Hungry like the (neo-colonial) wolf
August 20, 2008 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Worried about food prices? Don't be, if you've got capital! You can lease land from starving countries like Sudan to ease your own food problems. This ain't Food Force (previously), but the gamesmanship (via) is underway (pdf). On the bright side, let them eat lobster!
posted by cal71 (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Also, NPR.
posted by Science! at 6:46 AM on August 20, 2008

Worried about food prices? Don't be, if you've got capital!

Seems like you don't need a crazy international land scheme if these are both already true.
posted by DU at 6:54 AM on August 20, 2008

Nice collection of links on a phenomenon I never heard of - the "them" link is also pretty cool.

The world currently has about 6.6 billion people, of which about 1 billion are in the poorest countries. While most of the world is getting better, the bottom billion are getting worse. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
posted by stbalbach at 7:42 AM on August 20, 2008

That Slate article about lobster misses a big problem -- the largest impact on the price of catching lobster is the price of diesel fuel to run your boat. Anecdotally, I can say there's a lot of lobster boats for sale this season as lobstermen without a decent head for business or membership in a co-op couldn't afford to buy diesel for trip after fruitless trip while they waited for the shedders to come in.

In a sense there's a cozy glow of local eating when you go down to the dock and buy some bugs for dinner. But the lobster industry has a severe problem with a price disconnect between buyers and lobstermen. There are few large buyers, and they offer what they think they can get away with, and lobstermen, by and large, are forced to take it or leave it. The production side is getting smarter -- more lobstermen are joining co-ops that do their own sales and pound their own lobsters against oversupply and price gouging, and share the profits. But there's a deep "lone wolf" fisherman culture to overcome, and if most lobstermen go it alone, they're pretty much at the mercy of the price offered by buyers. Some years, some catches, that price is well below the lobsterman's cost per pound.

In short, it may surprise people that it's pretty damn hard to make a decent living catching lobster. Add in the skyrocketing demand for waterfront land, which used to be docks and working moorings and now is increasingly condos and yachts, and you have an industry which, although environmentally well managed and still plentiful in lobsters to be caught, is struggling to work out an economic balance that will allow all sides of it to get by.
posted by rusty at 8:32 AM on August 20, 2008


actually, people with capital (a.k.a "savings") are, and should be worried about inflation. more than people without. the value of those savings is dropping.

sure inflation sucks for people who have no money, to some degree, but it also helps people who owe money. the value of those debts is dropping. so, like, in ten years, your college loans will buy your lenders a few hamburgers. can you dig it?
posted by mano at 10:31 AM on August 20, 2008

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