Friday, May 23, 2008

And speaking of chickens and eggs...

Weekend Edition
March 22 / 23, 2008
Rising Food Costs
Can You Afford to Feed Your Family?
By NICOLE COLSON

...According to U.S. government figures released earlier in March, grocery costs increased 5.1 percent over the past 12 months. The U.S. is undergoing the worst grocery inflation in close to 20 years, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts prices will climb another 3 to 4 percent this year.

The problem is especially obvious when you look at the cost of individual goods. According to the Labor Department, milk prices are up 17 percent. Prices for dried beans, peas and lentils are up the same amount. Cheese is up 15 percent, rice and pasta 13 percent, and bread 12 percent. And the price of eggs has risen 25 percent since February 2007--and 62 percent in the last two years.

In all likelihood, food inflation will continue, driven by a number of factors, including the rising price of oil--hitting as high as $112 a barrel recently--which has raised the cost to deliver food and run farm and factory equipment; increases in the cost of farm commodities like milk, corn and wheat; and the declining value of the dollar, which is encouraging exports of U.S. crops and food products.

Increased government mandates for ethanol production are not only driving up the price of corn used for making it, but are pushing up prices for other staple foods--since, for example, land is being diverted from staples like wheat and soybeans to produce corn. By the end of the 2006-07 crop year, 19 percent of harvested corn was made into ethanol--a 30 percent increase in just one year. Increased demand for ethanol helped boost the price of a bushel of corn from $2 in 2005 to $3.40 in 2007...

...Globally, wheat prices have surged 83 percent in the past year. Earlier in March, in Asia, rice prices were at a 20-year high. "When you see those kinds of increases, [people] are simply priced out of the food markets," WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran recently told BBC News.

...Some governments have begun food rationing. The Indian government is having difficulty maintaining a food price subsidy system, and both the Chinese and Russian governments have moved to impose price controls in the wake of rampant inflation.

Shortages and price increases have sparked demonstrations in Burkina Faso, Mexico, Italy and elsewhere--and food riots in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Morocco, Yemen, Senegal, Uzebekistan and other countries.

"The risks of food riots and malnutrition will surge in the next two years as the global supply of grain comes under more pressure than at any time in 50 years, according to one of the world's leading agricultural researchers," the British Guardian reported.


How much more are we willing to waste on the biofuels fantasy? How many people have to be malnourished or starve because America and some other western nations were too stupid and arrogant to have European style rail systems and/or mandatory electric urban mass transit to every development and subdivision? And how much longer can Americans pay these prices for food, oil, and interest on credit cards and loans?

Something's gotta give class, and it would be far better for you to get rid of your car than lose your house or go hungry. Make changes now, or make them later, under duress. Those are the only choices available.

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