Nopalitos Are Good

I just loves me some tender young cactus. Not quite to the point of can’t get enough, but I can only go just so long without some nopalitos in my diet before I just can’t stand it any more. This morning I scrambled some nopalitos and sliced jalapenos with some of those very nice ranch eggs, laid on a generous splash of my homemade chile sauce, and wrapped it all up in a tortilla. I don’t know about champions, having never been one, but it seemed the breakfast of someone who’s ready to take on the day or at least the next few hours of it.

Some folks came around last night looking for donations of canned good and non-perishables for the food bank. A worthy cause, I think. The problem is that we just don’t do canned goods. We scrounged around and delivered up all of the cans we had, which amounted to one each of sliced pears, bamboo shoots, and tomato sauce. I wish it could have been more, much more, but we’re not canned goods people and having given away what we had we’re now a can-free household. I wonder if there’s such a thing as a good canned corned beef hash, because I think that if I were poor and dragging bottom I’d think corned beef hash a damned fine thing to have on hand. Is there such a thing as good canned corned beef? If so, I might just go buy a bunch of it to donate.

I’d imagine that I must have had canned corned beef hash at some point, probably that disappointing goo delivered to the hapless patrons of diners. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. It kinda sucks to get all revved up for corned beef hash only to be served some food-like substance that the dog wouldn’t eat. I kinda figure that that’s why dogs sometimes lick their own asses, to get rid of the taste of something they had to eat only because it was all that was offered. But if there’s such a thing as good canned corned beef hash I think I’ll round up a bunch of it to donate. If there’s not, then I guess I’ll have to think up something else.

Unlike my more conservative friends and neighbors, I think we need more welfare for the poor. It’d be easy to do if we quit giving it to the rich. Cranking the minimum wage up would help a lot, too — going to ten bucks an hour, which isn’t really as big an increase as it ought to be, would add less than a quarter (of a dollar) to the bill for a McDonald’s meal according to the folks who figure that kind of thing out. It extrapolating that proportionally is valid, which I have no way of knowing, then going to $13/hour for those minimum wage folks would make the average McDonald’s meal, what, four bits more? It seems a positive investment, and one that would get a lot of those folks who work for Kroc’s Crock off of the food stamps and other assistance. By golly, that would be reducing the welfare rolls, wouldn’it? Kinda hard to be opposed to that.

But in the meantime, since I ain’t the king of the world and all of my ideas are goofball, I guess I’ll worry about whether or not the canned corned beef is worth a damn so I know whether or not to donate a bunch of it. And if it ain’t worth a damn, I’ll worry about what is worth a damn and upon discovering what it is donate a bunch of that.

So, dear, gentle readers: What comes out of a can that is worth a damn?


10 thoughts on “Nopalitos Are Good

  1. g.

    I don’t know if you can get a “good” tinned corned beef… but Patak’s makes some very tasty curries.
    Minimum wage here is $10.25/hr. It’s good we’re in the double digits, but I still have no idea how people pay the rent when a decent one-bedroom comes in around $1000/mo. They’re talking about raising it to $14/hr and for the people who need it, it can’t come fast enough.
    I’m very envious you can (and do) consume cacti.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      With a one bedroom coming in at a grand, $10.25 suddenly doesn’t seem like much. Rip the taxes out and the rent doesn’t get paid by anyone with nutrition and motor fuels habits. Holy smokes!

      I do loves me some tasty cactus. I can easily enough drive to where prickly pear grows abundantly, but it’s only half as far to the market where I can get the tunas with the spines already removed cheaply enough. Lacking that, I can pick them up in jars already sliced into strips here in Dinkytown for a higher price but still more economically than driving down the road when I’m not going that way for some other reason. With the (91 octane) fuel that my truck demands being $4/gallon, I think twice about unnecessarily losing elevation.

  2. erikamsteele

    I think I would have asked if they take cash donations and explained that you do not use canned goods. Most places will say yes, or sometimes they may ask for things like batteries or clothing depending on the place doing the collecting.

    I am all for raising the minimum wage but in doing so, you push small businesses out of the picture; especially in small towns like where my parents live. Each time the minimum wage goes up, they either have to reduce the number of hours people can work or reduce the number of people they can employ. Both of these options kind of reduce the benefit of raising the minimum wage. There are so many people who can’t stay in business because they cannot afford to higher help as it is. The loss of business is bad, and in most places no one misses the Ma&Pa type places. However, in places like Wheredafugga, Alabama, places where Wal*Mart and Starsucks Coffee are’t going to come, those places are missed. There is no easy solution.

    I have nothing against Welfare. However, they need to make it harder for people to manipulate the system. Where I live, they offer Section 8 housing to students (even if they are from middle class families), this keeps “those kinds of people” out of nicer apartments and in government housing, it also reduces the availability of Section 8 to families who need it. The system should not be so easily manipulated. I don’t think we should get rid of it; I do think people who abuse the system should have to pay the money back.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      They’ll take cash, but I don’t trust any charity with cash so I’d rather donate food and hope that it goes where it’s needed. Cash has a habit of going walkabout.

      I live in a dinky middle-of-nowhere town with a population of about 2000, at least 40 miles in any direction from the next nearest town, and I know most of the local small business owners. Everything here is mom & pop — save the only national chain represented here, a Pizza Hut franchise. The local small business owners react to increases in costs of doing business by adjusting their prices, and it doesn’t much matter if it’s cost of goods sold, energy/utilities, rents, taxes, or labor costs that have increased. I haven’t seen any business struggle or fail because of minimum wage hikes. Some of the more conservative business owners bitched up a blue streak, but they just adjusted and kept on keepin’ on. After a while they quit bitching, and the topic doesn’t come up any more.

      1. erikamsteele

        I think it may have to do with the median income where my parents live. They live in the poorest county in Alabama, There is only so much adjusting your price that you can do until people just can’t afford to do business with you. The only family businesses that have been successful are the grocery stores and my parents’ business, which has been struggling recently.

        Then again, I am forgetting the other reasons businesses don’t succeed in the town which I am referring. There are too many dishonest people. There used to be a Levi’s factory, but they left because the employee’s would not stop stealing. There used to be a great discount clothing store that left for the same reason. My parents have fired several people for stealing, so maybe the wages are a small fraction of the reason why business do not succeed where my parents live…I seriously miss the Levi’s factory. I could get Levi’s for $15 or less.

        1. happierheathen Post author

          On the other hand, more minimum wage folks can afford to do business with you if the minimum wage increases. The impartial analyses of minimum wage increases and their effects that I’ve seen over the years generally indicate that increased minimum wage pumps the economy rather than dragging it, but it’s hard to find objective analysis on the topic. And it’s a hard sell right now because the “recovery” hasn’t reached Main Street and there’s a lot of fear there.

          Levi Strauss has moved most of its manufacturing out of the country, so the plant closure out there might have been for that reason. They’ve been busted a few times for sweatshop operations in their overseas subcontractor plants. (I used to pay attention to Levi Strauss because they were a customer of my employer. I quit buying their product when they went on their NAFTA/offshore push in the 90’s.)

          1. erikamsteele

            I am totally for increasing the minimum wage. My parents complain, but they always survive. They run a dry cleaning business, so I don’t see their business being as successful as it was before the high school decided that the kids had to wear uniforms. The factory closed somewhere in the early 2000s.

            Is it even possible to find things made in the US anymore that are affordable? Right now, I am poor. When I had more cash, I definitely bought stuff that was actually made in the US.

            1. happierheathen Post author

              Gawd, school uniforms. I’ll not get started on that! Levi’s big offshoring push began in earnest in the mid-1990’s and really picked up steam in the late 90’s, as was true for most manufacturers in the US. No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible, they say. I blame every fucking one of them. Including the executives here in the US who make the decisions that put my friends and neighbors out of work.

              Affordability is the big trick when it comes to US manufactured goods. The US union made jeans I like run $45-$50/pair, but they wear like iron so the value is still quite good. The new cast iron cookware that I buy when I discover that I can’t live without something I don’t already have comes from Lodge’s foundry in Tennessee — the value of those pieces is astronomical because those things will outlast me by a long, long time even if I live to be a hundred. (I’ve got pieces nearing the century mark that I’ve been using for 30 years or more.) On the other hand, US-made New Balance sneakers aren’t at parity with their imported counterparts because they cost twice as much but don’t last twice as long. I still try to buy US-made goods when I can, not out of nationalism per se but because we’re going to end up being a high tech third world nation if we don’t get more manufacturing back. Not everyone can participate in the knowledge and information economy.

              Tangentially: The only reason my business remains viable is that the education systems in most competing countries suck in the same way that No Child Smarter’n George sucks. Rote learning doesn’t turn out great engineers and scientists, even if the individuals involved are every bit as smart or even smarter than their counterparts who are educated within systems that encourage critical thinking and development of higher order logical thinking skills. I’ve landed contracts to rework or replace software that was developed offshore, and being a selfish bastard I’m glad that their schools suck.

              1. erikamsteele

                I love New Balance sneakers. I didn’t know they were made in the US. I will definitely start buying them again when I am working full time. John could never tear those up and they are great since he has flat feet. I have always loved the quality of the things I bought that were made in the US. They were well worth the money.

                I am well aware of how poor the education system in other countries are educating their students. I used to be more outspoken about it, but it just isn’t worth my effort anymore. If people want to believe that the US sucks so much, let them. I could go on about how all of those international standardized test are skewed, but I won’t because it’s kind of boring. If we aren’t talking about fixing things at this point, I am not wanting to talk about it.

                1. happierheathen Post author

                  Not all New Balance shoes are made in the US, but those that are are labeled as such. And pricier, too!

                  I hear ya. There’s nothing we can say to each other or any others here on WordPress that’s going to fix a system that doesn’t care what we think, and which is increasingly about the egos (and incomes) of adults rather than the education of children. Then again, my mind was polluted by the most liberal (and successful) public primary education system this nation has ever seen so I could be talking out my ass. 😀


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