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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Not Starving in American Samoa... yet!

I just made some of the BEST sauerkraut ever!! I prepared it so it fermented naturally and has all the good lactobacillus bacteria for good "gut" health. It's stupid easy to make and it tastes fantastic!! More cruisers should really consider fermented foods as “healthy” eating options when fresh veg is limited.

2 very small cabbages cost us $7 due to rising costs.
All I did was wash and chop two ordinary cabbages and one Chinese cabbage. I crushed it all down with a wooden spoon and added about a Tablespoon (maybe 2) of salt to get the juices to leech out of the veg. Once I was happy with the amount of liquid in the container, I filled a ziplock gallon bag with water and placed it on top to keep the leaves submerged in their own liquid. Then, I stored it in the shower in a loosely fitted lidded container so the gases could escape. After 5 days the sauerkraut was ready and I stuck it in the fridge. We're not new to fermented food options; we've also made a large batch of KIMCHEE in the past before making our Pacific crossing. We're really happy I did this now, however, because our fresh food options have become severely limited. 

Why are vegetables so difficult to come by in American Samoa these days??
First of all, most of the veg is shipped here from the United States. There are a few farms here on island that grow their produce, but only a small percentage of the harvest is sold in stores. The main reason we're having problems finding fresh produce recently is due to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union representing dock workers and the West Coast Port Employers in a standoff regarding contract agreements. While produce rots away in shipping containers in the west, the store shelves are being emptied here in American Samoa... no fresh produce, eggs, milk, etc... 
But not to worry, we are not starving here... yet. There are plenty of canned foods and boxed items still available. But, it is a wake-up call to American Samoa to research other options in case there are future food incidents. If I was in charge, I'd look to New Zealand, Western Samoa and Tonga.
Cost-U-Less got in a few cases of organic flour and
I stocked up by buying 6 bags at $7 each!! And I am grateful!

These baby bananas are a favorite - super sweet and delicious when ripe.
These are grown locally and are easy to come by.
My question is just how much money do dock workers really need to make?
Are they educated for that particular job – needing to spend years in a special shipping school to know how to unload a container from a truck and then put that same container on a ship? My understanding is that the average salary of a dock worker is about $147K per year. In addition, they get generous benefits and retirement packages.
I am teaching and I guarantee you that I don't get paid one quarter of that amount, but I am required to have a college education to do my job. And I may be a little more cranky about this because it was just announced that we teachers have to work over spring break. What? We work overtime and do not get paid for that? Yeah, it sucks... but my attitude is that if I don't like it, I CAN QUIT! 

Some could argue that the cost of living on the west coast is high - but I would argue back:
The average salary for a Seattle Registered Nurse is $72,000 , which is 9.2% above the national average of $65,920, according to
The average annual salary of a teacher in Portland is $55,565.
IT Engineers in San Fran-Freaking-Expensive-Cisco have a median income of $102,966 according to, but 10%-45% fall in less than the $100K range annually.
But DOCK WORKERS need more than even that???
Exactly where are we going to draw the line to blue collar workers getting paid more than educated professionals?? Or do you want ME administering your next insulin injection or screwing with your computer software?
I'll do it for $147K a year... but you won't like the outcome.
And I don't blame you. I'm not qualified.

Most American Samoan homes have lush yards
with breadfruit, papaya, coconut or banana trees.
I say quit negotiating with the union and FIRE THEM ALL! Are you really going to argue there is no one out there who couldn't and wouldn't do that job for what they are currently being paid... or even LESS??? (Yes, I am a little tweaked that I hoarded some eggs and still ran out!) I am also a tad resentful that I am working my butt off at a mere fraction of what dock workers make. The whining in the west makes me think of that movie with Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man – or maybe I just want to put some boxing gloves on. Do what the rest of us do, you little babies. Go find another job if you're so unhappy. Go get an education for those of you who don't have one. Invent a product that we can't live without. Go find happiness somewhere on the planet – because I'd bet it all that there is someone out there who would thank God for your job!

Meanwhile, the governor and Congresswoman here in American Samoa have been actively trying to get a waiver for American Samoa so that we can get food shipped here. Congresswoman Aumua Amata said earlier, “Right now our [store] shelves are bare, our people are getting hungry, and the price of goods have skyrocketed."

It is true that flour and rice are dwindling. Bread production is difficult due to a lack of flour. Jim even thought to fill our gas and diesel cans just in case. Speaking of cans, the tuna cannery here in American Samoa has 400 containers waiting to be picked up and is waiting for important machine parts, that without, are hampering production. I went to buy a tomato the other day and it was $3 for a small Roma. I don't think it is a state of emergency where people are starving, but for our family this "interruption" has certainly shed some light on the fragility of an island with 55,000 large, hungry inhabitants.

American Samoa, due to its isolation and US dependent programmed mindset/algorithm, is most certainly at a disadvantage. And I am out of eggs, fresh milk, lettuce, cabbage and other salad fixings and garden side dishes!!! Rice is scarce. If what I do have on hand happens to have weevils, I will pick them out... angrily.
Fire them.
Fire them all!!