In the last year, international food prices have reached record peaks. In many countries, high food prices have contributed to unrest, instability, violence and increasing inequality and poverty. While volatile food prices impact everyone, the impacts vary across the globe with the poorest and most vulnerable people often getting the shortest end of the stick.
To shed more light on the impacts of food price spikes, Oxfam has created an interactive map of Food Price Volatility Pressure Points. This map shows the impacts of price spikes in some of the countries where food prices have complicated the lives of poor people and offers a chance to take action on to help address price volatility.
The map shows are areas that are highly vulnerable to price spikes, countries that have had extreme weather events contribute to global price hikes and places that have seen price spikes contribute to violence or unrest that has shaken the foundation of global stability. While this map alone does not tell the full story of how price spikes have impacted our world, it offers a global snapshot to give us a better understanding of what is happening in communities near and far. Read more
A one dollar bag of rice in the U.S. is not the same as a one dollar bag of rice in Indonesia. For an American, who, on average, devotes about seven percent of his or her spending to food, it won’t matter that much if the price of rice doubles to two dollars. An American can likely take the money that would have gone to a “non-essential” item and put it towards food instead. But for an Indonesian, who devotes 43 percent of his/her spending to food, it could mean less to eat. Read more
“Slowing demand at the retail level along with the food service industry has left growers with more supply than they can sell,” began a market update I received from a local produce supplier. The flyer went on to say that they expected some farmers to send their vegetables to market without a price – that is, they will take what they can get – in an effort to stimulate demand for their fruits and vegetables. Read more
As Tom Vilsack and Tom Daschle assume their cabinet positions in the Obama administration as Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, respectively, they inherit mammoth challenges. Working together will be key to their success, because their work has a common denominator – food. Read more
When I was much younger I would take solo backpacking trips in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. On one occasion I found myself at a very remote campsite deep in the forest. My original plan was to commune in some vague, Thoreau-like fashion with nature, and with a congenial assist from the Almighty, discover heretofore unseen truths. Read more
What if each of us were engaged in our communities, our “work”, and our “play” in a new way—one in which we actually understand the impacts of our choices? What if we were to price a food system that is clean, just, and fair by redefining the costs of products and services? Since we have to start by eating to fuel our brains and bodies, let’s expand our business practices and personal financial decisions to include the impacts on people and places—in our food. Read more
We all want to do the right thing. We want to buy organic exclusively. We’d love to buy grass-fed beef regularly. And we’d like nothing more than to eat wild seafood all the time.
But I know I’m not alone when I do a double-take at the seafood counter. I blink when I see wild shrimp selling for $15.99 a pound versus farm-raised for $5.99 pound. I gulp when I stop at a farmers’ market to find grass-fed rib-eyes priced at least three times higher than conventionally-raised ones.
What’s a budget-conscious, environmentally-concerned consumer to do, other than bolt to the dried pasta aisle and call it a day? Read more
Have you been to the grocery store lately? Of course you have. Have you gone into shock at the prices yet? Of course you have. Even if you are like me and don’t spend a lot of time figuring out prices and food budgets, you have been caught off guard. It’s not just the price of that great filet, or wild salmon that has your head spinning. In fact, we expect those things to be higher. I pay just about $10 a pound for my favorite pastrami, and am happy to do it. But it is the staples that have me on pause. Read more