The Global Food Crisis – in a Nutshell

April 29, 2008

The Economist’s food-price index is the highest it’s been since 1845; it increased 30 percent in 2007 alone. It appears that the lengthy era of falling food prices may have reached the end. Staple food crops such as corn, wheat and rice have seen skyrocketing records in the last couple of years. Food will be cheap no more.

The Western world has had a decades-long abundance of cheap and available food. Yet, climate change is and will continue to have an atrocious effect on our global food supply. Rising temperatures and persistent droughts are destroying crops, thus cutting more deep into our food supply. We are also using more of our land to grow crops for fuel instead of food. According to a recent NPR statement, the cost of filling a 25-gallon tank could feed a person for one year.

There is also increased demand for food. The population is now over 6 billion. It is estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050. The impact of this booming rise is a far greater demand for more food. To make matters worse, we can’t ignore the rising threat to our oil supply. This then becomes a threat our food supply. According to the Earth Policy Institute, the US food system consumes over 10 quadrillion Btu of energy per year (as much as France’s total annual energy consumption). Only 1/5 of this is used for growing food while the other 4/5s are used to move, process, package, sell, and store food after it leaves the farm.


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