Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Old Youth

You write about how poverty breeds creativity. You think about how scavenging for wild food gives you the perfect opportunity to slow down, to really appreciate your surroundings. You talk about how frugality is more environmentally sustainable. You pontificate on why creating meals from scratch is cheaper, healthier and deeply satisfying. Then you run out of cooking oil.

You love fat. As a child you ate margarine by the spoonful. You didn't know any better. Now you've moved on to more delicious pastures. As a cook you can never resist sneaking in that extra bit of butter, that tablespoonful of olive oil, that dab of bacon grease. You believe that cake is a vessel for frosting, that salad dressing should be two parts oil to one part vinegar, and that packaged low-fat foods are a symptom of the decline of Western civilization. Fat makes food taste good.

Under the best of circumstances, you have eight or nine varieties of fat on hand. In ascending order of importance: chicken drippings, vegetable oil, chili oil, peanut oil, light olive oil, coconut oil, bacon grease, butter and, of course, extra virgin olive oil. (You would sell your first-born child to be the sort of person who could afford to use truffle oil on a regular basis.)

[. . .]

You could, of course, borrow a cup of oil or a stick of butter from your friends down the road. You could call upon your neighbors. But here's the thing about being broke: Suddenly asking a simple favor feels like begging. If you had the money but were just trying to postpone a trip to town, it would be easy to borrow a stick of butter. Your empty wallet changes the nature of the errand. In your own backward way, you are stupidly proud.

[. . .]

In your freezer there is a container full of fat and bone that you've been saving for your friend's dogs. You think about this fat. The excess fat was cut from a fresh piece of meat and stored in a clean container. Nothing wrong with it. But isn't it a little like eating dog food? It's not dog food till the dogs are eating it, you reason. In the end, your love for fat wins over your sense of propriety. (Felisa Rogers, “Can you live without cooking oil,” Salon, 25 June 2011)

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I just wonder

how the other half lives.

This was, unexpectedly from its title, a wonderful piece. From the early comments, though, you can see what the overall tone will be: many folks see this 'back to nature' as a smokescreen. For those of us who grew up with a tub of lard handy, this particular essay rings hollow.

Good writing, really, but I've never met anyone who's tasted truffle oil. (Pulcritude)

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Unless you live in a tree above the jungle canopy, I feel certain that a pig farmer or abattoir lurks nearby. Lard rendered from pork fat is beyond cheap---most butchers toss it…and the ancillary product is yummy cracklin’s for snacking or salads. Pork fat is WAY better for you than any veggie oil, has a neutral taste and a very high boiling point. Fries in any other oil or fat do not make it. I have a friend in Northern B.C. who hunts bear and does a real snout to tail by rendering bear fat into lard and his pancakes with wild berries are like kissing the hem on an angel’s gown. If you’re really insistent on living off the local land, find the oldest folks in your area who went through the Depression and ask them how they ate…or else just continue to be the whining dilettante. (Panama Borsalino)

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It's very difficult

Offhand I can't think of a significant cuisine which doesn't rely on cooking fat of some sort or another. It might be palm or peanut oil. It might be lard or blubber or canola or tail fat or butter. They all rely on some form of fat for most of the cooking techniques.

It's not just aesthetics or tradition. We need fat soluble vitamins. No matter what Beans&Greens gabbles on about they're difficult to get from a vegan diet without heavy and expensive supplementation. And they're nearly impossible without fats.

It absolutely is hard to live without cooking oil.

Of course, this is where bulk buying and friends come in handy. You might not be able to buy your designer extra-virgin cold-processed olive oil hand-pressed by wizened artisans from one particular valley in the Tuscan hills. But four people can club up and split a 20 liter jug of canola oil for a reasonable price.

And no, the fat you saved from that cut of meat is not "dog food". It's full of those all-important vitamins. And it doesn't take much to get those nutrients or make a tasty meal. (anuran)

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Really Enjoyable

Thank you for this piece. I so enjoyed how, all at once, you employed enough detail to: make us realize what we have and take for granted (down to the specific detail of city dwellers like me who currently have both a change jar and corner store); give a growing sense of horror while keeping a sense of perspective on how temporary and soon-to-be-fixable it is, even admitting things you could do but don't; and provide an excellent recipe that I'm going to prepare for breakfast right now. I laughed at how much this felt like a funny, scary movie: I was just so relieved it had a happy ending of found fat and potatoes. The "happy ending" makes the recipe itself even better. Well done! (Agniescka)

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Felisa, you just seem hell-bent on making things hard for yourself

I can't quite tell if it is a stunt -- along the lines of "No-Impact Man" -- or you really ARE this impractical and naive.

Obviously we've discussed before that you clearly would seem to qualify for food stamps, even if your husband works clearing brush and you sell a article every two weeks to Salon. Clearly that is not enough for you to buy groceries regularly.

There is no reason to run out of cooking oil; it keeps a very long time in a cool dry cupboard, if tightly sealed. It isn't very expensive, and you can buy it on sale, or in those giant jugs at the big box stores like Costco.

There are also "alternatives" like bacon drippings, any fat trimmed off meat (as you actually did have in the freezer), lard, Crisco and so on.

Apparently you have some false pride about asking neighbors FOR A STICK OF BUTTER (or even margarine, which costs about 30 cents a stick), and that's ridiculous. I am sure you would gladly give a neighbor a stick of butter or margarine, a cup of vegetable oil, and not even want to be repaid. In the deep country, people depend on each other and THAT IS A GOOD THING.

As I have said before, I have family in the country and yes, they have close neighborly relationships, because so far from things like repair guys you can call on the phone 24 hours a day, YOU NEED a neighbor to help you with that bad tire on your car, or the sump pump that won't work. Trying to do it alone is almost suicidal.

They also have learned you CANNOT COUNT on short trips to the supermarket or Kwik-E mart, so you BETTER DARNED WELL have a plan for storing groceries, and a back up plan, and somewhere to store staples and stuff, because if nothing else, in the winter you might be stuck in the house for weeks at a time.

It doesn't take much brilliance or cash to put aside a sack of flour, dried beans (hey! Beansy! your favorite!), rice, canned veggies, tuna, and yes, a JUG of OIL, for whatever tough times (blizzard, flat tire, no money) is coming your way.

I also have to agree wtih emceemk, and I've mentioned this about your other articles. You are more a citified foodie than you are a "back to nature survivalist", and it shows in every word. It's amusing you can't see this or own up to it. Nobody REALLY REALLY POOR would EVER have bought things like key limes, coconut oil, wine, and other lux goodies -- because they would have used the few extra dollars they had to do what I suggest above: stockpile staples for the "tough times".

The cost of that coconut oil would have paid for 3 jugs of olive oil or big enormous Costco can of Crisco.

As emceemk says (good post all round), people who REALLY HAVE TOUGH TIMES -- who have hungry children -- who haven't worked in TWO years -- who don't have a side job writing foodie articles online -- who can't even FIND a job cutting brush -- whose house is in foreclosure -- who face homelessness -- would LOVE to have the problem of "not enough fat/oil to cook some organic foodie dish".

I love the metaphor of "lemonade made from lemons, but with no sugar whatsoever". Bad times teach you to be a survivor, but they also teach you that BAD TIMES SUCK ASS, and to try to ensure you don't reach bottom EVER AGAIN.

I also want to second the words of mattwa33186: you can make your own butter easily from WHOLE MILK. Of course, I'd bet my last nickel, Felisa, you guys only drink fat free skim organic milk, that costs $6.50 a gallon, because the regular stuff isn't good enough for you. (Note: you cannot make butter out of SKIM milk.)

@Panama Borsalino: what you said

PRECISELY. Find an old grandmother or two who lived through the Great Depression, or if not, at least the 50s era. They will give you the recipes for cheap, easy meals with low cost ingredients, reusing and repurposing everything, and stuff like "use lard" because lard is cheaper than BUTTER and OLIVE OIL.

I was lucky enough to grow up with two such grandma's; you grew up eating imported truffle oil. That's just the first of your survival problems. (Greens&Beans)

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Beans and Greens- I completely agree with you. They don't live on their own land, they beg-borrow and steal to make ends meet, have neighbors that give them meat, milk, eggs etc.

I think that these "stories" are mostly made up by a young (childish) idealist that thinks a life of poverty is a glamorous adventure. She seems to have grown up with these adventures.(Grown up may be a bit of a stretch)

Felisa, do you pay rent? Do you have access to the whole 58 acres that you talk about or just a house? How do you afford internet service? (Internet is a priority, but basic food needs are not?)

I also live in the country and have cows and chickens. We do all we can to help out our neighbors in need, but eventually you see that one or two are just living in the area so they don't have to get real jobs.

I live on a fairly decent income in these times and certainly can't afford things like bacon, wine and coconut oil.

I would think that things for you would be less stressful if you lived in your car and begged on a street corner nearer to a mini-mart than relying on your community to take care of you. Or better yet- even 2 minimum wage jobs can pay for a small apartment and basic needs. (By the way- what is your husbands back ground, education and work history?)

It seems as though you can afford many comforts that most of us cannot. Perhaps less trips to mexico would afford you some good EVOO. http://www.peoplesguide.com/1pages/personal/bios/writers/felisa.html (AnnNonomouse)

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Also, VERY bad style choice

Second-hand narration is pretentious, clumsy, and presumptuous. It smacks of "MY experience is so important and universal that naturally YOU would think and do exactly as I would". Whenever I read anything formatted like this, I keep thinking "who the hell are you talking to?" (And just FYI, I couldn't make it past the halfway mark, it's so irritating.)

Please put away the high school essay tricks next time. (Serai1)

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Reverse Classism Liar-fest

1) Nobody REALLY REALLY POOR would EVER have bought things like key limes, coconut oil, wine, and other lux goodies -- because they would have used the few extra dollars they had to do what I suggest above: stockpile staples for the "tough times" Laure1962

Really poor, multi-generational poor people buy cigs and cheap booze --- because they usually have to work for prissy, self-aggrandizing scum like you, and therefore they desperately need the relief provided by mild intoxicants. Their cigarettes alone cost more than Ms. Rogers few gourmet tidbits. They rarely have enough space in their trailers to store all the cheap bulk stuff you insist they live on. A pantry full of anything is beyond their reach.

2) Please. You had coconut oil and plan to replenish your olive oil stash? That ain't poverty.You were giving fat and bones to a dog and hadn't made stock from it already? That ain't poverty.Soy sauce? You can afford soy sauce? Damn, must be nice. —NINALOCA

Yeah, she tries to give something back to the neighbors who helped her this past winter. It's called pride. As I mentioned above, her jar of coconut oil cost about the same as 1/3rd a carton of cigs -- at the reservation smoke shop.

3) I live on a fairly decent income in these times and certainly can't afford things like bacon, wine and coconut oil.

I would think that things for you would be less stressful if you lived in your car and begged on a street corner nearer to a mini-mart than relying on your community to take care of you. Or better yet- even 2 minimum wage jobs can pay for a small apartment and basic needs. -- Liar

You can afford the time to post from home on your own computer & maintain an internet connection, (midday Saturday the libraries are verrryyy busy) but are too poor to buy coconut oil or wine? Right. You win the trifecta of horseshitting!

You vile, aging twits reveal your ignorance of contemporary, rural western poverty with every filthy word you write. It's willful ignorance, judging from what you've indicated about yourselves. You all have hired hands & other service providers who desperately need a smoke or three after they deal with you.

You hate her wholly because she is young, hopeful, well-educated and damned resourceful. The comparison between her and you is endlessly humiliating to you -- as it should be. (Holly McLachlan)

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Wow. Lots of haters out there! For those who say "oh, none of us have ever done that, or know anyone who has ever used truffle oil," I think a lot of us lived differently before 2008. I would spend $5.00/day on a mocha coffee because I thought I deserved it working at my crazy job in the big city. And then I was unemployed and my high-minded ideals of never stepping into a WalMart ended because they did have the cheapest cereal in our rural town we had to move to for my husband's job. So, enjoy the article for what it is--a story of changes of life, adapting, cooking. Each of us experiences life differently and through our passions; our kids, cooking, Bunco, whatever. Oh, and if the author's articles drive you so crazy, STOP READING THEM! (Caseystay)

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Loved this article.

I can sort of relate, because I've been in the running-out-of-things situation myself, things that will just have to wait another three days until payday. (I liked the suggestion about making butter from whole milk, that was very clever.) My suggestion: if you think hamburger grease is OK as a cooking fat, always keep a pound of hamburger in the freezer. Switch it out with another pound every so often. And always keep an emergency stick of butter in the freezer, too. When you buy a new carton, switch the frozen stick with a new one. That butter will always be in there, for when you run out. (marco polo)

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Nina, Felisa is a very nice young lady, with a lot of very gourmet food tastes and a lot of naive and charming ideas of "foraging and living off the land....FOR FREE".

I grew up in the 60s and 70s and I got a lot of that from friends and schoolmates; this idea was all the rage 40 years ago. Communes, Birkenstock sandals, the Whole Earth Catalogue, yadda yadda yadda. Felisa is way too young to have heard of any of that, so she must have gotten a hand-me-down version from her parents.

Most people gave it up because honestly, it is tough way out in the country and lonely (a bit better and easier today with cell phones and the internet, but still) and it's not actually CHEAP but kinda expensive (you need land and tools and seeds and labor and fuel and stuff).

It is definitely NOT a solution to "I lost my job and my UI benefits ran out". That's crazy talk.

That she's not thinking either "country/rural" or "survivalist/forager" is clear because she is still spending the pittance of income they DO have on soy sauce, olive oil, coconut oil, key limes and other items instead of stuff like dried milk, rice, flour, pasta, plain generic vegetable oil, lard and other cheap, reliable menu stretchers.

I understand some of this, because frankly, I hope (AS GOD IS MY WITNESS!) never to have to eat commercial white bread, cheap hot dogs, margarine or powdered milk if I don't absolutely have to, to avoid starvation. Been there, done that.

The solution is elegantly simple: APPLY FOR FOOD STAMPS. Felisa and her husband would likely qualify for $300 in free food (and the program is quite generous; you can buy imported olive if you like, even truffle oil).

This is false, hair-shirt poverty -- a bit like whipping one's self with a cat of nine tails to "beat the sin out". In this case, the sin appears to be material well-being.


Just because YOU are healthy, Beans, does not translate into "this is a healthy diet for other people". You may just be an outlier. Or you may be a poor judge of your own health. We could easily find a few outliers who are perfectly healthy (BP, weight, etc.) eating at McDonalds! That doesn't make McDonalds an ideal diet.


Don't burst an aneurysm, sweetie. I was making an educated GUESS, because Felisa states "she dreams about truffle oil". Those are not the words of a poor rural mountain gal, foraging off the land, but a urban hipster who has expensive Whole Foods tastes. Most of urban hipsters I know will drink NOTHING in the dairy department EXCEPT fat free skim organic milk, and indeed, it does cost about $6.50 a gallon. (-Greens&Beans)

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Thanks (I think you mean me!) and yes, I think Felisa is living in a cabin her parent's used to own (or still own) and she is paying rent, but it seems like very minimal rent.

It sounds like she has nice caring neighbors -- they gave her elk meat! -- but has let her reserves run down to almost nothing anyhow. How much of this is "poor planning" vs. how much is "I'll see how little I can get by on!" vs. "I'm dead broke" -- I don't know. She's a bit cagey on the details.

Yes, I think like many young people having wi fi internet is a priority over food, clothing, shelter and heat. I know people who have been FORECLOSED ON, and their children literally thrown out of their own bedrooms, and those people still have i-Phones, with expensive data plans. Seriously.

Some people on Salon seem to think I am constantly hatin' on cable TV and internet, and cell phones and lattes, but that's not really true: I think they are all fine IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT. My problem is when people who are seriously, no-shit, going-down-the-tubes broke and in foreclosure and bankruptcy and they STILL cannot give up $4.75 coffee drinks or $125 a month data plans for their $400 smart phone. That's ADDICTION and STUPIDITY, sorry.

For the record, as much as she has stated here, Felisa was formerly a well-paid copywriter and her husband a paralegal. However, there are no such jobs in the RURAL MOUNTAIN COUNTRY, and it is unclear what their long range plans are (a book deal for her?), since you can't really expect to earn a living from cutting brush once in a while.

BTW: thank you for the links to Felisa's bio. She has given no indication here that she spends EVERY WINTER IN MEXICO, nor the name of her small rural town. I agree: the cost of even a minimal vacation would pay for a LOT of groceries.

Also Deadwood, Oregon is a whopping one hour from Eugene, a good sized college town....I know people who commute further than that to WORK each day.

PS: Ooops....what Deadwood is actually near, is Mapleton, Oregon. It is SEVEN MINUTES AWAY by car (meaning you could WALK if you had to). Mapleton Yellow Pages listed more than a dozen supermarkets, including Stop N Shop, Fred Meyer, and Safeway. I think I may have to start calling B.S. on this series. (Greens&Beans)

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@Holly McLachlan: thanks for the bitch-itude

Stupid-poor and smart-poor are two different things, Holly. Nobody said that Felisa SMOKED. All poor people DO NOT SMOKE.

Yes, there are people who are poor because they make wretched decisions (lotto tickets instead of baby food) but there are also people who simply have bad luck or hard times. That you can't understand that undermines any of your points.

I don't own a business or employ anyone, and I doubt Felisa does, and neither do NinaLoca nor others here. To jump on us as some kind of "capitalist slime" holding down the "proletariat" is nonsense. Go back to to your lefty Political Sci class and on the double!

No, there is nothing wrong in giving back to your neighbors -- scraps for the dog or whatever -- but Felisa is so uncomfortable with those same neighbors she feels she cannot go over and BORROW ONE STICK OF MARGARINE or a cup of corn oil, suggesting they are not as tight as you imagine.

Again, comparing coconut oil to cigarettes is unfair unless you have reason to believe she is wasting her dollars on smoking. 75% of the US public DOES NOT SMOKE. And plenty of the ones that do, are middle or upper class. (I see plenty of high paid Hollywood "talent" smoking!)

I don't know AnnNonomouse's backstory, but I can tell you that I have a USED several years old computer that I bought second hand, and my internet costs $9.95 (dial up). It's also a bit of an indulgence, but my husband needs to be able to pick up work emails on the weekend.

I agree that the library, which used to be a good source of free internet for the poor, is so terribly swamped now with victims of the economic downturn, that its next to useless. HOWEVER, Holly, there are plenty of people who simply can't afford internet so THEY DO WITHOUT IT. Certainly it does not come before FOOD.

You are insane if you think I have "servants" or am a millionaire business owner cheating their employees. (And Ms. Alkaline says that I make things up? HELLO! are you reading this????) (Greens&Beans)

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@Leeandra Nolting

I agree. I think most country folks would be very OK with a neighbor borrowing a stick of butter or cup of oil, and probably say "honey, don't even bother to repay me!" I think even SUBURBAN folks would do this. It's simple neighborliness. I pity anyone with neighbors so mean or parsimonious they won't loan you an egg or a cup of milk in a pinch.

Now, doing it constantly: not good. I am not endorsing mooching, just honest borrowing once in a while. And it goes both ways, naturally.

As you say -- and good point -- mayo can be used for an oil in some things. I have used it in cakes to substitute or oil or butter and it works well; mayo is made out of OIL, EGGS and seasoning.

I've also sauteed in Italian dressing when I had nothing else on hand; it's mostly canola oil and vinegar. It won't work for everything, but is fine to saute some strips of chicken for a stir fry (it won't take much heat).

Country Crock is pretty gross IMHO, but yes, it's very cheap. I wouldn't want to sentence anyone to eating margarine -- I believe it is very unhealthy -- unless they are dirt poor and nothing else is possible. Corn and canola oils (generic brands) are not expensive and some house brands of olive oil on sale are just as cheap. Lard is even cheaper than that. I'd only eat margarine if there was ABSOLUTELY nothing else whatsoever. (Greens&Beans)

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@Holly McLachlan: well, YOU are here

I don't know about the others, but I got up early -- took my dog for a long walk in the park -- did a couple loads of laundry -- paid the bills -- ran them out to the post office -- went to an neighborhood yard sale -- drove to the local park for the annual "Green Festival" -- had a picnic lunch -- came home about an hour ago and logged on to pick my email. Read some other stuff, then Salon and posted a few letters. Not exactly MY WHOLE FRIGGIN' LIFE, lady.

While you have nothing of value to comment on this article about, just to tell us all how much you despise us, while engaging in the IDENTICAL BEHAVIORS we do.

Pot, meet kettle. (Greens&Beans)

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My story- I have a small farm in rural Eastern WA. No "hired hands" no employees. What comes in goes back out. Its a heart felt commitment to no savings and no health insurance. But we do well enough to take care of our needs and help out in the community. Kids in school + homework= INTERNET PRIORITY. Whereas gas is a priority over wine, canning supplies over specialty oils and vacuum cleaner bags over key limes.

I don't know Ms. Rogers or what parts of her storys are real life. I loved the foraging articles and am a sucker for sourdough. Very humorous and insightful, but would have been just as enjoyable without the "feel sorry for me" pitch.

True hunger is something I don't wish on anyone, but to play up (should I say play down) your life just to get the emotions of the readers is fiction. These articles lead us to believe they are honest and true experiences of the writer. Maybe they should be categorized differently under "entertainment". (AnnNonomouse)

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@Greens and Beans/Laurel

I agree that Country Crock is pretty nasty-tasting as compared to real butter, but it's extremely cheap and you can fry things in it.

According to Wikipedia, Mapleton, Oregon, is an unincorporated community with a population of only 918 people--so I doubt that the dozen supermarkets that advertise in the Mapleton yellow pages actually are in Mapleton. More likely, there's one or two grocery stores in Mapleton proper and said dozen supermarkets you mention are in other nearby communities.

That said, if she really WAS hungry and in need of food, the amount of time she spent hunting edible mushrooms for a single omelet she split with her husband and boiling down Christmas trees for tea..well, that could be put to much more efficient use applying for food stamps, or going down to the local extension agency (shouldn't be too hard to find, since she's not too far from the University of Oregon) to learn things about how to make do, or taking the truck into the city and shopping in bulk on Fred Meyer's double-coupon days, or you know, looking for work that puts food on the table.

Or at least writing about how to put food on the table on the cheap, but doing so in a way that's useful for most people who are out of work. (Leeandra Nolting)

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To answer some of your questions.

Mapleton is a 45 minute drive from my house. There is one store in Mapleton that sells groceries and it is small and, like many country stores, expensive.

I AM working. Along with other Web-based writing and editing work, I get paid to write about the time it takes me to forage for mushrooms. Maybe it's not enough to live on, but at least it kills two birds with one stone.

I did not spend the winter in Mexico, though it certainly would have been nice.

Sincere thanks to those of you who have written in my defense, and thanks for the suggestions. Thanks to everyone for reading.


Felisa Rogers

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As a highly urbanized meat-eater...

...I always enjoy reading Felisa Rogers' articles.

I don't see why people are so political about them.

She and her husband are of an age and temperament to try this lifestyle out. Because they have a mind to (and she may get a book out of it, and I hope she does), why is this a problem?

To the politicoes: what's it taking from you that you don't want to give? (Greeneyedkzin)

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No shortage of dirtbags in Republic or Spokane

Pride or not,if you can afford to give food to the neighbors dogs you aren't POOR. Reverse classism my ass, damn near no one in this country knows what it is to be poor or hungry.

To the first sentence: bullshit. Utter bullshit. People shared food and medicine in concentration camps. That sharing is a well documented part of what it means to be human. To the second: precisely the dodge I expected, and likewise, bullshit. The tirade you went on further down the page, about the nature of chronic deprivation, describes the lives of many, many young Americans today. Who don't have the time to unload on strangers on the net, because they are out there hustling to live -- as is Ms. Rogers.

Both you and Laure1962 rely on many service providers -- not personal pool boys, perhaps -- but every clerk at every 7-11 you shop at needs a well-deserved cigarette break after dealing with you. Because you are pitiful, foul, ugly people. Garbage beneath the heels of all decent folks, Ms. Rogers included. You have no defense for your posts. You both have made assumption about her that are unfounded, and as negative as possible. Those assumptions mark you as wretched, honor deficient fucks who have no business attempting to drag down anyone else -- in any forum, for any reason. (Holly McLachlan)

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"...also a local map of NEXT DOOR Mapleton, Oregon, which has a dozen supermarkets and is close enough that she could walk or bicycle there (less than five miles)."

Well, Laurel, people say you make things up because, well,..... you make things up. A lot.

The closest Safeway and/or Fred Meyer to Deadwood is either in Florence, OR (32 miles away) or in Eugene (nearly 60 miles away).

There are NOT a dozen supermarkets in Mapleton, OR. There seems to be but a few mom and pop type stores in that small community.

Please do refute this: please provide a list of the dozen supermarkets right next door in Mapleton, OR.

I am waiting with bated breath... (mamalicious)

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No shortage of dirtbags in Republic or Spokane

Pride or not,if you can afford to give food to the neighbors dogs you aren't POOR. Reverse classism my ass, damn near no one in this country knows what it is to be poor or hungry.

To the first sentence: bullshit. Utter bullshit. People shared food and medicine in concentration camps. That sharing is a well documented part of what it means to be human. To the second: precisely the dodge I expected, and likewise, bullshit. The tirade you went on further down the page, about the nature of chronic deprivation, describes the lives of many, many young Americans today. Who don't have the time to unload on strangers on the net, because they are out there hustling to live -- as is Ms. Rogers.

Both you and Laure1962 rely on many service providers -- not personal pool boys, perhaps -- but every clerk at every 7-11 you shop at needs a well-deserved cigarette break after dealing with you. Because you are pitiful, foul, ugly people. Garbage beneath the heels of all decent folks, Ms. Rogers included. You have no defense for your posts. You both have made assumption about her that are unfounded, and as negative as possible. Those assumptions mark you as wretched, honor deficient fucks who have no business attempting to drag down anyone else -- in any forum, for any reason. (Holly Mclachlan)

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It's the Green-eyed Monster, Greeneyedkzin

I don't see why people are so political about them. —Greeneyedkzin

The "politics" is in their posts because they find it useful. It can provide them allies among people who would otherwise despise them.

Their motivation is more envy than philosophy. The envy common to people whose best years are behind them, and who now devote themselves to wrecking the happiness of others.

There was no hyperbole in what I wrote in my prior post, however harsh or histrionic you might find it. There are few things lower than people who live to deprive others of joy.

I expect Salon's editors regularly council their shocked writers about the letters section here, and that they say something along these lines when they do. (Holly McLachlan)

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You have absolutely no idea who you are hectoring and you are so completely offbase in your assessment of me that the urge to laugh and tell you to STFUB passed immediately and all I could do was feel sad. It sucks to be poor and its easy to feel as if your dignity is constantly under assault so Im going to just assume you're not an asshole but someone whose been fucked over and feels shitty.


If I take the time to say,'You can get 5 lbs of cheap chicken,5 lbs of rice and 5 lbs of beans for the cost of your expensive oils" and you choose to see that as proof of hatred, contempt and disdain for the poor thats on you.

Your concerns are at about Level 4 on Maslows Heirarchy of Needs. Laurel and I are focusing on #1- physical survival.

When someone tells me they are hungry but then complains that they need chocolate and EVOO and coconut oil because fuckdammitlifeishardandicantbedeniedmhumanity it feels to me as if I were a surgeon tring to perform an emergency c-section but the patient starts bitching that the incision would damage her abdomen and appearance and consequently her selfimage and self esteem. Self esteem and dignity don't mean jack if you're dead.Lets get you a little further from being dead THEN lets worry about the other stuff.

Greens&Beans and I are from the same town. I wonder if its a cultural thing, because I'm 100% with her on this one.If I had $20 and needed to feed my kids for a week, I want her to give me advice even if it means I feel criticized for my past choices. I dont want someone to tell me- give the bones to the dog and go ahead and get the coconut oil.

I volunteer with the homeless a fair amount. I cook,serve food and donate handmade items and toiletries. I always take the time to cook nice items, to cook them as if I were cooking for honored guests and serve them as if they were paying customers. I donate not my leftover items, but toiletries of the same quality that I buy for myself.I also collect them from others to donate. And I make things for kids and I make them nice with yarn I buy or solicit myself because life is hard and ugly and the poor suffer enough without having to be fed donated slop and wear donated rags and cast offs.Nothing pisses me off more than people acting as if the poor deserve no better than some slop they half ass cooked,some ugly assed dismal miserable undecorated shelter to sleep in and all that.

Individuals may not be able to provide for themselves more than the basics.Organizations may struggle to provide more than the basics. But whenever possible,after the basic survival needs are met I believe strongly that people also need beauty,that good tasting food and clean aesthetically pleasing surroundings are needs not luxuries. They just arent the MOST urgent need.

Anyway. If food insecurity is an issue coconut oil or EVOO is a want not a need.

I also have spent a lot of time over the past 13 years writing blogs and teaching people the skills they need to survive and how to make a dollar out of 15 cents, as they say. Food prep. Menu planning. Budgeting. Gardening.Sewing. Bartering.

There but for the grace of god go I. (NINALOCA)

- - - - -

Thank you, Holly!

I am grateful for your comments, especially this one: "There are few things lower than people who live to deprive others of joy."

I am at the point where I am afraid to read comments on Salon articles because of the vitriol.

Why so nasty? Why so much ego? Sadly, this foulness pops up in so many Salon forums. Particularly annoying are the continuous laments over how Salon is not the paragon it supposedly used to be. Why not go read somewhere else? Poor Tracy Clark-Flory. The comments she gets are so evil and repetitious that I am astonished she hasn't quit yet. Wait! Maybe she is too smart to read the comments. I hope so. (imnrg)

- - - - -


You have absolutely no idea who you are hectoring and you are so completely offbase in your assessment of me

No. I am not.

I could be utterly incorrect about your age, sex, location and nationality, but your lame, sick motivations are obvious. Your retreat into pedantic nonsense is likewise, both foul and obvious in its intent, and its motive.

You believed you had an opportunity to bully this writer with impunity. You don't. (Holly McLachlan)

- - - - -

@beshok semaj

Of course if one eats a diet of raw foods one doesn't have to worry about cooking at all (except for the use of a dehydrator).

Then one is being stupidly wasteful. It's been so well established that it doesn't even need to be demonstrated again. Raw food is much less nutritious than cooked food. Meat. Eggs. Fruits. Vegetables. Flowers. Roots. All of it. Cooking makes proteins much more readily available. It gelatinizes starches. It breaks cell walls. You get significantly more minerals, calories, protein and so on from cooked food.

In controlled experiments with the highest quality raw food people on three to four thousand calorie a day diets could not maintain body weight. In the studies of women of child-bearing age even highly prepared uncooked foods in gorge-yourself quantities were insufficient to maintain menstruation in over half of participants. That's with modern varieties of fruit which have undergone thousands of years of selective breeding to be more nutritious.

There is no human society in recorded history or the archeological record which subsisted mostly on raw foods. Not one. Our near cousins the chimps and bonobos do. But they have jaw muscles which go all the way to the sagittal crest (which we no longer have), pouchy, muscular lips, enormously stronger teeth (ours are like an ape's baby teeth), and a significantly longer digestive tract. And at that they spend 6-8 hours a day just chewing and digesting.

We are the ape which cooks its food. That is one of the few universal defining characteristics of all human cultures. (anuran)

- - - - -

Well... I enjoyed it

Flame wars aside, I thought that was an excellently-written article. It reminded me of my "getting started" time years ago, when I used to comb through the couch trying to find enough change to go buy Ramen.

I don't miss those days at all. (Dancing_Angel)

- - - - -

Wish I had found this before the trolls did

Your writing is, as always, refreshingly good. It's unfortunate that so many people are only able to find joy in the putdown of others. That one particular poster has time to write numerous comments under a name that was slightly altered from a more sensible poster tells me that she has no respect for her own opinions and must therefore hide behind another.

She also has way to much time on her hands. Unfortunately, she is only one of several people who take offense that you are not living as they would have you live - though we cannot assume that they would ever truly practice what they preach. Your words will always be wasted on them.

Such are the problems of the Walking Wounded. These are people who have become so broken, for whatever reason, that they cannot see the wholeness and goodness in others. They are incapable of understanding that another person's experiences and goals are different from what they might have experienced or wished for themselves. Pity them and move on. In the meantime, I look forward to another brilliant essay.

Thank you,

Rachel (RenaissanceLady)

- - - - -

A publication-wide eidtorial decision

Pity them and move on. In the meantime, I look forward to another brilliant essay.

Beautifully written.

Another thing both letter writers and Salon contributors might do is to complain to the editors (red bolded link on the lower right of the page). The letters section is under their control. They could change the tone with a little oversight, by removing a few posters from the contributing population (repeatedly, until the ban sticks).

Whack-a-troll is a time-consuming endeavor, but probably should be seen as a cost of doing business and just budgeted in as such. The current online norm is to accept them as unavoidable, and complain only when someone makes an issue of it (writing off all push-back as a "flamewar"). To some extent trolling is unavoidable. However, they can be kept at bay. Entire letters sections don't need to become fever swamps of dysfunction and bile. (Holly McLachlan)

- - - - -

I read this, and thought about my in-laws...

...Who, as Dutch immigrants in the 50's and 60's kept a farm in the far corner of Northwestern Ontario (Rainy River district). Serious rural life, that. Predates the Trans-Canada Highway.

In many ways, even though they've moved to the modest town of Fort Frances, their instincts are still based on that farm. They have a garden, from which every fall they _can_ potatoes, beans, beets and pretty much everything else they can manage to grow there (my father-in-law grouses about the deer that sneak in and pilfer the produce from time to time). They buy everything in what seems to me to be ridiculous quantities or sizes (flour, oil, eggs) and yes, save up the bacon fat in the fridge. My father-in-law even got into making his own wine from those kit things. He filled about half of their basement with the results.

I can't imagine them ever running out of cooking oil, even back when they were living on the farm (not sure, though, that they would ever have had coconut oil on hand).

So, to me this reads like someone who had idealized the rural life, but who now has has gotten into it without having the instincts.

Learn from this, do what the neighbours do and stock up in quantity (on the cheap stuff -- and really, bulk canola is the cheap stuff). And then, as other posters have said, feel more free to borrow from them, but because you'll have bought in bulk, you'll also have something to give back if they run low. (Michael Mackinnon)

- - - - -


I got that info straight off of Google yellow pages. I don't live in the area, but I can read a map! Mapleton is right next door to Deadwood.

Even Felisa admits there are small stores in Mapleton, but SHE DOESN'T LIKE THEM, so she won't even buy a STICK OF BUTTER at such stores. I suspect she "has to go into Eugene" because Eugene has a Whole Foods or other gourmet emporium she LIKES better.

@Leeandra Nolting

I've chatted with Felisa several times about food stamps or even food banks (which have no paperwork nor limits of income, just "need"). She doesn't want to do it; she's either too stubborn or too proud. (Or has some money she doesn't want to reveal that disqualify her from the SNAP program.)

It also suggests this is a stunt, based loosely on "No Impact Man". I don't believe a smart, educated woman would sit there with NO FOOD IN THE CUPBOARD, and eat nettles, when she could be eating cheese, meat, fresh veggies, fruit, milk, bread and other healthy items.

Yes, I also said that "Country Crock is cheap but tastes awful". Magarine is a chemical "soup" of junk vs. butter. But I know if you are poor, you can get a big tub instead of one stick of butter at the same price. I don't look down on anyone trying to survive poverty. (Greens&Beans)

- - - - -

@Holly Mclachlan: you are seriously nuts, lady

Time to go back on your meds!

I don't smoke. I hardly know anybody anymore who smokes -- my stepdaughter was the last hold out and she quit last year.

I never go into the 7/11 -- I'd have to be seriously desperate for a popsicle or something. I live in a suburb with enough other stores that I never need to go in there.

You don't know squat about concentration camps, you hateful ugly hag. People shared FOOD and MEDICINE with OTHER HUMAN BEINGS -- not with dogs. I love dogs, but I don't value dogs over human beings.

Ninaloca or whoever said that "nobody that poor would save food for someone else's DOG' was correct. And Felisa ended up eating the scraps!

To use the Holocaust as an example here is just despicable.

Ms. Rogers is not "hustling to live". She chose this lifestyle quite deliberately (and I think, with the help of her parents who OWN the cabin and loan it to her free, or very cheap) because she sensed a book deal in it. She's a professional writer by trade. And she could get FOOD STAMPS any day; she choose not to. That's a very unusual choice, and we have every right to question it. (Greens&Beans)

@NinaLoca: a word of support

Holly McLachlan is a hateful, spiteful troll. She has no point here except "you are not allowed to EVER criticize any writer no matter what".

She is wrong. You and I are right. I don't have any trouble saying that or sticking with it.

I am not surprised to learn you are a sensible soul from the Midwest, or share my hometown. I also volunteer for the Hunger Center and donate food, blankets, clothes and toiletries to the homeless, including the City Mission. I cook food at the local Food Bank. I work at soup kitchens on Christmas and Thanksgiving. I am really insulted that anyone like "Holly" would ASSUME I am talking from some arrogant perch, looking down on people. I've been broke and unemployed; I know what tough times are and I was raised by Depression-era grandmothers who knew who to survive bad times.

I am ashamed of people like Holly who think that eating chocolate and olive oil and having "fun" outweigh basic human survival, and that somehow criticizing anyone's bad choices means "you must smoke cigarettes!" (????)

Nobody is "bullying" Ms. Rogers. We are making COMMENTS on her ARTICLES which she is PAID FOR and which are PUBLICLY PUBLISHED. If she wants the privacy to do what she wishes, she doesn't HAVE TO WRITE ABOUT IT.

BTW: her bio on her Mexico vacation book blogs says she "travels to Mexico EVERY WINTER". (Greens&Beans)

@Holly McLachlan: will you put your money where your big fat ugly mouth is?

Because the "problem" at Salon is not criticism of an article, but that posters are ROUTINELY allowed to call women "the c word", to lie and make obscene allegations ("your gay! your husband is gay! your ex husband is gay! your ex husband left you for a gay man!"), to "out" people you disagree with, to call names and make ad hominem attacks -- oh, and did I forget "rampant anti-semitism?"

Will you speak out as eloquently about THOSE ISSUES as you do about "one poster who thinks Felisa Rogers should get food stamps so she and her husband don't go hungry"?

Can you point out -- and please do! -- where I have used curse words, vulgarity, allegations about people's sexual orientation (negatively), "the C word", or OUTTED ANYONE for expressing an opinion?

What is that? I never did such things? Yet you still want to ban me? Thanks, you have revealed yourself to be a total asshat and bigot.

Salon has TOTALLY FAILED to ban Zorkna (he's on like 15th username) or Steel The First (horrible anti-semite who is on like his 15th username), so why do you feel I will be an exception?

Do you think literary criticism is JUST AS WRONG as anti-semitism? Do you think asking why someone doesn't go down the road to the country store to buy a stick of margarine is EXACTLY THE SAME as outing someone's home address on the internet, and telling other people to "get her!"?

Salon has so little budget for maintaining "standards" (cough, cough -- such as they are) that they are dependent entirely on A. unpaid student interns, B. writers off Open Salon who charge peanuts and C. PAGE CLICKS.

They encourage flame wars to get page clicks, you dolt. Don't you realize that????

The only person reducing this otherwise placid thread to "a fever swamp of dysfunction and bile" IS YOU, Holly McLachlan. (Greens&Beans)

@Miss Buggins: Still not on that 5 month camping trip?

Guess that was another your fantasies ("lies")!

@Michael MacKinnon

I agree. I have family in the country, and they have many of the same limitation as Felisa (small expensive country stores, city hours away, etc.) and they NEVER run out of food -- they grow crops, they can/preserve food, they have a food dehydrator, they freeze stuff, they save bacon grease, they RELY ON THEIR NEIGHBORS if things get tough.

You don't need to go full-tilt into farming to have a small kitchen garden (which should be producing by now, Felisa -- why don't you have any food from that? I don't grow much -- herbs and strawberries, and a few cherry tomatoes -- but I already have food from my BACK DECK).

A couple of chickens would give Felisa and her husband a ready source of protein from eggs (even if they never butchered the chickens for meat).

I'd like to reiterate your excellent words:

"....this reads like someone who had idealized the rural life, but who now has has gotten into it without having the instincts.

Stocking up when you have a few bucks is basic common sense, and you don't have to "live in the country" to realize that.

(BTW: there are many kinds of coconut oil; the crude stuff can be as cheap as $12.00 for a 32 ounce jar, but the really good stuff -- organic, high grade -- is $32.00 for a 32 ounce jar. SO yes, in most cases, you could get quite a lot of ordinary vegetable oil for that amount, a good deal of olive oil or a truckload of cheap margarine.) (Greens&Beans)

- - - - -

Here is a list of what is within 20 minutes of Felisa

In 10 seconds of googling, I found these stores, all within 20 minutes of Felisa Roger's cabin in Deadwood, Oregon.

One is .4 miles away, meaning a crippled person could hobble there on crutches in 10 minutes. (You can apply for food stamps (SNAP) online; you don't have to drive ANYWHERE.)

Randy's Riverview Market

.4 mi

10792 Highway 126, Mapleton, OR 97453 map

Swisshome General Store

3.4 mi

13298 Highway 36, Swisshome, OR 97480 map

Deadwood Country Market

6.7 mi

14699 Highway 36, Deadwood, OR 97430 map

Stop N Shop

12.0 mi

87764 Highway 101, Florence, OR 97439 map

Fred Meyer One Stop Shopping

12.1 mi

4701 Highway 101, Florence, OR 97439 map

Grocery Outlet

12.4 mi

2066 Highway 101, Florence, OR 97439 map

Food Services Of America

12.7 mi

1525 12th St, Florence, OR 97439 map

Safeway Pharmacy Pharmacy

12.7 mi

700 Highway 101, Florence, OR 97439 map

Market BIN

12.9 mi

1417 6 St, Florence, OR 97439 map

Cleawox Market

13.5 mi

85150 Highway 101, Florence, OR 97439 map

Abhi One Stop Market

13.6 mi

85039 Highway 101, Florence, OR 97439 map

Lakeview Grocery

16.8 mi

19385 Highway 36, Blachly, OR 97412 map

Smith River Store

17.5 mi

16334 Lower Smith River Rd, Reedsport, OR 97467

Horton Market

21.7 mi

94636 Horton Rd, Blachly, OR 97412 map

LOW Pass Market

22.8 mi

22501 Highway 36, Cheshire, OR 97419 map


Waldport Food Share (a food bank that provides FREE food supplies for needy families)

28.6 mi


Felisa, my question is this -- is your problem more about a snobbery for shopping at "down market" chain stores like Safeway or Fred Meyer or Stop n' Shop -- OR that you are deeply vested in shopping at the Whole Foods store (or similar) in Eugene? and you won't "settle" for shopping elsewhere? (Greens&Beans)

- - - - -

The last page or so of letters proves

What does it prove?

Laurel1962sockpuppets is butthurt at being caught out. She's still a cruel, self-righteous, dishonest, narcissistic advertisement for the Dunning-Kruger effect.

And she's still so wrong she couldn't see "mistaken" without the Hubble Telescope. (anuran)

- - - - -

What on earth is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

The last page or so of letters proves

[] Laurel1962sockpuppets is butthurt at being caught out. She's still a cruel, self-righteous, dishonest, narcissistic advertisement for the Dunning-Kruger effect. —anuran

I suspect that she is a typical upset bully -- enraged by confrontation.

There are many good reasons to avoid push-back against these sorts of internet freaks. However, Salon's writers, particularly its precarious freelance piece workers, are actually human. They aren't as wholly immune to criticism as they would like to be.

They should have to deal with it gracefully when it's legitimate, and done in good faith, but there is no reason why they should be subjected to the foul rants of America's blowsiest losers.

There is no defense for Laure1962, or NINALOCA.... or any of the other hard-to-shake fungal infections a writer can pick up here. (Holly McLachlan)

- - - - -


I sincerely hope you get a commission on click revenue for high-volume threads like this one. It would be the height of delicious irony (appropriate for a food-related article) if Laurel's craziness were actually generating you extra income.

I like to read your articles for the content, they're well-written and evocative, but I gotta admit -- the crazy also keeps me coming back. (whetstone)

Old youth?

It has been suggested here that Felisa Rogers has been ganged up by resentful, aging, menopausal boomers. Probably has been; but we remember in her articles that she's not exactly been their biggest supporter either. Felisa is about continuation of age-old traditions. Keeping matrilineage, patrinlineage, intact; descendents keeping faith to a blessed tradition; passing on with fidelity and love; one generation to the next. Getting married by the same old tree whose branches grandma used to scrape her teeth clean on. Except when it comes to the self-indulgent boomers, who knew hardship and sparcity only as a lifestyle choice -- letting it be known that heritage and environment and grand/parents and the old hanging-on world were at their service, never themselves to "it." In regards to the boomers, tradition isn't about continuation, but exclusion. It becomes, not about fidelity and love, but about crime and retribution -- it becomes old, in a mean and twisted and unforgiving sort of way, pretending them (i.e., the boomers) as a bastard aberation that strayed so far from message -- and so readily! so maddingly flippantly! and so damned near totally! -- they're to be at first heavily scorned at, and then simply not to be brought up at all anymore.

Felisa is channelling the spirits of Depression-era grandparents, so to sublimate herself into/with them. She's all about the icing on the cake, but in her recipes she almost seems to be laying herself out bare for their taking. Here are the spare and plain ingredients for my (however savory) spiced nettle soup. (There's talk and evocation of truffle oil -- but to show how rarely I'll indulge the real thing again; how akin I am to you and your periodic Hollywood escapes to compensation land.) Nothing so complicated to hide variation; nothing so variant from what constitutes you to suggest my rebellion: My coffee and sport-loving, my common, simple-loving husband and I are fully yours, ancestors. In our recipes we fully aim not so much to advance beyond as to close the distance to you. We will be anonymous but worthy, in the way you were anonymous but worthy-- knowing that every one one of our private, particular experiences we covet and hope to pass on, is replicated by all those inceasingly multitudes now forced to live just as fidelitous as we, and so are always also common and unexceptional. Everytime we speak our our savorings, of how we spiced up our increasingly spare stock, you will hear as much of what we've been denied, of what we were actually willing -- unlike our boomer parents -- to deny ourselves, to remain fidelitous to you and the nearly-lost virtues of your simple treasure pleasures.

Felicity is, I would suggest, very debatably the voice of youth. She aims to be, and is succeeding in becoming, a wretched, withered Depression ancestor brought back from the grave. Perhaps because it is easy to imagine a stern, unforgiving tradition-guarding grandmother stirred to life with the eager availability of such an apt and willing vessel, I am prompted to wonder if Laurel et al. are not truly so much responding bullyingly to youth, but in alarm and out of fear of slippage to a spectre they long ago -- and never fully -- succeeded in beating back: a dreaded voice from the rightfully discarded past that wouldn't allow anything beyond the most minimal amount amount of fun to not silmutaneously speak of cold, brutal withdrawal.

I hope here that Felisa not just appreciates the support, but the challenge -- I think you are bent on losing yourself, drifting from reality to some awful disassociated state, speaking always not so much from first-hand or second-hand but from third-person perspective -- as if looking down upon yourself at a distance which balks, chastises your individuality and renders you a somewhat pathetic plain "type" -- and it is mostly this some of us are concerned to alert you to and wake you up from. If "Salon" soothes you from internet bile, "their" blanket will also contribute to further smothering you.

Link: Can you live without cooking oil? (Salon)

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