Sunday, March 9, 2008

Global Wheat

I had a good weekend in the cluster, but realized when checking email on the road last night and showing my hosts some of my favorite blog links that I hadn't posted here in a week and a half. So I came home this afternoon and checked some of the food news. There were several pretty depressing articles in the NY Times.

This article on rising grain prices raises more questions than it answers.

To what extent is the push for biofuels driving up the prices for grain and other commodity crops? Why is it underplayed in this article?

I also wonder to what extent higher prices are being pushed by the rising price of fossil fuel inputs - synthetic fertilizers, for example - and to what extent are they being pushed by the increased cost of shipping inputs to the farm, running the farm machinery that applies the inputs, and shipping the grain to the mill and the flour from the mill, etc.

Frankly, if I am going to pay more, I'd rather pay it for organic local food than for an oil guzzling diet. Heck, why not just drink the oil directly? (I know, I know - but picture it.)

The article is clear that while those cost increases are pushing price increases - and probably pushing on farmers profits more - the big pull is the increased demand for wheat and other grains in countries where bread is not a traditional food. (The US exports half the wheat we grow.) While the rising standard of living in many places in the world is partly responsible, increasing demand for a western diet, the article implies that part of the cause is advertising. Among the greatest immoralities of advertisers has to be pushing foods that are not traditional and must be imported. Is pushing bread any different than pushing baby formula? (Remember the Nestle atrocities.)

Then there's another article where the details have been changed but the story is the same. Monsanto masquerades as a citizen group once again ("Afact" - where do they get these names?) this time in fighting the labeling of synthetic bovine growth hormone free milk and other dairy products.
Sales of "Posilac" are down. What a shame.

The last lines in the article:

"Afact also listed 'integrity,' 'honesty' and 'transparent' as 'words we wish to embody.'
They could start by being more straightforward about who is behind Afact. "

Now add threats all over the local news of no salmon season this summer because of predicted minuscule runs. Ugh. Depressing is an understatement.

So divert yourself and watch this:
a bit overstated but amusing.

And if you can handle more serious stuff (not specifically food), also check out another Free Range Studios offering, The Story of STUFF.

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