Is it a Chicken Little moment? Is the sky falling?
You can always find doom and gloom stories about rising food costs, but there seems to be a consensus that we are heading into a ‘perfect storm’ of troubles. As global inhabitants, we are all facing:
*low grain inventories,
*higher demand for food products for biofuels,
*a rising demand for grain from China and India to feed their more affluent population,
*major grain exporters like Kazakhstan are stopping exports so they can feed their own populace
*bad growing seasons in the Ukraine and Australia are further limiting supplies.
Its all converging, and it’s happening now.
Japan is out of butter. That seems improbable, fantastic, for a major world power to be out of butter.
Get this: Japan is only producing 40% of its own food. That is a
staggering dependence on imported food. In comparison, according to the
Association of Food Industries,
in 2006, the U.S. imported 11.2% of its food. So not only do the
Japanese need to worry about fuel, but also the actual food supply is
an issue. Not an abstract issue, but a for-real, oops the shelves are
bare issue. While we are all blathering about eating local, the
reality of where our food comes from and just how much of it is
imported is simply staggering.
The Australian article that is linked here is a good snapshot of how
the Australians think the U.S. is handling our food crisis. I know you
are thinking: ‘what food crisis?” The articles quotes Len Amoroso of
Amoroso’s Baking Co. in Philadelphia; last year Mr. Amoroso paid $14.60 for
100 pounds of hard red spring wheat flour, this year he is paying
$48.00 for that same sack of flour. That is a 70% price increase and it
sounds pretty critical to me.
As frightening as that may be, the part that I cannot wrap my brain around is: why are we
Corn makes corn syrup that makes us fat and diabetic, soda sweetened with corn syrup is cheaper than milk, corn fed livestock gets
bigger and fatter and quicker and doesn’t taste very good. Which makes
corn the new scare food. Worse than trans fat! Corn is the latest evil
But wait, corn gets made into ethanol, and that has to be
good, right? Wrong. As least as far back as 2005, Slate magazine
readers knew that it took more than a gallon of fuel to produce a
gallon of corn-based fuel. If Slate was
writing about it in 2005, then a few other people must have come to
that conclusion a bit earlier. So, why then is our government raining
subsidies on the profit rich fields of corn? It’s enough to make my
There is no quick fix here. But, we need to get informed and then speak
up. Our government is about to undergo a seismic shift (or at least I
hope so), so this could be our window of opportunity. Or, we could just raise our voices in a collective shout: "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"