The Rising Cost of Food, Part 1 of 2

green beans

"You have to spend more money, because you have to live in this way ... We cannot say, 'OK, the price of pork rises and we won't eat it,' because that's impossible, because we need that for daily life. So the only thing is we have to make more money to cover the expense. That's why we work hard and we come back home late."
-- publishing house editor in China.

If you've turned on the news in the past couple of weeks, chances are you've heard numerous reports of the rising costs of food worldwide. For example, prices of food in Haiti and Egypt have doubled in the past two years, and last week rioting over the food crisis occurred in both countries. Also, the poor in Yemen are now spending more than a quarter of their incomes on bread alone.

Worldwide high prices are coming from a zeitgeist of factors:

  • Oil and energy costs are rising.
  • Climate changes such as droughts affect crops.
  • Farmers are moving their crops from food to potentially more lucrative biofuel crops.
  • As citizens of countries such as China and India become more successful, their diets are changing and they are buying more food. They are eating more meat, which requires a much larger amount of grains.

Domestically, food prices are climbing as well. Food prices in March rose 1.2%, and the price base ingredients such as milk and eggs are increasing quickly.

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NPR is covering the issue with a series of stories covering the food crisis. The series is doing a good job of giving me a clear picture of all the aspects involved. Tomorrow, NPR will focus on how the current crisis is revitalizing agriculture in some European communities.

April 11, 2008
World Bank Chief: Biofuels Boasting Food Prices

April 12, 2008
Rising Food Prices Spark Growing Concern

April 13, 2008
Food, Fuel Demand Raise Corn, Soybean Prices

April 14, 2008
Aid Groups Target Poor Nations as Food Prices Soar

April 15, 2008
China's Food Prices Rise as Population, Wealth Grow

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NEXT WEEK: Good news on Food Prices? Some say yes.

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