Cookie Schwaeber-Issan

Just Learn to Adjust

It must have come as a welcomed endorsement to Chef Boyardee when Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, Rep. Sean Patrick, Maloney, D-N.Y., suggested that those who are financially challenged do what he did as a boy, eat the canned pasta.

And that piece of advice went down about as well as the item which, although may have been tasty to children 60 years ago, is about as un-delectable, these days, as it gets in today’s world of gourmet delicacies which have been plentiful until recently.

Likewise, just a couple of nights ago, the 11 p.m. Israeli news program, “Tzinor” ran a slightly different story, but one which had the same conclusion – “learn to adjust.”  In this case, the worrisome headline was that there is now a shortage of Telma Corn Flakes on Israeli shelves.  So, in order to compensate for the problem, field reporters conducted a taste test of alternative brands of corn flakes which were still available and cheaper.

One brand was consistently rejected by those sampling the goods, while another brand was surprisingly acceptable to most of those who took part in the testing.  Conclusion?  Learn to do without your preferred brand and opt for another less expensive one.

Oddly enough, though, no one seems to be spending too much time reporting on why the problem of missing products exists and how to rectify it.  In the case of the corn flakes, there is an issue with Unilever, which produces the product through the Israeli food company, but if you try to do a google search, you won’t find anything about it.  Instead, you will read about their production lines which were halted due to contamination in 2016.

It’s only through Tzinor News that we learned that Unilever is being met with fierce resistance from Israeli supermarkets as they try to raise the price of their products.  Hence, no Telma Corn Flakes. For those of us who prefer the American brand, manufactured by Kellogg’s, I’m happy to report that I was able to buy two large boxes just this morning.  However, milk was nowhere to be found, and this is not the first time.  When trying to purchase the usual carton of Tnuva milk, only its competitor, Tara was available a few weeks ago.  Today, neither were to be found.

So, what are we supposed to do in the face of missing brands or no brands at all?

As food shortages continue into 2023, warns, in its August 23, article entitled, “10 Items You Might Not Find in Your Grocery Store (and why),” that you may be hard-pressed to find chickpeas, wheat, sugar, avocados, paper goods, canned goods, eggs and meat, pet food, baby formula and liquor.

Of course, each of these items has a different reason as to why it may be in short supply.  Some concern the Ukraine/Russia war, others are due to contamination issues, while yet another reason is attributed to the lack of raw materials such as glass, aluminum or other such items which store the products.  Finally, extreme weather conditions, the impact of Covid, late sowing of crops and shipping difficulties are also cited amidst the long list of other excuses as to why things are missing.

But have no fear!  According to, there are solutions.  They include:

  • Cutting financial incentives for biofuels, freeing up a lot of area for food production;
  • Limiting the number of cattle, which could lower methane emissions;
  • Ending Russia’s blockade of Odessa which will allow Ukraine to export wheat and grain to countries that depend on it.

Of course, none of the above solutions seem viable or helpful in the face of global food shortages, because they are dependent upon developing an entirely new system which has neither been utilized nor is good to go in the near future.

So, none of those measures will be a quick fix to the empty shelves with which we will all be confronted in the next coming months, according to most accounts.

Yet in the face of this impending ominous news, many of us have been warned not to stockpile food – something which actually seems like a common-sense solution in order to avert what, perhaps, will only be a temporary lack of everyday products.  At least we can hope!  After all, if it was good enough for the Biblical patriarch Joseph, who was able to weather a 7-year rough patch as a result of stockpiling, why should it not work for the rest of us?

It seems to be the obvious course of action – stocking up on tuna, sardines, rice, pasta and other foods which are long-lasting and easy to store.  Tissues, toilet paper and paper towels might also be worth buying in bulk, although more challenging to store, but it might be a good idea, given what’s happening, to set aside a bit of space in our home office, spare bedroom, utility rooms, garages, basements or storage units in order to get ahead of the problem and not end up scrambling to find these things when the problem hits its peak.

If you happen to live in a free-standing house or one which has even a bit of garden, you might want to consider building a small, caged area which will house egg-laying chickens.  Someone in our family just did this, and they are supplied with five fresh eggs each morning.  They feed their chickens whatever food scraps are left over, thus lessening their garbage waste.  Of course, planting fruit trees and vegetable patches are also great options for those with access to land, but either way, the lesson here is self-sufficiency.

If we are being asked to learn to adjust, we should make the decision as to how we choose to adjust.  Depending upon government agencies is not an option, because if they have their way, Chef Boyardee will eventually be replaced by Chef SCL (snails, crickets and locusts), minus the red sauce or pasta.

Learning to adjust should be on your terms and not on those of manufacturers, growers and suppliers who don’t seem to be too interested, these days, in finding solutions for all of us who, for too many years, took them for granted, thinking they’d always be there for us.  They’re not!

So, consider your options, depending upon where you live, how much storage you have and your land access possibilities.  But do it now, because time may be running out, and, as the old adage says, “the early bird catches the worm” – a worm which might come in handy when you may need to catch your own fish!

About the Author
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.