The impact of the 2013 budget cuts in an attempt by Congress to reduce the federal deficit, may be implemented as soon as Friday, March 1. Due to the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, federal programs, including defense and domestic, are to be split evenly across the board. The ultimate goal is to lower the national debt by 1.2 trillion over the next ten years.
Though some programs will be excluded, most will not. The military and schools will be deeply affected. For example, in Florida, a gross pay reduction for military employees will reach approximately $183 million, and education will lose about $54.5 million, negatively affecting students and teachers alike.
Another area of public concern is food safety. With such huge spending cuts, food inspections will become increasingly lax. Employees of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service may be furloughed for about two weeks. It is estimated that this year alone there will be 2,100 fewer inspections of facilities that produce food products in the United States and abroad, making educated choices on food selections a larger risk to the individual and his or her family.
How can the wise shopper get around the negative results of these budget cuts? Without proper food inspections, regulated sanitary conditions, or the proper labeling of food products that include all the pertinent information the public is crying out to receive, how will we know what we buy to consume will promote our health, instead of sealing our fate?
The answer is simple. Buy from your local produce farmers. Most open markets offer organic fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meats. Between spring and fall, stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Make a new family tradition that can be fun for everyone. Take a weekend in the spring, a weekend in the summer, and a weekend in the fall for canning.
You’ll be teaching your children an important skill for the future, and you can begin by making it into an interesting learning activity, which includes the science of food temperatures, airtight containers, and natural preservatives like salt, sugar, and vinegar, as they pertain to the canning process. Take your children to pick out the jars and necessary equipment to get the job done appropriately.
The family should discuss what they would like to eat over the winter to be sure everyone will have their favorite foods. Remember, canning isn’t just for producing pickles or making jam. You can choose just about any fruit or vegetable to can for a healthy, well-rounded diet during the cold season.
Pick a weekend everyone can help out and go shopping together for the produce you have decided to buy. Your children can help wash fruits and vegetables, peel and slice them, and put them into the pots for cooking. Teach them the process each step of the way. During all boiling processes, let your children have time to play outside of the kitchen to avoid any risk of being burnt by hot water.
The second day, open one of the jars that have cooled, and let your children taste the delicious tomato sauces, sauerkraut, spicy peppers, pickled cucumbers, eggplants, and zucchini, or fruit sweets they have helped create. This will inspire them to want to help out during the next canning, because just like helping you bake cookies, they will know that they can share the rewards of their labors.