Monday, January 5, 2009

Eating Mud Pies

When I was a kid, and a picky eater one, I remember adults used to say there are hungry people in Africa or Cambodia, to try to make us kids appreciate the food we have. I say these things to my kid too from time to time. He doesn’t believe me. I couldn’t understand what the h_ll my mom was talking about either.

Sometimes there’s a food drive and we collect food items and put them in a bag to be picked up from the school or near the mail box. I explain to him the reason why we do this. But I suppose that for young kids the concept of people, mainly other children, with no food to eat is just unperceivable.

I read an article on National Geographic magazine while I was waiting for my appointment at my doctor’s office – “Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt” by Jonathan M. Katz, January 30, 2008. It made me feel like a little kid too. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked by this idea. Not that I have never heard about hunger before, but still... We are living in a country with so much food everywhere we look, every place we go, and we take it for granted. We are so blessed to have an abundance of food to eat.

A few points from the article:

With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice. They eat cookies made of dirt, salt, and vegetable shortening which has become a regular meal.

Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation, and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.

The problem is particularly dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports and food prices are up 40 percent in places.

Caribbean leaders held an emergency summit in December to discuss cutting food taxes and creating large regional farms to reduce dependence on imports.

Beans, condensed milk, and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost U.S. $1.50. Dirt to make a hundred cookies now costs U.S. $5, the cookie makers say.

Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared to food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $U.S. 2 a day and a tiny elite controls the economy.

To read the article, click here.

This is an excellent opportunity to remember all the people who are trying to change the dynamics of the current agriculture, mainly all the people involved in bringing back sustainable, seasonal, local, organic, and free-range practices to agriculture and to our table.

Do you think that with our consumer support this type of agriculture just might be the main stream once again? Prices of food will go down and more people will be able to afford healthier and fresher food from their local farmers?

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