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The 9 billion-people question
March 5, 2011 10:03 AM   Subscribe


 
re: the 2008 food price spike - wasn't the eventual conclusion that this was caused by speculators? And if so, why does this article not mention that?
posted by memebake at 10:25 AM on March 5, 2011


I think the solution is really simple:
We immediately reduce our global consumption of meat by 64%.

TACOS CAN SAVE US
posted by lemuring at 10:30 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speculation was a contributing factor, though apparently the Economist ruled it out, or at least a specific instance involving Goldman Sachs, to their own satisfaction; the Economist, of course, also published the above.

—What's up with the dig at Imperial Rome and celebrity chefs? That was weird. Livy I think was digging at triumphal marches as a sign of decadence and downfall, which makes a lot more sense than cooking shows.
posted by kipmanley at 10:32 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought the dig at celebrity chefs was interesting. As a society, we're definitely started to fetishize food more so than in the past, and food itself is fast gaining luxury status. Maybe the fact that we care so much about food means we're ignoring the fact that our society is crumbling around us--you know, the old "bread and circuses" thing. I'd say the circus is reality television and non-stop celebrity reporting; maybe the bread is our fascination with what we eat. We really do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing about terms like organic, local, healthy, etc. Not that it's bad to care about food, but it certainly might be symptomatic of an empire in decline.
posted by Go Banana at 10:47 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


care about food .. might be symptomatic of an empire in decline.

The West has been obsessing about food since spices first arrived around the 9th century. It was the spice trade that made Venice, Portugal and Amsterdam global powers, and helped Europe and Western Civilization dominate global culture for 500+ years. All driven by the upper-class's desire for 0-calorie flavoring.

Livy was a great guy and all, but in fact Rome went on in the West for 300 years after he died, and in the east another 1500 years. Not to mention the Chinese and food and how long they've been around. People have pointed to many things as symptomatic of culture at its height and therefore decline, but an obsession with food to me seems universal and timeless.
posted by stbalbach at 11:15 AM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Be inspired.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:17 AM on March 5, 2011


Food Speculation
What for a poor man is a crust, for a rich man is a securitised asset class..
Previously on the blue.
posted by adamvasco at 12:18 PM on March 5, 2011


borked the Food Speculation link.
posted by adamvasco at 12:31 PM on March 5, 2011


moar! contraception!
posted by jeffburdges at 3:55 PM on March 5, 2011


One bag of flour short and the price is as much as you can pay, one bag of flour more than needed, that last bag sits on the shelf. The only thing speculators can do is ensure that there is a slight oversupply. More than 5% of the harvest rots in the fields, 40% of the fruits, meats and vegetables that arrive in the supermarket are thrown away often before it is actually spoiled.
posted by humanfont at 4:28 PM on March 5, 2011


40% of the fruits, meats and vegetables that arrive in the supermarket are thrown away often before it is actually spoiled.

I never buy meat at full price. I only shop the "about to expire, here it is at a discount" bargain bin at all the local grocery stores.

But if this is true, it's a shame there isn't some mechanism in place for soup kitchens and other distribution-to-the-poor organizations to claim that food that's going to be thrown out and use it for feeding people.

Food going into a dumpster is a waste of oh so much energy and time and fossil fuels and whatnot.
posted by hippybear at 4:46 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dumpster diving should be legal and encouraged.
posted by stbalbach at 6:51 PM on March 5, 2011


This was a great series of articles. (Please note that the FPP only links to the first article in the special report. There are 8 more articles linked in the sidebar of this one.) Their take was about what you would expect from The Economist, but it's an important issue and it's good to see coverage on it.
posted by painquale at 11:50 PM on March 5, 2011


But if this is true, it's a shame there isn't some mechanism in place for soup kitchens and other distribution-to-the-poor organizations to claim that food that's going to be thrown out and use it for feeding people.

There are legal liabilities and distribution problems that make this very difficult. There are some pilots underway in calfornia iirc because of the goals of reducing this amount of gabage in municipal waste streams.
posted by humanfont at 12:32 AM on March 6, 2011


Because legal liabilities and issues with the distribution system (doesn't work unless profits are manifest) are more important than people starving while expensive food goes to waste?

You suggest elsewhere that speculators add value to the food production system; here's a place where one wonders why they're not claiming a larger stake in the great work of matching starving people with a potential food supply.
posted by sneebler at 4:50 PM on March 6, 2011


Because legal liabilities and issues with the distribution system (doesn't work unless profits are manifest) are more important than people starving while expensive food goes to waste?

So the farmer and grocer go broke so you can keep your conscience clear? How much high fructose corn syrup did you consume this month? How much beef, cocktails and beer? You monster you satisfying your need for meat, drink or sweets with grain that could have fed some poor persons grain.
posted by humanfont at 5:40 PM on March 6, 2011


So the farmer and grocer go broke so you can keep your conscience clear?

No, but more thinking along the lines of City Harvest in NYC could go a long way.
posted by the jam at 5:58 PM on March 6, 2011


TACOS CAN SAVE US

You invited Eric?
posted by fusinski at 8:50 AM on March 8, 2011


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