Bob Ewing— It has been a week or more since we last had any significant rain. This is quite a change from last summer when it seemed to rain almost every day. The temperature right now is 23 Celsius and climbing, eventually it will hit 29C, so the weather station says.
That is hot for here, and a reminder of the heat wave that many food producing states have been experiencing for too long now.
This weather will eventually have an impact on food prices, partially because both corn and soybean crops are being adversely affected. Much of what we consume, at least anything prepackaged, has one or the other in it. The demand for water in the form of irrigation is high and this will also have an impact on food costs.
An interview with Maple Leaf Foods president and CEO Michael McCain written by ALEXANDRA POSADZKI, The Canadian Press August 2, 2012 quoted McCain as saying:
“Because Maple Leaf buys ingredients in advance, consumers likely won’t see higher prices for its products until the end of this year, McCain said.
“Rising grain markets, specifically corn, affect the entire food chain,”
So the US drought will not have an immediate effect on food prices but increases are coming. Will people see an increase in income to offset these price increases? For the most part, that is an unlikely scenario. So once again the cost of living rises and income remains the same or worse, decreases.
People cope by eating lower on the food chain; that is more pasta and rice and less meat, chicken and fish. Now, when this is a personal choice that is one thing, but, when it is a response to an economic reality it is quite another.
What makes this shift even more complex is the cost of fresh vegetables and fruits, for example, are also rising and will continue to do so, due to the drought.
This reduces the affordable choices that are available in the marketplace.
Choice is one of our fundamental freedoms and when it is eroded in one of our most basic needs, food, the nature of society itself can shift.
Choice is a central tenet of democracy and when economics eliminates choice, it may also undermine our democratic institutions. Now, I accept this could be a bit of a logic leap, but societies have failed throughout history because the people could no longer access the food they need.
Food is our common ground, and one of the cornerstones of any social order, when it becomes scarce or too costly, social erosion can set in.