: I thought this month’s cover was Howard Stern. Wasn’t that interesting?
Bill: I think the longest story in there was about Alex Jones being so paranoid. But the Alex Jones side of me says this is probably going in some underground place and then …
Brian: Yeah, in West Virginia, exactly …
Bill: We don’t know that but we’re guessing a little bit.
Brian: I think for me, Bill, only because – and this is one of the things that, as you recall, a couple of years ago – that attracted me to our friendship and our working relationship is I was there in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I see what it does to people when there’s no food and there’s no water. When I read a report saying “food prices are going up. According to the USDA it could cause riots,” I’m thinking “well, where ya been?” It’s already happening in this country. In this day and age, in our country, it’s already happened where people are being robbed for the food that they have. Our friend from – help me real quick, Jeremy – that says he can’t – where one of our solar generators was donated … in Haiti says they can’t cook. They get up in the morning, they look to see if the flag is blowing. If there’s any wind moving whatsoever they don’t cook the meals because people smell it cooking and come and steal the food.
Bill: Not just steal the food, they come with machetes. And it’s a sad story. Can that happen here? You bet. We don’t occupy anyplace in the universe that’s protected by anything. Human beings are human beings and I think that’s one of the things that Americans are going to have to learn is that we’re subject to the same laws of the universe that people in Tunisia and Egypt are. When people’s children have hungry bellies, they’ll do things they wouldn’t do ordinarily. That’s just scary.
Brian: I go back to my Les Mis line – Jean Valjean – stealing the loaf of bread because he had to feed his daughter. I’m with you. Then what scares me more, Bill, in this day and age – your dad, your mom, my dad, my mom, people of an older generation, people somewhat of our mindset – they’re going to be able to pull it off. But when you have upwards of 60 to 65 percent of the people that go to sign up for the military, and these young people can’t make it because they’re already too obese to be in the military, that’s what scares me about it going down now, Bill. There’s a generation of folks that don’t know what it’s like to plant seeds, that don’t know what it’s like to have to harvest a deer or their own rainwater. An entire population that’s been convinced – you saw it when you were traveling during the recent snowstorm. People go “what do you mean, Brian? Don’t panic. I’ll pick up the phone, I’ll call 911 and Domino’s delivers. And if I can’t get a hold of Domino’s, I’ll run to the border” – you’ll be very happy to hear that Taco Bell now has a big ad – ground beef, the best thing in the world for you, apparently, If you listen to Taco Bell. So we’ve raised an entire generation of folks that go “don’t worry. I’ll hit a fast food place. I’ll hit a drive-up window.” You know my love of the term “stop and rob,” left over from my law enforcement days. I’ll just run down to the corner “stop and rob” and grab a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread and a jar of Skippy and we’ll be all set. That’s what’s so scary to me.
Bill: Yeah. And they’ve never – for the most part, we’ve won the lottery, as they say – we’ve grown up … I’ve never been hungry in my life – hungry, hungry. I’m 53 years old. The generation below me scares me because I think that generation – and there’ll be some great people in every generation – but I’m saying that generation really doesn’t understand how food gets on the table, why food gets on the table, and I guess people think that food just is, and it’s not. Food has to be produced. There has to be labor. There could come a day when their way of thinking – their reality – gets checked in a hard way. And then what will they do? Will they, like in a Steinbeck novel, be willing to go work in Oklahoma someplace for 14 hours a day for just enough to eat? Is that the average mentality of the average American youth? Like it was during that period of time? Or will they kill you over a pair of tennis shoes?
Brian: Well, they’re doing it now.
Bill: And they’re not even hungry.
Brian: They’re not even hungry, other than for the bling. Absolutely. But when it’s real hunger, something that’s going to be important … when we come back, Bill, after the commercial break, I’d like to talk about that. I know you’ve been doing some traveling. I want to get into that as well. But one more little riff – your sense as to what could happen – we’re not predicting it, we’re not saying that this is going to happen – but what could happen if food becomes out of the price range for more and more Americans. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to run to a quick commercial break. We’ll be back right after these words. Come on back. Off the Grid News.[0:24:06 – 0:28:21 break]
Brian: Whenever I hear that opening, Jeremy, I can jump back – it’s like I feel like I’m being shot with a gun, sometimes when the volume comes in to the headset real quick. Alright, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back, here the full hour with Mr. Bill Heid. But now it’s time to get to the good stuff. So, Bill, you were out traveling around the world. I say to people all the time, the thing that I dig about you the most, and dig about our company the most, is that you do really travel to some of the faraway places to find the absolute best gear for folks that want to live off the grid, or have that preparedness mindset. Your adventures of late are most certainly no different than that. Tell me a little bit about – I should have asked Jeremy for a drum roll – tell me a little bit about Chile.
Bill: Chile. Before I even get to Chile …
Brian: How is it pronounced, really?
Bill: I think Chile. I think so. I probably can’t say that more than a couple of times.
Brian: I thought of like “Chilean miners,” so Chile … did you meet any of them?
Bill: I didn’t meet any of the miners but I did meet someone that we both knew. I mentioned this to you a little bit – I get on the plane and I had been emailing our friend back and forth, hadn’t been able to connect with him but I set him up with some things. He’s written the books on money and it’s our friend Hank Brock. He’s got the new book on dominoes – when dominoes fall. We’ll get Hank on sometime. Anyway …
Brian: Another huge fan of preparing – with food – with all his financial stuff, Bill, that’s what I love about Hank – it always comes back to food.
Bill: Yeah, his number one thing, even though he’s a financial advisor, his number one thing is he says you need to have food supply. So I get on the plane with my daughter Stephanie and we’re flying to Chile and a guy sits down right next to me – it’s Hank Brock. What’s interesting about it is once we … his eyes got saucer-like.
Brian: And you had missed your plane – you had missed your first plane so it’s not just a small world but the synchronicity of you being in that place at that time in that seat!
Bill: In God’s good providence … in that seat and God’s good providence. It’s an amazing thing. But what we talked about was Chile on the way down. Hank gave me some economic stuff about Chile – I didn’t really know a lot about Chile. I remember Chile being in the news when I was a kid, in the 70s, because you had a lot of messing around – you had Allende – remember the Leftists used to chant “Allende yes, Nixon no! Allende yes, Nixon no!” So Allende got elected in 1970 as a socialist. He’s very much like Barak in his belief system, about what he believes about the nature of reality. His metaphysics – very similar to Barak Obama.
Brian: Did you see this morning where Michael Moore is going to be nominated to be the new Secretary of the Treasury? I don’t know if you saw that, Michael Moore going “look, wealthy people, it’s really not your money. It’s a natural resource. You should give it all back to the people.” So I expect him to be nominated to replace Tim Geitner now that we’re going into the second two years of the administration.
Bill: That kind of fits in with this because what happened was, when you think that way – when you think crazy – which Allende spent more money than they had, they went into a terrible economic spin. What usually happens, you get capital flight, so good money – remember I talked the last segment about bad money coming back, but good money tends to leave, so people tend to buy stock in Swiss companies or in China or whatever. So good money leaves, bad money – cheap money, inflationary money – comes flowing back and you’ve got a quagmire. You’ve got a formula for a nightmare. What happened there was they eventually got to the point where they had crazy inflation, which is coming here, but what happened next is interesting. What happened in Chile next is what’s going to happen here. You end up with strikes, not just teacher strikes, but you end up with strikes – trucker strikes, all kinds of strikes. And what’s coming, that I always say causes shortages, is wage and price control. At some point, when inflation starts spiraling, like it did in Chile in the 70s, the government comes and says “no, no, we can’t allow milk to be that price – a price that high.” Then farmers say “if we can’t sell it that high we don’t produce it.”
Brian: I’m sitting here – I want to say to Jeremy it’s like talking to Ron Paul. I listen to you speak it’s just like listening to Ron Paul speak.
Bill: Well, I’ve been listening to Ron since I was a kid, so it makes good sense. But it’s like pushing on a string, you can’t make somebody produce something that they don’t want to produce. If you look at the communist/socialist world, what you have is a world where no one produces anything anymore and that’s what this country is shaping up – a non-productive world. So, long story short, Allende gets kicked back out, Pinochet – well, let me go backwards, what happens is when you have a total chaotic situation, how does it end up? With a Napoleon or with someone – in this case, Pinochet ended up being the strongman who took over. Here’s what’s interesting that Hank told me on the plane. What happened was, he didn’t know how to run an economy. I think he knew how to clean up some riff raff and I think he did that. I’m not saying he’s a good person or bad, I’m saying this is what happened. He said “I don’t know how to run an economy” so he said to one of his friends “I don’t know anything about running an economy.” His friend, the light bulb goes on, he goes “well, I went to school in Chicago – a Chicago school” and he was taught under Milton Friedman. So what happened was, they call it the “Chicago Five” – Friedman went down there and gave one of his famous speeches called “The Fragility of Freedom,” and he gave it to the Chilean people and eventually a bunch of the people that had went in college – Chileans – had went to Chicago school, the monetarist’s theory – they went down there and started shaping the economy. So what you’ve got today in Chile is largely a function of what Milton Friedman had started in the 70s. It’s a fascinating story. You have probably a freer economy there in Chile than almost any other place. And I don’t hear anybody talking about the fact that Milton Friedman was involved in that, but he was involved in it in a huge way – not as the architect per se but the school of thought about liberty and markets and about attracting capital from other countries. Chile’s doing that today in a big way. Chile’s a fantastic place to do business for a lot of reasons. They have a stable currency. I think their debt to GDP, Brian, is six percent, compared to ours that’s at 100 or over. We’ve spent more money – we can’t ever pay it back. They’re in really good shape. They have a very stable currency that keeps appreciating against the dollar, against our dollar. That’s one of the reasons why we like to buy seeds down there is the fact that it’s a great economy and there’s great people and you can trust them. At the end of the day, it’s about trust. Do you trust the economist, who is it that you trust? So it’s a country of trust, by and large.
Brian: What did you learn while you were there? I know you had called me, you were excited a couple of different times. We got some great video footage of you and, as you said, Stephanie your daughter. If you had your three takeaways, what would the three things that – notwithstanding Friedman’s fingerprints, if you will, on the founding of that economic system – what were the other three takeaways?
Bill: It’s probably more than three. I’ve got a number – I’ll try to get through them, but …
Brian: Hey, we’ve got another whole segment coming right after this. You can give me your top 10.
Bill: Sure, sure. I wrote some things down that I thought were germane because one of the things – the reasons we like to buy seeds and get our seed stock grown there is the climate. It’s full of little fertilized pockets – little microclimates – with different … as you know, Chile’s very long. It’s 2700 miles long and it’s only about 100 miles wide – less than from here to Chicago wide. The whole country.
Brian: Wow! OK.
Bill: And yet it’s 2700 miles long, so people say “what’s the weather like in Chile?” I’m like “what do you mean, near Antarctica at the bottom of Chile? Up in the desert near Peru where it’s 120 degrees? What do you want to talk about here?”
Brian: Right. It’s like the distance from Key West to D.C. That’s a heck of a length.
Bill: But Santiago where we were at, and the city of Talca, which interestingly enough Talca probably had more people die in the earthquake – and the anniversary of the earthquake took place while I was there. There’s still a lot of evidence of the earthquake as well, just a sidebar, that’s fascinating. Chile is an amazing agricultural country and when they had the earthquake a lot of roads got shut down and a lot of these were farm to market roads so it did affect the world’s economy, believe it or not, because Chile’s a powerhouse. It’s a producer of agricultural commodities in a huge, huge way. Not just in volume but in quality. That’s what took us there is we like to buy seeds there for a lot of the reasons I wanted to share with you that I thought were a lot of fun. So you’ve got this microclimate thing going on. Amazing microclimates where you can grow lettuce in this one little patch and then you can go down the road an hour and find the ideal place to grow squash. This is mountainous with these little pockets of fertility, I’m calling them. It’s a pretty fascinating place. There’s tons of other things – there’s volcanic soil there with over 10 percent organic matter. So you’ve got living microbes in the soil. It’s volcanic from the Andes. You’ve got an amazing protection. You’ve got the mountains on one side, you’ve got the sea on the other. You’ve got to the north, desert, so you don’t even have a lot of the nematodes and some of the pests that you have in other places because of that.
Brian: Sure. Alright, Bill, we’re going to do this – we’re going to run to a quick break and then I want to hear numbers one through nine, that being number 10. Ladies and gentlemen, come on back, we’re going to hear all about Bill’s favorite things that he learned in Chile, after this quick break at Off the Grid News.[0:38:10 – 0:42:22 break]
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Off the Grid News. Bill, let’s get right back to it because this is, unfortunately, our final segment. Let’s hear some of the other things. I dig the idea of the nearly 10 percent organic soil, volcanic ash and the like. What are some of the other things that you learned and how does that apply to the seeds that hopefully you managed to bring back with you?
Bill: One of the things that’s really interesting is it’s dry in the areas that we have relationships with farmers. I think there’s probably about 10 farmers down there – 10 farms – these are organic farms. We don’t bother certifying the seeds and saying they’re organic but we grow them on organic farms. I suppose we could if we went through all the stuff and did the government paperwork. The organic is a government word now. But we grow these on organic farms …
Brian: Isn’t that ironic? That the word government is synonymous with organic? It just kills me.
Bill: And it should, in a way. Down there they have to tow the line as well because they’re involved in – it’s very much an international climate that they’re operating in. We went to an avocado farm where in the between the rows of avocados they were growing some of our melons. They were sending these avocados to Switzerland and Spain and we were shaking our heads. This is a truly international world, Brian. I walked in to use the restroom in this little place – very remote – probably four hours from Santiago and then up in the mountains, over these hills, nobody there. I walked into this house, a two-room house, and I asked to use – of course I know Spanish very well, as you know – I have to use sign language to say that I have to use the restroom. So I walk in the house and I hear kids giggling. So before I walked in the restroom I popped my head in the room and they were giggling. What’s on TV? Shrek. So they’re exporting avocados and watermelons – watermelon seed, in our case – and we’re exporting entertainment.
Brian: I tell you Bill, and it’s a quick sound bite, when I was in China I went in to go to – I think, Steve Martin, doesn’t he tell us the Spanish Casa de Pepe? I went in to go to the washroom in China, up in a monastery, out in the middle of nowhere. Guess what was hanging on the wall in the men’s room? American Standard porcelain …
Bill: Oh yeah, yeah. I saw the same thing. The toilets in Chile are American toilets too. Anyway, so you have this international market in Chile. But the reasons, I think, that we’re talking about – one of the reasons why the seeds that we sell at Survival Seed Bank – we take pride in them because they’re grown under conditions, and I had no idea till I got down there again and did even some more exploration – the water that water these fields … it’s dry – it’s a dry climate – so your seeds don’t go bad, because moisture kills your seeds. Like over in the next building we’ve got a humidity controlled situation for our seeds, you have to do that in the field as well. In this case, you’ve got a very dry climate, very much similar to I would say the valley near Sacramento or Napa Valley. Pretty dry. Yet you’ve got all the water that you need from the Andes. All the water you need in the streams, but it’s not ordinary water. Do you remember Dr. Wallach from Dead Doctors Don’t Lie? He talked about glacial till and glacial milk, with this broad spectrum mineralization and rare earth and stuff? Brian, all the water that’s coming down to some of these farms we’re at? Milky, glacial till. So organic soil, glacial milk watering the fields. An amazing thing. You should see some of these things. When you finally get to the market, you’ll see cabbage the size of a basketball.
Brian: Bill, catch me up because this is new to me. Is it OK for our listeners then to believe that these things are in the DNA of the seeds? Does it increase their vibrancy? Does it increase their potency? I’m thinking “great, the guys down there in Chile have cabbages the size of beach balls,” but to our listeners – the seeds then that you bring back from there, are they empowered? Is it in their – like the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree – is it in their blood? So that if I purchase those seeds, I can count on that being in their DNA?
Bill: The germination rates are going to be higher and the vitality’s going to be higher. What the environmental conditions do is maximize the genetic potential. So you really – no matter where you go – if you plant these someplace poorly, you’re not going to get the potential that you do there, where I’m saying we’re growing seed stock there. You also have to be careful that you don’t continue to plant them the same way – take the seeds and harvest them year after year, or they’ll just adapt to that climate. We actually send seeds every year from up here for them to grow – seed stock comes from here, because we want it to be … the adaptability – we want it to be from the United States. So if you let them seeds grow there every year, year after year – if you sent a seed back to Iowa it wouldn’t grow very well because it would say “I like this.” See what I’m saying? Does that make sense?
Brian: Yeah, it makes sense, but I never knew that. I don’t think our listeners would know that.
Bill: There’s a lot that goes into this that people don’t understand, to make this work. You can’t just take the seeds from Chile and grow more Chilean watermelons from watermelon grown there. You need to send those seeds back to the United States and give them seeds from the United States that are conditioned to grow there and to grow under these ideal conditions, which they have. They have tons of sun, very little rain. There’s a couple of places that I visited where the grass was pretty green. Guess how many times it rained there? Three times a year. Yet the grass is green from water from the Andes. So it’s ideal for seed stock. Ideal for seed stock and for growing stuff, but I think more valuable for seed stock.
Brian: That is really something – you know me, I think “they’re seeds – put them in the ground, throw some water on them, wait for the sun to hit them.” But that’s very interesting. Alright, I see you have a checklist there, so let’s keep running through it please.
Bill: I do. I was shocked to find that there’s honey bees in Chile. Remember the big honey bee thing? I have all the honey bees out. You can go to my house you’ll see some bumble bees but you won’t see many honey bees, if any. Down there? There’s tons of honey bees. I don’t know if they escaped that completely or if … it could be, again Brian, because they’re protected in such a way with the mountains, the ocean, that whatever it was – and many of their farms are organic so if it’s spraying that hurts bees and it’s cutting into the population, they’re mitigating against them because they know they’ve got a good thing there so there’s a lot of organic farms in Chile. There’s not the spraying necessarily that there is maybe on a conventional farm. Honey bees make things better, right? Because they’re moving pollen in a way that you just can’t get unless you’ve got that. So I’d say the honey bee factor is a really interesting and good factor as well. Here’s something for the listeners that’s probably one of the most important things to take away. If you harvest – let’s say you’ve got a big farm in California and you’re harvesting a seed crop for seed stock, and you use a big machine that goes and grabs everything … if you walk up – let’s say we’re in a squash field, for example – you walk along a squash line, you’re going to see – and you’ve done this, everybody’s done this – you see big squash full to maturity, you see little squash that are started. Lots of different varieties of what’s going on in that plant where some things are growing, some things bloomed and there’s just a little squash on there – it’s probably not going to make it. What happens is, the big harvesting equipment will harvest that and it’ll take those little squash too, in addition to the mature squash, and all those seeds get processed the same way. Here’s the thing – those little squash – their seeds don’t grow in the same way, because they’re not mature. They didn’t get all the energy from the plant into the seed, so you’re not going to have the same vitality, germination rate, full genetic expression in those little ones that you will. Here’s what we do in Chile, in ours, we have hand labor, we weed the fields because we’re not spraying – number one – but we have hand labor go through two, three, four, five times through each thing and only pick the fruit that’s ready, that’s full-sized and mature, so that it’s at its full genetic expression at the time. So the seeds that come out of that have a maximized value. That’s huge. Kim’s grandpa said something years ago to me that had a profound influence on me. He always said the best fertilizer is the farmer’s shadow. It means there’s people out there working the fields. That’s true in the case of the people from Chile. The best fertilizer is the farmer’s shadow and there are still people there that are working in the fields. Their hands are dirty. I’ve got lots of pictures – maybe we’ll try to post a few of those pictures up there of some of our growers. Their skin is wrinkled from working outside. Their hands are dirty because they’re hard workers. But they have a twinkle in their eye because they absolutely love what they do. Out of all these things, if I could say there’s one thing that’s the most important thing, it’s that twinkle in their eye. They love growing this. They absolutely … they can’t wait to show us their fields because they’re proud of them. That’s something that, again, in big ag – and I know we all have to eat so big ag does its thing – but it’s hard to be proud of that big combine that goes down there and that product. It’s just not the same thing as these farmers showing me the results of their hard work and their pride and their love. They don’t want to do anything else.
Brian: Very cool. Alright, we’ve only got a couple of seconds left. How did we do on your list?
Bill: I think we got through the list quite nicely. The seed cleaning equipment – I would say that too – Senate Bill S510?
Bill: Wants to take a lot of seed cleaning equipment away down there. They don’t know anything like that. That’s everybody cleans seeds, that’s just part of their life, so there’s a lot of seed cleaning equipment down there too. I found that kind of refreshing, that you didn’t have to hide your seed cleaning equipment.
Brian: Well, we are the organic government. Alright Bill, we’re glad to have you back in the States, but equally as glad you had a chance to hang out in Chile for a while and not only learn all that cool stuff but bring it back and impart it to us. I learned a lot from speaking with you today so thank you for coming and sitting it.
Bill: You bet, Brian. It’s been great.
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, please remember as always, if you want to hit us – check us out at offthegridnews.com and we have a full range of places you can find us – on Twitter, you can find us of course on Facebook, and please continue to send the emails. We read them and from time to time actually use them in the show. On behalf of everyone here at Off the Grid News, for Bill Heid, I’m Brian Brawdy. Thank you so very much for sharing some of your time with us.[0:53:09]