Will we be able to afford to eat in our brave, new world?

I was perusing the science pages of The New York Times as I do every week when I came across a story about a drought in China and a resultant rise in the price of food. As I read the story, it brought to mind similar stories that I have read in recent months. There have been a number of crop failures because of extreme weather conditions right around the world.

Climate scientists have warned repeatedly that the frequency of these extreme weather conditions is likely to increase as the earth continues to warm. They might as well be shouting into a hurricane. People simply are not listening. Perhaps when a loaf of bread goes for $100, it might finally get their attention.

There have already been food riots in various countries around the world. The current uprising in Egypt has been fueled, in part, by the fact that food has become more scarce and expensive and people are unable to feed their families. What will happen when that circustance becomes fact in this country? Most likely the right-wing demagogues will blame it on illegal aliens and will demand that we declare war on Mexico, while at the same time insisting that every citizen, including children, must purchase and carry a concealed handgun to "protect" themselves. Yeah, that'll fix it. But that is the kind of logic we've come to expect from the idiocracy that seems to hold sway in much of our country.

Commodity prices, in general, have surged in the face of the economic downturn that has been building over the last five years, and food prices actually were rather late in joining the party, as economist Paul Krugman points out in his blog. But now that they have and as the extreme weather events and resultant crop failures continue, we might expect that they will be the life of that party for some time to come.

All the more reason to get that backyard vegetable garden started this spring.


  1. My Dad passed away last year. I remembering him saying when the US was dropping bags of wheat (or some other grain) to villages of starving people, that if that happened here we wouldn't know what to do with it. I agreed- I wouldn't. And I grew up growing much of our own food. We had a huge garden and my mom canned all summer. I remember being surprised that you could buy green beans in a store already canned! (4 for a $1). We always had a huge garden-- it kept five kids busy the whole summer. When I first married, we planted a small one. Didn't work out all that well-- I knew the grocery store was close!! I love fresh vegetales but I count my blessings that I don't have to depend on my gardening skills to eat!

  2. We are spoiled by the easy availability of food and the relatively low cost of food in this country, but there may well come a time - and it may not be that far in the future - when that will no longer be true, Anonymous. When that happens, I really do fear for what will happen to this country.


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